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Key support positions contribute to brokerage performance

Thursday, October 13, 2011  
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The function and quality of office support staff has a big impact on your brokerage's overall performance and on your ability to recruit and retain sales associates. Some combination of the following five positions — either full- or part-time — will keep your company running smoothly:

  • Receptionist/company secretary – This individual is responsible for establishing your company’s first impression on most prospects. Don’t skimp here.
  • Office manager – This person keeps associates’ schedules, orders supplies, coordinates company-wide events such as staff meetings, and acts as a back-up receptionist.
  • Bookkeeper/closing coordinator – This staffer enables salespeople to complete more sales by assuming responsibility for routine closing functions and paperwork. In many cases, this person’s salary can be billed back to associates who use the services.
  • Marketing coordinator – This position develops and produces company marketing materials and ads, as well as providing marketing support to salespeople on a fee basis.

There are two other support staffers whose functions can also make a tremendous impact on a brokerage: personal assistants and transaction coordinators.

Personal Assistants

In many cases, individual sales associates hire personal assistants. But there are pluses to hiring company assistants and then billing associates for using their services.

Pros of company assistants

  • Helps ensure that taxes and withholding will be handled properly.
  • Helps ensure proper supervision of assistants’ work.
  • Makes hiring easier, since salespeople can benefit from company-sponsored benefit programs.
  • Gives salespeople who might not have the volume to hire an assistant the option of trained help.

Cons of company assistants

  • Places liability for assistants’ activities on the company.
  • Creates expenses that may not be offset by associate-use fees.
  • Places burden for hiring and management onto the company.

Licensed vs. unlicensed assistants

Yet another important consideration to take when hiring personal assistants is to decide whether or not they should hold real state licenses.

Unlicensed assistants are:

  • Less expensive to hire than a licensed person.
  • Limited in the duties they can perform (caution: review the FREC guidelines on what tasks may be performed by an unlicensed personal assistant).

Licensed assistants are:

  • Able to perform more real estate related duties — showings, closings, prospecting, and so forth.
  • More likely than an unlicensed assistant to make the transition to sales.

A great assistant has these 10 skills and personal attributes:

  • Time management skills.
  • Communications skills.
  • Organization and follow-through skills.
  • Customer-service skills.
  • Adaptable to changing schedules and priorities.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Familiar with the real estate transaction process.
  • Able to use word processing, spreadsheet, and desktop publishing programs.
  • Able to update MLS listings and other template-driven website components.
  • Able to assist in routine transaction tasks (caution: review the FREC guidelines on what tasks may be performed by an unlicensed personal assistant).

Transaction Coordinators

Transaction coordinators provide assistance to salespeople by completing the post-transaction coordination. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do a significant number of transactions fall through or fail to close on time because of incomplete paperwork?
  • Do many of my salespeople exhibit a list/slump listing pattern, in which they don’t acquire many new listings while transactions are underway, and then are left with no business when the transaction closes?
  • Are transaction details overlooked that later cause disputes with buyers or sellers?
  • Are essential documents and details missing from transaction files, increasing your legal exposure?

If you answer "yes” to more than one of these questions, consider hiring a transation coordinator.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine Online


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