When should I hire an assistant? How should I train them? What should they do for me? These are questions I get asked every time I coach a new client or speak before a group of REALTORS. Assistants can be an important addition to a REALTOR’s business. Hiring an assistant can also be one of the most frustrating experiences, and financially challenging, times in business.
Before a REALTOR should hire an assistant, they should clearly identify the need for one and the job responsibility of the assistant. I believe the purpose for the assistant is two-fold. The first is to relinquish the low pay off activities to someone who has less value per hour than I do. Second, to fill in the gaps in the areas I am not highly skilled at doing.
To determine what the low payoff activities are, make a large “T” the size of a piece of paper. On the left write the high payoff activities. On the right fill in low payoff activities. List the things you do based on value on each side, meaning value based dollars returned to you when you do those things. We generally earn 85-95% of our income doing about a half dozen things. The key is to identify those things. Then create a game plan to increase the time we are doing those high payoff activities on the left side. By taking the right side low payoff activities, you can develop an assistant’s job description. Over time they should be trained to perform the bulk of the low payoff activities so you can focus more energy on the high payoff activities.
Now we need to focus on what we are truly skilled at and enjoy doing. Separate those tasks and activities. Create a list of activities you are not skilled or highly efficient at. These should be delegated to staff, affiliates, or completely dropped from performing. Then we must find the person who has the skills and enjoys doing those functions.
Too often we hire people like ourselves. This does not allow someone to fill in our gaps. I always looked for staff that enjoyed the paperwork aspect, the office behind the scenes environment, someone who had strong organizational skills and someone who was a great follower. We already had a leader and did not need another leader – I was it.
The timing of adding a staff member is important. We often add an assistant too late. We are overwhelmed and throw the new assistant in the pressure cooker with us. We have more business than we can handle effectively, so we hire. The problem is we have no time to train then their performance, and ability to perform effectively right now, discourages us. That is truly a no-win situation for an assistant.
My advice is to hire before you are in a crisis. Try hiring your assistant in the slower months of your business. I realize you will have to feed the business for a few months. But you will be able to invest the training time necessary to produce a quality assistant who will be ready to perform at a high level when you take off. When you are growing and very busy it is hard to find time to train staff properly. Preparation is the key to achieving success through assistants.
Take the steps to evaluate your need for an assistant. Then create the job description out of your low payoff activities. Then invest the time daily to train, coach, and monitor your assistant. These steps will ensure you are hiring an assistant that is a wealth center. A quality assistant will increase your business and give you more freedom to spend with your family.
Dirk Zeller is an Agent, an Investor, and the President & CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 250,000 Agents worldwide each year through live events, online training, self-study programs, and newsletters. He’s the widely published author of Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies®, The Champion Real Estate Agent, The Champion Agent Team and over 300 articles in print.
Real Estate Champions is a premier coaching company. Training covers a wide spectrum from new agents, to seasoned, as well as those interested in real estate marketing or real estate investing.