Episode 22: Management Secrets with Jaime Wagg
Glenn: Hi! It’s Glenn McQueenie, and thanks for joining me today on my 25-Minute Success Series Podcast. Today, my special guest is Jaime Wagg from Keller Williams Referred and Referred Urban, and she is my General Manager of Operations. I’ve got her today as my special guest to talk to you about how to make sure the backstage of your business supports the front stage of your production. So thanks for joining me today, Jaime.
Jaime: Thank you! Great to be here.
Glenn: Great to have you. And for those who don’t know, Jaime and I have worked together for I think about 11 years now, and really just enjoy every day. Jaime is super talented in her role, and what she does here is not only run the entire operations, but she’s in charge of hiring all of the backstage roles for our brokerage. So just like if you were doing a big play or production, you would have the backstage manager, and they’re in charge of hiring the orchestra and the lighting people and the sound people. I don’t even know all the roles, Jaime. I know you come from a theatre background. And then on the other side of the business, we have the front stage, which are the client-facing roles, (which would be you as an agent, buyer agents, listing specialists, and rental specialists, if you had them). So today, I really wanted to talk about how to really niche out a real estate team, or just niche out the roles that you don’t like to do, in order for you to stay in your Unique Ability, doing what you love to do every day. Because I find it’s not the roles that are fascinating and motivating that burn agents out; it’s them spending so much time doing a lot of irritating or just “okay” activities. They aren’t really getting to spend all the time doing offers, or getting listings, or negotiating offers, or removing conditions. So let’s turn it over to Jaime. Jaime, can you just give our listeners here a little bit of a background of where you came from, and what you do now here at this company?
Jaime: Absolutely. Well, it’s interesting that you mention theatre, because if you want to talk backgrounds, (or what you really started off going to school for) my background is in theatre, performance and production. And what I found I loved the most about theatre was the production side, so I guess it’s really no surprise that as I found my passion in real estate – not sales, of course, but operations of real estate – that it’s very much like producing a show. We have a lot of people involved in both the brokerages and a show. My background in real estate has really spanned about 21 years, so even while I was doing theatre, I was still involved in real estate somehow or working at an office, and I really found similarities between the two. And I think that’s probably why I stayed in real estate so long. I still do theatre as a hobby. In production with theatre, though, it’s interesting: if you see a really bad show, there’s something that’s just not gelling. Maybe the best talent isn’t on stage, or the best talent isn’t in the back where they’re putting all the costumes together, or the lighting isn’t going off the way it should, and all that kind of thing. It’s the same with a real estate team and the same with a real estate brokerage. If you don’t have the right people in place, then it’s really hard for amazing things to happen. And amazing, wonderful, super-crazy things happen when the right people are in place. You just feel a momentum that takes you and carries you through all the changes in the market that you experience as an agent when you’re out there getting beat up on the streets each day, and then you can come back to your team for that lift, just to feel better about what you’re going through. So I think that’s really what I’m passionate about, is team-building, regardless of what area it’s in, and really making sure people are handling the things that they need to handle in order to make a better result for everybody.
Glenn: Yeah. That’s great, Jaime. There’s a concept called “The 100 Units of Energy,” and if you wake up in the morning, you’ve got 100 units to do all the activities you need to do during the day. If I have to go and meet a client for a listing, but the CMA wasn’t done properly, that’s going to waste about 3 or 4 units of my energy. If the traffic is jammed and I’m going to be late for an appointment and I’m fretting, that could be 10 or 15 units of energy. If I get the listing, but we drop the ball on doing feature sheets, I could be losing more units of energy. And I think it’s the same, not only for real estate, where every day, if they could have everything ready in the background, and their backstage is working really well, they can just get onstage and really show up with 100 units of energy instead of showing up with 30, 40, or 50, and feeling tired. And I’m sure you’ve done productions or seen a production, where you just know something has gone wrong, and the performer is off – whether their mike just went down or the lights aren’t working, or something happened (the show opened late) – and all of a sudden they don’t show up as their perfect self.
Jaime: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that the same happens in real estate teams, and the same happens with any team. You’ve always got to make those adjustments. You have to move forward, and you have to almost raise your energy even more in order to get through it, as you would if you had those 100 units of energy. I think there are a few things that really stand out to me when there are struggles with people on their teams. I’d love to go through some of those today if we’re talking about it, and call some attention to things that people might not know that they’re struggling with or they’re doing.
Glenn: For sure. What if we came up with 10 great things that people can look out for to keep their 100 units of energy rocking? What are the 10 things you’ve discovered in helping build big real estate teams – some of the mistakes that they make, and ways to nail it? If someone was thinking about either hiring their first buyer agent or their first admin person, what are some of the mistakes you see that are losing some of those units of energy?
Jaime: Well I think if we all remember, we are the average of the five people that we spend the most time with, and the five people that we are around the most. So if you’re the average, (or your business is the average) of the five people that you hire, I don’t think that anybody can really waste a hire on someone, just for the sake of getting a body in that position to do things that the agent doesn’t really want to do anymore or that they’re struggling with. So I think the most important thing I notice is that people miss the steps of interviewing. They miss doing every step that’s really required to vet the person that they’re even considering bringing on the team. What I mean by that is, a lot of the time, I get people who admit (when I teach a class on this or something), that they never check references. And I’m sure we’ve all done it back in the day. It’s just, “I need that person, and I have to bring that person in. We need a body now.” And you think, “Okay, well I’ve learned a lot about this person in this interview” and you forget to check the references, or you choose not to check the references. And I will tell you, the most important thing that should be a requirement of your hiring process is doing reference checks. And then also, if you have a specific role you need them to fill, have them do an aptitude test or something that helps you to know, (or at least feel a little more confident) that you’re making the right decision. We wouldn’t go to an auto mechanic or a hairdresser or whatever without getting referrals in a new area from people that we know. So a reference is really that referral. You may have gotten the name of the applicant from someone, but until you actually get the background on that person and how they’ve done at previous jobs – that’s your true referral.
Glenn: Sure. I find it’s hard to find what you want when you don’t know what you’re looking for. And I think one of the steps, too, could be to make a list of all the activities that these agents love doing in their role, and that gives them lots of energy when they’re doing it. And make another list of all the stuff that they just have to do in real estate. And the longer that list is, you could almost circle it and call it the job description. Now you know what you want, and then you can start asking around and looking for referrals to try to fill that role. I think the reason I teach so many courses on hiring people, too, is because I’ve just made so many mistakes. Most of us, as agents, just hire when we really need somebody, not when we really want to actually build this big team. It’s like, “Oh my God. I’m so crazy now. I just have to hire somebody. Somebody’s got to take over my showings. I’m swamped with listings.” So, once they do the right interview process and check the references, then what would you say to them? What’s the first day look like for this person? What would the first 30 days look like?
Jaime: Well I think something that comes into play along with the interviewing and making sure you check the references and hitting all of those steps is really to know what your vision is. Because when you’re bringing someone else onto a team, and you’re making sure that your business is going to run because of you and now this new hire, (or these two new hires, or whatever) you’ve really got to know what your vision is, because as much as you want to get things off your plate, it’s about creating an opportunity for these people. I often come up against agents that are saying, “I want someone to stay around a long time.” And my question back to them is generally, “Well who is the person that you have to become in order to build the best team and attract the best talent?” Because you can’t say, “Well I just want someone to come and fill all these hours and do all these things for me because I need it now.” You have to look at this as truly building a business, and looking at what your vision is and where you want to be a year or two years from now, so that you do bring the right people on. I know I didn’t fully answer your question there, but I think the first 30 days that they spend with you, (or even the first 100 days they spend with you) become infinitely easier once you know what that vision is, because you’re able to pull pieces of the puzzle together, grab the job description, grab the things you don’t like to do, and put a training and accountability plan in place. And I think because agents are so used to running around and meeting people on their terms (that’s the nature of the business), it’s forgotten that there’s an investment of time in the people that you’re bringing onto your team.
Glenn: Totally. And I think that’s why (especially this time of the year, in the busy part of the market), we get lots of calls from people that say, “Hey, listen. Who do you know who can come join my team?” And I always say to them, “Listen. I’m telling you right now, when you hire somebody, your production drops a little bit.” And this is really when all of the agents have to make most of their money for the year. This is the worst time for them to go and take away from the revenue-producing activities and go back into a skillset they don’t usually have right now. And they will really, I think, resent that “Oh my God. I’ve got to go and train this person,” and they’re not up to speed as much. And I would add to that (and hopefully you’ll agree with this): don’t hire your clone; hire your complement.
Jaime: Yes, I 100% agree with that. A lot of people hire who they like, because they’re familiar, and they know, “Oh, we’ll get along.” And getting along isn’t always having the best working relationship. I believe that if you bring complementary talents to the table, then there’s a respect that builds, and a respect that develops between the two of you so that it’s possible to get along, in spite of the things that you may not agree on. But as you’re moving the business forward, that’s something normal to happen. So you are really looking for a partner versus looking for a friend. A lot of agents sometimes fall into that trap of, “Oh, this person is awesome!” And 10 days, 20 days, 30 days later, it’s not working out. So I think that just goes back to putting all the steps in place and really taking stock of hiring before the need arises, and putting some time into this. You put time into CMAs. You put time into listing presentations. You put time into showing buyers homes and things like that so that they get the best result. I think you have to look at the same thing when you’re hiring and when you’re bringing people onto your team. It’s an investment of time, and you’re going to have to bring that person on and spend some time with them in order to get the best result.
Glenn: Oh, totally. And if most agents think back, how long did it take them to master their sales right now? For many of them, they had to fail their way forward. They had to make mistakes, but now they’re really, really good. They’re into high production, and they’ve really mastered the sales side of the business. But now there are some new skills that are required. And that’s the next level – mastering the hiring side. I think the reason most teams don’t stay together is usually because they haven’t mastered the leadership side. They’re so used to acting as rugged individuals, lone wolves – “It’s quicker to do it if I just do it myself” – they don’t even know how their operating system works a lot of times. They just know they get up every morning and run full out. Just recognize that it takes time to get a great person. So one of my key points here would be: don’t hire right now in a busy season. Get all your money together. As we go into the slower seasons, into the summer is where you really have 30, 60, 90 days to train somebody up before we come into the next big selling season. It would probably be the better advice, because they’re going to need some time for them to gain mastery in what you want them to do.
Jaime: Absolutely. We’ve talked about missing all the steps of interviewing, no clear vision, and hiring at the wrong time. If we were to move to point 4 and 5, the number of hours that someone works doesn’t matter; what really matters is the focused hours with the right people in the right role. And the interesting thing to me is that oftentimes when a hire is made, (this is maybe point 5 or 6, even, here) is that it goes from an ‘I’ business, where the agent’s doing everything, like you said, to a ‘they’ business right away. And it’s like, “Oh gosh, I have someone now. This is amazing.” And they just shove everything off to that person. And there’s a really important middle part that’s missed there which helps to develop the relationship, but it also helps the leadership to grow in the agent or the person that’s bringing this person onto the team – and that’s the ‘we’ section. That’s when you work together in a lot of different aspects of the business, so that when it’s finally time to just let that person fly, it’s their thing. They own it. And you can feel confident that they understand what you will need from them in order for this to move forward and to build a bigger, better, supported business. Because as soon as you start bringing agents on, they’re going to need things from that person as well, and that person needs to be able to handle it and understand how to do that. And I think that the lead agent and the person that’s owning the business is the best person to teach them that.
Glenn: Yeah. It’s like teaching someone how to bake a cake, right? You say, “Okay, watch me bake a cake.” And then you could leave the room and go, “Now you go bake a cake,” or you could just take that middle step that says, “Why don’t we just bake a cake together? I’ll see what you’re doing. I’ll monitor what you’re doing. Oh, yeah, maybe that’s too much flour. Oh, okay, here’s a better shortcut.” And it’s just that really great time, as you mentioned, of just being the ‘we’ business. It’s really where people will make their mistakes, but you’re working with them, you’re correcting them quicker, and they’re getting their mastery a lot faster than just really dumping and saying, “Okay, good. Now you take over all of this.” They might not even have a clear vision of what you want to get done.
Glenn: What about the expectations? I always really believe that number six would be something like: you should be inspecting what you expect them to do. What are your thoughts about that?
Jaime: My thoughts are that that’s a great accountability tool, and once a group starts to work together, that’s often the thing that falls off, or falls by the wayside. I think it’s probably because they’ve missed the ‘we’ part of the communication and of the training, that the agent’s not even sure what to really inspect. The agent doesn’t know how to do it or what to do. But there are some really great tools out there, and I know at the brokerage, we use things like the 1-3-5 and the 4-1-1 to really make sure that people are staying on track for their goals. It’s not just a to-do list; it’s a must-do list, but it’s also an opportunity for you to have a really quick connection. It doesn’t take much time out of your day at all just to go over the things that are really high priority. And if they’re high-priority, they’re must-dos, and if you get them done, then everybody’s moving forward with a lot of momentum. If you don’t get them done, then you start to have that conversation around, “Okay, what’s going on? Why isn’t this being done? Is this the right hire?” And you start to get all this fear in your world. But I think with a simple accountability step or two each week or every other week, it’s really important to make sure that everybody’s on the same path, and that everybody’s reaching or attaining the same goal.
Glenn: Yeah, because if not, they’ll give you your job back, right? So for those listening, they’re probably like, “Okay, what is a 4-1-1? And what is a 1-3-5?” So in 30 seconds or less, how would you explain those two? One’s a vision tool, and the other is more of an accountability tool.
Jaime: Yeah, sure. Well, the vision tool, being the 1-3-5 – the ‘1’ stands for 1 big goal, and then the ‘3’ stands for 3 strategies that you’re going to name to attain that goal, and then the ‘5’ is 5 tasks underneath each of the strategies to be able to make sure that those strategies are getting completed, and they’re in place to then be able to lift up to the big goal and have that achieved. And you can really use that tool with any big project that you have – a year-long vision, perhaps, if you have something like that going on. It’s really interchangeable with some of the goals that you have going on. The 4-1-1’s more of a regular accountability tool, which allows the individual to write down what their goals are. So the ‘4’ would stand for 4 weeks, the ‘1’ is 1 month, and then the other ‘1’ is 1 year. So if you look at your year, and you look at the goals that you want to hit by the end of the year, you would then break them down into monthly goals, and break them down into weekly goals, so that they’re easier to attain. It’s almost breaking stuff down to the ridiculous, in a way, so that you’re looking at your week, going, “Okay. These are the six things that I must do in and amongst all my regular daily work. And as long as I hit those six things, this week is going to be awesome. And then I’m going to move onto next week, and we’re just going to hit all of our goals like clockwork, and everything’s going to naturally feed up to by the end of the year, us achieving great success with what we’re doing. And I think to your point about giving the job back – this is probably one of those things to add to the 10 – a lot of agents will take the job back. I’ve seen agents say, “Oh, okay. You don’t know how to do this yet? Okay, I’ll just do it. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” Whereas, I would much rather see an agent say, “Okay. If you knew what to do, what would you tell me to do with this?” Or, “What do you think the first two steps of this might be? And then we can reconvene and talk about it afterwards” in order to empower that person to be able to start thinking for themselves and figuring things out themselves.
Glenn: I’m going to go back one step to those two tools we talked about. I think for those people listening, the 1-3-5, to me, would be like if you were planning on going away for the weekend. I’m going to go on a week’s vacation. What are the three things I need to do? Well, I need to schedule the time, I need to set my budget, and I need to go and search for a place to go. And if you can find a place to go, set your budget, and set the time off, then you’re going to go on a vacation. And then the five strategies below are like: go online, search prices, book flights (in each one of those categories). And what I love about the 4-1-1 is, for most people, if they were thinking, “Okay, I want to lose 20 pounds next year.” That’s my one-year goal. So monthly, that would be 1.6 pounds a month, or 0.4 pounds every quarter. And if they could just meet their quarterly goals, they would hit their monthly goals, and then the end result would be their annual goals. And we love doing that when we’re working with agents. We’re like, “Okay, what’s your GCI goal? Let’s break it down to the month. Now what do you need to do?” And I think it’s so important that people understand that there are some pretty simple tools that people have lived before you. If you’re going to be building real estate teams, there are a lot of shortcuts and hacks. I’m going to jump ahead to number nine, Jaime, because I think this might be one of the most important ones: hire someone to do a specific role, that when they’re doing it, they love to do it, they’re fascinated and motivated by it, they’re self-managed, and they just love what they do. A lot of agents make the decision to bring on a buyer agent, but it’s really a buyer agent who becomes their assistant, sometimes. They come to the Open Houses with them. They also run out and put the lock boxes on and fill up the feature sheets. That’s the losing formula, because you’re really hiring a generalist. And what I’ve noticed, not only doing the book “The McQueenie Method,” but these podcasts, is the riches are in the niches. And if you can just find the best buyer agent, that best buyer agent should be someone who you’re booking the buyer appointments for. They just take the person out and they sell them the home, and then they move on to the next. They actually don’t go out and start lead generating. They don’t even take the transaction to closing. You have other people to do it. And I think the future of real estate teams is super niche roles on each team. I think also at a broader level, if you wanted to build an investor division, just go recruit a buyer agent who loves to work with investors. Your job, as running the team, is to do the seminars, get the people into the seminars, and then just pass on the booked appointments to that person.
Jaime: Absolutely. And I think what you just talked about there – you were describing talent. A lot of people building teams try to find that person that can take whatever away from them, but talent is a motivated person who is a perfect match for the job, like you said, and it’s the next logical step in their career path. When you have a perfect match for the job – you’ve got someone who has the knowledge, the skills, the track record and the personality to get the job done – then you just want to make sure they’re a cultural fit with your organization or your business. And once that’s all together and working, it’s really magical what can happen. A lot of agents, I think, don’t take the time to look for talent. They just put the people in place and then find themselves rehiring and rehiring and rehiring. There are some agents out there who absolutely spend the time to look for it, and I’ve seen wonderful things happen. But if there’s a caution that I could give most agents who are looking to build that team, it’s: really take the time to look for talent, which is almost hiring ahead of the need, and bringing it back to that vision piece.
Glenn: Sure. I couldn’t agree more. I think a lot of agents will also hire to their capacity lid, too. If they’re a 10, they can hire 10s. If they’re a five or a six, which means they haven’t got their inner game or their business or their emotional intelligence together, it’s really hard. Someone who’s completely confident in who they are and what they do won’t feel threatened by bringing talent onto their team. And if you’re not that way, then you’ll tend to bring people lower than you onto the team. Then you just start to play the game of numbers. If you’re an eight and you hire a four, if you add them up, that’s a 12 out of 20. Now your team’s operating at 12 out of 20, which is 60% capacity. And if you bring on another four, then you’re going to be at 16 out of 30, which means you’re now at 50% capacity. Meanwhile, if you’re a 9 or a 10, and you bring another nine or 10 on, you can always be operating at 85-90% of key capacity. So let’s just wrap up, because I want to leave with one thought, and I’m going to ask your insight on it. I think we need to reverse engineer building teams. Instead of thinking, “Oh, I need a buyer agent,” I think people have to go bigger, and go, “You know what? What I really want is a big life. And in order for me to have a big life, I’m going to have to probably create a big team to support that big life. And that big team is going to require me to invest some time hiring talent, and mastering how I do it.” But it all starts at the very beginning, with what their vision is – not short-term, to hire somebody in a week or two to get them out of this mess, but more of a longer-term vision. What are your thoughts about that?
Jaime: Well, I agree, and there’s a term that we use at the office, and it’s called “Empire Building.” And if we can build a team (when we find talent), of empire builders, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re just going to sit there and build business for you (though that should be their goal, because if everybody’s working to build their empire, then that naturally comes back to the individual that’s on the team as well). So I think you’re right. I think we need to start with the big vision and we need to figure out what that big life is, and what we really, really want out of the next few years of our business. And things can change on a dime, and I think it’s really, really important to have that vision so that people will align themselves with you, and people will see why it’s important to do the work in order to get to that goal.
Glenn: And I think the game is to build wealth for your empire, right? Your whole goal should be to make that buyer agent as wealthy as possible, and in return, they’ll make you wealthy. Create as many opportunities for that executive assistant that they basically would die for you because they realize that your focus is on making their life better. They’ll focus all their energy on making your life better all the time. To me, that’s really what recruiting, hiring, and selecting great empire builders is all about.
Jaime: Definitely. I think it just goes back to, “Who is the person that I must become to build the best team and attract the best talent?” I think once we know that, the sky’s the limit.
Glenn: Wow. Well, I’m going to call those famous last words, Jaime. So thank you so much. I totally appreciate your insight. I’m sure people listening are going to get a lot out of this. If the people listening want to get a copy of the 4-1-1 or the 1-3-5, they can just email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’re happy to send it out to you. Thank you so much, Jaime. Really appreciate your time.
Jaime: Thank you! Had fun!
Glenn: Okay. Bye!