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Cracking the Team Code: Buffini & Company Unlocks What it Takes to Build & Lead a Real Estate Team in 2022

Originally posted on RISMedia.com

Real estate teams are not only changing the face of the real estate landscape, they are defining the future careers of hundreds of thousands of real estate professionals. Findings from a recent National Association of REALTORS® Team Survey noted that 26% of its members belong to a real estate team, and 30% are considering joining one. According to Brian Buffini, founder and chairman of Buffini & Company, the nation’s largest business coaching company, teams are at the heart of an industry transformation that will bring unprecedented revenue opportunities and seismic shifts in marketshare. A generational sea change the industry has not seen since the 1950s is underway.

An African proverb sums it up best: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Leading a team can maximize your earnings, increase your work-life balance and help you build a legacy business. When built, organized and operating correctly, a team can be a powerful and liberating business-building move. You’ll enjoy the benefits of developing talented agents with complementary skills, all striving together toward accomplishing goals—goals that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve alone.

Having a team is not without its challenges, however. Many successful agents go into the endeavor of creating and running a team with more high hopes and unrealistic expectations than solid business plans only to be met with frustration and failure. From struggling with lead generation and sales conversion to implementing critical systems and processes, there’s a lot to consider when leading a team.

First and foremost, to build and maintain a world-class team, you need to consistently hone your leadership skills. This expanded role can be challenging as individual mega producers evolve from a “one-man-band” mentality to that of an orchestra leader. Great leadership requires delegation, accountability and establishing a unified culture. It requires a well thought-out strategy of building a cohesive lineup of talented, like-minded professionals from the ground up, which essentially replicates the service and values that made you a highly successful agent.

So how do you transition from being a top-producing, solo agent to a respected leader of leaders? How do you build and organize a team? How do you essentially clone yourself to ensure your team is providing the same level of service you consistently provided to build your business? How will you succeed as a leader?

Creating, crafting and conducting a team efficiently and effectively in 2022 doesn’t have to be a mystery. With structure, systems and support, you can crack the team code from the get-go to build a team that’s right for your business. At Buffini & Company, our members don’t go on the team journey alone. We have invested over 25 years of gathering, sharing and codifying team best practices, coaching insights and systems. We are able to glean insights from some of the best team leaders in the industry.

Build a winning Team
If you can no longer handle the amount of leads coming your way, you should consider building a team. Building a team requires you to transition from being a successful agent to an inspiring leader—to build a talented and motivated group around you to nurture leads, close deals and build the business.

The first step in building your dream team is understanding what you actually need—what model would be best for you and your business? Your team size and structure is a personalized, customized decision. Your personality, leadership style and goals should all factor into the model you choose. Don’t make the mistake of reacting to market forces when making this decision. Each model type can work and be profitable—it’s all about choosing the one that’s best for you. A coach can be a great help in determining this.

The five team models

    1. Referral Agent: Creates low-cost expansion
    2. Partnership: Multiplies your efforts
    3.  Standard Team: Shows your commitment to growth
    4. Group: Facilitates significant growth
    5. Mega Group: Operates like a profitable brokerage

Brian Buffini identified five models that work when building a team. “When it comes to building a team, one size does not fit all. You’ve got to have a personalized, customized approach. All five models can be extremely profitable. It’s all about you and where you want to go,” says Buffini.

Before you start recruiting agents, you need to hire an excellent assistant who will be the foundation for the team.

A coach can guide you through the process of hiring an assistant. They can help you find someone who will complement your skills to help you accomplish more.

Once an assistant is onboard and trained, recruiting and retaining winners is the next critical step. Determine the different roles each individual will play on the team. For example, one agent might handle buyer phone calls on listings, while another agent might be in charge of hosting open houses. Another might write purchase offers, manage the lending process or attend home inspections. Keep in mind, roles will depend on the agent’s expertise and preference, and duties will likely overlap. The goal is to secure talented agents who align with your business values and your approach to business.

“When it comes to building a team, one size does not fit all. You’ve got to have a personalized, customized approach.”

Brian Buffini
Chairman and Founder, Buffini & Company

Understanding your team
As a team leader, it is your job to provide individuals the environment, systems and guidance to thrive both personally and professionally. But if you don’t know what drives them, sets them apart or motivates them, you will have a difficult time getting the most out of your team. Identifying and understanding your team members’ strengths will bring clarity to each member’s role. By discovering each agent’s unique abilities, you can leverage their selling, communication and serving style to better understand your team and to help your team better understand each other.

Natalie McArtor of Long & Foster in Gainesville, Virginia, leads a team of five people and subscribes to Buffini & Company’s Leadership Coaching™ program after 18 years as a One2One Coaching™ member. Her team coach has helped not only pinpoint her team members’ strengths in a short amount of time—think one hour versus one year—but has allowed her to easily slate each member of the team in a role that suits their strengths.

“Coaching has affected everybody’s productivity. Everybody seems to be a lot more focused. They all know what their job description is now. They are motivated to work cohesively as a team—not one person individually, but as a team,” says McArtor, who closed 63 transactions for $37.4M in sales volume plus $49K in referral fees in 2021.

Knowing everyone’s individual strengths will also help you cultivate a productive and positive team culture. It will help you manage your team more efficiently and with less conflict. Whether there are too many different personalities, or everyone is too similar, tapping into your agents’ strengths will help you delegate effectively and take your team’s collaboration and production to the highest level possible. “Having a coach has really impacted our team because it’s brought the best out in everybody,” McArtor shares.

Organize your team
You’ve got your team in place, you have a solid understanding of their strengths—now you need a system to get everyone organized and accountable. Invest in a system that defines and tracks performance metrics, organizes when clients need to be contacted and provides valuable insights about your team’s business performance, leads and pipeline. A reliable customer relationship management system (CRM) designed for teams will allow you to easily organize the management and performance of your team and get instant feedback on how their leads are converting.

Dan and Maria O’Dell were introduced to Buffini & Company over 20 years ago. At that time, they were struggling with developing systems and had little structure. By implementing a systematic approach of contact and client support, their business started growing exponentially. They grew from helping turn each other’s transactions to leading a 13-member team turning more than 319 transactions and $123M in volume in 2021.

“As a family-run real estate team, Leadership Coaching with Buffini & Company has allowed us to level-up our communications with the principal partners, and in turn, reinforced our value proposition with team members,” says Maria O’Dell.

“The systems we have in place help keep our team accountable and focused,” adds Dan O’Dell.” The team is more focused and engaged than ever before.”

Having a reliable, fully developed CRM in place will prevent poor lead handoffs, confusion and decreased productivity. Mishandled leads can result in tens of thousands of dollars a year in missed business, according to Buffini. Don’t leave this potential income on the table. Ensure you have a strong method for lead management and a way to organize your team.

Train your team
A recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS® revealed that the typical REALTOR® has eight years of experience, down from nine years’ experience in years prior. Furthermore, 20% of REALTORS® have had their license for a year or less. With so many inexperienced real estate agents in the market, training your team on the fundamentals and a philosophy that aligns with yours is crucial. Training your team, no matter their years in the business or skill level, will provide them with proven systems that work, but more importantly, shows you are invested in their success.

One of the most common challenges in team leadership is having team members who don’t handle clients the way you would. Training is the best way to transfer your values, techniques and expectations to your team. It should give you the confidence to know that your stellar reputation will stay intact, and your clients will continue to be served at the highest levels.

Training your team during the onboarding process is critical and will essentially be the best way to provide consistent fundamentals and philosophies of serving clients. But, don’t think training stops after the onboarding stage! Great teams continue to innovate and grow by committing to advanced training and implementing systems that empower team members to take your collective productivity to the next level. The “Real Estate Career Path,” developed by Brian Buffini, outlines the training and services an agent should subscribe to no matter where they are in their career. From brand-new to high-producing agents, this path provides a clear journey agents should take during their career.

Connect with other leaders
While training and organizing your team to perform at the highest level is important, it is even more crucial to dedicate time and energy to your own personal and professional development. One of the most invaluable practices to incorporate is a commitment to connect and synergize with other like-minded leaders. Whether you join virtual webinars, attend an industry conference or engage in an online community, surround yourself with other team leaders who will help you be more productive and master the market.

Amy Somerville is Buffini & Company’s vice president of corporate development and industry engagement and hosts Buffini & Company’s 7-Figure Club—LIVE™. The highly interactive monthly broadcast is a virtual “think tank” of the best-of-the-best team leaders in the industry, providing peer-to-peer content to keep members on top of real estate trends and technologies.

“7-Figure Club is a driving force for success. It brings like-minded leaders together to share best practices for developing synergistic and highly effective teams as well as creating and delivering dynamic learning strategies that result in high engagement, growth and retention rates,” says Somerville.

Stay on track
When you’re the leader, you need a trusted advisor to navigate the ins and outs of leading a team. You need someone who will challenge yet inspire you; someone to help you stay on track while seeing the bigger picture. With a coach by your side, you gain an incredible asset and ally for building a rock-solid, productive team.

“As a leader, your team looks to you for the vision and plan. Having a coach who understands you as a leader will guide you in your journey and help you see your blind spots,” says Dermot Buffini, chief executive officer of Buffini & Company. “Knowing you have someone who will keep you on course while helping you achieve your professional and personal goals is invaluable in today’s market.”

 Qualities of a team coach: 

    1. Certified and highly trained in coaching team leaders
    2. Dedicated and employed by a company that offers leadership coaching
    3. Offers specifically designed methods and practices for strengthening leaders and building stronger teams
    4. Invests time to work with you and your team every month

Jeff Morabito of Keller Williams Realty Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia, has led a team with and without a coach.

“I think sometimes you get lost in the day trying to figure out how to take care of everyone. Leadership Coaching allows me the opportunity to step back and say, ‘Okay, I’m responsible for these folks,’” Morabito explains. “I’m responsible for the team being successful, but I’m also responsible for each team member’s own success, whether they decide to stay with the team or not, because I want them to feel successful in their business.”

A coach will work with you to understand your business and what you are trying to accomplish. They will be someone you can trust to objectively help you choose the team model that’s right for you and show you how to optimize your team’s strengths. A leadership coach will help you become a world-class team leader by guiding you through the journey of leading a team from start to finish.

Teams are transforming this industry and Buffini & Company’s dynamic Leadership Coaching™ program is at the forefront of the movement. Engage a coach to maximize and elevate your leadership talents to make your dream team a reality.

For more information, please visit www.buffini.com/coaching/leadership-coaching.

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