So, business is booming. That’s great news! That likely means commissions are up and that your wallet is feeling pretty good about what’s happening.
But with increased business comes increased stress and responsibilities. No matter how good it might feel to have those extra dollars, the chances are that arise in business also means the need to spend more time helping clients, allowing you less free time to enjoy leisure activities or to cultivate other aspects of your career.
So maybe it’s time to hire an assistant.
Think about it. With the help of some new hands, you can provide yourself with 3, 4, 5 hours a day of extra time. Consider the fact that hiring an assistant for even 10-15 hours a week is like adding those hours to your week. All of a sudden, someone else is available to shoulder some of the responsibility that’s been bogging you down, and that can be a huge relief.
Taking the first step
It’s difficult for a lot of agents to take the plunge and hire an assistant, not so much due to the cost as because realtors have a hard time relinquishing power to someone else. It’s natural to want to “protect” your business, and it’s hard for many individuals to delegate duties. Indeed, the agents with real control issues have a hard time believing that someone else can manage their projects as well as they can.
But if you take time to conduct in-depth interviews and carefully review a candidate’s experience, you will likely be able to find someone who’s just right and who complements your demeanor.
A few guidelines for hiring assistant might be as follows:
- Someone with a strong administrative background who can multi-task
- An individual with at least some experience in real estate though not necessarily licensed
- A person who’s not afraid to talk on the phone or work face-to-face with clients
- An assistant who has a record of being on time AND is a good time manager
- Someone who doesn’t shy away from controversy (and dealing with demanding clients)
After you advertise for an assistant and you’ve narrowed it down to a few candidates, don’t just rush through a quick interview and – by all means – don’t be quick to judge whether or not you like the person, just because they’re pretty/handsome and outgoing and you think your clients will love them. Ask some pointed questions and listen carefully to the answers. Some might include:
- Have you worked in an office setting previously?
- How are your computer skills?
- What do you know about social media and using it in business?
- Are you familiar with branding and online marketing?
- What do you consider your greatest strengths? Or weaknesses?
- Do you have reliable transportation to and from the office and for additional tasks?
- Do you have reliable childcare? (if applicable)
- Can you work independently, or do you require regular guidance?
- How are your math skills? (You might consider a math test of necessary skills.)
- Can you provide references from recent employers?
Be committed to training your assistant
Remember, hiring is just the first step. You need to be willing to spend time training your assistant throughout the first several weeks or employment. You’ll need to teach them about listings, closings, dealing with clients in person and on the phone, and a host of other particulars that will arise.
Be patient. Your new assistant won’t learn everything in a day or two, but you will probably be able to determine within the first few weeks whether you’ve chosen the right person. And, if they aren’t the right assistant for your needs or personality, don’t be shy about letting them go, but do explain why and perhaps give them a chance to make the changes necessary.
Are you still worried about the cost? Start with very part-time hours or even consider sharing an assistant with another realtor in your office. But be sure to outline specifics as to how you will share that person before you hire someone, or the situation could create some in-office controversy that’s better avoided.