A question that we often hear is: “When do I know it’s time to hire an assistant and when I do, how do I even go about hiring one?” As Jared’s left-hand gal, I thought it would be best if I answered it from my point of view. It’s a great question and the fact that you’re even considering hiring an assistant is a pretty good indicator that it’s time that you hired one. But it’s not that simple, right?
When do I know it’s time to hire an assistant?
First off, let's address the primary question: How do you know when it's time to hire an assistant? Well, let's check some things off a list...
1) First, are you getting up early and staying up late to tackle things that really aren't a best use of time for you? Maybe it's sending out your weekly newsletter or following up with leads from the previous day, week or month. It could be your accounting and billing needs - we all know what kind of a beast that can be. Maybe it's just something super simple like updating your CRM or setting up a basic marketing ad on Facebook. These are things that need to get done, but aren't necessarily a best use of your time.
2) Second, maybe you've got most of your business in order, but you're getting to the point where you want to grow. If that's the case, then you need someone to rely on to take over things that don't help you grow, but need to get done. Even part time, an assistant can be a great addition to help you get to the next level while you focus on growth.
You need someone to rely on to take over things that don't help you grow, but need to get done
3) Third, are you losing business? Are you so wrapped up in current clients that you aren't following up with your other leads right away? According to NAR, 24% of people who start their search online commit to an action THAT day. Imagine missing out on that much business?
Ok - so now that you've come to the conclusion that you need an assistant, we need to address a major issue that affects anyone in any industry bringing on new team members. You MUST have time to train them. If you don't, you can go ahead and expect them to fail because that's what you're setting them up to do.
Why are you hiring an assistant?
So before you draft up a job ad or start putting feelers out, create a list of responsibilities you are looking to find in an assistant and make sure you can train them on those things. Don't expect your admin to be able to do anything you can't. They might be able to, but be willing to learn along with them if they don't. It'll help both you and your business grow in the long run. Depending on whether you want to require a real estate license, an admin can cover accounting and billing issues, updating and managing your CRM, running marketing ads, planning and executing open houses, or reaching out to your Core 100 on a daily basis. The list goes on and on. This also goes back to you losing business -
What opportunities are you missing that an admin could possibly take over or start doing?
The other benefit of creating a list of tasks is that you'll be able to decide how many hours you'll need someone. Whether it's a full time position or a part time job that starts out as one day a week and grows from there, you should have a good gauge of what you need. It might even be something a virtual assistant or an ISA can tackle. Either way - you're now prepared in how you need to move forward.
Okay, so you've got your list of tasks, you know you'll be able to make time to train them, and you've got a good feel for the hours. You can now decide if you need an administrative assistant or a buyer's agent or someone else entirely to join your team. Once you have that role narrowed down, you can dictate how pay works. It can be hourly, commission based, or a flat rate. Do what makes sense for you. There is no standard. No matter how you pay someone, they should be bringing in more business than they're costing you.
How do I hire an assistant?
Alright. You've got pay, hours, and details. Now you have to draft an ad, but what exactly do you include?
We recommend including words like "tech savvy" and "self-driven." Real Estate is an entrepreneurial business. It is not a 9 to 5, punch in, punch out job. NAR reported that 44% of buyers start their search online and Millennials now make up 66% of first time home buyers. More surprisingly, 7% of realtors do not use social media - that 7% have no idea what they're missing out on. This is where real estate is moving and being tech savvy is no longer a "nice to have."
44% of buyers start their search online and Millennials now make up 66% of first time home buyers.
If you're hiring an assistant or another agent, you're going to want someone who is detail oriented, but other than them including this as a line item on their resume, how do you really know if they are in fact detail oriented? Make them apply the skill.
For example, in the ad, include language like: Please send along a PDF version of your resume, and include "Real Estate Administrative Assistant" in the subject of the email. No cover letter necessary, instead send me a short blurb about why I should hire you in 150 words or less.
Now, if they don't send you their resume in PDF form, and they put something totally wrong in the subject line, you know right off the bat you can pass on their resume. Cover letters are also becoming increasingly long and reiterate so much of what's already on a good resume. Instead encourage them to include a brief explanation of who they are and why they would benefit you.
Donna, our coaching director, was wonderful enough to let me borrow her template for what she sends to our one on one coaching students when they're looking for an assistant. You can find that template below. Please do not use this verbatim - it's not meant to be cookie cutter. Customize it to your specific needs!
Personality matching is so much more crucial than having all the skills needed for a job. When you consider bringing in this person for an interview (presuming they fit the bill) it's kind of like a first date. You should be excited at the prospect of them coming in, and when they leave, you should have these feelings confirmed and be excited to have them join your team. If that spark isn't there, it's not going to be there for them either and you'll be back to where you started. Remember, this person is going to be an extension of you. They will be the face of your company and will be interacting with your clients. You should be proud to have them on your team.
Your assistant is going to be an extension of you.
So when you bring someone on, keep that excitement. Train them. Make them a true member of your team. Don’t micromanage them - it’s a waste of time for you both. Lastly, allow them to do things their way. Just because they’re not done YOUR way doesn’t mean they’re not done the right way.
Hiring an assistant doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it have to be overwhelming. Focus on the needs versus the wants, and most importantly - make sure you hire someone you’re excited about, and not just because it means you’ll do less of a certain task! Good luck!
- Rachael, Personal Assistant to Jared James