Staffing Employment

Staffing Employment

Many real estate professionals wait until they are overwhelmed with business before they hire the necessary manpower to help them handle transactions, marketing and client care services. The real estate market can be hard to gauge in terms of work needed because one week you may need extra arms and legs to get everything completed and the following week it may be extremely slow. There are a number of different means that you can go about handling staffing and employment for your business.

While it may take a small army of talented professionals to run your business if you don’t have the additional help needed to handle business then you will be leaving money on the table. Many successful real estate professionals directly attribute their volume of income to their team members. Time is valuable and if your time is better spent working with clients rather than handling more tedious tasks like sending a mailing or completing a property description then allow a professional to utilize their expertise and cost you less than what your hourly rate is worth. By hiring the right talent you will be able to focus on your job and be successful in business.

Unlike a lot of other small businesses, real estate is different in two ways, especially as it relates to your people costs. First, except for maybe an office assistant who helps you keep track of the business end of your brokerage and do things like compiling and mailing documents to clients, brokers, lawyers, mortgage companies, etc., all of the people you “hire” are on commission and act as independent contractors, so you don’t have to worry about payroll, taxes, benefits, and the legalities of being an employer with your agents. Also, most agents have their own cell phones, lap tops, I-pads, etc., and do not need to work from an office. So, the size of your physical gathering place may be just enough for have a couple of client meetings going on simultaneously and doesn’t have to be sized to accommodate the 25 agents who are part of your brokerage. The biggest challenge you will have is keeping all your agents satisfied as they learn about the different terms & conditions each of them have with you (and, by-the-way, this knowledge of what everyone’s deal is with you will become “common knowledge”, so you are encouraged to have a defensible “rhyme & reason” why one agent gets a bigger percentage of the “sales price commission” than another—usually based on length of experience or a “running” earned commission/sales record). Truly, being paid a commission is the original form of “pay-for-performance”, so just make sure to keep it consistent and you will avoid lots of problems with your agents.

The key position in any real estate business is the Real Estate Broker. If you are starting the office (or buying an existing business) in all likelihood you have been a licensed/practicing real estate agent for some time and have decided to take the next big step. Sometimes, though, owners are not licensed real estate brokers, so one must be hired. Of course, without a licensed real estate broker, no business can be legally transacted in most states.

Next is the office assistant—the one position that may be a “classically paid” employee where all the issues of the employer/employee relationship arise (taxes, benefits, wage reporting to the state, etc.). Don’t underestimate the need for someone who is there to make sure everything gets done that needs to get done to keep your business (and probably your marketing campaign/image) running smoothly.

Agents—where and what kind of people are you looking for? If you’re just getting started, you’ll probably want experienced people so that your firm develops a sterling reputation in terms of your ability to successfully conclude both sides of the real estate transaction. Once established, you may want to add new/trainable agents so that you can both “mold” your team in your own image as well as having more favorable commission agreements with the newer agents for that the firm’s cash flow from transactions is better than paying up to 75% of you sales price commission to the agent.

All the other “specialties” associated with some brokerages, are things that you can decide to make a part of your business offering or not. Usually, so as to minimize the start-up cost of acquisition/training, once you decide to get into a specialty, you are more likely than not going to go out and recruit the “specialist” you need (who has an established reputation in your market), so that you have instant credibility and capability. Again, because most of these “specialist” have earned, commission based compensation, so as long as you are getting a piece of the action and the marketing/start-up costs can be recovered in a reasonable timeframe, adding new capabilities is not a huge gamble because the cost is in the expert you engage on a commission basis to add the capability to your firm.

Once you have defined the talent you need, it is time to assemble the “agents” who will make you successful. If you have been in the real estate business in the geography you are now serving, you know who the good ones are. Go after them directly. Also, with today’s social media, using your private list of key contacts by simply letting them know you are looking for good “agent” talent will probably satisfy your needs faster than you might imagine. The same is also probably true for your office assistant. You can also use your search engine to query “employment agencies near {zip code}”. Not only will you get names of a variety of hiring agencies (aka “headhunters”) that can relatively quickly provide you with suitable candidates at a reasonable cost, but you will also see a number of boards on which you may post your “opening” at virtually no cost. If you use this tool, be prepared for an avalanche of candidates—the point being, be selective.

If you are a real estate agent then obviously your needs for talent will differ from that of your brokers. As a real estate agent you can hire a virtual assistant or have an on-site assistant. Either way you go you will find that the assistant is an asset to your business and well worth the money (and time) it takes to keep them engaged in your business.

In today’s world, it is also a “must” to make certain that every person you are hiring (or engaging) is fully fluent, functional, trained, and adept at using today’s tools to perform work in a virtual world. This training should include knowing how to maintain the integrity of e-files, systems, e-storage, and all forms of communication medium so that the integrity of your clients’ and business’ information/data, especially financial information, is uncompromised.

You can choose to wear all of the hats or decide to delegate particular tasks to experienced professionals capable of getting the job done. How do you find the talent you need? Please refer to the Human Resource for suggestions. This information provides additional ideas on where and how to recruit the talent you need.