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Team Talk: Signs that you are ready to start a team

The number one question agents ask me, whether when I am working on a deal with them, speaking on a stage at a real estate convention or working with a group of agents in a training session, is, “When do I start a team?”  

It’s a great question to ask before things get too far out of control. However, most agents wait until they are so busy that it feels necessary to hire anyone who can breathe. 

Then, they bring on an additional person with no supervision or training and end up spending too much time fixing the mistakes of their new team member while neglecting the sales-related activities that made them successful in the first place. 

Predictably, sales start to decline, and they feel compelled to let the team member go. And so the cycle begins. Grow, drown, hire, fire, grow, drown, hire, fire, repeat.

To prevent this from happening, you should look out for the following signs to know if you are ready to start a team.


The obvious signs


Doing things at night that could be done during the day

If you are spending your daytime hours on the phone, prospecting for new business and servicing existing business, and doing more activities at night like preparing listing contracts for tomorrow’s appointment, printing sheets for a buyers tour, or trying to book a tour of another agent’s listings after 9 pm, it might be time to consider some help. 

Activities like this can be done by someone else, and they can be during daytime hours, often more effectively. 


Multiple to-do lists

If you are using an app, a note pad and a whiteboard or some combination thereof to manage your to-do list and constantly moving tasks from one list to another and never really making any progress on your important projects, it might be time to grow a team. 

When you hire a team member, you can make them responsible for helping you finish the important things, not just the urgent ones.


Peaks and valleys

If your business is constantly up and down, selling six houses one month, two houses the next and then only one per month for a while until another great month of six to eight sales, it might be time to hire help. 

Market seasons are very real. Spring usually has more sales than winter, but the month-to-month trend doesn’t vary as widely as your personal sales volume likely does. A team member can help you smooth out the peaks and fill in the valleys.


Desire for more

If you are doing the same amount of business (within a few deals) year after year and desire more, it might be time to hire help. 

Most agents can do 25 (plus or minus a few) each year on their own. Some might even hit 50+ depending on price point, market conditions and geography. But to sell a large number of homes and help more people consistently, an individual agent must grow a team.


The less obvious signs


Dropped balls

When details fall through the cracks, they don’t make a sound. These are things like compliance paperwork (FINTRAC, etc.) or getting back to a client with an answer to that quick question they asked, like, “Do you know a plumber I can use?” or “Can you tell me how much my neighbour sold their house for?” 

If you don’t answer these, nothing bad usually happens. The client doesn’t follow up with you for a response, and your broker might come around asking for the paperwork. 

But dropping the ball like this for clients has long-term consequences. Clients start to think they’re not important and you’re too busy for them.   


Constant overwhelm

Our modern world has us constantly engaged with something – phone calls, texts, DMs, etc.

We feel like we always have to be doing ‘something. Since most of us have been working non-stop since April 2020 (or longer), we might think this feeling is normal. This is not normal. 

We need time to decompress and rejuvenate our bodies and our minds. A team member might give you the space you need.


Missed leads and opportunities

In all my years of selling real estate, I don’t recall a single time a lead followed up with me! 

A past client or someone who was given your name as a referral might give you a break if you don’t get back to them. But a lead? They won’t give you a second chance. 

It’s not obvious when you are missing leads or sales opportunities, but if you looked back over your email and text history from the past two years, I would wager that you probably didn’t follow up with every inquiry or try to convert every conversation into a client. 

And you probably told yourself it was because you didn’t have enough time.  


The financial signs


25 to 36 units per year

Most successful realtors can typically sell 25 to 36 homes a year without any help, depending on their market and how it operates. For example, in my market of Vancouver, B.C., we don’t use lockboxes, so it takes more time to sell a home, whereas an agent working in a tight suburban neighbourhood in Saskatoon or Halifax can sell more homes with less work in less time. 

But generally, if you are selling 25 to 36 homes per year, it will be very difficult to grow your business without hiring some help and starting a team.


Salary fits within your budget

The final sign to look out for is whether you have any money left over at the end of the year. 

If you are making a large profit, it might be time to invest some of that profit in another person to help you grow your business even more. Sometimes we need to take a step back to make a big leap forward. 

Hiring your first team member is often like that. We might end up selling fewer houses while we are training a new team member, and we might get to keep less of the money after we pay them. But, when done correctly, hiring someone and starting a team can propel you to offer better service to more people and reap greater rewards.


Next week we’ll answer the obvious follow-up question: What position should I hire for, and should they be licensed?  

Are you thinking about starting a team? Which of these signs do you see in your own business? If you have a team, when did you know it was time to grow? Comment below.