Although I’ve spent my career as an individual broker, I recognize the importance of having a team of professionals behind me who embody the same work ethic and sense of professionalism that I do. In fact, I credit the wonderful assistants who back me up, enabling me the time to give my absolute best to my clients when I can’t be in two places at the same time. The Mizner and Simon of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. have spent many successful years together taking a team approach to selling real estate. Currently, we have teams working in all three of our offices – Wellesley, Weston and Needham – and our current top producer for 2017 is a team with $19 million in sales under their belts to date.
Although the concept of real estate brokers working in teams is nothing new, it is becoming more prevalent in today’s market. Back in the 1970s it was almost unheard of, but by the 1990s the team approach was far more common.
In our fast-paced 24/7 work cycle, real estate brokers often wear many hats and must make themselves available at times that are most convenient for their clients. Professionals in our business rely on support teams to provide feedback and implement innovative marketing programs to keep clients well-serviced and top of mind. A listing’s status can completely change overnight. For example, multiple counter offers and cash offers often light up your phone at midnight. You’re always on call, attached to your mobile device, and you can’t be a superstar broker without having some backup.
If you’re struggling with the decision to go it alone or work as a team, here’s what you need to know if you are considering taking a team approach:
Choose the right partner: Selecting the right person to team up with is critical to your success and can cost you dearly if it’s not the right fit. Look for someone who has skills that complement your style rather than match it. While shared values and a coordinated approach among teams is a must, seek a partner who has skills that you admire but lack and vice-versa. Are you highly organized? Don’t rule out someone who may not have that talent but is extremely creative if you’re not.
Your strength is your brand: One member of a team may prefer working with sellers, acting more as a listing agent. Other brokers may find their niche is showing homes to prospective buyers or may be better negotiators because of a previous legal background. Capitalize on diverse talents to create a brand that differentiates the team from the hundreds of agents out there vying for the same piece of business. An efficient, well-organized team that compliments rather than copies each other will generally close more deals than individual agents.
Divide and conquer: In any transaction, the client is the top priority. When taking on a new client, the team should divide and conquer for an optimal outcome. In most cases, the lead is the one who initially brings in the client and should be the primary “go-to” person for the client. Nothing can turn off a client more than having the same question asked by a team or getting the impression that the team is not properly communicating with each other.
Determine commission splits up front: There are no set rules regarding commission splits among team members. Some teams will go 50/50 on all transactions no matter who brings in the lead, while others may split commissions on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation. The former can be tricky because if you are not pulling your weight, the team member bringing in more business will begin to feel resentful if commissions are equal. In cases where an agent hires an assistant rather than a partner, they are most likely to have a different commission arrangement. The important thing is managing expectations by having an agreement in place.
Know thyself: Before you make the decision to take the journey alone or as a team, take time to think about your own goals and desires. Ask yourself: Are you able to find the right person that will help accelerate your trajectory and exceed your goals as an individual? Do you have enough business in the pipeline to support a partnership? Can you trust this person when things get tough? Can you work together to promote a sense of camaraderie instead of competition?
While working in a team has many benefits, in the end, you may decide to fly solo and that path can also be highly lucrative. As the old saying goes, you get out of life what you put into it.
Debi Benoit, principal at Benoit Mizner Simon & Co., has been Wellesley’s No. 1 broker for 10 consecutive years.