Business Tips

The Hand Off

Get help so you can get ahead

By Myrna Traylor

As a CRS, you have achieved a great deal and are among the top players in the industry. But what happens when your success outpaces your capacity to complete your slate of to-dos in transactions, marketing and education?

It’s time to delegate.

Many Hands Make Light Work

Pastore has found Gary Keller’s advice from the “Red Book,” The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, a great guide for the 40-plus years he has been in the business. In a nutshell, he says, if you want to do more deals, you have to generate leads, focus on listings and leverage your skill set. “My administrative assistant could handle paperwork and showings, freeing me up to deal with sellers and get listings.”

“If you get a good person—and I did—you could just fill out the paperwork and leave it on her desk, and she could enter it into MLS and do everything from contract to closing.” Pastore’s administrative assistants were all licensed agents, so they already knew the nuts and bolts of the process.

When asked if he would do task delegation any differently, Pastore is quick to say, “No. It not only made my business successful; it gave me a life.

It gave me the time to coach my kids’ soccer teams, take vacations for a week and only rarely have to call in.”

Kim Cameron, CRS, of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Preferred Properties in St. Louis, asserts that too often, REALTORS® can be jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none. “You can only wear so many hats before you are not proficient at all of them,” Cameron says. “Eventually you realize that there is a percentage of your business that you absolutely rock at—you do it better than the rest and you shine. Then there is the percentage that you are good at; you’re above average. The remainder is the part of the business that starts slipping through the cracks due to lack of time or total avoidance. That’s the part that you should delegate first.”

Cameron calls that chunk of business that gets short shrift “the 20%.”

“This 20% of work that doesn’t get completed is what separates the stellar REALTORS® from those who are average and never hit their goals,” she says. “During my annual business audit several years ago, I realized that there were tasks that weren’t getting done. What happened with those goals for marketing and client servicing or getting together with people that didn’t get done because I didn’t have time? That began the drive to hire my first assistant 15 years ago.”

Tipping point

When you leverage the best aspects of your skill set, Cameron says, you are in a better position to help more clients buy, sell and invest in real estate. She feels that the need for that first assistant frequently occurs when an agent is closing between 24 and 30 transactions a year—at least for agents working with homes with low to middle price points because they usually have more closings per year than a luxury home specialist.

Dee Pardue, CRS, of NextHome Realty Center in Houston, agrees that the tipping point for needing ongoing help is when you are selling around 25 homes per year, a tip she received at a convention when she was already selling well past that number. “I found that by having an assistant I could focus on new business, stay in touch with past clients more frequently and simply have some downtime to avoid burnout,” she says.

Pardue points out that having the assistant is the first step; the next is to make sure that you and your assistant have a clear and consistent way to track tasks. “We have a lot of tools at our disposal to make it easier to communicate, as well as draw up and get offers and amendments signed,” she says. “For me, the key to delegating is having a very thorough checklist for new listings, pending sales and post-closing tasks. This means I don’t have to give my assistant a day-to-day task list, and they know what needs to be done next to avoid missing critical deadlines.”

Pardue has also looked into delegating her showings to other agents in her office. “I still like working with buyers—negotiating the price and walking them through the hurdles to closing,” she says. “But my time is not best spent showing homes, so I am working with our office manager to identify agents in the office to show homes. I will go out only when buyers want to make an offer, and then take over at that point.”

Help is on the way

REALTOR® Emeritus Paul Pastore agrees. Since earning his CRS Designation in 1982, Pastore, with RE/MAX Alliance in Chandler, Arizona, has identified business tasks that he is happy to delegate to the right person. “As a solo practitioner, I closed 55 units my first year. So I took on an administrative assistant who could take buyers to showings.” As his business grew, he took on multiple admins and seller’s agents.

Pastore stresses that it was important to hire competent people for the job. One of his most valuable assistants was a former client he hired to do lead generation. “Three agents had previously listed her house; I sold it in 30 days and she became a raving fan,” he recalls. Trained as a telemarketer, this assistant took over leads that were canceled, expired or FSBOs, and cold-called the prospects for Pastore six days a week for 25 years. In some years, he would earn from those conversions 10 times the salary he was paying her.

“Not only did she generate the leads, when she called to confirm my appointment, she’d give them a pitch. ‘Oh, your house didn’t sell? Let me tell you about how Paul sold my house,’” Pastore says. “Her first-person testimonial basically presold clients and made it easier for me to build a rapport with them. She was just an absolute positive, grand slam home run delegation gal.”

Myrna Traylor is a writer in the Chicago area.

Learn more about hiring your first assistant or growing a team by searching our education catalog for webinar recordings or eLearning at CRS Learn.