Grow or Die! How to Exit Production & Build a "Real" Real Estate Business


I'm going to unpack this for you here - there is a lot to look at. This is The Real Estate Business Navigator and it really helps explain how I went from "Survival mode" to ramping and scaling my business to then leading and ultimately exiting production and day-to-day responsibility, and now I'm transitioning to the true business ownership phase and I have more of a consultative role in my business.

Exit Phase

The "Exit" phase is the realization that you're not that important. My pastor recently delivered a sermon titled "You're not that important." Realizing your business can run without you is either a liberating thing or a scary thing. For me, it was liberating. I knew I was providing a lot of value to my staff and I wanted to keep moving up in this ascension. But a lot of team leaders get scared at the thought of what will happen if they stop doing listings or showing up to the office 6 days a week. It's a tough pill to swallow.

Vision and mission must be part of the team's DNA at this point, embedded in the culture. Your leadership skills need to continue to be developed and you need a key operations person at this point. You probably brought them in the lead phase, but at this point they are really stepping into their own and if they are the right person, they will really take on all of the day-to-day operations.

The organizational strategy must be clearly articulated to the team. The team has to understand there is a strategy when it comes to not just the sales or marketing strategy, but organizationally there is a strategy you are following and your job in this phase is to really focus on margins and controlling costs and looking at cash flow. It's always a risk in a growing business. Even a service-oriented business where we don't own our inventory.

We have a business tracker tool that is included in B-School that effectively cost me over $10,000 to build out, but it monitors everything in my business like cash flow, ROI, agent productivity, monthly and forecasted profitability. Really cool tool.

Own Phase

Then it's the "Own" phase, which is all about mindset. Going from being in the business and exiting day-to-day to becoming a true owner. This is what I have done in my business. Most team owners won't ever take this step. They just feel like they have to keep showing up at their business. This is a mindset issue more than anything else. There are tons of examples for companies that don't have the leader showing up. Apple continues to run without their leader. Sam Walton is not around anymore, but Wal-Mart continues to thrive.

It helps to have faith that many companies run without the owner working in the business. The sales leadership role must be filled to avoid dysfunction. In order to continue growing our company, our plans is to go from 425-450 sides this year to 1200 sides by 2020, and organizationally we now have an operations lead and a growth expansion lead. You have to have that role filled with a quality person to continue to grow and avoid dysfunction.

Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or "BHAG," must be clearly articulated for the team to see something bigger in their future. We actually just had an off-site with my team and our BHAG is 1,200 sides in 2020 with 5 offices. Our really big BHAG is 10,000 sides per year. So ten 1,000-unit teams in ten different markets. At this point, all day-to-day operations and sales leadership functions have been delegated, and I'm only doing weekly senior leadership meetings. Two one-on-ones and a 3 person meeting.

Weekly Team Rhythm. Our Tuesdays are active listings and appointment review from 9-10am, buyer agent meeting 10-11am, team meeting 11-11:30am and then personal development for the entire team from 11:30-12:15. Then I do my one-on-ones, my senior leadership teams, on Friday's we do huddle, twice a year we do off-site. Having that rhythm ensures that the team remains healthy and stays in growth mode. It really is a grow or die sort of thing.

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