How To Do It: Step 5 – Staffing

(This is an elaboration of ‘How To Rule The (Real Estate) World In 10 Steps“)

You have taken a lot of listings.  Your Listing market share is growing.  The public is starting to recognize your identifiers and understand your offer.  Your phone is ringing with potential buyers.  You are literally as busy as you can possibly be – there is no time left to do more.  It’s time to hire.

I believe your first hire should be a highly organized assistant.  You want this person to take over everything that does not involve direct buyer and seller interaction (beyond telephone inquiries).  That means working with the MLS, with Help-U-Sell, with all of your websites.   It means getting all of the paperwork done and keeping all of the logs, leads and files organized.  It probably means keeping your schedule and keeping you on track.

A license is essential — this person will be handling buyer and seller inquiries.

Look for someone who has experience managing a mountain of detail and working with customers primarily on the phone.  Mortgage processors are good candidates as are Transaction Coordinators.

Teach this person how you want things set up.  Let them figure out parts you haven’t considered.  Spend serious time role playing buyer and seller inquiries with them.  Bear in mind that at some point you’ll hire more office help and may have each member of the team specialize in something.  This first hire may eventually be your Transaction Coordinator or you Client Coordinator (the person who handles all in-bound calls and manages all of the buyers and sellers).

At the same time, start looking for a Buyer  Agent.  Note:  the assumption here is that you have listings, your phone is ringing and you’re capturing Buyer leads and storing them in a Buyer Pool Book.  The Buyer Pool Book is essential because it gives the great opportunity you have tangible form.  It’s real, it’s physical.  Your potential recruit can see it, touch it, consider what life with it would be like.

You have a great offer for the consumer – that’s why everything’s working so well.  You need to also have a great offer for the agent, one that’s better than what anyone else is offering.  Here are the key ingredients of that offer:

No prospecting for listings.  You will handle all of the FSBOs and Expireds, the door knocking and mailing.

No pressure to get listings.  All you want them to do it take care of the Buyer Leads you’re creating.

No listing management headaches.  No angry seller calls, no withdrawn listings, no pressure to communicate with sellers.

Razor sharp focus on one simple aspect of the business:  taking a buyer lead and converting it to a sale . . . then going back and doing it again and again.

They’ll have no marketing expense, no desk fee, none of the bills traditional agents have to pay.

Yes, you’re going to pay them a lower split than your competitors, but you’re going to eliminate a huge chunk of the job description the other guys will burden them with.  You’re also not going to ask them to go out and drum up business.  That’s the job of your marketing.  They’re going to come in, choose a lead, convert it, and then come back and do it again and again.

You should start practicing today to demonstrate why 50% with you is better than, say,  80% with your competitor.  You do it on paper with a calculator.  Take the average gross commission on a closed side in your area, multiply it by the agent’s anticipated annual production (National average is less than 6 closed sides a year), apply your competitor’s split to the total and then deduct all of the fees and expenses the agent will have to pay.  Now, take your average commission per closed buyer side and multiply it by your minimum standard (which should probably be 2 closed sides a month). Apply the split you’re offering and deduct any expenses they might have with you — they should be minimal but might include E&O on each deal or REALTOR dues.  You should be able to demonstrate a big positive benefit in your favor.  They’ll have a focused, manageable job description, will do more business, will worry less and will  make much more.

When we talk with traditional brokers about Help-U-Sell, one of the things they can’t conceive is how we’re able to charge less and make more.  We have to put a pencil to it and show them how we deliver more dollars to the bottom line on a set fee listing than they do on the same listing at 6%.  You have to do the same thing with a potential agent.  Show them how splitting for less with you will delivers more dollars to their pocket than splitting for more with your competitor.

Then pull out the Buyer Pool book.  Tell the recruit what it is and how it gets filled.  Thumb through it and talk about a couple of the buyer leads that are inside.  Describe how they’ll use it to stay constantly busy.  You have a minimum standard of production, but with leads like this and no worries about the other side of the business, they ought to be able to double that.

Finally, show them Science to Sales.  It’s going to be their blueprint to success.  Truth is, after a couple of weeks in S2S, they’ll know more than 80% of the agents in the marketplace, and knowledge is power.

Hiring agents for Help-U-Sell can be challenging.  You probably won’t be able to get a traditional agent with more than 18 months in the business to hear your message.  Really – something happens after a year of having the traditional model pounded into them.  A tough layer of thick skin forms over the ear drum and they just don’t hear you . . . and they don’t get it.  You may hire this agent but more times than not you’ll learn that they can’t make it in your world.  They’re already spoiled.

You’ll have the greatest success with an energetic new licensee you can raise up in the family.

This does not mean you should not pursue experienced agents . . . just target them carefully.  Look for ones with a year in the business, give or take a few months.  You’re looking for good people who are becoming disillusioned.  It happens around this time.  They came into real estate looking for a dream job and are starting to understand that the traditional business is a bit of a nightmare.  They’ve probably amassed a sizable bill in their time in the biz and have little to show for their efforts but frustration.  This is an experienced agent who can hear you and who can still ‘get it.’

And regardless of time in the business, talk with any co-op agent you think is workable.

Your Buyer Pool Book will dictate when you add another and another buyer agent.  Now that you have an assistant, you should be able to capture more leads and the Book should be growing.  When it’s big enough to support more than one, hire again . . . and again.

An important shift happens when you start to hire.  Up to now your focus has been on taking listings, doing deals, surviving (and getting by on little sleep).  None of that changes.  What changes is your image of the role you have in this company you’re building.  Previously you were a deal-doer.  Now you are a lead generator.  You still do deals, you still do most of what you were doing before.  But now you recognize that the success of your operation depends on your ability to keep leads flowing to the competent buyer agents you have on the team.

One final note about recruiting.  I’ve talked a lot about how to ‘sell’ Help-U-Sell to a potential recruit.  You have to be able to do this.  But remember: the interview is not a selling situation.  It’s not a listing appointment where you want to convince the other person to choose you.  It’s an educational situation.  You’re going to educate your potential recruit about your business  model and if it appeals to them, they will make the decision to join you.  Please don’t do what your traditional counterparts do, which is to beg. In their world the recruit is the ultimate symbol of success.  It’s not about selling real estate for them, it’s about how many people they can convince to come work for them.  You’re different.  You are absolutely about selling real estate and you’re hiring so that you’ll be able to do more.  If the candidate is not obviously right for the job, you’re not going to hire.  If the candidate can’t see the value in your program, that’s ok – and you’ll part as friends.  But you won’t hire.  The recruit isn’t the prize in our business he or she is in the traditional office.  For us, the recruit is help, enabling us to list and sell more real estate.

OK?  Now on to‘How To Rule The (Real Estate) World In 10 Steps

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