Teaming Up - You Don't Have To Go It Alone
Having been a solo practitioner and having been part of a team, I really must confess to preferring the latter. I loved not having to do things alone. I loved having someone I could call and say "I'm not going to make it for the appraiser, can you meet him?" I loved having someone to take the fifth whining call from the problem client that day when I could no longer even face the phone. I even bought my first house from a two-person team. They were ahead of the curve in 1993; and they were a blast to work with.
The Benefits of Having a Partner
Having a partner or a team means that you can share the burdens and the work. You can do things more efficiently and only do the things that each of you are best at. You can take vacations - real vacations - ones where you do NO work. It means that you can take days off. It means that if you're sick you don't have to answer the phone. It means, in short, a higher quality of life.
Setting the Ground Rules
I remember trying to teach this to my first business partner. After we partnered up he got the first day off. He called in at about 10am to tell me something he had forgotten. I told him it was his day off and hung up on him. He called back and said "Hey! You hung up on me!" I said "yep, it's your day off, I don't want to hear from you." and I hung up again. He called back and said, "but I need to tell you this!" I said, "nope, there are no emergencies in real estate. I'll figure it out or it will wait until tomorrow" and I hung up again. This time he didn't call back. And you know what? The world didn't end. I knew it wasn't an appointment that I would miss - we had a system for those. So it had to be something administrative and those can wait - and it did. Then it was my turn to take the day off. Sure enough, at about 1pm he called me. I answered the phone said "it's my day off" and hung up again. He called back and said "but I just need to know this one thing" and I said "you'll figure it out, it's my day off" and I hung up again. He didn't call back. Those were the only two days we ever had that problem. After that, he started to settle into a more regular pattern and he started to appreciate the freedom that came from being truly off duty.
Make sure that you're getting all of the benefits of being on the team.
Take your time off.
Have a Great Partnership Agreement in Place
A partnership agreement is like a pre-nuptual agreement. You make these agreements when everyone is happy so that when everyone is NOT happy later, they are still reasonable with one another. A good partnership agreement should address issues around setting expectations about who will do what, how much of it they will do, how compensation will be shared - in both regular instances and in unusual instances like referral fees and lawsuit settlements, what happens if someone is incapacitated, retires or dies, who gets to decide on selling the business, and how the partnership will be disolved in the event that things don't work out. In the latter instance, make sure you address not only who will get the current clients and listings, but also who gets the ownership of the past client database and any training, tools, equipment, and materials that were jointly purchased.
Only Partner With Someone You Trust
This person will be in charge of your income. If you think they are irresponsible or a slacker in any way, don't partner with them. If you can't trust the person with several thousand dollars in cash or taking good care of the most important person in your life, then you shouldn't trust them with your livelihood.
If In Doubt - Don't Do It
I've partnered with a lot of people over the years. Not one of the partnerships have lasted. Some were dissolved mutually because of changing circumstances (moving out of state, etc.) Others went up in a ball of flame, still others died on the vine and withered away. But for all of the ones that didn't work out in a BIG way, I knew before I got into them. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach at some point in the process before it was too late to back out and I didn't say anything. That was my biggest mistake. If you have that pit show up in your stomach - no matter how far you are into the process - put the breaks on, before you give that aching belly to your clients too. Trust your instincts. If you're in doubt - get out.
If You Do It - Have a System
One of the reasons that my partnerships worked so well for me was that I had systems in place to track what was going on with each file. We had forms and checklists that let us see at a glance where each file was and what was coming up next on it. So that if my partner was having his day off, I could get the information I needed from the file. Without these systems in place, it would have been a rolling disaster as we dropped the ball and missed details each thinking the other had handled them. If you're going to have a great team, you first need a great system.
If You Don't Want To Recreate the Wheel - Use Mine
I spent two years developing my systems. It took countless hours of testing one form after another before it all worked right. You can save yourself the hassle and start with what I created - it's a complete system designed to make your life and your business much more streamlined, higher touch to the client without being a lot more work for you, and it has special team forms that allow team members to communicate back and forth without a lot of effort. It's one of my best selling products for a reason. Check it out.
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