How much does the success of your real estate business depend on the heroic efforts of an individual, whether it is you or another team member? After speaking with many real estate professionals over my time in real estate, there seems to be a consistent theme in relying on one or a couple of individuals to hold things together.
The superhero might be the business owner putting in 80-hour weeks, or a salesperson with commission earnings that provide precious cash flow each month. They might be a property manager who knows all of the landlords, tenants and properties off by heart without needing a database.
The short-term value of these heroic performances from your superheroes represent a major liability to the longevity of your business and can be one of the greatest impediments to growth in a real estate office.
Relying on an individual for operational success of any business places both an unsustainable level of power and responsibility on that individual, the superhero. The hero will either eventually break under the burden of their responsibility or undermine the vision and growth of the business by harbouring too much control and too much corporate knowledge in one place.
No matter how heroic, loyal or committed your superhero is, Superman, Iron Man, Achilles and Batman have taught us since our childhoods that every superhero is vulnerable. You need to ensure your superhero’s vulnerability is not transferred to the business, and that your business will survive any individual. Frankly, business owners need to protect their business and their vision from being held to ransom by heroes who might be over-committed to the point of being toxic.
A business can end up at the mercy of individual heroes (or even our own heroic efforts as business owners) when we become too focused on growth or loss prevention, and we don’t pay similar attention to the maturity of our business. So what is maturity? Most businesses start with a heavy reliance on an individual because it takes time to build infrastructure, policy and procedures, and systems are not as urgent as other demands.
As your business grows and takes on more clients and staff, the maturity of the business must match its growth. In most cases it is relatively organic that with growth follows an increased level of structure. We can call this “getting organised”. Being organised is more mature than a start-up business but still short of having mature systems that can deliver outcomes in the absence of an individual hero.
Whenever there is strain or growth that pushes the limit of those basic structures, a business will rely on heroes to pick up the slack. While it solves a short-term issue, these heroes provide an artificial and unsustainable solution to growth and volume in the long term. Additionally, it is the existence of a hero that prevents a business from developing the systems and structures that are required to handle more volume and better quality outcomes for clients.
Systems that record, monitor, review and adapt are the key to reaching a mature level of business operations. Maturity frees business owners and managers of the burden of being heroes themselves. Maturity and systems provide sustainability and make way for a level of growth that does not simultaneously erode or mitigate the quality of service delivery to existing clients. Systems provide a level of objective reporting across operations and team members, improving accuracy and accountability.
Systems also give a business the freedom to innovate and isolate parts of its operations in order to experiment with better ways to do things, and there is always an improvement that can be made. Systems distribute the right knowledge and the right resources to the right people at the right time.
Systems survive staff turnover and protect your corporate knowledge so that information and relationships remain with your business and your brand rather than with individuals. They also simplify processes and take the guesswork out of performance management, increasing efficiency, updating compliance measures and correcting any areas as they come up from time to time.
Despite how much we might appreciate a superhero (or be labouring as a superhero ourselves), ultimately, a superhero weakens your business, whereas super systems add maturity and strengthen your business for the long road ahead.