Who Should I Hire as the Perfect Assistant?
It is helpful to develop a wish list or a profile identifying the specific skills and attributes that you want the team member to have. Think about what would be a “deal breaker” for you and identify this up front so you don’t waste anyone’s time. For example, perhaps you must have a bilingual assistant or an assistant who can flex his or her time. Once you are clear on who you are looking for, they will be easier to find.
It has been our experience that the perfect assistant has eight characteristics. Consider these characteristics as you develop the profile of your perfect assistant:
- Professional administrative skills – You need someone who actually wants to be an office administrator. This is the kind of person who enjoys playing a supportive role within an office environment performing and multi-tasking a variety of jobs and duties while paying attention to detail. This is not someone who wants to learn about the real estate business so they can become an agent.
- Organizer – Because of the nature of the multiple tasks and the associated paperwork involved, good organizational skills is a critical characteristic for an assistant. In fact, you want someone who is more organized than you are. A great assistant has good common sense to understand how to prioritize, how to organize their day efficiently, and how to make the most of each day by being organized. The assistant understands where to get started every day without the agent having to micromanage what needs to be accomplished and in which order. Their desk has to be organized and their files must to be meticulously organized.
- Computer Skills – Excellent computer skills with basic everyday office software and email communications is a must. While a person will likely not know how to use real estate specific software, they should be able to learn quickly if they already have excellent general computer skills.
- Attitude – A great assistant has a positive attitude and brings positive energy. They are enthusiastic about their job, are eager to learn, and strive to be the best that they can be.
- Availability – Hire someone who is willing to work the specific hours that you need without any caveats. It is important that the person has some flexibility in their schedule so that they can stay late if needed to manage a particular problem or meet some critical deadline. It has been our experience that hiring someone who lives relatively close to the office usually works best. If a person lives more than 15-20 minutes away, more often than not, this causes problems because they may be late to work because of traffic, they may ask to leave early to beat the traffic, and they may eventually find a job closer to home.
- Problem Solver – Some people like to figure out how to solve a problem and other people become overwhelmed and paralyzed when confronted with a problem. A great assistant is the type of person who “owns” the problem and naturally tries to find a resolution.
- Personality Style – There are particular personality styles that are more suitable than others for an assistant to have. In general, the best personality type is someone who is analytical, who is detail oriented and highly organized.
- Experience – The perfect assistant usually will have prior experience in a professional administrative role within an office setting. Experience with customer service, even if not clearly defined as such, is also very important. Prior team work or working closely with other people to perform a job function is another type of experience that great assistants usually have.
Should the assistant be a licensed realtor?
If an assistant is unlicensed, there are restrictions about what they can do for you. In most states, an unlicensed assistant cannot discuss price or terms and cannot negotiate. As you grow your business, you will want a licensed assistant so that they can be fully utilized. It’s important, for example, that your assistant is able to discuss price when you are out of the office or out of town.
That being said, it is most important to hire talent first, regardless of whether or not the person is licensed. If the person you hire is not licensed, you can always get them licensed. A lot of agents will make a mistake and only consider licensed applicants and end up passing over good assistants.
If you hire based on talent and the person is not licensed, make sure you comply with all rules regarding licensure in your state and provide the needed training to your assistant about this issue.
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