First things first. In another article, I wrote about creating workflows and activity plans that are assigned to your staff people. These activities can also have detailed instructions about what each activity requires to be completed correctly. Having these activity plans/workflows in place before you start hiring admins will make training much easier and faster.
At one point I was the regional roving technology expert for RE/MAX SEPA. I watched as teams and brokerages grew in over 100 offices and I worked with them all to help them with their tech. If you want to open a brokerage versus a team, that will be my next article. I’ll discuss the pros and cons I learned from the horses mouths. In either case you need an admin. I picked up some things along the way, first having my own small team and then watching the RE/MAX region teams and brokerages, as well as people I’ve worked with over the years. Here are some of them! Nine tips when hiring admins! Hope it helps!
Now that you have that taken care of, whom do you hire?
- Your staff needs to get excited by good technology. They need to be the kind of people who recognize how much better it makes them. Optimally they have already seen it at work elsewhere. Transaction managers love the ability to create detailed workflows because they know how much better and more efficient it makes them. Are you a techy? If not, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with people who are. Don’t get hung up on hiring younger people because you assume they know tech. There are plenty of admin types who are older, but have experience with tech.
- One good type of person to hire is an ex real estate agent. A common way to lose an admin is for them to decide that they want to go out on their own. They get the admin aspect of the business down and think they’re ready. They don’t understand that the hardest part is to find people to work with, but they’re convinced they can do it now and you lose them. If they already tried and decided it was not for them, you don’t have to worry about that as much. If you come across someone who has been in real estate sales, they know and understand the business. This makes it far faster to train them. Why would you hire someone who failed? There are many reasons why someone fails in real estate sales. Sometimes it’s because they’re too detail oriented and spent too much time getting set up, while ignoring getting new business. They now know that sales is not for them, but maybe they do like the industry. Could you use a detail oriented person?
- Empty nesters tend to be good prospects if they are getting back into the workforce because they tend to be more stable.
- What is especially true for your first staff person is that they be able to handle a crushing schedule. It‘s a very fast paced business and you want someone who is also expedient by nature. A slow moving, slow talking prospect is not what you’re looking for.
- My first assistant was my wife, who was also my buyer’s agent. My second assistant was part time and she was very good, but she was what I call a robot. Once she understood exactly what I wanted, she would get it done perfectly every time. That said, she couldn’t think for herself. She wasn’t capable of making creative decisions outside of trivial things. Try to get someone who is capable of both.
- I mentioned that my first assistant was a Buyer’s agent. She was my wife and that makes it a little different. Generally speaking though, you want to hire a person to be strictly an admin first. If you haven’t already put systems in place, this is the person that will do it for you. If you hire a top Buyer’s agent first, the issues you already have will just be magnified. You decided to hire someone because you need someone to attend to the plethora of details that come with your expanding business. If you hire a Buyer’s agent and they’re good, that problem is now worse. Buyer’s agents are for income generation, not admin. Hire someone to get and keep you organized and then hire a Buyer’s agent, then let them sell and soar.
- Make sure you have a written contract that states an evaluation period and stick to it. Some people look great in the beginning but then it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason. If you make the evaluation known, you’ll likely get a better effort and it will be no surprise when they are evaluated. In that contract, you also want to have language that addresses database ownership for all employees.
- Pay them what they’re worth. Good admins that know real estate, tech and are driven, are hard to come by. Having someone whom you have spent time and money training leave because they are underpaid is more costly than paying them properly to begin with.
- MOST importantly, don’t fall into the trap of letting down on your prospecting. There is a tendency to relax after hiring your first assistant. After those years of having to do every detail yourself, having someone do it for you is a wonderful thing. But you have to pay them! Make sure you stick with what got you to where you are. There will be time to let up later.
I highly recommend a book called Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. I was introduced to it when hiring tech support and on-boarding people in a SAAS startup. It covers the process from defining your needs up front through retaining the employee.
Need help getting ready for a new assistant or setting up your team? Find some here!