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When to Hire an Assistant

Blog Contributor Business Challenges, Customer Service, Helpful Tools, Managing Your Office, Professional Development 8 Comments

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Scott Newman

By Scott Newman

Your business is on the way up, and everything is perfect because you’re making more money, right? Wrong! As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “Mo money, mo problems.” One of the biggest as a real estate professional is how to spend your money wisely to continue to grow your business.

Today’s blog will focus on when it’s the right time to bring in an assistant or other support staff. Here are 3 signs you’re ready:

1. Promptness is becoming difficult.

If everyone got what they wanted right when they wanted it, you’d be out of business. I get that, so I’m not expecting miracles. However, if you’ve built a reputation on being fast to respond, easy to reach, and quick to get people information, then you risk doing major damage to that reputation if you can no longer live up to those expectations.

If you are finding that you’re no longer able to get people a comparable market analysis the same day you meet with them to preview their home, then it might be a good time to think about what portion of your daily tasks could actually be handled by an administrative person. If there are too many A-level tasks to finish by their due dates because you’re constantly bugged down by B- and C-level tasks (which never seem to end), then it’s definitely the time to consider staffing up.

2. Things consistently slip through the cracks.

We’ve all forgotten to write something down, or missed an appointment or a call – that’s understandable. However, if you’re finding that you’re so busy that you’re getting distracted while trying to stay on task, then finding some help is definitely worth looking into.

I knew it was time to hire my first assistant when I sat in my office staring blankly at a dry-erase board, completely unable to remember all of the prospects I had in my pipeline. I was so busy that I had no time to right anything down – and I’m awful with details to begin with – and I knew that someone I forgot would turn into a paycheck for another agent who had it together.

3. You’re on the opposite schedule of everyone else.

If you are not utilizing staff when you should be, you’re essentially working two jobs but only being paid for one. This is going to have a negative impact on your life in a variety of ways.

For starters, many of the things put off doing during the day because you’re out in the field taking listings, showing properties, and networking to get new business, are time sensitive. Attorneys and lenders don’t usually work beyond 5 p.m. or on weekends. If you’re never around to take phone calls or respond to emails during regular 9-5 business hours, and don’t have someone doing that for you, by the time you get home at 8 p.m. and start responding, you’re forced to wait until the next day for a response.

Being available and reachable during standard business hours and having flextime in the evenings for a variety of professional activities is crucial to building a successful business. If you constantly find yourself burning the candle at both ends, consider adding someone to your company.

Remember, as I always say, don’t look at yourself as just a real estate agent, but instead as CEO of YOUR NAME, INC.  You need to make smart decisions, not only with the real estate related matters, but also with the general business matters you need to address to continue to grow your business – staff is one of the most crucial!

Scott Newman is the broker-owner of Newman Realty in Chicago. Connect with Scott at www.newmanknowschicago.com or @newmanrealty.

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Comments 8

  1. Scott,

    Great read. I am getting ready to hire an assistant myself but would like to know more about a pay structure for a licensed assistant. Would it be a good idea to start on a commission base pay or should i start with an hourly wage ?

  2. I work as a Virtual Assistant for a number of real estate agents as well as a few other clients in different industries. I do anything from ordering them lunches, designing listing brochures to handling all social media campaigns and booking appointments. I see how I have freed up my clients – giving them more time for showing houses and less time struggling at a desk!

  3. This is such a great article. I love your specific examples of when it’s time to hire.

    Here are three tips I’ll add about how to find the right assistant:

    – Many agents start with a part-time assistant. If you are doing this, make sure that the hourly pay is such to attract serious and qualified candidates. Also, ask questions to determine why part-time is perfect for them. You need to weed out the folks who really want full-time, but will take anything. They won’t stay long term.

    – Often times in real estate, it works well to have a virtual assistant who will be working from their home. Be sure to ask if they have worked from home before. It sounds like a good idea for many, but until they’ve done it they don’t really know if they have the discipline to make that work. You don’t want them “testing it out” on your dime.

    – Details, details, details. They need to manage lots of details in an assistant role. Make sure you add “hoops” through the process to see for yourself how they handle the details.

    I’m happy to answer any other hiring questions any time. You can reach me at

    Happy Hiring!

  4. Thank you very much for this article. I am
    a new agent, only 6 months. I feel the stress of trying to do
    It all. Doing every thing I can to build my business and never saying no to any opportunity has left me exsuated. I found a assistant in our office who is willing to trade her services for mine. I will show her how to
    Market her agents on social media and she will shows me how to get organized and do flyers. Win! Win!

  5. A banal article. Do we really need another article telliing us we are less prompt, our schedules confilct, and things are slipping through the cracks? Suggestion: stop stating the obvious and specifically tell folks what tasks to delegate. Maybe a “here’s what i do” schedule/list. Now that would be helpful. Busy professionals already know what the issues are. Our issues are how and what. Give readers something tangible and a “here’s exactly what you do” to solve these problems.

  6. As a real estate assistant I cannot imagine how any busy agent can get by without an assistant. Sometimes I work from home, sometimes in the office. Because I handle flyer design, Web upkeep and some SEO as well as office details, my boss is able to do what he does best, list and sell real estate.

  7. Great article Scott, I passed this onto an agent in my office whom I feel meets all 3 criteria. He is a top producer, and does a great job for his clients, but I can tell he is letting a lot of opportunities pass because he is simply too busy doing everything that an assistant could be doing for him. The previous comments all bring up good points, you need to make sure to find the right assistant, I’ve worked with some agents who rely on their assistants more than they should and it made it difficult to get the deal done.

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