Systems & Tools for Realtors to Scale Their Business
In Part 4 of this series, Jennifer shares systems and tools needed to scale your business by leveraging people. Even if you’re new to the business, it’s important to start planning for your future in real estate and setting up systems, tools, processes and habits that will allow you to scale your business more easily in the future.
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Hello hello and welcome back to the Women Rocking Real Estate show. Over the last month, I have been diving into all of the core areas of your business – operations, marketing and sales and I have been sharing all of my recommendations for systems and tools to help you in those areas of your business. In the first episode I shared systems related to the kind of foundational systems needed for the operations of your business. In the next episode I talked about the systems and tools you need to market your business with the hopes of generating consistent leads without using outdated tactics and then last week I covered the system’s needed in the sales process of buying and selling real estate.
So If you’re new to this 4-part series and haven’t listened to those episodes, I’d highly recommend you go back to the beginning and listen in order. It will help it all make sense! Also there is a free toolkit available with links to all of the programs I recommend in these episodes, plus a bunch more I haven’t talked about. There’s also some great discount codes included as well, so if you’d like that free tool, You can find it in the show notes or on my website at
Alright this week I’m going to be covering all the systems and tools I recommend under the umbrella of Scaling your business. Your long term goal in real estate should not be to continue buying and selling houses into your 70s. Agents that do really well in this business will ALL tell you that they either currently or at one stage in their career hit a point where they had NO LIFE.
When agents get to this place in their career, one of two things happens:
1) the agent continues to burn the candle at both ends and in the process
neglects their health, family & friends or
2) they recognize that the way they’ve been doing things is not healthy or sustainable and that they need to make some changes to leverage people, systems and processes to free up more of their time and get back more of their life.
I have always been of the belief that success comes from some basic principles and one of those principles is to start as you wish to go on. So just because you may be brand new to real estate or not ready to start scaling your business, you need to have a plan now for when you will be ready and you need to start your business with that end goal in mind. So even if you’re new, this episode is important for you too, so you can start planning for your future in real estate and setting up systems, tools, processes and habits that will allow you to scale your business more easily in the future. When an agent has been in the business for a decade but hasn’t set up the systems and processes they need to scale, it becomes a massive and very overwhelming project to undertake. The problem, is that they’re usually already really busy and don’t have TIME to invest in setting all of the systems and tools needed to scale your business, so it’s a catch 22. They need the systems to be able to slow down, but they don’t have the time to build them and that is where that saying ‘ you need to slow down, to speed up’ comes from. It is so much easier to scale your business, when you’ve planned for it and have been preparing for it earlier on in your business when you’re not as busy.
If you’ve never done any of the prep work, sometimes the only way to find time to set up everything to scale, is to start saying no to new business or referring it to another agent, because if you know what you’re currently doing is not sustainable and your personal life is suffering, you don’t have a choice. Nothing is going to magically change unless YOU change it. In fact it will probably get worse and you will wake up one day and have missed your kids lives, gotten divorced or received an upsetting health diagnosis and you will look back and see with total clarity that it wasn’t worth it. Giving your life away to a real estate career is NEVER worth it, so decide today that whether you’re brand new and would kill to be that busy or you’re listening to this and thinking – that’s me, that you’re going to start setting up the systems and tools that you need to scale your business. That’ll be one day for some of you and today for others.
If this isn’t resonating for you and you need a wake up call, make sure you listen to episode 42 and you can hear about the wake up call I got when my youngest son got sick. I’m super passionate about helping women build businesses so that they can take care of themselves, but I’m even more passionate about making sure they do it with balance and boundaries.
So the first system you need when you are ready to scale your business and leverage people is a system for process documentation. Whether you are bringing on your very first virtual assistant or a licensed assistant or a buyer’s agent or you’re growing a whole team or maybe even opening a brokerage. There is one really important thing you need to be prepared for and that is turnover. Although some people get lucky and find people to join their teams that are amazing and are happy to stay with you forever, expecting to find that or even hoping to find that, is like searching for a unicorn. Most really great people are great for a reason and it’s only a matter of time before they realize how awesome they are and that there’s probably bigger and better opportunities out there for them somewhere else – number one being building their own real estate business. So you’ve got to go into your scaling journey with the expectation that you will likely lose everyone you bring on at some point or another. It’s normal. It doesn’t usually mean anything about you, but obviously that should be kept in mind if you hear recurring themes on exit interviews.
Same thing goes for growing a team and growing a brokerage. Agents will always believe the grass is greener somewhere else – it’s human nature. But if you want to keep good people, you do need to make sure the grass is not in fact greener everywhere else. What you offer should be at least competitive with others in your trading area, but ideally it should be better. It doesn’t mean you start everyone at that level, but if you discover you’ve got a gem on your team, be prepared to keep them happy and reward them to stay, otherwise it is just a matter of time before they will get poached by either someone else offering bigger and better or they’ll decide to smartly bet on themselves and go out on their own.
When scaling your business, you’ll also probably get loads of agents come through your doors that think they’re better than they are, that don’t appreciate what you’ve done for them and that think they’re entitled to leads and commissions that they had no role in generating and then they will bitch about you to anyone and everyone that will listen. Those people are toxic and the sooner you recognize them and remove them from your life the better. The reality is, there will be toxic team leads, toxic brokerage owners and toxic agents.
The usual suspects are everywhere, but there’s also awesomeness everywhere if you look for them, either way. expect a lot of turnover of people at all levels when scaling your business. With repeated turnover, comes a lot of repeated work if you don’t have systems set up to accommodate for it. Whenever you are training new team members, it is your job to set them up for success and one of the first ways to do this is by being clear about how you do things. Everyone had different processes for doing things, they take different approaches to things and they have different steps set up. People can’t read your mind and just because you do something one way, don’t assume other people will do it the same way or that they can read your mind. If you want things done a certain way, You will always have to be explicitly clear about that by creating what are called standard operating procedures. You will want an SOP they’re called for short about all the processes and things you do in your business.
These SOPs should be documented using a consistent template that is easy to follow and understand and includes both written explanations of the procedure or process, as well as video when applicable. The goal here is that if someone needed to complete a task and you weren’t available, that they would be able to refer to the SOP and have a pretty good idea of what is required and how to do it.
Now taking the time to do this may seem like a low priority for a brand new agent, I get that. There’s a lot of other things you need to set up that should take higher priority. However as soon as you feel like you’ve got your feet under you and all of your basic business systems are set up, I recommend revisiting this as one of your annual projects. Creating these SOPs before your business is ready to scale, will make scaling so much easier and so much less time consuming and therefore more likely that you’ll actually do it.
If you’re creating these before you need them, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Instead this can be an ongoing project that you just work on here and there, bit by bit.
The tool that I recommend you use to do this is once again…..can you guess it? Yup Notion. You would create a page called Standard Operating Procedures and then you would have a database inside of that page with all of your procedures documented. Each procedure can have it’s own page that includes anything relevant from text instructions to photos to video trainings using the free software program Loom. Every time you add a new person to
your team, all you have to do is grant them access to your Notion page and they can review all of those procedures and processes anytime they need to.
Yes it will take you time to build it all, but once you’ve done it once, it’s done and there is no repeated work each time someone new joins your team – which let me remind you, will be often.
So creating Standard Operating Procedures about all aspects of how you run your business will save you hundreds of hours when it comes to the next system you need in your business and that is a system for hiring and training new team members. I do not recommend that you hire anyone to do anything UNLESS you already have all of your processes documented and you have a system for onboarding and training someone.
Why? Because learn from me. You’ll get all excited about bringing someone on and start dreaming about how amazing it’s going to be and how it’ll just be a matter of time before your sippin’ margaritas on a beach basking in all this free time you now have.
Trust me, this is not how it will go down if you’re not well prepared. What will happen is that all of the sudden you’ll have this person waiting for you to train them and it will always happen right when your business is going bananas and you don’t have TIME for them. So they end up sitting around doing nothing and then you start feeling guilty that you’re spending this money so you start giving them random projects to do, without properly training them and then either something goes wrong or they do it totally wrong and not like you wanted and you think to yourself “oh forget it, it’s faster or safer or better for me to just do it myself than it is to spend the time and train them.’ Sound familiar? So now you’re spending money & wasting even more of the time you were already short on.
Before you ever hire anyone, you should have a month’s worth of training set up for them to do independently. I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend one on one time with them in that month, but that you have training available for them to work through, without your involvement and that means that you’ve developed a training and onboarding plan before you begin hiring.
When it comes to hiring people, I legitimately cannot provide any advice worth taking. I have a long history of making terrible hiring choices. Any of the good ones I made along the way were a fluke where I got lucky but it had nothing to do with me. I don’t know what my problem is, but I was lacking this skill well before I ever even got into real estate. I’ve seriously made so many bad decisions that my husband has forbidden me from hiring anyone ever again. Meanwhile I secretly hired someone just over a month ago and didn’t tell him and so far so good. She’s my dirty little secret and so far I love her, but shhhh. Don’t tell him.
So you’re going to have to go to someone else for any advice about making hiring decisions, but I have figured out the training thing a bit more with some trial and error under my belt. Mostly error, but some success and one of the best pieces of advice I was given was when hiring someone to take full and complete responsibility for their success. This can be really hard to do, but when we take full and complete responsibility that means that we can’t blame the hire for ANYTHING unless we thoroughly prepared them and trained them. If anything does go wrong and a mistake is made, it’s taking full responsibility for the mistake. What could YOU have done differently to prevent it.
Until you can get to a place where there is truly NOTHING more you could have done AND the hire would agree with that, only then is it time to consider letting someone go. Up until that point, it’s your job to set your hires up for success and until you’re ready to truly take responsibility for that, you may very often ended up being disappointed with your hires……unless of course you’re just naturally really good at leading and developing and training people. But usually those types of people don’t end up in real estate – they end up in different roles.
Alright before we get off training systems, the last thing I’ll leave you with is that when you are bringing on any new hire to your business, you’re going to want to dedicate at least an hour every single day to work with them one on one and as per usual if you haven’t planned for this and actually scheduled it in your calendar, it’s not going to happen and I can guarantee you it won’t work out. You’ve got to invest time into any new hire, you’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to be prepared before they arrive on scene.
Ok the next system you need when it comes to scaling your business is a project management system with team communication functionality. One of the biggest benefits of scaling your business is freeing up your time by delegating tasks to others. Now if you are a control freak like I am, this will be really hard to do. Like really hard. Not only am I a control freak, but I am also really particular about how I like things done and I have a hard time accepting that there are multiple fine ways to do something.
I know that my way is not the only way, but my way has worked for me in the past so I find it really hard to let go and not get stuck in patterns of perfectionism. Because perfectionism doesn’t only mean it has to be actually perfect. It can also just mean that I’m wanting something to be done perfectly the way I’d do it too. I can freely admit that I was not a good team lead when it came to other people working with my personal clients. I can lead and coach people with their own clients, but when it came to mine, I turned into a crazy person, with stupid high expectations that were almost impossible to meet.
Over time I learned how to get better, but it never came easily or naturally. The only thing that made it easier was having systems to try and predict and prevent things from going wrong. Proper training will help you predict what could go wrong and prevent it and a project management system will help prevent critical tasks from being missed. When there is a centralized place (like Notion) with all of the tasks that have to be completed in the course of working with your clients and those tasks can be assigned to team members so that everyone is on the same page and knows what has and hasn’t been completed, it can prevent nightmares. If you’re trying to delegate tasks without a central project management and team communication system, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
In addition to training and project management systems, you’ll also want to ensure you’ve got processes set up to ensure there is a culture conducive to open and honest dialogue about what’s going well and where there are opportunities for improvement. In any corporate environment, these types of systems and processes are so ingrained in the culture that we don’t question them. But when it comes to building a real estate business, most agents put this type of stuff at the bottom of their priority list or they don’t even have it on the list at all. But if you want to run a successful business and scale it effectively, building your leadership skills and learning how to help develop people is really important. If this is something you’re interested in getting better at, I highly recommend reading the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott. In fact everyone on your team should read it and all agree to practice the principles.
Alright as I said back in episode one of this series, if I had tried to go through all of the systems and tools I recommend in one episode, it would have been a few hours long. So hopefully you’ve enjoyed having it broken down into smaller bite sized chunks. If so, I’d so appreciate you leaving me a review.
Also, if you haven’t downloaded the free toolkit, there’s lots of goodies in there that I recommend you check out. Also, there’s been a lot of agents that have been asking if I sell my Notion templates separately outside of Foundations of Success and right now I don’t only because there are tons of templates in there that are all connected to each other and there are loads of videos that explain how to use them, so trying to separate them out is tough. However I am looking into simplifying the templates so that I can sell them as a pack, so if that’s something of interest for you, send me a DM on Instagram and let me know!
That’s it for now and remember the more you learn the more you’ll earn but only if you implement what you’re learning.
Until next time.