November 27, 2019

Are You Ready to Support Another Human?

Earlier this year, I wrote what was probably my most controversial blog post of the year. It was celebrated by Ops Bosses™ and panned by real estate agents. It was titled How Much Should I Pay My Real Estate Assistant?. As I hit publish, I could almost hear the cheers going up around the country from Executive Assistants (EAs), Directors of Operations (DOOs), and all kinds of real estate staff and assistants.

And not one real estate agent commented.

Instead, over the past six months, I have continued to get almost DAILY calls from agents wanting to know if I know someone they could hire as their assistant. I always ask the pay range. And 90% of the time, it’s well below what a qualified candidate would command in another industry. (Agents – when people are looking at real estate jobs, they are also looking in other industries.)

Since that time, unemployment rates have continued to drop. Where I live, the unemployment rate is at TWO PERCENT! (To give you some context, when I graduated from college, the unemployment rate was 8%. Economists consider 4-5% to be ideal. So we are currently well below ideal, which is  – among other reasons – why REALTORS® are having a hard time finding talented staff.)

Last week, one of our BE A BOSS class alumni posted something on Facebook about this issue. I thought it could not have been said better and I asked if I could share. He generously said yes.

Here’s what Nicolas Sandim, Director of Operations A at Nicole Willey & Associates, had to say:

“I see a lot of seasoned professionals in my industry talking about hiring their first assistant, dipping their toes in, asking exploratory questions. In my short time (1.5yrs, EA to DOO of small team) in my current position I’ve seen a lot of assistants come and go. I think about it a lot. Leverage in the form of technology and vendors, apps and shortcuts are ubiquitous, multiplying, vying for our attention and budget dollars.

Folks think “Well I am this successful for a reason, I am good at my job. I get shit done How hard can hiring someone to help me out day-to-day be?”

Should I get a virtual assistant?
A part time admin?
What’s the least amount I can pay and still get good help?

This is the nature of choosing a vendor to help your business grow. How much can I get and how little can I spend? That’s just good business. Calculating a return on investment. #fiscalresponsibility

I think that this mindset, while responsible in most areas of life and business, misses the mark in a big way for hiring leverage and growing your business for the long term. Your assistant is/will be a human. Humans have thoughts, feelings, dreams, goals, needs of their own. Are you ready to support another human? Have you started to build the foundation on which their success will rest and grow?

I am the catch-all, the “do this please,” the “figure this out and get back to me, thank you.” My job is to support the members of a team and make sure we get from point A to point B, our clients are cared for, and all the while researching, documenting, and implementing systems that will allow us to scale, grow, improve, innovate, and replicate our success for future team members and carve out a larger market share for our businesses.

I do this to the best of my ability because I care about the businesses. I care about my teammates. I am able to put my design degree to use daily which is good for my creative soul. I am not only encouraged to seek out educational opportunities regularly, but these classes, trips, hotel stays are fully financed by the business because my growth is tied to the business growth. Find out what your staff cares about and brainstorm how they can use that daily to enrich their lives outside and IN their professional life.

If your support staff doesn’t care, it is likely because they don’t feel cared for. In 2019 we have the strongest job market many of us have ever experienced. Young people, especially, jump from job to job seeking fulfillment over retirement benefits.

When you’re copy & pasting your job position and getting it ready for Indeed & Craigslist- are you thinking about how working for you is going to be a fulfilling, rewarding experience for prospective hires? Are questions about personal interests, favorite activity, color, birthday, dream vacation in your list of interview questions?

Real estate professionals talk endlessly about being in the business of “building relationships.” What kind of relationship do you envision having with your teammates and your staff?

Anyway, in conclusion. I’m one of the lucky ones. I truly love where I work. I love who I work with. And when I think of where we are going, the possibilities are endless and exciting. If you’re brainstorming bulleted lists of menial tasks you want to schlep onto some doe-eyed millennial/gen-xer, for minimum wage- I hope you’re prepared to repeat the process ten times and ultimately feel disappointment with energy levels, commitment, and excitement for what you are hoping to accomplish. If you want some advice, help, resources before you begin the hiring process- I would love to help.

Nichole Willey you are a beast and I am so thankful to know you and work with you.”


REALTORS® – pay attention. Nicolas gives WISE advice. We almost call it BOSSY! 😉

PS – Send him your Cape Cod referrals as a thank you. He’ll take great care of them!


Christy Belt Grossman

CEO, Ops Boss Coaching™

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