By Alexis Petersen
Twelve percent of real estate agents indicate that better time management is the most important aspect of earning more money this year, according to The Voice of the Real Estate Agent, published by Real Estate Express. Respondents in the report share that those who are successful in owning their time rely on several habits, including building out their real estate team.
Your life as a real estate professional can be fast-paced and demanding. Scheduling, taking calls and handling everyday details can distract from big-picture goals, which is why many real estate agents and brokers hire a real estate assistant. If you're at a point in your career that requires your attention in many different places at once, enlisting the help of an assistant can both help you stay organized and maintain your sanity.
Need someone to lighten the load? Here are some ways to get started in the process to hire a real estate assistant.
8 Steps to Help You Hire a Real Estate Assistant
Step 1: Decide if you're ready hire a real estate assistant.
Knowing when it's the right time to find an assistant is important. Some signs that might indicate you need hired help include:
- Missing meetings due to scheduling errors
- Difficulty scheduling calls
- Needing to be in two different places at once
- Desiring a home base while you're meeting with clients
- Needing organizational help
- Overworking to the point of burning out
- Gaining clients steadily
- Needing a second brain to evaluate business decisions
If any of the above sounds like you, it might be time to hire a real estate assistant.
Step 2: Create a job listing.
Potential assistants will respond to your job listing based on the requirements, and you'll want to make sure the wording is right to attract the best-suited candidate. Some important responsibilities and character traits to include range from:
- Managing databases
- Preparing market reports
- Maintaining business and personal calendars
- Drafting letters and press releases
- Understanding the basics of Microsoft Excel, Outlook and Word
- Organizing files and keeping track of important documents
- Preparing meeting spaces as needed
- Being detail-oriented (You might consider capitalizing this one!)
Step 3: Advertise your real estate assistant position.
It's time to get the word out! You can post your job listing online using career-oriented sites like Indeed or LinkedIn, but there are other ways to connect with potential assistants, as well. Someone who is studying real estate might be attracted to the position to learn about the inner workings of an office, so be sure to reach out to recent graduates. You can do so by sending the job description to local universities or getting in contact with professors of a similar field of study or through real estate training programs.
Additionally, asking your business associates for referrals could be the quickest and most efficient way to connect with an assistant.
Step 4: Create a list of qualities to look for.
Once you get a pool of potential hires, lay out what is most important to you in an assistant. Do you value personality over technical skills? Are you looking for experience in real estate, or someone with general experience assisting a professional? Make a list of qualities you're looking for—try to find someone who will compensate for areas where you're weak or in areas that can be easily delegated and make a huge impact on how much time you have available each week.
Step 5: Determine what questions to ask in an interview.
Conducting an interview can be just as nerve-wracking as interviewing for a position. Remember, you're asking what prospective assistants can offer you to make your daily life easier. The more direct the questions, the better. After a greeting and overview of the job description, interview questions typically flow similar to the following:
- Why are you interested in real estate?
- I see on your resume that you worked at a company for a year. Why did you decide to leave?
- Tell me about your time at that company. What did you learn?
- What would you bring to my office that I don't currently have?
- What are your weaknesses and strengths as an employee?
- What are your professional aspirations?
- Are you willing to work on the weekends or in the evenings?
You can always throw in an unexpected question to see how they think on their feet. An example of this is, "If you were part of a car, what part would you be?" It may sound strange, but asking a question like this gauges how the assistant will handle pressure, which is important.
It's also important to think of questions that could help identify red flags. Here are some questions that could lead you down that path:
- Describe your former employer. It's not necessarily a bad sign if your interviewee parted on bad terms with their last employer, but if they're excessively bad-mouthing an employer, that could be a red flag.
- Ask for specific work examples. A lack of examples could demonstrate a lack of experience. This isn't necessarily a red flag, especially for an entry-level position, but it is something you'll have to weigh. Ideally, even an entry-level candidate will have some volunteer or life experience they can use for an example.
- Ask if you can run a background check. If a prospective employee objects to this, that's definitely a red flag.
Step 6: Talk compensation.
Money can be an uncomfortable topic, but it's better to be up-front about it. Detail the pay you're willing to provide and make sure the candidate is on the same page. A professional assistant will need to make at least minimum wage. You can get an idea of how much other assistants in your niche are making by searching websites such as Payscale and Glassdoor.
Step 7: Onboard a new assistant.
You've selected an assistant! Now it's time to make them feel comfortable in their new work environment, as well as prepare them for their daily duties. When communicating their responsibilities, assume the mindset that they need a full explanation of the workings of your office to avoid gaps in communication. For a proper onboarding, you'll want to:
- Introduce them to any coworkers they might be seeing regularly.
- Show them the workspace, filing cabinets, calendar and other important systems.
- Familiarize your assistant with your top clients.
- Emphasize communication as crucial going forward.
- Ask if they have questions to eliminate confusion.
- Take them to lunch to establish good rapport.
- Create a 30-day onboarding plan that you can work through with them.
Step 8: Assess your assistant.
Since an assistant is someone who you will be working with constantly, it's important that you be proactive with how you manage them. If there is an issue with their job performance, let them know how to improve. An assistant should make your professional life easier, so make sure that is the case once they've had time to settle in. Here's what you should be providing your assistant with to coach them in their job performance:
- Quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals with measurable results so they'll know if they're doing a good job
- Regular one-on-ones
- Detailed feedback that gives examples of when your assistant aligned with your brokerage values or when they were off-course (You could consider creating a scorecard or downloading premade score cards)
- A clear career path with advancement goals your assistant can work to achieve
Take Your Business to the Next Level
Now that you have time to tackle the real estate projects you couldn't before, focus on growth. Gaining an assistant marks an important time in your career, as it signals a high level of accomplishment. Channel your energy toward your bigger goals now that there is someone to sweat the small stuff.
Alexis Petersen is the director of Content at Real Estate Express, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. For the last six years she has been educating real estate professionals on how to successfully launch and advance their career. She's also a seasoned marketing veteran, with nearly 15 years of experience.