In a one-day burst of information and insight, the inaugural RE/MAX Ultimate Teams Event in Las Vegas proved to be a winning bet. Here are some prime highlights.
By George White
Featuring expert insights on why, when and how to build a team — and what to do after you’ve built it — the RE/MAX Ultimate Teams Event on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas covered all the bases for more than 600 Team Leaders, Team Members, Sales Associates and Broker/Owners from across the U.S. and Canada (plus Spain, Chile and the Cayman Islands).
The supercharged, single-day conference featured advanced tips from four of the industry’s premier presenters, along with a dynamic panel discussion among a quartet of experienced, top-producing RE/MAX Team Leaders. With timely, meaningful content for those with/on a team as well as those considering one, it did not disappoint.
“I’ve been to several other teams events recently, and this was by far the best,” said Jessica Friedland, a Platinum Club Team Leader (7 members) with RE/MAX Infinity Group in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “I learned something valuable from every speaker, and I especially enjoyed the panel. The material was very relevant and I’m glad we made the trip.”
Carla Viviano, a 100 Percent Club member at RE/MAX Realty Plus in Mount Airy, Maryland, said the day gave her plenty of action items that could truly impact her business.
“This was great, even better than I expected,” says Viviano, whose production has steadily climbed since she joined RE/MAX as a new agent six years ago. “Coming to events like this really helps you connect the dots and focus on the right things.”
Noting that RE/MAX was a leader in the personal assistant movement years ago, CEO and Co-Founder Dave Liniger – who in 1993 famously proclaimed, “If you don’t have an assistant, you are one” – said a strong team allows an agent to spend more time on dollar-productive activities like lead generation and being face to face with clients.
“Smart time management has always been critical,” noted Liniger, adding that the key for today’s agents is building a team for the right reason.
Finding the right reason, said David Scott, the creator of Momentum – the exclusive RE/MAX professional development program – starts with understanding what you want from life, determining what it will require in terms of time or money, and calculating the demands of meeting that production target. If you can reach the goal and create your ideal life on your own, you don’t really need a team. But if you’re spending your time on vital activities and still coming up short, perhaps you do.
In addition to a “clear life vision,” the other essential components to have in place before adding people: clarity, structure and repeatable systems.
“At that point, you know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. The only question left is who,” Scott said. “There are eight essential functions in a successful real estate business, and if you’re working solo you’re wearing all eight hats.” If you want to take your business higher, you need the hats on someone else.
“Why form a team? Because you want to be at your highest and best use, which is proactively generating leads,” said Scott, noting that the ground he was covering is detailed in the Momentum Master Team Builder material, another RE/MAX exclusive available free to Broker/Owners who complete Momentum (and their agents). “Systems run the business; people run the systems.”
Next up was TravisRobertson_UTETravis Robertson, who delivered a fresh, decidedly modern approach to team structure and hiring.
Robertson outlined several core steps in building a high-performance team: becoming a master lead generator, hiring an assistant, developing systems, and adding the right members through a slow, purposeful process.
Hiring the wrong people for your team is a damaging, time-wasting mistake, Robertson said. He advised using a DISC profile test, multiple rounds of highly structured interviews (starting on the phone) and, if possible, a late-stage meeting with a candidate and his or her spouse. The key is to watch for weak spots and danger signs while challenging the applicant to shine.
It should be difficult to join your team, he said.
“A great hiring process will bring great people in,” Robertson said. “You need people you can trust, people who will come in and execute. The right people.”
Noting that real estate is filled with dynamic, extroverted personalities, Judy LaDeur suggested that understanding common behavior patterns is an essential part of building a great team.
Using a questionnaire and scoring grid, LaDeur had attendees classify their own styles as Amiable, Analytical, Expressive and/or Driver. She then walked them through an exercise highlighting the traits of each and exploring the most compatible combinations.
“People tend to recruit others like themselves, which is not necessarily the best approach,” she said, noting that because a team includes different roles, it makes sense to bring together different personality types, working toward a common goal.
Once the team is built, LaDeur said, retention, support, motivation and additional expansion come into play. Ultimately, it’s quite possible to construct a team you can eventually sell.
Following LaDeur was a dynamic panel discussion hosted by Amy Somerville, RE/MAX Vice President, Education, and featuring four elite team leaders. Answering questions submitted by attendees, the panel covered compensation, systems, accountability, culture and time management.
The panelists represented diverse team sizes and approaches, reinforcing one of the day’s major themes: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for teams, especially in an entrepreneurial network like RE/MAX.
Panelist Chris Speicher of RE/MAX Realty Centre in Olney, Maryland, who heads operations while his wife, Peggy Lyn Speicher, interacts with clients, echoed Robertson’s recommendation to view team leadership as something more than it may appear to be.
“You’re not an agent running a team. You’re the CEO of a highly productive sales organization, making critical business decisions every day,” said Speicher, whose team has grown to over 20 members in just five years, generating the majority of its leads online.
Two other panelists — Neal Weichel of RE/MAX of Santa Clarita in California and Marti Hampton of RE/MAXOne Realty in Raleigh, North Carolina — have flourished at the network’s highest level for 20 years. Both rely on a mix of marketing, reputation, referrals, lead generation and renowned customer service as they dominate their markets, close hundreds of sides each year and perennially rank in or near the U.S. Top 10 (Hampton’s team ranked No. 5 and Weichel’s No. 12 through Q3 2015).
“People call me now, as opposed to me having to call them, because I’ve worked really hard at this,” Weichel said. “If you put clients first and have ateam that shares your philosophy, you’re going to be successful. Work hard, do the right thing, keep learning, and come to events like this. It’s pretty simple.”
Hampton added: “My secret sauce is setting a wildly important goal each year, something important to me. I think about it all the time. Also, we keep score on my team. You play better when you keep score.”
The fourth panelist, Melanie Wright, co-leads Canada’s No. 15 team with her sister at RE/MAX Hallmark Wright Group Realty, Toronto. Her secret, she said, is viewing the team as a business and caring deeply about its members.
“It’s important to lead by example,” Wright said, adding that team members need to see team leaders in action.
All four agreed that being part of a global, industry-leading brand helps their teams tremendously.
“I could be Marti Hampton Real Estate, but I’d be shortchanging my clients if I didn’t give them RE/MAX,” Hampton said. “RE/MAX is the gold standard. It’s important to have RE/MAX behind me and beside me.”
The “when” of teams is now.
With the real estate recovery in full swing, the team concept has returned to the industry “like a freight train,” coach Tom Ferry told the crowd in an animated, funny, interactive, insightful and relevant closing segment. Ferry estimates that 35,000 to 50,000 teams are already in place in the U.S., and he predicts an increase to 100,000 within three years.
“We’re entering what I call the ‘teamification’ of real estate,” Ferry said. “Everyone has figured out that a team will outproduce an individual. The question is, ‘How do I get experts on my team, with everyone doing what they’re supposed to do to achieve the mission?’ That’s why you fly to Vegas for sessions like this.”
Ferry noted the difference between an artist (disorganized, exceedingly skilled at a craft, passionate about people) and an operator (very organized, skilled at spreadsheets, passionate about “counting stuff”). Most successful top producers, he said, are in the artist group.
“The mistake is when artists think they can learn to be operators, too. It usually doesn’t work,” Ferry said. “So be the artist and surround yourself with great operators. That way, everything’s covered.”
With a vision and a system, the right people in place, a productive culture, a focus on mutual success, and a robust lead-generation engine, the sky’s the limit on what a skilled team leader and an energized, engaged team can achieve, Ferry said.
“Build something people want to be part of — something special,” Ferry said. “Anyone in this room today can do it.”