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Ethics

There is No “I” in “Team”

Photo Courtesy of Tom Leuntjens Photography via Creativecommons.org

Photo Courtesy of Tom Leuntjens Photography via Creativecommons.org

But it Seems There is a “Me”

The concept of teams in real estate is not a new one, but it is open to lots of interpretation. Some teams are agents working together under a single names. Some teams are comprised of an agent who employs some “buyer agents” under their employment contract with their Broker In Charge. And still other teams are lose confederations of agents who share a name and have little economic interplay.

Some of the teams are informal arrangements and yet some are defined by contractual agreements in their brokerages. But they all have one thing in common – they are often viewed less than positively by the single agent practitioner.

Who’s Number One?

Part of the reason for this contention is the way we market services in the real estate community or achieve recognition. Our fascination with awards, and sales volume, and being number one in our marketplaces causes some friction when a team advertises as if they were a single individual. or when the team leader claims the total production for themselves and applies those numbers to advertising, marketing, and awards programs.

Since teams come in a wide variety of sizes and flavors, the idea of there being a comparison between them as teams , or comparing them with a single agent can obviously cause some confusion for the consumer.

Should a husband-wife team be measured by the same yard stick we use to measure the agent who works with a team of three listing agents and 5 buyer agents? Should any of them be compared with a single agent? In many instances the only thing some of these groups have in common is the use of the word ‘team’. So if  they claim to be number one without qualifying that they are a team or explaining the group in which they are number one, are they meeting the “true picture” requirement of our Code of Ethics? Obviously it would be a little silly to list the type of team in every ad . You would have to have ads that read “The Number One 5 person Team”  or “The Number One Left Handed Sales Agent Team”, and yet it is easy to understand how a single top producing agent, might feel perturbed about a 4 person team that has only the name of the Team leader in its ad where he claims to be the Number One salesperson in their market.

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So What Can We do?

I realize that this brings to mind a lot of questions, and I wish I had an easy answer for them. To me , nominally there should to be the disclaimed that there is a team in any advertising to begin to reach a true picture. And I’m the type of person who would probably want to advertise the size of my team (though maybe that’s just a guy thing). But what do you think as an active practitioner?

So I would ask your help in answering some questions starting with the first and most obvious question – is this an issue for you or in your marketplace? Do you think its OK for an agent who operates a team to advertise under their name without the word “team”?  Do you have a team? How do you advertise?What kind of disclaimers do you think are appropriate? Is there team in your area that advertises in a manner you think is inaccurate?  What do you think is the right way to inform the consumer?

I look forward to hearing your answers…

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Written By

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. BawldGuy

    April 15, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Hey Bill — My first thought was, could the public find a way to care any less about this issue?

    Especially as a seller in this market, I’m looking for results, which means I don’t care if you’re plain ol’ Bill Lublin or Russell Shaw’s team. Do you consistently get the job done?

    The rest, in my judgment, is a bunch of 8th graders whining about whether the guy was safe or out in an intramural softball game.

    When I was at a large brokerage I once lost out to a couple teams for production awards. I netted six figures more than the heads of both teams.

    Nice trophy Big Guy. 🙂

  2. Bill Lublin

    April 15, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Jeff; I love that you always boil things down to their most practical issues – the cash we earn for doing the job properly! And that is a tough point to argue.

    But I wonder how the seller feels if they thought they were getting the top gun in town, and instead end up with a team member, who might not be the same stellar quality….

  3. BawldGuy

    April 15, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Bill — Some teams would indeed bring that reality to sellers. But if a relatively big time producer is unhappy because his 87 deals a year was eclipsed by the eight man team’s 249 deals, the seller is probably not gonna get inferior results from the team.

    That brings us to wonder who’re really the major whiners here. My nomination goes to those who’ve just moved from a deal a month to two deals monthly. Their mindset remains in ‘recognition’ mode, when increasing their batting average is what matters.

    This falls under what Grandma taught me shortly after she learned I was to be married.

    “There’s only two people who you should always ensure are happy to see you coming — your wife and your banker.” That’s funny, and I laughed at the time, but over the years I’ve found it to be unerringly true.

    Trophies are cool, I like ’em too, but in the end they sit on the mantle collecting dust. Besides, I’ve yet to get a banker to accept them as a deposit.

    Make sense?

  4. Stacey Harmon

    April 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    This issue became basically a non-issue when the brokerage I worked with decided to not have awards (they had the benefit of starting fresh after an NRT buyout and they could set the culture at a new independent brokerage). Problem solved. Another great side benefit was that the coordination of the monthly, or quarterly, or annual awards no longer needed to be done – we gained back almost a whole half an employee who no longer had to worry about printing certificates and getting crystal engraved (and then re-engraved because it was really a team award instead of an individual award)- stunning how time consuming this is. Most of the independent brokers in my area have adopted the same “no award” policy. In fact, I don’t even see it much in the franchise brokers either (used to be pages of accolades in the paper years ago…all but gone now). Instead, now the brokerages just fight over how market share is calculated and which brokerage says they are #1.

  5. BawldGuy

    April 15, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Stacey — As the owner of my firm, all of our awards carry the likenesses of dead presidents. 🙂

  6. Missy Caulk

    April 16, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I think some agents are more wowed my awards than others. Mine are all in a bankers box in my basement. Seriously

    I remember the first time I made Platinum at Remax it meant nothing to me until I made it alone not counting my teams volumn.

    Yes I advertise Missy Caulk & Team on all my stuff except Twitter and FB.

    Teams always evolve and I am in the process of evolving mine. I might be wrong in who but I think Brian Buffini did a study a few years ago and divided the types of teams up. It was interesting.

    I love my team it affords me the opportunity to do what I love and them what they love to do.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    April 19, 2009 at 9:12 am

    The single best thing our Association has done was to distance themselves of production awards.

    Here’s my thing about teams – I love them. I liked them even when I was a single agent practitioner. I like them because that means (hopefully) when I called the team, the agent I spoke to was the best suited for that transaction.

    I like them know, as my mindset about real estate practice expands, because it “can” allow an agent with 25 years of wisdom and experience partner with a new agent who may be more inventive and technically proficient. They “could” learn from each other and be a power house.

    Unfortunately, the teams I typically see are either family teams -or- people of similar demographics partnering. I really think teams will be the prevailing mindset in the future. I just hope the do so to encourage diversity.

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