The day you hire an administrative assistant will be a pivotal moment for your real estate business.
It will be the day you go from single agent to budding team; from overwhelmed to under control. No longer glued to your laptop, you'll be able to spend more time face-to-face with clients.
An assistant allows you to focus on the most important tasks—the dollar-productive tasks that only you can do, like making prospecting calls, helping clients understand the market data, and negotiating offers. Those are the tasks you love most anyways, because those are the reasons why you chose a career in real estate.
I'm sure you didn't become a realtor because you love entering data into a CRM and managing your calendar. I'm guessing your Why has a little more to do with your love of people, homes, and community.
So let's talk about hiring an administrative assistant. There was a great Realvolve webinar last year that covered this topic, and three hiring experts in the real estate field shared their tips and best practices. The following blog post is made possible by the wisdom of award-winning speaker and consultant Valerie Garcia, RE/MAX Realty Select team leader Keith Roy, and T3 Talent Executive VP Kelly White.
Let's get started.
4 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring An Assistant
Mistake #1: Hiring under duress.
Here's a scenario you're probably familiar with: It's January, it's cold, and no one feels like listing or buying a house. Business is slow, and you're enjoying this downtime while you leisurely get ready for spring. Then boom—it's the end of March and the market is heating up. You close 6 deals in May, 7 in June, and by July, you have your hands full and you're totally overwhelmed.
I need an assistant, stat, you think. So you hire the first assistant you find.
They're not great.
By the end of August, you let them go, because things have slowed down again.
But wait, October is crazy, and you suddenly have 5 new listings, and you never should have fired your assistant! You scramble to find a new admin, and—surprise!—they kind of suck.
"Don't be the agent who keeps hiring a new assistant every three months. Don't follow the peaks and valleys," advises Keith.
What to do instead:
Plan ahead. Start the candidate search in the offseason, when you have the time to make a level-headed decision.
Gather a large pool of candidates, go through an extensive interview process, and dedicate a 90-day block of time for your new hire's training period.
Once your administrative assistant knows the ropes, you can begin to scale up your business and fill your pipeline with more deals. When the next "slow season" comes around, you and your assistant will actually be quite busy!
Mistake #2: Not being fully invested in the employee (in case it doesn't work out).
You might be worried that after you put all of this time and energy into hiring and training this person, they'll just leave after a few months. The mistake some agents make is to cut corners in training, not fully investing themselves in the development of this employee. Or they might not offer enough pay, or might avoid letting them interact with clients, or they don't bother with getting them licensed or building new skills.
"If you’re worried about people leaving you, and you’re building a culture based on that fear, then it’s going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy," says Keith. "Don’t do the fear-based approach. Create a culture where they can thrive and grow. If you don’t grow them, they’ll leave."
What to do instead:
Let your assistant know that they are an integral part of the business, and that you are building it together.
Set clear expectations for their career path: "As we bring on more clients and the business grows, you'll get an increased salary and bonus," or "We'll get you licensed over the next few years so you can take on additional responsibilities."
Develop their skills. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them. Include them when you discuss the business's numbers. Meet with them to hear their ideas for how to improve the processes they manage.
Mistake #3: Hiring someone with a real estate license.
Here's the thing: The role of administrative assistant isn't a real estate job. It's an assistant job.
If you hire someone who already has a real estate license, they probably don't want to be an assistant for the long term. They're probably hoping to eventually move into the role of buyer's agent or listing manager.
Sure, you could hire an assistant that you know won't stay for long. But is that your ideal scenario?
What to do instead:
If you want a professional, dependable, fully-invested administrative assistant to help you grow your business, don't look for someone with a real estate license. Look for someone who is passionate about a career as an assistant.
"When you find the right person, they want to be an assistant," says Valerie. "They are the type of person who wants to run things on the backend. They want to keep your life in order. They want to do the paperwork. They are the person that runs the world behind the scenes.”
Kelly advises looking for an assistant that has the qualities of a "servant leader"—someone who gets satisfaction and fulfillment out of providing service to others. That's the type of person you want answering your office phone, scheduling appointments with your clients, managing forms, arranging sign drop-offs, and handling all of the tasks that keep your business running smoothly.
Mistake #4: Hiring someone too similar to you.
The qualities that make you a great real estate agent are very different from the qualities of a great administrative assistant. So when you're interviewing a candidate, you might not feel that initial connection.
"I always guard against that in the interview process," says Kelly, "especially if you're talking to someone who has a different behavioral style from you. You're not going to instantaneously like them, behaviorally speaking."
It might not be a meet-cute, but that doesn't mean it won't be a mutually-beneficial, meaningful, long-lasting relationship.
What to do instead:
Understand the qualities that make someone a great administrative assistant.
Look for someone with:
exceptional organization and time-management skills
the ability to adapt to last-minute changes (without losing their cool)
a passion for providing service and support
the interpersonal skills needed to make a connection with any type of personality
This person might be very different from you, but they'll be a great assistant.
Onboarding Your Assistant: The right tech stack makes all the difference
Now that you know what not to do, you can begin the process of gathering candidates, interviewing them, and hiring the perfect assistant.
Once you've hired an assistant, there's a lot of training to do—that's why we recommend allowing for 90 days to get it all done.
But one thing that will make training much easier is the right tech stack. You need a platform that allows you to document every single step of every one of your processes. You need automation that will nudge your assistant to perform the right tasks at the right time. You can get all of these capabilities and more with Firepoint.
Click here to download the guide: The Rule of Three
About Sammy Harper
Sammy Harper is a content writer at Firepoint & Realvolve. Her nine years of digital marketing experience include SEO, email marketing, social media, and blogging. Fascinated by the real estate indust...