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Your Ultimate Guide to Growing a Real Estate Team

Written by Lars Hedenborg on February 2, 2018

Are you interested in starting a high-performance real estate team? There are probably 12 to 15 major positions that any real estate agent does. And, if someone else isn’t doing them for you, you’re either not providing full service to your clients or they’re not getting done at all.

If you are a single agent or if you have a big real estate team you will need to organize your business into these four categories:

  • Use Leveraged Marketing Principles
  • Generate / Convert Leads into Clients
  • Deliver an Outstanding Customer Experience
  • And Track Your Results

By utilizing this framework you will begin to segment your business in a way that allows you to act like the CEO instead of another employee.

When Tony Robbins first started, he lived in a 200 square foot apartment in California and it was only him. He was just starting in the business, but he answered the phone as Robbins International. You’ve got to start thinking of yourself that way if you really want this thing to grow… you have to start acting like the CEO.

In my own business, even though I was grinding out deals, I was doing the job of real estate agent six days a week…sometimes on Sunday. But, I would always carve out that time to put my family to bed and I’d carve out time to work on growing my real estate business. You’ve got to separate those two roles…it’s critically important. The cool thing is I’ve created a system to give you the tools, systems, and strategies to apply at the right time so you can take those leaps that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

What Are Your Goals In Real Estate?

I don’t watch really any news whatsoever, I don’t do a whole lot of social media, I don’t care about what the stock market is doing, but I really do care about the future of the real estate industry. Not just where we are in the market right now, but also where it is going.

In today’s market, our clients know more about the house they’re buying than we have or ever will. They have data that they didn’t have before and they care way more about the outcome of the transaction than we will. Even if you are the best agent on your team, the most caring agent, you’re still not the buyer. You’re not going to live in the house afterward.

So, we have this challenging client, armed with an endless amount of data and they’re paying attention in a way that, as agents, we can’t. Unfortunately, the net result is that the public actually gets short-changed by the way the real estate industry is set up. They’re simply not getting the best service possible. They’re not getting the 15 professionals that should be helping them through this journey in their real estate transaction.

That’s why I truly believe that if you’re not building a real estate team, for example, a specialist model team or a corporate model team, you’re going to be working for one.

I know you’re not reading this because you want to go work for somebody else. So it’s imperative that you have an awareness of your goals and the game’s going to be played entirely different in the future.

The difference of Real Estate B-School is that we do not want to help you become a top producer in your market, the goal is not to help you sell 40 to 50 homes. Most coaching programs want to just build up top producers and teach all the tactics that you’ll need to build a very nice real estate practice.

The goal for everybody needs to be building consistency into your business and creating a business that consistently puts $500,000 to $1 million in the bank for you every year and do it in a way where you’re not having to grind out transactions. I didn’t have that passion for being involved in transactions, and the truth is, I’ve never needed it. If you build your business in the right way it can take your love for your clients and build up a team of people around you that have that same standard and give your clients the experience they deserve.

Top Producer vs. High-Performance Real Estate Team

We want to help you build a high-performance real estate team and move away from being a solo-agent. To do that, you need to understand the three most important aspects of running a high-performance real estate team.

The first aspect of running a high performing real estate team is that the team maintains the lifetime value of the client. Your team should be owning that relationship and be able to consistently deliver that value to your consumer.

By establishing this model in your business you will notice that your customers will reference your whole team in their reviews. For example, when we get surveys back from our clients it typically says something like ‘Lars and his team are awesome’. My name is usually in every testimonial that we get back. That is because the team provided this service, but we own that relationship by encouraging our agents to constantly run as a representative of the team, not just themselves. We deliver the value proposition, so should one of our listing agents leave our team, or they get hit by a bus, or whatever happens, we can fill someone in that position.

It’s a system because we built it out the right way, so we control and ultimately we deliver the value proposition. That’s in comparison to what so many brokerages are doing, there’s no telling what those agents are doing…there’s no training involved, they’re just doing everything that they think they should be doing and just giving up control.

The second piece of running a high-performance real estate team is that the workflow is performed by admin staff rather than a do-it-all traditional agent. Within your team, there should be people to fulfill the function of buyer/listing client care coordinators, inside sales, and appointment setting.

If you’ve been doing real estate as a solo-agent, this is typically something that freaks people out. When you are thinking about starting a real estate team it’s common to get really scared with thoughts of ‘I don’t want to manage people’. However, I want to caution you that if you don’t take that leap, chances are that you’re going to be at the same position you are today 10 or 15 or 20 years from now. You’re going to be that agent in their early 70’s that hasn’t figured out a plan to exit their business or built something that has any value without you being an integral piece of the puzzle. So that’s why delegation is not only important now in your business, but in the future as well.

The third and most important aspect to understand about your business is your economic model. Over the years this has become one of my biggest pet peeves with business owners in real estate. So many agents have transitioned from high splits to much lower splits that are not in line with the value they provide in the transaction. There is almost a haphazard way of establishing commission splits whether that is everything’s 50/50 or you just decide to give them 70% or doubting your own decision based on other firms out there that are offering higher commission splits.

The value-based Commission model is thoughtfully considered what you want it to be so you can hit your economic goals as you start your business. If you establish this early, it will save you so much heartache in the long run. I did it before I started my team because it’s way harder to go backward. We have clients that we work with that make this difficult, but the bottom line is you can’t do this thing profitably if you are going for the traditional split model or even paying attention to what’s going on out there with other teams.

Anticipate Change & Respond

One thing you should always expect in a High-Performance Organization is change. Your success will ultimately be influenced by your ability to anticipate, manage and respond to change. You must start to look at change as an opportunity rather than an obstacle and prepare your people to recognize those opportunities and capture their advantages.

High-Performance Organizations (“HPOs”) are like high-performance cars— they need constant tuning but are worth the trouble because they accomplish their purpose better than anything else in their class. What makes an HPO different is the dedication to strategic purpose and a commitment to giving your team the tools they need to achieve expected results.

I promise if you were to talk to ten team leaders in your market they are held hostage by their team and they’re not someone that’s looked up to. That’s because they’ve built their team wrong, and they didn’t even know it. The way we’ve built Real Estate B-School is so that you know the difference between a highly profitable and successful team and the model most agents use which we refer to as a “brokerage within a brokerage”.

Traditional real estate team leaders generate income and gain time leverage by simply distributing leads to their agents or a “brokerage within a brokerage” model. However, any gains through this model are at the expense of losing control of delivering the value proposition as well as handing over the lifetime value of the client.

Typically, commission-based, top-performing agents in the traditional team model will leave to compete with you or they demand a commission split that doesn’t fit within your economic model. This also means you need to understand your ability to enlist and inspire agents to join your mission and help you grow, instead of being focused on their own personal development first. You must have a clear value proposition and know what your value is so you aren’t held hostage by your agents.

How Do You Build a Real Estate Team?

Not everyone needs a high-performance car, and you could say the same for HPOs—do you want to be the business that settled for an economy model? Building a real estate team that relishes change requires thought, planning and the willingness to stay with it until you get it right—but your efforts will pay off. HPOs draw in customers, motivate team members and attract new recruits. Their energy and vitality inspire confidence in everyone they touch. No two businesses will design their HPO in the same way—the object is to encourage a culture and build a structure that supports your vision through every new opportunity.

If you know your ultimate goal is to build a real estate business and you’re ready to take that next step and actually begin your journey to build a high-performance organization, I recommend starting with these four steps:

  1. Integrate Your Vision—the most effective strategy of building your vision into your culture is to broadcast and reinforce it at every opportunity and to systematically include it in all your activities.
  2. Build the Structure—this includes organization strategies and reporting relationships as well as rules, rewards, values and even unconscious assumptions, things that influence behavior and direct the flow of human energy.
  3. Train & Provide the Tools—high performance isn’t genetic, even the brightest and most highly motivated team members need to be trained to do it your way with the best tools available to help them do it right.
  4. Quantify & Evaluate— high-performance organizations of any kind need regular attention to keep them calibrated and aligned—this is done by tracking.

It all starts with you and what your business looks like today, it could look totally different three years from now. But, the decisions you make in your business and how you’re going to structure it starts with you. As the team leader, you are in charge of articulating the vision, reinforcing it and protecting it every step of the way—but it’s everyone’s job.

Remember that you aren’t selling your dream to your team, and you shouldn’t try—you don’t want compliance, you want enrollment. Your team should be just as excited about this vision as you are and ready to build an empire with you. You want your team to enrich your vision with their own objectives, to create a common goal and a common spirit—we do this by face to face communication. Your attitude toward your team and their role in reaching your vision will set the tone for your company’s culture—think of them as co-creators and heroes.

I’ve come a long way with the last point here in terms of really seeing my team as a vehicle for giving me this life of freedom. When I was in it I made a shift from ‘why can’t everyone put the same level of effort into this as I am’ to ‘this agent is going to give me a life of freedom’. Just shifting from that attitude of frustration to more of a “how can I serve this agent, so they can help me” has made a tremendous difference in my business. You’re not going to be able to build a team if you don’t have an ability to get into someone’s head and help them grow as an individual, especially the way that we do it.

We bring in people that have no real estate experience. Our three top buyer agents…none of them had real estate experience and they’ve all completed this year at around ten million. You’ve got to build an understanding of how much value you provide.

If you’re not in a position where you have those examples on your team then you need to join me and borrow my examples and learn from my coaches. You have to trust that you’re going to be able to build this in a way where you can provide that value and it will happen if you bring this structure into your business. The toolbox for Real Estate B-School is made up of 30 tools that we employ in our business to make sure this happens systematically. That way you’ll have the tools that you need to be able to do this.

Ultimately your business is an expression of you, of what you care about, and what you don’t care enough about, your values, your courage and fears, your experiences. This can be hard to accept, but it’s very exciting and is a huge responsibility; every choice you make has a bigger impact than anyone else’s. Your team has agreed to work for you and take your lead and so they constantly look to you for direction, guidance, and approval. If you are disorganized, then your business will tend to be disorganized. If you are afraid to let go, then your team will avoid taking responsibility. If you are an idea generator (or squirrel chaser), then your team might be cynical about change.

What is Your X-Factor?

The X-Factor in business is the ability to find a way to add intangible value that goes way beyond what anybody can really measure. It’s the ability to find a way to do more for your customers than absolutely anybody else and to consistently maintain that standard.

Your X-Factor can be expressed in a number of different ways. At its core, it is a form of leadership and a way of thinking about who you are and what you bring to the marketplace. It is a vision and way of gaining clarity around your outcomes, critical thinking, and the power to anticipate because you understand how to read seasons within your marketplace. X-Factor is an ability to influence people and it’s about making strategic decisions.

What are you going to bring to the market that is different? For example, my x-factor is of the essence of “we give the tough advice but we’re pros”. We’re comfortable having tough conversations and we’re not going to be your best friend, we’re going to be your best real estate advisors. Some people don’t like it so we do lose business as a result but we’re clear that’s the way I want to run my business.

Creating your own x-factor will rely on your ability to maximize your resources to constantly improve the quality of life and experience for your customers (both internal and external). It’s about creating business breakthroughs that maximize value. Creating an X-Factor requires using a combination of skills, psychology and experience to find that edge that makes a difference for your customers. Your X-Factor could be any distinction you make that could change it all.

Here are some ideas to pull from to get you started:

  • Level of Professionalism
  • Straightforward Advice
  • Work Ethic
  • Market Knowledge
  • Sales Skills
  • Marketing Prowess
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Your Culture/ Mission
  • Your Systems
  • Your Team

By creating your x-factor and defining that for yourself and your team you will instantly separate yourself from your competition by uncovering what truly drives you. Clients want to feel your passion and care for what you do.

The following exercise is designed to help you discover—or rediscover—the things that matter to you (and your team) most. When you know what drives you from this deeper place, everything you do feels different (sales presentations, agent recruiting, client servicing, etc.). Take your time doing this—and then decide how you can integrate this into your business so that you show up differently in your market. The goal is to bring you to a place where you can make decisions that are better for you personally and for your business as a whole.

Download your x-factor exercise along with a PDF version of the blog and bonus questions below:

The purpose of the exercise is to optimize your business and could potentially exist forever as a framework. I’ve used this same exercise to help me prioritize when business is suffering and I’ve noticed it always comes down to optimizing, getting rid of the things that aren’t working, and focusing on the things that are working.

If you’re ready to dive deeper into your business and grow a team in 2018, you need to join me at my spring intensive workshop where we will talk in depth about how to build a sustainable business using the same techniques I use in my business today! Learn more by clicking the link below:

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