At some point in your career, if you haven't already, you might consider bringing on help...either a full partner, a licensed assistant or an unlicensed assistant. I have done all three with varying degrees of success. Some of my alliances crashed and burned; others were wildly successful. But partnerships are tough and while they offer significant benefits, they can also add much unneeded stress to the already stressful life of a real estate agent.
The primary reason people partner up in business is to get more business. By teaming up with another person, either as equals or in a boss/worker-bee relationship, both parties hope that the partnership will create something bigger than the individual parts. In other words, if two people can earn $30,000 each working alone, they hope that they can make $100,000 total working together.
Before Partnering...Search Your Soul
Why are you thinking about hiring or partnering? Is it because someone told you to? Or because you took a class that said you should? Were you approached by someone wanting a job or a partner?
Or are you truly overwhelmed and need some help?
Don't complicate your life by bringing on help for the wrong reasons. I promise you, bringing another warm body into your business world will not simply your life - it might improve it, but definitely won't simplify it. After several years of experimenting with assistants and partners, I finally decided that I would only take on as much business as I could handle myself, without help, and refer the rest. The stress of working with someone else simply wasn't worth it. For me.
But if you are honestly sinking under your workload and are sure that you need help, then let's talk about the right help for you.
What Kind of Help Do You Really Need?
First, make a list of the aspects of your job you enjoy doing. Truly enjoy. Do you like open houses? Do you like previewing homes? Showing buyers? Attending inspections? Negotiating inspections? Writing offers? Meeting with seller prospects? Cold-calling? Warm-calling? Taking-your-friends-to-lunch? Designing home brochures? Running errands? Filing? Making a daily to-do list? And checking it twice? Don't includes activities you wish you enjoyed; only those that you really like to do, and are good at.
What about your job do you dislike? What activities do you dread? What duties hardly ever get done in a timely manner, if at all? Don't be ashamed of this list; be honest with yourself. And be detailed. Do you have a stack of closed files in the corner that needs to be organized and put away? An SOI that hasn't been touched in six months? A computer that desperately needs to be backed up? Or maybe you dread open houses and buyer agent feedback calls. Or even working with buyers... or sellers?
If you are already detailed-oriented and fairly well organized, it won't do you much good to hire a secretary-type. Many detail-conscious agents make that mistake. They think that by hiring an administrative assistant, they'll get off their backside and go prospect. What actually happens is that they continue to handle the administrative details themselves and continually wonder why they hired help in the first place. If you're truly chomping at the bit to go SELL, but the paperwork is holding you back, by all means, get an assistant. But if you're using the paperwork as an excuse to stay in the office, having an assistant probably won't change that.
Conversely, if you like to chat with strangers and meet new people, don't hire someone to network for you. Do your OWN cold-calling, warm-calling, door-knocking, etc. No one else will do it nearly as well as you will.
Partner or Assistant?
While the above sounds as if it's primarily related to hiring an assistant, it can also be applicable to bringing on a partner. The best partnerships are those where the members of the partnership specialize in different areas. If both partners do essentially the same job, sooner or later, one or both will get resentful. One will be working harder (in his perception) and resent pulling the other along, and the other will resent being pushed to work harder than she wants to. If each partner has his or her individual responsibilities, directly linked to his or her skills and interests, the partnership has a great chance to thrive.
My former partner and I had this kind of relationship. She enjoyed selling and talking to people and I enjoyed handling the marketing and paperwork. She was in awe of my attention to detail (which was easy for me) and I appreciated her willingness to get out there and drum up business. She thought networking was lots of fun; I enjoyed pushing paper and we each truly appreciated each other's contributions.
The moral of the story...when picking a partner or assistant, don't look for someone Just Like You; look for someone who complements (and compliments!) you.
Copyright Jennifer Allan http://www.sellwithsoul.com/
copyright Jennifer Allan 2006
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