Lee Nelson is a freelance journalist from Illinois. She writes for several state REALTOR® association magazines along with LawnStarter.com and Nurse.org. She has written for Yahoo!Homes, MyMortgageInsider.com, and TheMortgageReports. Contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Keep Your Team Happy
As a solo broker of a small team, how do you keep agents happy and committed to your company? Two successful independent brokers share their trials and errors.
June 8, 2015
Just like a successful athletic coach, a good real estate team leader provides the right tools and training to help team members overcome obstacles, and sets goals that motivate everyone to perform at a top-notch level. But how can a broker or team leader keep everyone happy and invested in staying with the brokerage?
“It’s all about trust and respect, and whatever they need from me,” says Sally Bowman, owner and team leader at Sally Bowman Real Estate in Cheshire, Conn. “It’s like a family here.”
Bowman, like many other real estate brokers, has formed a team to help her business grow and to provide a higher level of expertise for clients. While growing up, her family owned the local Ace Hardware store, which she says thrived because employees were treated well and customers came to know the level of service they’d receive. That’s how Bowman runs her real estate office today.
Her team now consists of 12 agents, some of whom have been with her since she opened her own office in March 2009. But she’s lost a few along the way.
“I trained some really great agents a few years ago, and they were poached by other agencies. I admit, it’s a sucker punch,” she says. “You always have that fear, but you still have to put your all into helping those on your team.”
Losing a few agents to other brokerages helped Bowman reaffirm her belief that an effective and strong team comes from teaching agents everything you know and showing them the passion you have for the business.
“It’s all about spending time with them,” she says. “They go with me to home inspections and other transactions. The only way to learn is by experience, and leaders must share their experiences with other [agents].”
Bowman stays competitive by offering free webinars every Tuesday, providing her agents with leads, offering tools like zipForm, and paying for marketing-related services like professional photography and signs. Her team also knows they can text or call her late at night if they have a question or problem. And when an agent closes on a property, she hands them a check immediately. They don’t have to wait to get paid, Bowman says.
“You aren’t successful individually unless your team is doing well,” she says.
Rowena Patton, broker-owner of Keller Williams Professionals Realty in Asheville, N.C., starts her team meetings off with a song: “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus and Chaka Khan.
“After talking about business, we go around the room and everyone has to tell me something good,” she says. “As human beings, we naturally whine and complain. Now, they have to find something positive. It lifts everyone to a different spirit.”
When it comes to recruiting, Patton focuses less on production and more on agents’ goals and vision. Her leadership team, which includes four other agents, gets together weekly over a working lunch to go over how the business is doing and to identify challenges. “We really know we have each other’s backs,” she says. “It’s a special time for just the five of us.”
Like Bowman, Patton has seen agents leave. In 2008, two of her agents started their own business.
“Sometimes, people just need to move on. But I figured out that my vision has got to be bigger to keep people interested in staying,” she says. So Patton started expanding her business in South Carolina and Florida for more opportunities.
Patton has also learned to hold her team accountable, and reward them when they do well. “We have fun together. We even have a Christmas in July party,” she says.
But overall, Patton wants her agents to think of real estate as more than just a way to pay the bills. “I want them to think bigger than that. I want the people to want my job,” she says. “I encourage my team to think outside the box.”