I’ve been in the real estate arena for 13 years now, and early on I realized that if I wanted to achieve the levels of success I had envisioned, I would not be able to do it alone.
When I graduated from college, I started working as a commercial underwriter (which only lasted about six months before I was fired) and joined another company as a financial controller. The new job was great. I was a recent college graduate and I had an assistant right away. I wasn’t exactly sure how to navigate that relationship and often had her fetching me coffee, filing, and faxing documents for me. At the time, that’s what I thought assistants did.
Over the next four years, as I was building my real estate team and later launching a real estate franchise, I went through several assistants, none lasting longer than eight months. It was a combination of my relentless drive, incredibly fast-paced and impatient attitude, and overall lack of leadership skills, as well as the assistants falling more in the reactive, rather than proactive category. I didn’t really understand how to properly hire talent back then, and I paid for it with high turnover – until 2010, when Hallie Warner (who is now my chief of staff) and I joined forces.
An Assistant – Your First Hire
The first, and arguably the most important, hire you should make as a real estate agent or entrepreneur is an assistant. It’s your first point of leverage. This hire allows you to start working in your strength zone and on the 20 percent of tasks that make the most impact on the bottom line of your business.
On the fence about hiring an assistant?
Don’t be. A great assistant will force multiply your activities and the business. In fact, a great assistant should bring four times their annual salary in revenue to the business. They are an investment you can’t afford not to make.
Still not convinced?
Here are five ways agents and assistants can achieve more together:
Increase productivity by operating in their strength zones
You’re probably not great with details and implementation. Assistants are generally not great at sales. Perfect. That’s why you have each other. While you’re pounding the pavement and making calls, your assistant will be holding down the fort, dealing with the daily minutia of the business, and putting systems and processes in place so it can grow. We know you’re going to be working hard while you build your business, why not at least be working on the things that you love? When you’re in that flow, you will be even more effective without having to put in any more time. Allow your assistants to own the responsibilities they love – the ones you hate – and get out of their way. Agents and assistants achieve more together when they are both operating in their strength zones and staying in their own lane.
Push each other to grow
As an entrepreneur or business owner, you most likely hear “yes” more than you should. Your assistant is someone who should be empowered to disagree with you, slow you down, and tell you “no”. Assistants who challenge their agent’s thinking and share a different perspective will help them make the best decision for the organization. On the flip side, agents can help their assistants gain confidence and grow by pushing them outside of their comfort zone.
While a generalization, most agents are going to be much more risk-tolerant than their assistants. Assistants might need that extra push to take on a new project or host a webinar. Let them know that it is okay to fail and building confidence comes by trying new things and getting uncomfortable. Agents and assistants achieve more together by being the counterbalance and sounding boards for each other so that neither one remains in the status quo.
Become stronger leaders
Leadership is not all it’s cracked up to be. When you are just starting out, you can feel very alone – making decisions, creating systems, learning about contracts, dealing with clients, and just trying to figure out how to make it through the day. And that’s as a single agent! When you make a decision to start building the business, you’re likely more entrepreneurial versus purposeful and making it up as you go.
Your assistant, your first hire, will help you begin to hone your leadership skills and give you leverage so that you are no longer working in the business, but on the business. And that means spending time working on growing your leadership skills. As the agent begins to increase their leadership lid and role model the behavior of an influential leader, your assistant (if they are the right match) will rise to the occasion and begin to match and mirror your leadership style. Better yet, they will be on this leadership journey with you – attending the classes you do, reading the same books as you, honing communication skills, and more. Again, agents and their assistants achieve more together because they are pushing each other and challenging each other to step up … and that starts with leadership.
Maximize the company vision
As agents and assistants become better leaders, the company will start to grow. With growth comes the opportunity to bring more agents and staff onto the team. In order to attract talent, you must communicate your vision consistently and clearly.
We know you, the entrepreneur, have a massive vision. How are you distributing that to your network? How are you marketing your team’s mission? How are you sharing the company story? Enter your assistant. They will take your larger than life vision and distill it into powerful talking points, compelling social media posts, and guest blogs or podcast opportunities.
As the company grows and becomes more complex, your assistant will need to turn those skills inward. Instead of communicating the vision outward to candidates, potential business partners, and clients, they will also need to ensure your vision is clearly and consistently communicated to employees, other agents on your team, and investors. They will also create systems around communication and prep content so there is a cadence to company messaging. Consistency is so key and assistants follow through. The ripple effect is real and will increase brand presence, reputation, and above all, ensure all parties are operating with a clear direction and focus.
Technology has changed the landscape in which we do business. We need cutting-edge technology to enhance the service we provide and deliver the experience that consumers now expect. Thankfully, Keller Williams is ahead of the curve providing a wealth of technology to keep us ahead of the game.
As you focus on building relationships, honing your market knowledge, and executing your fiduciary responsibilities, your assistant is a powerful technology partner.
Leverage them to keep you abreast of the best technology available to help streamline business operations and generate more leads. No matter how tech savvy you are, you and your business will be better served by leaving the technology and system implementation to your assistant. And they’ll thank you for it, because they’ll be able to do their due diligence on finding the right solution and take the time to set it up right the first time, without being distracted by the next shiny tech tool, or even worse, bolt-on technology. Agents and assistants can achieve even more together by collectively leveraging technology.
Agents, find your assistant. Assistants, find your agent. Without a doubt, together, you will achieve more.
This story has been edited and republished for brevity. To view the post in its entirety, click here.
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About Adam Hergenrother
Adam is the Founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies and co-author of a new book, The Founder & The Force Multiplier: How Entrepreneurs and Executive Assistants Achieve More Together.
In less than 10 years, Adam has built his rapidly growing companies into a $1 billion organization. Fearless and purposeful, unconventional and systematic, Adam sets a seemingly impossible goal, then quickly gets to work to develop leaders in order to close the gap. Adam thrives on taking on physical challenges and spends as much time as possible outdoors with his family and friends.
Adam lives in South Burlington, Vermont, with his wife, Sarah, and three children, Sienna, Asher, and Madelyn.