Hiring an Assistant

Delegating responsibilities can be daunting for brokers used to working on their own. But if you’re ready to grow your business, here are some tips for making the right hire.

December 5, 2014

When you’ve created a business from scratch, entrusting another person with the details is difficult. Yet, at a certain point, delegation becomes a necessity. “If you’re running at 120 percent all the time, you can’t grow your business. You miss opportunities because you’re just trying to stay alive,” says Greg Nagel, managing broker of Ask Nagel Realty in Chicago.

But what responsibilities can you give up? Whom should you hire? And how much should you pay?

Here are tips from brokers who’ve made the right hire for their brokerages.

1. When should you hire someone? Around the $5 million in annual sales mark. At that point, it’s hard to keep track of all the details that go along with high volume sales while maintaining service levels. “If you can take a slice of the responsibility and hand it off to someone you can trust, that’s a win for everyone,” Laura MacDonald Garafola of the Laura Garafola Team at Keller Williams in Dallas.

2. What tasks should your assistant handle? Garafola’s sends letters, tracks deadlines, and communicates with the other agent in a deal. Nagel’s assistant schedules buyer tours, enters listings into the MLS, and attends inspections, appraisals, and listing photo sessions. In the office, he pays bills, opens and closes the office each day, and assists other salespeople.

3. How much should you pay? Roughly between $20,000 to $60,000, depending on the job description. Obviously, those with more duties and responsibility earn more. Nagel pays his assistant – who is a licensed agent – $50,000 annually. “It’s money worth spending,” Nagel says. His assistant also creates the first draft of e-blasts, Facebook posts, and brochures, schedules listing tours and prepares listing paperwork.

4. Hire the person who best fits your style. Garafola hires prospective assistants for a three-month trial period, then decides if she wants to take them on permanently so she isn’t stuck with a dud. Nagel finds someone willing to work hard, then allows them time to prepare for the broker’s exam and pays the various state licensing and testing fees. Nagel says he “created my own internal feeder system.” After a couple of years, Nagel helps set up his assistant’s business as a salesperson – but not until he trains his own replacement.

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