Grant Boelter is a Minneapolis-based freelance journalist who writes about real estate and urban issues. He has worked as a newspaper reporter as well as in corporate and nonprofit communications. In addition to writing, Grant enjoys getting around Minneapolis by bike and traveling with his wife and coonhound.
Managing Faster-Than-Expected Growth
Sales are booming, which is a good problem to have, but it takes savvy business acumen to ensure it can be sustained. Here are five tips from real estate coach Tom Ferry to help.
May 2, 2017
If you’re a manager at a brokerage, faster-than-expected growth is probably not very high on the list of things that keep you up at night. Outperforming even your most optimistic projections shouldn’t be considered anything less than a dream scenario.
But experiencing unexpected growth can also present challenges. With income streaming in at a record pace, brokers may be tempted to spend quickly on expanded office space and a new team of agents in hopes that investing in the business will bring further rapid growth. Yet, brokers might find themselves concerned with expanding too rapidly, and may be hesitant to make investments that could become liabilities if the revenue doesn’t continue to flow in at such a high rate.
So, what’s a business to do when it’s exceeding even its own wildest expectations? Tom Ferry, CEO of Tom Ferry International, a Real Estate Coaching and Training Company, has some advice on how to ensure that a period of rapid growth leads to more success down the line.
“There is smart growth versus dumb growth,” says Ferry. “And you can never have enough smart growth.” Ferry offers the following five tips to help ensure that your brokerage keeps heading in the right direction:
1. Place value on leadership. As a business grows, the role of the CEO will change. Ferry says it’s imperative that the leader of the company takes time to focus on growing the business while letting go of day-to-day operational tasks—even if some of those activities helped usher in the period of growth. Ferry says the leader of the company should be asking, “How can I attract talent, train, monitor, motivate, and drive sales productivity?”
2. Be smart about delegating. “Many [executives] attempt to do everything themselves, trying to save money while becoming ineffective,” says Ferry. “They end up having way too many people reporting directly or indirectly to them. They become the bottleneck, stopping all growth and innovation because they’re doing everything.”
You, as a leader, must decide what business functions should be delegated and which ones are best left to you. Start by writing down a list of the 37 things you’re responsible for, then reorganize the list based on what you live to do versus what you don’t like to do, Ferry says. Cut the list in half, and take responsibility for the stuff on top, and outsource or delegate out the rest.
3. Be balanced in hiring. A common mistake Ferry sees growing companies make is placing too much focus on hiring sales associates while ignoring other positions that can help agents focus on sales. Front desk, accounting, and business operations staff should not be afterthoughts, he says.
4. Embrace technology and big data. It’s not just support staff that can help sustain growth—investing in technologies that support business growth and reduce day-to-day tasks can also help streamline operations as more work comes in. Ferry is interested in Gong.io, a platform that monitors and analyzes spoken conversations, such as sales presentations, recruitment calls, or cold calls, with artificial intelligence and bots. This allows you to analyze the interaction and focus in on key events identified by the platform, which can be a great tool for training. Among Ferry’s other preferred tech solutions are Relola’s insights, Boomtown’s back-end software, Zillow’s Premier Agent Concierge program, and BombBomb’s Prompt product for recruiting.
5. Make growth an area of focus and make it scalable. “Too many companies put growth on overworked teams,” says Ferry. “You need a growth team—all they focus on is growth.” As you identify other areas and opportunities for growth in your business, you can replicate this model.
As your company grows further, Ferry says, it will become even more important to make sure your broad organizational goals are communicated frequently to all team members. He suggests using the four disciplines of execution model, which are:
1. Choose your “big hairy audacious goal.”
2. Know and act on your key performance indicators.
3. Scoreboard everything (measure them visually).
4. Up your cadence of accountability.
By having a plan to manage growth, brokers and managers can help ensure that accelerated periods of success turn into long-term, sustainable business.