When Christopher Audette first got into real estate a decade ago, he had no intention of getting involved in the day-to-day grind of selling. He simply wanted to start up a referral network that would help talented agents take their business to the next level.
Today, Audette is the leader of one of RE/MAX’s most successful teams in western Canada, and a fixture in Real Estate Professional’s annual Top Teams feature.
After launching www.real-estate.ca as a national listings portal/lead gen company and watching the site flourish, Audette soon had objective, trackable evidence of what Canada’s increasingly savvy homebuyer population was after: a broad selection of properties and relevant information that would make the home buying process easier.
Since joining forces with RE/MAX and founding his own team, The Group at RE/MAX First, in 2016, that’s precisely what he’s been providing them.
REP reached out to Audette and asked him what advice he would give agents on the verge of starting teams of their own.
- Ensure you have enough leads
Coming from an agent who built his career on lead generation, this first tip should come as no surprise. Being a top producer can bring in a fair amount of referral business for that agent, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to enough leads for everyone on the team.
“You have to have enough business for yourself and the other people,” Audette says. “Starting a team without that potential business is not going to get you anything but a lot of heartaches and headaches.”
- Lead conversion
Audette says training agents how to convert leads into revenue is even more important than lead gen itself. The key is speed.
“Answering a client inquiry within seconds – not minutes, and certainly not hours or days – is massively important if you want to connect with them when they’re in the right mind frame,” says Audette. “We’ve gotten really good at calling right away. And that has almost doubled our business.”
Audette says team members must be prepared to do more than just call a lead back. They should instead provide a healthy dose of relevant information or practical advice that demonstrates their expertise and willingness to help to potential clients.
“Getting leads is expensive,” says Audette. “Converting them doesn’t have to be.”
- Define your company culture
One of The Group’s neighbors in Calgary is RE/MAX’s number one team in Canada, Justin Havre and Associates. Havre has become one of Audette’s most trusted mentors.
“The number one thing he’s said,” says Audette, “more times than I can count, is ‘hire for culture.’”
Audette says team leaders must clearly define their culture, which is closely tied to the team’s goals; once the former is decided, the right standards and processes can be put in place that often lead to the latter.
“That’s important for the clients and for the agents, and the clients will never know it if we don’t define it and describe it to the agents,” says Audette.
- Hire coachable agents
When choosing agents for a team, it can be tempting to gravitate toward those who bring with them a spectacular selling history. But Audette says personality is more important than performance.
“It’s probably more important to have agents who are highly receptive, accountable and coachable than it is to have agents who do higher production,” he says.
Audette encourages team leaders to ask a lot of questions, but there’s only so much to be learned from a typical job interview. To fill in the information gaps – where culture problems can hide and eventually fester – The Group contracts wizehire.com to conduct full DISC personality profiling on all its potential hires, a process Audette describes as “invaluable.”
- Partner with a brokerage that supports your business model
With such an innovative approach to real estate, Audette says his team’s success has depended on finding a company that supports them in what they’re trying to accomplish for their clients.
“Pick a brokerage that truly wants to see the success of its agents and its teams – no matter what business model they have – so long as it fits ethically and within your business structure,” he advises.
Readers interested in seeing more of Audette’s listings can also visit calgary-real-estate.com