When is it the right time for an aspiring agent to hire a personal assistant?
When they don’t need a personal assistant.
It sounds like an oxymoron, but it makes absolute sense. Most agents wait until they are under pressure or “financial enough” in the false belief that hiring too early may be a wasted expense. That is a myth, and in my extensive experience helping many agents build teams, the lost opportunities due to a lack of assistance and leveraging human resources can be far more costly.
For example, we have just entered a period I call “ON-FM,” i.e. October, November, February, and March. During these months, most marketplaces record over 50 per cent of the sales volume for the year. It’s during this period that many agents who traditionally work without an assistant, find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work.
That extra pressure impacts performance and even those with the best of intentions start to drop the ball. When this happens, they fail to capitalise on the increased volume of new connections that are available to them and hence, miss the opportunity to nurture additional relationships for future business; let alone identifying immediate sellers they come across and enhancing current client experiences.
Hiring an assistant is on most agents implementation list, but many just don’t know where to start. Successfully finding and onboarding the right candidate requires a focus on two areas of an agent’s business. The job description and task list, and the agent’s minimum standards and process list.
The job description
Finding the right candidate for the right tasks is fundamental for success in the hiring process. The only way to do that is to start with a detailed and documented job and task description.
When itemizing each task, add a notation that identifies who is the best person to complete the task. Noting that high-value tasks such as appraisals need to be completed by the lead agent, buyer appointments can be conducted by a high-value assistant, and lastly, non-high-value tasks may be assigned to a high school junior or VA.
By using this approach, you can quickly identify the specific roles, and because of it, hire accordingly. As an example, if the task list reveals many “junior” activities such as preparation of prospecting material around just listed and just sold’s or database entry, that could be allocated to an after school junior or virtual assistant managed by a higher value personal assistant.
We call this strategy “hiring a PA for your PA”. It’s a wonderful approach because by doing so, the junior or VA’s fall under the responsibility of the high-value assistant releasing the burden of management from the lead agent. Both the lead and high-value assistant can, therefore, continue to focus on higher-value activities.
Minimum standards and process
Prior to any hire, an agent must have in place a minimum standard and process chart. What this represents is a step-by-step guide that clearly defines the complete sales process, including the when and what happens in all aspects of the agent’s business.
It’s what we reference as a team’s minimum standard they live and work by. It must include the prospecting strategy, client nurturing parameters, listed, sold, and settlement process and all the other areas of the sales process.
This is undoubtedly the most important aspect of a sales agent’s business that one must get right before adding team members. Whilst some may think, that’s the reason they need an assistant (to help them create the process), what most find is that they hire an assistant which they “welcome to their world of chaos”.
It’s not a great initial impression for the incoming employee, and premature hires result in less staff retention and more turnover. It creates friction points between team members, and when I speak with agents who are constantly turning over PA’s, I always remind them that there is one common denominator. Them!
I learnt early in my career that you cannot shrink yourself to greatness. You need a great team around you of highly trained and talented individuals. Not only is it good for business, but it’s also an enjoyable way to impart your experience to others and work towards a common goal.
You learn from each other, hold each other to account, and if you are an individual who may aspire to run their own agency, it’s the perfect foundation to start with.
Wishing you every success in your real estate career.
Manos Findikakis is CEO and co-founder of the Eview Group.