Friday, May 05, 2006

Beginner's Guide to Building a Team

If you’re like most real estate agents, you’ve dreamed about getting more free time and increasing your income. But maybe you didn’t know how, or didn’t think you were ready yet. By working your prospects with the support of a team, you can achieve the kind of success you want—and it’s a lot easier than you think.

How do you know you’re ready?

Most successful agents say you should start hiring a team when you:
* Lose business because you don’t have time to follow up
* “Have no life” because you’re working all the time
* Close 25 to 35 transactions a year and simply can’t follow up on all those transactions and still find new prospects
* Seem to spend all your time handling paperwork and putting out fires
* Do $10 an hour tasks, like filling flyer boxes, instead of $100 an hour jobs, like negotiating a deal

Every agent has an a-ha moment sooner or later. For Tonia Mann, an agent in Lawrenceville, Ga., it was at the HouseValues “Agent CEO” conference. “It got my attention and was just what I was looking for. I knew I needed to hire other agents to help me reach my goals.”

Where to Start
When creating a team, most agents start with an unlicensed assistant. At first, this person may work hourly filling flyer boxes. Over time the assistant’s responsibilities can grow to handling administrative tasks, taking house measurements and photos, and responding to email.

Virtual assistants are another increasingly popular start to a real estate team. Working on an hourly basis from their own home, a virtual assistant may be a more affordable alternative to setting up an office for a traditional assistant. There are usually fewer training and equipment requirements for virtual assistants.

When Tonia Mann started her team, she researched different business models and picked the one that suited her best. “We wanted to have new agents on our team so we could train them in our way, the Internet way of doing business. We didn’t want them to know the old way of cold calling, etc., because they take too much time with little result.”

Tools for the Team
Market Leader provides an easy way to start working with an unlicensed assistant, virtual assistant, or buyer specialist. Simply set them up with a Market Leader account, divide up your follow-up tasks, and schedule regular check-ins to ensure maximum effectiveness.

You can add other positions over time as your business grows: closing coordinator, office manager, and one to four buyer agents, using Market Leader to manage them. “Team Manager is a feature in Market Leader that I use to keep track of all the leads I refer to our agents,” said Tonia. “It’s a tab on top on your Market Leader home page.” The Team Manager feature lets you delegate leads and keep track of how quickly each agent on your team responds to them.

Team Success
Tonia’s success increased dramatically when she got her team in place. “In 2004, with two buyer agents, we doubled our business from 2003, with 86 transactions,” Tonia said. “That’s the top four percent in the nation, and number four in Coldwell-Banker. Over half of that business came from HouseValues leads.”

By investing in a team, you’ll have what it takes to grow your business much more quickly than you ever could alone.