Teams continue to emerge as the path of choice for many real estate entrepreneurs looking to take their businesses and revenues to the next level. Teams are also becoming increasingly advantageous to the customers they serve.

A comprehensive survey on real estate teams by Inman found that backup coverage was cited as a top benefit to consumers (73 percent), followed by broader availability of hours (at 52 percent; respondents could choose more than one benefit), a wider range of expertise (52 percent), more agent work for the same price (51 percent), and flexible showing times (48 percent). In other words: If you build and operate a great team, your client base will grow along with your business.

The key, of course, is developing a great team—and this means more than just bringing on smart people. In order to run your team as a business and maximize success for you, your team members, and your clients, consider these four components:

1. Business Plan

Not every great real estate agent is great at planning. Call it an occupational hazard: Many agents rely on gut decisions, which helps them close deals but doesn’t lend itself to long-term goals. When you lead a real estate team, that freewheeling approach won’t work because many operational details require careful planning to make sure roles, compensation, and organizational structure are clearly defined. Without some sort of roadmap, chaos can ensue and your team members can easily become disengaged. Without engagement, the team falters, but with engagement, there is opportunity for greater success. Give your coworkers a blueprint of team culture, goals, expectations, and growth, and they will know they are part of something bigger than themselves.

2. Infrastructure

Along with a business plan, real estate teams thrive within a well-defined infrastructure. An org chart is a great place to start determining which skills and roles are necessary for the team to meet present and future goals. Small teams may need just a few people (i.e., assistants and buyer’s agents) to support the business; larger teams may include operations managers, marketing specialists, listing agents, and transaction coordinators.

From there, you can further build your infrastructure to determine what technology you’ll use to run the team, which processes you’ll implement to measure success and give team members opportunities to grow, and what you must do to ensure that your team thrives. Team agreements become important in this structure—policies and procedures must be spelled out so that everyone is on the same page. These agreements should address:

  • Team titles, definitions, and responsibilities
  • Licensing policies
  • Disclosure requirements
  • Compensation structures and commission splits
  • Recruiting policies
  • Separation procedures
  • Confidentiality policies
  • Referral fees

Once you have your infrastructure in place, take a step back to understand what you’ve created. Adjust the structure as needed; don’t hesitate to act if something isn’t working right. A team that’s constantly putting out fires will never find its footing; a solid infrastructure enables you to proactively avoid problems.

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3. Roles

We touched upon some real estate team roles in the last section, but the importance of defining team members’ responsibilities cannot be overstated. You simply can’t bring on a few people to help; they need clear guidance and direction so that important tasks are handled efficiently and expertly. If one person doesn’t know what the next person is doing—or what work is coming his or her way—the whole process can break down, and ultimately, lead to lost deals.

Defined roles:

  • Ease deadline pressure.
  • Improve accuracy.
  • Ensure compliance.
  • Ensure follow-up with leads.
  • Outline handoff requirements.
  • Keep everyone accountable.

Once roles are defined, establish concrete parameters for each team member. Although this might seem obvious, too often important tasks are missed because no one thought it was his or her responsibility to handle it—everyone assumes that someone else will get to it. With solid definitions, nothing is left to chance and your team can operate smoothly and profitably.

4. The Right Brokerage

Finally, real estate teams must have a brokerage that truly understands, supports, and promotes the team concept. The best team-centric brokerages do more than complete transactions—they provide powerful technology, training, and guidance that help teams run their businesses. For example, a broker that offers flat transaction fees gives team leaders enormous flexibility to compensate their own team members, reinvest in the business, and most importantly, keep more of their revenue. Find a brokerage that acts as a partner, and supports you with the resources you need to be successful. Your team will benefit from the relationship and be well positioned to grow and thrive.

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