Monica Reynolds has been in the real estate business for 37 years. Monica has been an assistant trainer in the early 90s and wrote a couple of books including Multiply Your Success with Real Estate Assistants & Professional Assistant: A Guide to Success for Real Estate Assistants.
Here are some excerpts from the call:
Patrick: When should someone hire an assistant? There are tons of philosophies out there from every coach and trainer in the world. So what’s your opinion on when should someone do it?
Monica: It’s not one size fits all. So I’m going to give you a couple of suggestions. When I’m working with someone and they ask me that, I’d say what’s your production level at? And they’d say 30 transactions. And I’d say good. You need to hire at least a part time assistant at this point. I know people that have gotten into the business that had a budget for an assistant and they’re coming out of college. These young lions and they understand what the job description is. They list properties, they go on appointments, they write contracts, they lead generate and they didn’t want to do the paperwork. So they are hiring assistants right away. I know in many cases where they’re hiring them quickly right off the bat. However, let me share with you, they had a budget plan or they had a small business loan. I mean here we go Patrick, talk about business people right? They went and got a business loan to hire a staff person to do that so that they could leverage their time more efficiently and effectively. So my answer usually is, when you reach 30 transactions, and you see that you’re losing as much business as you’re doing because you’re the paper pusher, you’re the transaction coordinator, you’re the guy handling the calls all weekend long and taking care of this and that. Or you’re the gal that — answering a call as you’re driving to a listing appointment and you go, “Oh my gosh, I forgot my pre-listing packet, I forgot a contract.” So you’re not– you’re getting your files together and you’re losing as much business as you’re doing. Now there’s plenty of people who like to do 30, like to handle all their transactions, and the don’t want to grow their business. So this is not for them. However, most people…
Patrick: I don’t know about– I think that’s just you know, I don’t know. I mean I got in the business — I want an assistant right away and I wanted nothing to do with all of that admin.
Monica: Well there are people stuck at their production level and they don’t want to spend the money because they’re making enough money, they’re not competitive. They just plow along. They’re what I call plow horse agents. Don’t need to see what they got to do. But most of us are competitive because we are independent contractors. So I agree with you. Most agents want to leverage that off.
Patrick: So obviously, the second question is, why do agents resist this topic so much?
Monica: They resist the topic because they’re control freaking monsters. Meaning, “I’m the only one who can touch this paperwork. I want it done a certain way. And my clients are special to me. They only wanted to talk to me.” The other thing is, they don’t see the value and the money to shake them up a little bit, that they’ve got another mouth to feed and the third thing, believe it or not Patrick is, “Oh my gosh, somebody would know what I do all day. Uh oh, they can see that I went to play golf or that I went to the movies or go shopping at 12 o’clock and not come back to work. I went to Nordstrom’s for the day.” So there’s that accountability thing. Let me share something about this. If you truly want to have a great business, you must hire an assistant at some point and have a date that you’re going to make that change. And I’m going to give you a suggestion here. So let’s say in every marketplace it’s different. That you can hire a part-time assistant to help you 20 hours a week. They come in four hours a day. Let’s say you’re going to pay hypothetically $12. So that’s 12 times 20 hours, you’re $240 right? Times four weeks, you’re looking at $960. Now Patrick, I’m going to ask you as an agent, because you’re a successful agent in San Diego. If you knew that you had an assistant that was doing 4 hours of work every day that you were doing, that was the paperwork, the files, the following up, orders a sign, get the lockbox, all that minutiae craziness that isn’t really a salesperson’s job, and you lead generated four hours a day, would you have at least 2 more transactions?
Patrick: Absolutely. No question.
Monica: And what’s your absolute commission in your crazy market?
Monica: So let’s do this. For $960, you could make an extra $15,000. Amazing isn’t it? That’s a good return. Silly way to do it. But you can’t hire an assistant four hours a day and go play golf or go to the movies. You have to have that dollar productive activity mentality where you’re going to get on the phone, you’re going to go meet with people who can give you business, you’re going to go door knocking, you’re going to get out there and be visible and find business.
Patrick: That leads to a quick question on that, which is realistically — conceptually that sounds all amazing. But realistically, how soon do you really experience financial gain?
Monica: You can experience financial gain in 30 days, seriously. Coming from personal experience.
Patrick: So what do I got to do. I got to train them, I got to teach them this, I got to teach them that, and all I’m doing is training for the next 30 days. How do I really…
Monica: There’s not an agent in the world that spent 30 days training an assistant including myself. So let me set that up for you okay. So there are three things that I think the first, 30 days is and that’s the phone and answering it, the potential buyer/seller script, they read it over 20-30 times, you role play it with them, make sure they know how to handle a call, a customer who’s upset and angry about something; they learn the database and data entry and email campaign; third thing is, they learn the listings like the pre-list package, mls entry, photo cropping, learning to call the seller, asking for reviews and referrals, property brochures, open houses, Facebook stuff and all the marketing on that listing. Now that can be taught in 30 days. And so, here’s my recommendation, you guys want to write this down. The first day, you knock off the day. 8 hours, you’re going to spend with that assistant talking about those three okay; day two, you’re going to spend at least 3 hours; day three; four and five, at least two to three hours minimum. There are projects and things that they’re working on but you are going to spend concentrated effort at least three hours each of those days. So you’ve got 8 hours the first day, and let’s say three hours the next day. So you gave them 20 hours that week. The next week, anywhere from one to two hours every day because what you’re doing is and I’m going to write this one too, I’m going to show you how to do this. So let’s say that you’re going to show them how to put a listing up on MLS. So they sit there and they take a notebook and they write down every step you do. So they watch you. That’s number one. You do it, they watch. Number two, they then do it the next time and follow their checklist and you watch. So you’re watching Patrick, they’re doing it and their following the checklist. Now when they make a mistake or something, they get stuck, is because they didn’t write down a step or they missed it. So you’re going to fix the checklist again. Now number two, step two can be repeated several times depending on what it is. Like cropping a photo, that will take like one time and they can get it. Calling up a sign call one time and they can get it. And so the last step, which could be step three, four or five depending on how many times you have to repeat it, the last is they do it, you’re not watching but you go back and check it later. So does that make sense how that’s simple to train these items?
Patrick: Yes. That’s actually helpful. So I think one of the– kind of bleeds into this next question which is a lot of people that I know are agents are terrible managers. And you know, they got into the real estate business because a) want to have a manager or b) want to manage anyone. So how do they become more of an effective manager?
Monica: Well, so let me change the word manager to team leader, they lead the team, they’re part of a team and so it’s about leadership. It’s not about managing. so when I hired an assistant, and I take a job description and I take each one of those items off, and I check it off after they’ve learned that item, and I’ve trained them to learn those items and I feel comfortable they’ve learned those, then they own it. I never look at a listing file, I never look at a pending file. My assistants have owned that department, they own it. And so it’s about cultivating people with confidence in training to own that are. So I like being a team player, but also being the leader of the team if that makes sense. And so managing people as you set expectations, you set standards. You have a culture with your team. The standards, you come into the office, you take care of your voicemail, you take care of any clients who need something properly, these are our standards the first thing in the morning. Then you process any new listings, process any new pendings, following the standards of our checklist, following the standards.