As featured on Inman.com
Many high-performing real estate professionals are on the secretive side, hesitant to share how they became successful. That is not the case for Jeff Cook from Jeff Cook Real Estate in South Carolina.
Cook has been in business for over 16 years. His team includes 150 agents in nine locations across the state. And just last year, they closed 1,635 transactions.
“Our difference is simple: we know how to create a winning formula and we repeat it,” he said. Which is why CINC CEO Alvaro Erize asked Cook to join him for another episode of CEO Unscripted to talk about how he launched and grew the high-performing teams.
“Success is a catch-22,” Cook explained. A top producing agent might actually have more business than she can handle. “You say, ‘I want to list all these homes!’ but then all these sellers also want to go buy homes. And it’s really hard to get all these contracts accepted, especially in today’s climate for multiple offers in most parts of the country. And so the natural thing to do here is to say. ‘Well, how can I get some help?’”
That help should start in the form of administrative assistance, but then it means you need to find another agent who can do what you do, as well as you do it. But this, Cook told Erize, is where many agents get tripped up.
“When you go to replace yourself, you don’t replace yourself with just one person. Because they aren’t as skilled as you. You need to bring in two people to do the job of the one person you are.”
“Right, you can’t just work harder, you have to work smarter,” Erize agreed. “And now you’re making your people successful—which is also a full-time job.”
Growing a team isn’t about simply adding headcount and watching the money roll in. For Cook, it starts with recruiting, which includes everything from a simple email signature link to candid videos.
“We call them Day in the Life videos,” he said. “We’ll find a top producer on our team and follow them around for an hour or two, working with a client in the conference room or making their phone calls or what their family life looks like. We’ll create a 45-second video from this. A lot of people think it’s got to be very perfect, but actually the more unperfect it is, the better!”
Cook has also created a custom onboarding training program so the agents recruited to the team are best positioned to succeed.
“It’s called 100 Days to 100K, and it is a completely online course,” he described. “We figured out the ideal schedule for a brand new agent for the first 100 days of their real estate career.” This course covers everything from how to access the database to scripting practice to actual lead conversations and contracts. “Through that 100 Day program, the agent completes 15 to 20 contracts, and then they’re on track to make $100,000 in that first year.”
“That’s the same thing top management consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey do,” observed Erize. “You’re proactive on your recruiting and training, so what happens three years down the road when an agent wants to grow their own wings?” he asked.
Cook agreed team leaders fear their top producers moving on. But it’s not a concern he has, because his team offers options for growth.
“I would challenge people to think outside the box. What else could you offer them?” he asked. “Don’t believe just because you’re a team or team leader that you don’t have anything to offer them. Let’s figure out a way for them to get some additional help. Don’t be scared of their growth. Actually, propel their growth, because that’s what’s gonna keep the top producer really long term.”
“I think the beauty of your system is that you get production out of them in the first year, and then you are confident that it’s a healthy relationship, which in turn makes a lot of them either stay or if they do leave, then they come back,” Erize said.
Watch the full interview for more insight into having success in launching and building your own team here: