Happy Assistant = Happy Business: How to Minimize Team Member Turnover

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Over the past 5 years I have seen several key support members leave my team.  Some decided to get into sales and others simply weren’t happy with the stress of the business.  Whether you have a single assistant or a team of support personnel, each member shoulders a significant workload made up of tasks you either don’t have time to do or do not want to do.  


Operating your business down a man/woman is a huge disruption.  Your workload increases significantly. You are tasked with finding a replacement, setting this person up as a proper employee, training and investing time over the next 6 months until their role in your business finally “clicks”.  In order to avoid this nightmare, let me share with you several changes I have made to minimize team member turnover.     

Don’t hire a licensed assistant - I realize that there are additional tasks that can be performed by a licensed assistant that CAN’T be performed by an unlicensed assistant, however the additional tasks they can perform is not worth the risk that comes with them being licensed.  The moment your licensed assistant starts helping you show property or helping their friends and family buy/sell on the side, the sooner they will realize that in 1 transaction they can make more money than you pay them in a month.  They will see how “easy” it is for you to sell homes while they are the ones doing the “bulk of the work”, and they will be convinced that they would make a lot more money simply by being an agent.  They will then leave you and likely fail as they learn that sales and uncertainty do not mesh well with their personality type.

Give them credit during the transaction - Don’t hide your assistant or minimize their contribution to the transaction.  Introduce your support members to your clients up front and allow them to also forge a relationship.  It’s ok to give up control and allow your team members to communicate directly with your clients.  The more you make your assistant feel appreciated and the more they feel appreciated by the client, the more satisfaction they will have with their role on the team.

Pay them more as you make more - It’s easy to pay a salary while you reap the benefits of a good year.  But as you make your money, their workload likely increases.  In order to incentivize them to be excited about your success, pay them a bonus on every closing or on the net income each month.  This bonus will align your goals and motivate everyone to work towards a successful closing.

Forget the time card - Real estate is a 24/7 job and great support people take pride in their work and care about the business during outside of normal business hours.  As agents, we all try to fit our personal lives within our business. If you ever want to have an assistant who cares even half as much as you do, you’ll need to focus on their productivity instead of the time spent behind a computer in your office.  The more lax I have become with my assistants, the more they have become vested in the work they do.

Communicate - As we all try to balance the ever changing obstacles of life, it’s important to communicate with your entire team about not only your goals, but their goals in life.  If your assistant feels that you are supportive of their professional goals, they will be more supportive of yours.  There is a classic marriage saying of “Happy Wife, Happy Life”.  I feel this is also true in real estate: “Happy Assistant, Happy Business” (unfortunately those don’t rhyme so I don’t imagine this saying catching on anytime soon… but you get my point).

Even if you do all of these things, you can never avoid turnover altogether.  Make sure you have a backup plan for if/when people exit your team.  The better you can document your processes and systems (whether in Evernote, internal Wiki or Nekst), the easier it will be on-boarding new team members and maintaining a highly productive, professional real estate business.      

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