So your real estate business is doing well and you’ve expanded. Or you’re considering the possibility. Expanding with new teams in different markets can be a highly profitable path in real estate. It also brings a handful of new challenges. We had a chat with some experts in the industry who are managing their remote teams successfully and seamlessly — and we’re bringing you the insider tips.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Strategic recruiting can save you headaches in the long run. Look for specific qualities that are beneficial in the remote setting; strong communication, tech-savvy, organized, and self-motivated.
“Working independently and being tech-savvy is certainly important when you’re working on a team without borders. Self-motivation is a definite need; we can provide the treadmill and the gym equipment, but we can’t get on the treadmill and run for you… This means our agents need to have the motivation and dedication to using the tools and processes and systems we put in place for their success. More than skill, we hire for culture. We know we can lead someone to having more personal growth through business success, if they are open to working hard, following our proven models, and grinding through the inevitable challenging times. Mindset is more important than skill in a lot of respects.”
“There are two things that are important to consider when it comes to leading someone from afar:
1) Who the person is matters. The biggest challenge to be aware of is delusion of culture. This means that that person in a remote location needs to be a great match when it comes to the mission, vision, and values of the organization. When things get hard, they are still, for their own reasons, moving in the same direction.
2) Building skill sets in remote locations are hard because you can’t cheat. You don’t have the luxury of them seeing you in action, and just asking a quick question. This means that they need a skill set out of the gate, or you need to be able to systematically train well.”
As a leader, it is your job to set clear and reasonable expectations for your agents, and then hold them accountable. However you set your performance metrics, make sure they are transparent and clearly communicated to your teams. Check in regularly and make sure your teams have the support that they need in order to be successful.
8z Real Estate delegates one Team Leader in each location to help with accountability and communication with top leadership.
“Accountability has got to be number one. I think it can be done without a leader if you have a specific piece of accountability in place. And for us, a piece of that accountability is BoomTown of course. But a big one for us was the team leaders, and that was really consciously thought through. Our leadership team, we just couldn’t be everywhere, we didn’t have the bandwidth. So having that one person, and for us it’s always been people that have been here a long time, they have had a very successful practice on their own, that’s been key for us.”
“It’s important to remember and underscore to your team members that data doesn’t lie. Within BoomTown, we rely heavily on the Agent Accountability dashboard. Every Friday, we send out a list of the top responders within all of our teams to inspire others to increase their performance and convert more leads through a focus on rapid responses. Additionally, every evening, we send out scorecards for our numbers of listings and pendings by team, so there’s never any doubt where any agent or team stands in terms of production. We keep our agents hyper-focused on their numbers, as clarity is power. If they know they have to hit x numbers of pendings to hit their income goal for the month, they need that number in front of them constantly to keep the goal front-and-center and show the action they need to put against hitting that goal.”
“One of the most valuable things that you can do is to establish rhythms and habits with your people. Tracking and accountability starts with the individual buying into the value of this for not only the organization, but for them personally. When you have someone who buys into the system, then all of the energy from the leader and the team can be put into adoption, which looks like helping build their habits and practical ability to execute. Some basic tactics are making sure that the reporting is frequent enough to make sure that you have a pulse on what is happening, and far enough apart as to not add additional weight on sales people. We do a daily informal reporting, and weekly formal reporting.”
Technology is a critical tool for any business, but it is particularly essential for expansion teams working across a variety of cities.
“BoomTown allows us to manage our team’s CRMs all in one dashboard, which is a huge time saver for us. By being able to seamlessly move from one team to the next in the back end, we can quickly see snapshots through the reporting dashboards for what teams need a little love or a kick in the pants to improve their responsiveness and overall communications. BoomTown also gives us a source of commonality among all teams… Real estate in Huntington Beach, California, is surely different than real estate in Vermont, so BoomTown is a way for our teams to come together, mastermind, and grow together by focusing on best practices and having the ability to implement new ideas that might work for another team.”
“The really cool thing about BoomTown for us is that it allows us to create integration with our people in a remote setting. So because we’re not there every day we’re not sitting in on each other. BoomTown helps in a sense that, we can say, “Hey I noticed you got this referral,” and BoomTown integrates our ISA team with every agent in the company. The ISA is in Boulder, but they’re helping everybody from Fort Collins, down to Colorado Springs, which is a pretty far spread. And that’s all done through BoomTown, completely. So that integration part is huge, and it goes further than that with our lenders, and the team leaders, they’re plugged into their BoomTown, so they can see that. It does help us communicate directly and not waste a lot of time with phone calls and emails, and all that stuff that can really drag you down, or disconnect you, when you are remote. BoomTown kind of makes that seamless for us. Not only is it a CRM and website builder and lead generator, that was kind of an extra added benefit.”
“When working and leading people from a remote location, sharing a common language is important. This starts by sharing the same tech, systems, and processes. We use products like Boomtown as the backbone of not only our production, but a practical part of our culture. Agents in different locations can help each other, share resources, and quickly and effectively move forward because of the shared context.”
Cultivating a good communication is essential to make up for the inherent disconnection that comes with the territory of remote teams. You have to work harder to establish a community and keep everyone productive and proactive.
“You have to establish a connectivity to what we call the “mothership,” the sort of home base. They can’t just feel like they’re money makers for you, to put it bluntly. They should feel connected. Every time somebody comes on we have an onboarding, where they’re completely connected with different pieces of the mothership whether it be our marketing team, the ISA team, the in house TTC, those things really tie them to the company, and that onboarding usually happens in the first 10 days. And then on a quarterly basis we have what we call the agent academy, which is a 4 day intensive training that all new agents are required to come to, they get 4 days of really good training that shows them (1) how they’re connected to the company, and (2) how to do it the way we do it, and that’s always really successful. People always walk away from that feeling like they’re a part of what we’re trying to accomplish, and I think that’s important. If you want people to be successful, they’ve got to believe in your mission, your purpose.”
“We have built a strong culture that largely exists without borders – through a very active Facebook group and regular agent trainings on Zoom, where we can see on another. We do, however, think it’s important to come together in person twice a year during our Advance – that is, our HergGroup retreat; we advance, not retreat – hence the name. During these events, it’s cool to see the camaraderie agents across the country develop and how that carries on after the two-day event. There’s a lot of masterminding, sharing of successes and failures, and team events to develop not only strong business relationships but also friendships. Afterwards, we see agents across the country connecting for script practice, cheering each other on, answering questions, and sending along referrals. Although technology makes operating virtual teams highly effective, there’s truly no substitute to meeting someone in person – the face time is important.”
“There is no substitute for being in the same space with another person. We do a yearly retreat where everyone in the company comes together. Any opportunity to meet over video instead of phone helps, and face to face time with leadership is deeply valuable. As frequently as possible and profitable.”
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