This is one of many important decisions you make when you first start. If you start your career as an individual agent, you may want to come back to this decision when you hit your first decline in business. Agents often start longing for a team environment after a couple of years of working solo.
Are you a go-getter? If the answer is yes, you can try working on your own and build your own team over time. Otherwise, you are better off joining someone else’s. I want to focus on two additional questions: 1. How long does it take to ramp up within a team vs. on your own, if you are brand new? and 2. What to do if you got stuck in a rut as a solo agent for a couple of years, without seeing business growth?
Making a team vs. solo decision is difficult. Below are a few thoughts that you may find useful when debating this with yourself:
- There is so much to learn when you are brand new, from how to prospect to how to take e listing to how service your clients. It is overwhelming. Most people simply don’t have the discipline to handle all of the vital aspects of the new business because there are so many. Joining a team will, at a minimum, force you into the discipline of strictly defined work hours. Following a schedule is one of the big challenges real estate agents have no matter where they are in their career. If you know this to be one of your problems, working on a team will help you keep it under control.
- Quickly internalizing the process of lead generation and lead follow up. Yes, you know that between 8am and 12pm you are prospecting and every time you finish your daily session, you are left with a few potential leads. What you don’t know yet, is how to categorize them for future follow up or which ones to discard as useless. If this is not done right, the next day, when you spend 2 to 3 hours on lead follow up for your accumulated leads, you might be spending your time on something that is not-convertible. Working on a team will quickly teach you who to go after and who to discard.
- When you are working on your own you need to create a system of keeping track of leads. Mike Ferry suggests an archaic system of working with 3x4 cards with the lead expiry date on them. This is a very sound advise. This will get the job done without you spending any time on researching CRMs, populating the one you choose with initial data and learning how to use it, once the setup is complete. This is a big project and mixing it with other vital tasks asking for your attention is a distraction at best. You can start doing research on CRMs a few months after you get started and when you are not as overwhelmed. Remember, CRM is not important when you are starting out. Starting is important.
- You get your first listing appointment after working the phones for 2 months, now your palms are starting to sweat in anticipation of that scheduled meeting. What do you do to get them signed? Working on a team will give you exposure to what experienced listing agents do. If you are slated for the role of a listing agent, you will be shadowing your senior colleague during appointments and will have a better opportunity to learn the right approach, instead of doing it through trial and error of going on appointments on your own and trying your best with the limited knowledge you have.
- Now you take the listing. What do you do? How do you service your new client and sell their house without compromising your prospecting schedule? How do you put the property up on MLS, what marketing materials you must prepare and which ones you can skip, how often do you communicate with your client and what do you tell them? How do you engage agents that have seen the property? You don’t know any of it and working on a team will introduce you to a system that already works.
- Next event in this progression is an offer that you need to negotiate. Do you know the best real estate negotiation practices? Have you practiced them? Working on a team will give you this knowledge as well.
I can come up with a dozen more crucial variables related to operating your new business that you likely have no knowledge about. And this is just for listings. What about working with buyers - another skill set altogether, which you also likely don’t have.
My recommendation to the majority of new agents would be to start on a team. Give them your best self and quickly learn what you need to do as an individual to be productive. Within a year of starting, you can reevaluate whether working on a team is right for you.
There is another category of agents. Those who have been working on their own for a couple of years. They may have created a system that kind of works, but they feel that they are in a rut. Working 16 hour days, trying their best to follow their system, without getting the results they were hoping for. If you are one of those agents, you are not failing, but you are not succeeding either. Your system may not be optimized for higher production or you may need a motivational boost of a likeminded group. Switching to a team environment could be a great strategic move. You have the experience, you have the discipline and you have the knowledge. You will likely use a better system, have better training and have more leads. With simple encouragement and motivation from a good team leader you may experience such a jump in production that it will outweigh all your considerations of a poorer split arrangement. Think about switching to a team if you want to increase your production. This move may be a great natural progression of your solo career.