To Partner Up or Go It Alone?

In this week's episode, Jennifer dives into the pros and cons of having a real estate partner. She'll give you things to consider and strategies for how to go about finding an ideal person, that will result in a successful partnership.

Ok I also want to quickly give a shout out and a big thank you to all of you that have left me positive reviews and ratings on iTunes for this podcast. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to do so.

As realtors, we know how important online reviews are to build our businesses. It should be your number one priority to build your social proof arsenal by getting past clients to write reviews for you directly on Google, Facebook and other sites. The more reviews you have, the better obviously, but the biggest benefit when you have a lot of positive reviews, is that god forbid someone puts a negative review out there, it won’t pull your overall rating down as much.

Negative reviews can literally destroy businesses, so as business owners ourselves, we need to remember that when WE leave reviews for people. Unless a business has done something pretty terrible to me, My philosophy is either 5 stars all around or I just don’t review them. I always think about how it would feel to receive a not great review myself. So in the spirit of good karma, I personally make it a point to give great reviews when they’re deserved or not at all.

Alright I’m going to get off my soap box now and let’s jump into today’s episode. Today’s topic is probably something that has crossed every realtor’s mind at some point in their career. Is it better to go it alone or partner up with another realtor as a team? The short answer, is that it depends on a bunch of factors. There are pros and cons to both.

When I got into real estate 11 years ago, I partnered up with someone who had already been in the business for about 9 years. A met her at a book club, which should have just been a wine club, because there were never any books involved, but anyway at the time I was working in the corporate world in marketing but when I got pregnant, everything went to hell so I quit my job. Never being one who idles well, I started this small business while I was on my first maternity leave, but at one of our wine club nights, she approached me about getting my license and partnering up with her. My little side hustle was going great and I didn’t want to give it up, so I turned her down. But a few months later, she showed up to one of our drinking nights with a new Louis Vuitton hand bag and I thought to myself, I am in the wrong business. So basically I owe my real estate career to her and her purse.

So once I got my license, which for the record getting into real estate in Ontario, Canada is probably the hardest place in the world to get licensed. You have to take 6 courses and write 6 exams - it takes most people about a year to complete. So it’s no small undertaking.

Anyway, once I got licensed, we met with our Broker to let him know about our new partnership, and he sternly looked at us and said:

“Where’s your contract? It’s not a matter of IF you’ll break-up, it’s only a matter of WHEN it will happen.”

We naively tried to convince him that we’d really thought this through and that we had ground rules of how we wanted to operate, etc. but he was not buying what we were selling. Alas, we did eventually break up. But we lasted 8 years, which is way longer than most do and although we certainly had some issues along the way, for the most part it was a great partnership.

So what are the pros and cons of having a partner and if you’re going to do it, how can you set yourselves up for success?

The Pros:

Real estate is a 24/7 business and having someone to share the workload will allow you to have a ‘bit’ of a life still. If you’ve got a young family, it can be pretty difficult managing things because most of your work happens in the evenings and on the weekends, which is when your kids are home. So having a partner allows you to set a schedule where you alternate days. In our partnership, I would work Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and she worked Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays and we really tried to discourage people booking appointments on Fridays. So That allowed me to schedule kids programs on days when I could take them places and it helped my kids be a little less resentful of my work. As I’ve probably mentioned in the past, I’ve got 4 kids and the older 2 really don’t like what I do for a living. Even though I had a partner, they still feel like they got the short stick growing up.

Ok moving along, where was I….having a partner also makes Going on vacation is a lot easier. We used to each take one month off in the summer which was amazing and again allowed me to schedule our vacation on my month off and put the kids in camps, etc. for the month I was working.

Beyond scheduling your life though, another big benefit to having a partner is for Celebrating the highs and drinking away the lows…both are so much more fun with company! Real estate can be a pretty isolating business and as I talked about in an earlier episode, the highs can be high and the lows pretty crappy. I personally found it really nice to have someone to commiserate with when things weren’t going well and to go celebrate with when things were going great.

Another benefit, Two brains are better than one. Everyone has different ideas and perspectives on things. When businesses launch products or services, they’ve been brainstorming and tweaking and refining those ideas internally, long before they every launch them to the public. When you’re a solopreneur, you’re just that - solo. You don’t get the benefit of another person’s ideas nor do you get someone to bounce your’s off of. You’ve also got two bodies, which means you can be twice as productive together, as you ever could be alone.

In addition to different ideas, partnerships also bring different personality styles and this can be your biggest asset or your biggest liability if done wrong. I’m going to assume that you’ve all taken my quiz and have listened to my first podcast that goes deeper into your Realtor personality type. If not, I highly recommend you take the quiz and listen to that first podcast, because it’s very important to know what type of realtor you are , if you ever consider taking on a partner or building a team.

My partner and I had very different personalities and that was a big reason why our partnership worked for as long as it did. We were both Trusted Advisors, but she was a BFF type and I was a Shark Type.

By the way, if you took the quiz when it first launched, there was only 3 types, BFFs, Trusted Advisors and Sharks, but I have since changed the scoring and if you’re a Trusted Advisor, you’re either a BFF Type or a Shark Type. You can probably figure out which type you are, but you can always go back and take the quiz again to know for sure.

As I talked about in the podcast, it’s not better to be one type over the other, they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Shark types are typically better at bringing in business and BFF types are usually better at keeping business. So if you’re going to partner with someone, it’s really important that you pick someone who is opposite to you. Like extremely important. Two BFF types together or two Shark types together will never succeed as well as two that have complimentary styles and skill sets.

To date, almost 3000 women have taken the quiz and of those about 76% of them are Trusted Advisor BFF types. Only 21% were Trusted Advisor Shark types. So for all you BFFs types out there, finding a partner who is a shark type, could be a challenge, but it is a worthwhile effort. If you’re a shark type, it will be an easier process for you to find a partner.

Not only does your type matter, but so does your personality. My partner and I often connected to different clients, which made us more broadly appealing. We also connected with people at different times throughout the sales cycle. I often was more active in the listing presentation and securing the clients, but she was amazing at keeping them well informed and calm throughout the prepping and listing process. Then I would come back in for the negotiation and we’d often play good cop, bad cop, which was very effective. 1 guess at who the bad cop was. And lastly we had different skill sets, which meant we were able to accomplish more together, than we ever could have alone.

Before we move on to some of the downsides and risks, another benefit of having a partner is around accountability. Working for yourself can be an isolating experience and it can be difficult to stay motivated all the time. Having a partner means you have built-in accountability. If you drop the ball on something, someone else is materially affected, so it can help keep you on your toes. However it can also be a huge source of resentment, so you need to be prepared to carry your weight in the partnership.

The Cons:

Alright moving along to the downsides and the risks of partnerships…
If you’re a Type A, control freak like myself, it can be hard to relinquish the reins sometimes. However in order to have a successful partnership, where both parties are happy for the most part, It’s kind of like a marriage, you need to be willing to compromise, win some and lose some. I had to be really mindful to not be too overbearing and controlling. Now I’m sure if she was listening to this, she’d be thinking ‘that was you being mindful on not being controlling’ but trust me, I could have been even worse. The bottom line is that partnerships, like any relationship, take work and there are going to be tough times and even tougher conversations that have to be had, if you have any chance of succeeding in the long term together.

Up next, another really important thing you need to be aligned on, is that you both ultimately want the same things and have similar short and long-term goals. It’s like a marriage, it’s never gonna work if you want different things or have a different drive. If one person has huge aspirations and is a workaholic and the other person prefers a more balanced lifestyle, it’s not fair to either of you.

Of that same vein, Have you ever been to marriage counselling? I’m divorced and re-married, so I’ve been lucky enough to go to counselling with two husbands. You could say I’m a regular. One of the issues that came up in both of my marriages and I’ve been told is a very common theme for couples, is the distribution of labour and that theme will come up in business partnerships as well. You need to be equally contributing to the workload and ideally equally bringing in business. Now in most partnerships, especially if you’re matched well, one person tends to bring in more business and that’s fine, provided the other partner takes a more active role in managing other areas of the business. But in the end, if there is too big a gap in contribution, it will ultimately lead to resentment and that is the death of partnerships.

Ok moving along, one thing we haven’t talked about which is probably one of the most important things in a partnership is trust. You will need to make sure you trust your partner implicitly. Real estate can be a pretty shady business and if you don’t have complete faith that your partner is transparent and honest, that’s a recipe for disaster. I personally would never partner with someone that I didn’t know pretty well already, but even when you do know them, remember that money can do weird things to people. If things aren’t going great, people start getting desperate and for some people, it can compromise their integrity or make them do things they might otherwise not do. If you’re sharing all the business you’re doing 50/50, the risk isn’t as big. But I personally don’t recommend you do that and here’s why…

My advice is to split business you jointly generate through marketing and advertising 50/50, but to keep business from your sphere of influence and clients generated through your own networking, as yours.

Although it makes things a little more complicated, it allows you to continue to grow your own business, in the event that your partnership breaks up. Which by the way will happen eventually. Odds are not stacked in your favour, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it.

Because of the complexity of these types of arrangements though, it is absolutely essential that you have a contract in place. You really need to think through every scenario and how you’ll handle it. Things that fall into a grey area of who’s business it is, is where problems develop, so the more you predict these scenarios and have a plan, the better.

Now you might be thinking isn’t The easiest solution to just divide all business 50/50? Sure that’s easiest, but if one person is bringing in a lot more business from their sphere of influence or their networking, things will get unfair pretty quickly.

My advice is that when there is any doubt about where business has come from, before you engage in a conversation with your partner about it, always ask yourself the question of what role you played in generating the business. If you can’t clearly articulate your contribution, it’s not yours to be had and you shouldn’t raise it as an issue. If both parties use this strategy as a best practice, it can really help prevent issues and resentment from developing.

If you do decide to partner up with someone, the advice we received was good. Make sure you have a contract in place and that you’ve thought through every scenario and how you’ll handle it. You also need to have ground rules of how you want to operate, communicate, resolve conflicts, etc. If you find yourself a great partner, the secrets of success are to have each other’s backs though tough times, be fiercely loyal to each other and always give more than you take.

Ok that wraps up this episode, if you are considering partnering with someone, I do have a worksheet available on my website that you can download and use as a guide to help set your partnership up for success. It includes questions and scenarios you need to flush out. You can find it in the show notes for this episode at womenrockingrealestate.com.

Alright, next week’s episode is all about money, money, money. I have a special guest on the show and we’re going to be talking about money mindset, best practices around money management and how to run a profitable business.

Lastly before I let you go, just a reminder to subscribe to the podcast if you want to be notified of this month’s Ask Me Anything bonus episode. It will be airing the last week of October and I will be answering all the questions that were submitted this month. If you’ve got a burning question you’d love to ask me, you can submit it on my website at womenrockingrealestate.com/askmeanything.
Alright ladies, remember the more you learn, the more you’ll earn.

Until next time.

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