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Archive for standards

man on groundThis month, I’m featuring the lifeblood of a real estate office–hiring AND firing.

No one wants to talk about it, but, the passive-aggressive method of just letting them die isn’t leadership–it’s cowardice! Instead, we need to develop a fair method of letting those go who need to go.

Everyone has a Joe (or Josephine) in their offices. Joe has been an agent for six years. He’s the guy who makes coffee every morning. He’s the guy who takes people’s open houses (although he never picks up a customer). He’s even the guy who steps in when someone in the office can’t make their floor time (but he has never converted an inquiry to a client…). He’s also the guy who doesn’t sell a stick of real estate. Woops. I misspoke. He did sell one home once. It was during the ‘on fire’ market. Joe was on floor time. He got a walk in: A buyer who found the home himself, had cash, and was willing to write it up at Joe’s convenience. (After closing, Joe didn’t follow up with the client again. After all, the sale is over, isn’t it?)

What’s the matter with just keeping Joe?

Nothing, if you don’t care about your bottom line. Brokers tell me that a poor hire or a non-productive agent costs them nothing. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case. In this article, we’ll just beat up poor Joe. In the next article, we’ll address the new agent – poor hire.

dollar markHere’s How Joe Costs You $$$$$–Lots of $$$$$$

If you read nothing else in this article, please read this line:

Joe is a walking billboard for failure-an effective marketing strategy that communicates your office’s failure to make him successful, and your failure to making him successful.

Joe’s “billboard” publicizes the outcomes from your recruiting, training, and coaching. Here they are.

Recruiting. You find it hard to recruit. See, likes attract. People see that Joe (or lots of Joes) are in your office. Agents do search the MLS to find out what the sales statistics are in offices. (Why would they go to an office that has low production?) Maybe you’re like me, taking over a real estate office where it was known in the area, literally, as “the place you went if you didn’t want to work.” Boy, what a great recruiting endorsement!A� If so, you know that it’s a terrific uphill battle to recruit good people into a bad office. (Hint: You must get rid of the bad people first, then build on a new foundation. You can’t fool those agents!).

Training. You’re finding it hard to get agents to attend your training classes. Why? Because Joe attends every one of them-and then doesn’t take any action. So, your class endorsement is actually “those classes don’t do any good.”

Coaching. People say they want help, but they won’t go into a coaching relationship with you. Why? Because Joe tells them it won’t do any good. After all, he’s been in your office for five years, and being with you certainly hasn’t done him any good. (Joe also rains on the newer agents’ parades, by convincing them that no lead generating method you endorse is worth their time. After all, the one home Joe sold was a walk-in.)

Joe’s Making Your Success an Uphill Battle

You’ve tried to help Joe. You’ve decided you can’t help him. You’re working harder and longer. Yet, your office culture and productivity just don’t seem to improve. Ask yourself:

What percent of “Joe’s” do you have in your office right now?

Carla’s rule: If you have over 10% seasoned non-producers, you aren’t leading. They are.

In my next blog, I’ll show you a different way of evaluating your agents. It will give you a method you can trust to figure out who to keep and who to put the ‘happy trails’ record on for…..

small LM CoverAre you Unsure of Who to Hire and Who to Fire?

Why not see if Leadership Mastery Coaching can help you gain the skills and judgments to make great personnel decisions? This is a unique, one-on-one coaching program expressly for real estate leadership. Sign up for a complimentary consultation today. Make 2016 the year you break through your ceiling of achievement!

many peole standing recruitingLeadership is about moving ahead. But, it’s also about knowing when not to keep working with someone. That means you have to know when to let them go.

DoA� you put off letting someone go? You’re not alone. How to let someone go fairly–with grace–is a huge challenge for many managers. This challenge just came up again. I was just asked by an association of real estate companies to do a leadership webinar on standards. Before I do a ‘live’ presentation or a webinar for a particular group, I use my Pre-Conference Survey to find out exactly what their needs are.

(Note: If you do presentations for ‘outside groups’, consider making a pre-conference survey so you find out their exact needs, cultural specifics, and market differences. It makes a huge difference in your ability to deliver to their needs). This was the question that stood out most to me in the survey.

Question: How Do You Terminate Someone Fairly and Effectively?

Do you believe that the person who is failing knows he/she is failing? Of course they do. And, the longer they fail, the further down their self-esteem sinks, the further their confidence shrinks, and, finally,

the person simply quits working!

They still may be employed/contracted with you, but, they aren’t doing the things necessary to move their job forward. So, it’s not fair to simply let them continue failing. Nothing will change. You must step in.

The ‘One Last Chance’ Conversation and System

I’m a huge believer in game plans and systems for situations. That means you are fair with everyone. One of the reasons managers don’t want to fire is that they are afraid they will be unfair–or perceived as unfair. The way to take away those fears is to implement a system to give each person one last chance (this is after you have tried your normal coaching and training methods).

What’s in the One Last Chance’ Conversation

Here are the steps to terminate someone fairly and with grace.

1. Call the meeting. Do not engage in small talk. This is serious; it has no social aspect.
2. State that the person has not met your standards (minimum expectations). You DO have those in place, right?
3. Tell the person you will provide them one last chance.
4. Show them the performance system you will use (something like The Up and Running in Real Estate.)

5. Get agreement that the person will use the system.

Make The Time Frame Short

I have been snookered by the best of them! I’ve learned to make the time frame no more than 30 days. You want that person to go right to work. You also must reserve the right to terminate at any time.

Good News: They Will Let Themselves Go 50% of the Time

You will find that many people are just waiting for you to provide that last chance, so they can face the fact they really don’t want to work. They will let themselves go.

When You Terminate

You have given them a fair chance. You have been straightforward. They have not gone to work. All you have to do in your termination conversation is to state just that. 95% of the time you will get no argument. In fact, they will thank you for being honest with them. Using these five pointers will allow you to let them go with grace, and relieve your mind that you are fair in your termination guidelines.

logoGot Someone You Must Judge ‘Up or Out’?

It’s hard to tell who is working unless you have them working in a specific program and reporting to you. Up and Running in Real Estate makes that easy to do. In 8 weeks, you’ll know whether that person is working–and attaining–or not. You don’t have time to work with those who won’t work, do you? Take a look at Up and Running in Real Estate as your ‘rejuvenation’ tool.

man with hair in airDo you say your agents are your ‘customers’? Many brokers call their agents their a�?customersa��. We thought that, by calling our agents our customers, we would please them, create loyalty and forge recruiting tools. This trend of calling agents a�?customersa�� was a reaction to the old-style a�?father knows besta�� top-down management. Not a bad thought, but, unfortunately, too limiting. We assumed that, if we provided the services agents wanted, everything would be wonderful. If you’re considering your agents your customers, has it worked out the way you expected?

Who is Your Real Customer?

That thought process has sure gotten us into trouble. Why? Because we forgot that the person who actually pays commissions is called a a�?buyera�� or a a�?sellera��a��the end user. If the end user is unhappy, they vote with their feet. The result of our lack of focusing on the end user is plummeting commissions and alternative a�?agent-litea�� companies, relying much more on technology than personal service.

The bigger business world got it long ago. When is the last time you were asked about the level of service in a business you were using? Ia��ll bet you are asked at least once a week. The bigger world of business discovered long ago that they had to satisfy the needs of the consumer-and that those needs were escalating by the minute.

How do we put the real consumer first, providing the services that make them so happy they would never leave us?

Recommendations:

  1. Quit hiring non-committed agents. They simply will not do the work, create a business, and serve consumer needs to warrant a a�?generousa�� commission. If your agents don’t go to work, it doesn’t matter what you do for them or the services you provide.
  2. Establish standards of production for your agents. What do you expect of thema��and when? What do your standards say about you?
  3. Accept that a low-producing agent cannot and does not provide excellent servicea��and the consumer knows that. If you have many low-producing agents, what level of service are they providing? What does that say about you and your company?
  4. Pretend you are a consumer. Which of your agents would you want to work with? Which of your agents wouldna��t you want to buy a home from?

If your agents aren’t your customers, what are they? Perhaps partners, as one very successful franchise has termed them. You decide. If, in fact, you’re leaning toward ‘partners’, you must establish communications, culture, and values that reflect a partnership–not just call your agents ‘partners’!

LM CoverCould You Use some Help Refining your Leadership Style?

What is your leadership style? How well is it working? Do you want to expand, refine, or re-define it to reflect your values and those of the kind of person you want to recruit today? It’s difficult to do that on your own, and you also need the systems to back up your works. Leadership Mastery Coaching can guide you through the process.

Why not have a complimentary consultation with Carla CrossA� to see if Leadership Mastery Coaching is for you?

Conductor with His OrchestraThis month, I’m focused on leadership. Why? Because it takes much more than management to move a real estate office (or any business) forward today.

Today, I want to concentrate on the similarity of a real estate office to a fine orchestra–and what we can learn from world-class orchestras. As a long-time flutist, I know an orchestra either played in harmony–or it didn’t. And, it only took one out-of-tune player to make the whole orchestra sound bad! Just as there are negative consequences to orchestras when even one player who play ‘out of tune’, there are also negative consequences to a real estate office whose associates are out of synch with leadership (and the right leadership).A� So, let me take the analogy further.

There are three important lessons we can learn from the great orchestral conductors about leading for a productive, focused atmosphere with common values (which translates into more profits.)

Admittance Isn’t Free to Everyone…..

1.A� To get into the orchestra is a privilege; you must audition.A� Each player must meet certain standards if the orchestra is to succeed as a whole. So, selection is key to top performance.A� That means, to the real estate manager, that we must be selective and set standards for hiring, so that the person hired will fit well into our common focus. If we hire Bill, Sally, and George, and them segregate them, we fracture our focus, and create a negative atmosphere that makes it extremely difficult for our new associate to perform well.

Each Person Must Constantly Strive to Improve

2.A� Before the conductor allows the orchestra to play the piece together, each person and then each section must practice to perfect their parts.A� Musicians know perfect practice insures perfect performance.A� When we finally put all the parts and sections together, we also experience the whole as greater than the sum of the parts.A� In the business world, we call the results of this practice method a�?teamworka�� and a�?synergya��. How does a real estate manager accomplish this in his office?A� By establishing a strong, comprehensive new agent training program, focused on practice and performance, not focused on knowledge.A� The training program is the a�?musica��, complete with the values and concepts that are endorsed in that real estate office.A� Each member agrees to and is trained that way.

The Leader Must Represent the Best Values of the Culture

3. The a�?first chaira�� leader (the best player) has great responsibility for the teamwork and focus of his section.A� He is charged with assuring his section plays as one and that each player plays well so all players benefit.A� On solo parts, he can shine, but he still needs to play within the framework of his section and of the whole orchestra.A� This creates a win-win for all in the ensemble.A� The first chair must be a consummate leader.A� There are actually many wonderful virtuosos who cana��t play in orchestras, because they arena��t team players.A� They want to a�?play it their waya��a��and their way is not the orchestraa��s way.A� Kind of like a real estate office, except, brokers, unlike conductors, many times allow solo performers in their offices even if they arena��t team players!A� You brokers tell me that your top agent a�?does her own thinga��.A� I hear you say that she is a�?not a team playera��, but she does make you lots of money.A� Oh, really?A� So, in what orchestra is that top agent playing?A� Obviously, not yours! The lack of common focus and endorsement of maverick behavior by top producers only shatters any teamwork and shared values the broker is attempting to instill in his group.A� So, make up your mind. If you want a team, create one with an all-winner group.A� Banish your maverick player to someone elsea��s orchestra. The result: More production from your a�?sectiona�� players, more teamwork, more common focus, and a more pleasant job for you!

What do you see managers do that unwittingly undermine their abilities to create a congruent team?

LM CoverAre You Reaching your Potential asA� Leader?

It’s easy to talk about leadership. It makes you feel good. But, that’s not very productive. You must also engage in leadership ACTIONS. How can you learn, implement, and be confident in those critical actions? By engaging with a coach who can lead you as you lead. Why not find out if Leadership Mastery coaching is for you? Click here for a complimentary consultation.

coaching hand upFrom working with dozens of real estate owners and managers, and as my position as a CRB (Certified Real Estate Broker) instructor for twelve years, I’ve had an opportunity to see exactly what makes a company profitable–in the long run. So, this month, I’m sharing what I’ve found to be the critical pieces of the puzzle that lead to sustainable profits. I’ll spotlight the 4 foundations you have to have to be exceptionally profitable–no matter your economic model. Actually, I’ve come to these foundations by observing how companies fail to be profitable over a period of time without these four foundations. In each of these blogs, I’ll spotlight one foundation. The first is

Vision–do you know where you want to end up, and have you communicated it and gotten the team on board?

The second,A� is standards. Do you know what you’ll put up with–and what you won’t? Do you have production standards (the minimum someone can do and stay with you….)

If you don’t have those foundations, you aren’t leading. You’re just managing. And, in a fast market, you can get away with that. But, if market conditions aren’t sweeping your office forward, you need to step up to these 4 leadership foundations.

The Third foundation: Accountability

You can have vision and standards, plus goals–but, if you don’t hold yourself and others accountable to them, nothing changes.

You’ve heard all this before (or you’ve said it): a�?I dona��t need a coacha�?. a�?Ia��m accountable to myselfa�?. And, you should be. But, none of us are able to move forward and break through those barriers to achievement at times–without a coach to be accountable to. How do I know that? As a long-time professional musician, I know that we need someone to show us around our barriers. We need someone to help us set those goals AND move toward them.A� No great performer ever is so naA?ve to believe he can coach himself. You just can’t see what you’re missing! Look what happened to Michelle Khan, the ice skater, when she decided she could coach herself? A downward spiral, which resulted in lowered self-confidence and self-esteem. It was a long climb back for her, too.

Deadlines to Get it Done

The biggest plus of having a coach is that the coach sets deadlines with you for accountability. The second biggest plus is that the agent/client gets the positive reinforcement all motivational studies show is absolutely critical for higher goal attainment. If you want your agents to produce more, hold them accountable for that production. The third plus is that the coach offers suggestions in how to get there and reinforces what he/she knows will work. So many times, I’ve thought intuitively that a particular strategy was right. But, I gave it up because it wasn’t reinforced by a coach (or by anyone). And, it takes a long time to see your efforts work (just think about recruiting!).

Your Biggest Value to Your Agents

What do you think it is? It’s not things. It’s actually invaluable. It’s what you can do to help them develop the best career they can have. And, that is through coaching and accountability.

How do You Learn How to Coach?

Be coached by the right coach–a coach who has proven that specific leadership/action strategies will work for you. It’s important not to get just platitudes or encouragement, but to get practical actions that are proven to move a company forward.A� If you don’t have a coach now, you’re telling your agents to be accountable–but you’re not. So, consider gaining a coach this year to help you put these foundations in place.

LM CoverAre You Developing your Leadership Skills?

If you’re stuck in management and want to move to leadership, if you want to expand your office with a firm foundation for long-term profits, consider coaching. Sign up for a complimentary consultation to see if Leadership Mastery Coaching is for you.

hands of keysFrom working with dozens of real estate owners and managers, and as my position as a CRB (Certified Real Estate Broker) instructor for twelve years, I’ve had an opportunity to see exactly what makes a company profitable–in the long run. So, this month, I’m going to share what I’ve found to be the critical pieces of the puzzle that lead to sustainable profits. I’ll spotlight the 4 foundations you have to have to be exceptionally profitable–no matter your economic model. Actually, I’ve come to these foundations by observing how companies fail to be profitable over a period of time without these four foundations. In each of these blogs, I’ll spotlight one foundation. The first was

Vision: The Missing Component in Most Business Plans (and in most real estate offices!)

The second, which I’m spotlighting today, is standards.

How did I learn about the importance of standards? As a lifelong pianist, I learned from a very early age that I had to play up and beyond a certain standard to get into master groups, to get a great piano teacher, to win competitions, and to be awarded a degree in piano performance. Standards are simply a part of the competitive action-based environment (like real estate sales!).

What are Standards?

What are standards? Ita��s the least youa��ll put up with. You may call them ‘minimums’. Now, some real estate offices have standards/expectations like

1. You must take floor time

2. You must be a Realtor

3. You must wear clean clothes and drive a clean car.

Those are all nice. But, have you ever seen a failing agent take floor time? Be a Realtor? Of course. Too often, we establish standards of behavior for our convenience as managers–not to assure we have productive agents!

The most important standards to put in place are

production standards

I Don’t Need Standards: My Economic Model is Different

You may say, “I don’t have to have production standards. I’m a desk fee company.” Sure, that works fine when the market is good. But, what happens to all those fees when the market turns down? You bet. Your desk fees shrink and your non-collectible fees go up dramatically! Or, you’re a high agent count company with narrow profit margins. Sure, that’s fine too as long as the market carries you. But, if you’re finding it hard to recruit great people, or if your market turns down, you’re in the same boat as the desk fees.

The bottom line: Having productive agents is important to your long-term profitability, no matter your economic model.

Standards Establish What You’re Like as a Company

Describe your agents. What are they like? Would you describe them as productive professionals? Are they doing enough transactions apiece that the public thinks your company is serving the public well? Or, do you have a majority of low-producing part-timers–which, even though we don’t want to admit it, tarnish our company image.

How many sales and listings sold are expected to stay in your office? If you don’t know, neither do they! So how can you expect them to go to work, when work is whatever theya��d like to do that daya��real estate sales or not! Before you can expect your training or coaching to work, you must establish productivity standards. Armed with those standards, you and they know whata��s expected. Now, you have a baseline from which to coach. Your consumer also has a baseline of expectations from your company.

Standards Establish Pride in Belonging

Which organizations are you proud to belong to? Why? Do you think your agents are proud to belong to your company? If so, why? Standards say ‘you’re special’. Standards say that you believe you can develop that agent to his/her fullest potential. If you don’t have established, held-to production standards, you aren’t protecting your long-term profitability.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the third foundation you need to create a profit foundation that won’t waver even when the market tanks–and it will again!

LM CoverDo You Know the Steps to Implementing Standards?

Many times we avoid setting standards because we are either afraid to, or don’t know how to do it in a way that brings all the agents with you. In our one-on-one customized Leadership Mastery Coaching, Carla takes you through the steps and helps you implement standards so you have confidence in the process and the agents are pleased you’re taking leadership. Find out more with a complimentary consultation.