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Building a great real estate team is about finding the right people and cultivating a strong culture, Connect Now speakers told attendees Thursday.
The panel entitled “Important Basics for a Successfully Structured Team” was moderated by Veronica Figueroa, who heads the Figueroa team at eXp Realty. Speakers included Laurie Reader, founder and CEO of Laurie Finklestein Reader Real Estate, and Christina Welch, owner of the Welch team at Keller Williams.
The reader emphasized that building her real estate team has always been about finding the right people, a factor on which every other part of her business is based.
“When you build a real estate team, you have to learn a lot more about people,” said Reader. “We are now talking in our company about building a culture from the bottom up – not from the top down, but from the bottom up.”
“What we are looking for is to meet the right people,” she added.
The reader noted that team building is an incremental process that takes time. She finds new team members by first thinking about the values and standards that are important to the company, like taking care of customers and the community, and working hard to contribute to the business. The reader emphasized that if there is a word that aspiring team leaders need to know, it is “standards”.
“You have to have these standards because they … define your culture,” she said.
Welch added that having a shared team culture reflected in a unified brand is one of the things that has helped her team stay strong.
“I feel like I had to get out of the way at the beginning, which many people find difficult,” said Welch. “At the very beginning I thought this was ‘The Christina Welch Team’ … but at the end of the day it wasn’t about me – it was about the team.”
“In the beginning, that foundation is laid, and sometimes you have to reset expectations to make sure everyone is on the same page,” she added.
The three team leaders also agreed that advancing the careers of other team members is just as critical to the success of the entire team. For example, Reader shared how she mentored another agent on her team, Matt Weiner, and helped him develop his career so that he could eventually take on her role in the company while she migrated to the growth side.
“We’re about other people’s success,” Reader said. “We are taught to succeed by others, never around them.”
“I’ve spent many years becoming a better leader,” she added. “If you do it about other people and their success, you cannot lose.”
Welch added that the organic growth of her team came from existing team members maturing into new roles within the team over the course of their careers. This gives new employees the opportunity to replace them in their previous roles.
Many participants in the panel wanted to know how the speakers deal with commission splits that sometimes become a point of contention among agents. But all three team leaders said this is usually not a problem. More often, agents focused more on and were attracted to the team culture aspect.
“They want something bigger than splits,” said Reader. Divisions almost never occur for her team, she said.
“I think the better question is how much money do you want to make as an agent, as a manager,” Welch said. “Ultimately, focusing on divisions is not what a career path does.”
Welch and Figueroa and their teams found that the support and resources available to them make them more comfortable working with an existing broker.
“I think it all goes back to the support system for the people you work with, and it’s a cultural base,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, when you look at the numbers … what makes sense?”
“I think everyone does what works best for them,” added Figueroa.
The reader, on the other hand, said she wanted the freedom to build something big with her team, which was her main deciding factor in deciding to become independent.
And what about the new favorite technology of the three team leaders?
“We just implemented Propertybase, which is provided through Salesforce,” said Welch.
“I’ll have to go with Follow Up Boss, apparently I can’t live without it!” Reader said.
“Optum has fundamentally changed data analysis,” concluded Figueroa.
Email Lillian Dickerson