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Opinion: Why are teams so valuable?

In part one of this article, I discussed the future of teams in real estate brokerage. In this part, I discuss what brokers must know about the value of the teams at their brokerage so that they can serve them appropriately.

Teams are agile and adaptable.

The agility the team approach offers is undeniable. In a volatile market, they can shift quickly, unlike large brokerages that are mired in bureaucracy and can be slow to react to the rapid market changes. Teams can hire specialized staff and agents who can specifically meet the needs of their customer base and that of the team entity. If the real estate environment changes, they can cut loose the staff they have or retrain them to adapt.

They operate efficiently by working as a unit and can set the cultural expectations that drive cohesive entrepreneurship. Teams have more employees proportionately per agent than a brokerage, so they can move faster and control the usage of programs and services more effectively.

“The main thing keeping top agents from doing more business is not a lack of opportunity, it’s a lack of capacity. Ultimately, agents don’t sell houses — they sell time. And no matter how great they are at what they do, no matter how many leads they have coming in, solo agents will eventually hit a plateau where they just don’t have time to take on more business,” said Guy Gal, CEO of Side.

Teams allow you to stand out from the crowd.

“As the market shifts, it’s going to become more important than ever for agents to differentiate themselves,” said Gal. “Right now, we’re at a point where there are an incredible number of licensed agents — many of whom are part-timers who got into real estate during the pandemic — competing for fewer and fewer transactions. Agents must stand out from the crowd.”

Teams can provide consistent service delivery.

By using the same services and programs, you can create consistent delivery of services and external messaging. A broker can have the slickest services and software, but they cannot say that every agent in the firm uses those products.

It has long been a challenge for brokers who spend millions creating, accessing, or buying programs and then have a 10% adoption rate. Teams can declare what their services are and ensure everyone on the team effectively and efficiently uses them to the benefit of the consumer and the operation.

They are customer focused.

“The top agents will always thrive in a changing real estate market,” said Chris Suarez, co-founder of team platform PLACE. “Historically, during market changes, we see the greatest shifts in market share amongst the agent community. When agents aren’t consumed with the operational aspect of managing a team, they can direct their efforts to increase their client base and grow professionally. This leads to stronger agents and better business performance, and propels our vision of helping people achieve the dream of homeownership.”   

Teams can test programs and services.

There is a strong case for why traditional brokers should do everything in their power to hang on to their teams. Teams are customer first and typically have one super salesperson driving the entity based on their sales experience. They can be valuable advisors to the broker. Teams offer the perfect petri dish for a broker to test programs and services. If they are willing, they can be a microcosm to beta test services on a small scale before a company launch or even before the investment is made in an external service or software.

They have high adoption rates of company services.

A high adoption rate of company services by teams can set an example for other agents. One of the primary reasons for low adoption rates by individual agents is the fear that the broker will retain the agent’s customer information if they choose to leave.

The only way to overcome that is to put it in writing that they will not. It is the question of whose client is it? The answer depends on perspective. But whatever the answer, it doesn’t change the question that agents and teams want answered. 

If large teams are confident in a program delivered by their broker, it can go a long way in giving the stamp of approval for the rest of the agents.

They can help brokers grow market share.

Because teams are often quite localized, they can positively affect their broker’s market share. A team leader’s local expertise allows them to dominate other agents based on the sheer volume that can handle in a concentrated market. That concentration creates expertise and the entire brokerage rides on the coattails of that market penetration.

The danger is that if that team leaves, the market share may plummet because the broker’s individual agents may have avoided that market so as not to compete with the team.

Teams offer mentoring.

Team members can mentor new agents before they go out on their own. It is a great way to instill structure and give agents a front-row seat to observe what it is like to be a successful high performer.

Teams often set stricter expectations for following specific policies and procedures which can create compliance but can also be risky when requiring independent contractors to comply as if they were employees.

Teresa R Howe is founder of TRH Consulting.

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