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  • Writer's pictureChristy Murdock

What an eye doctor can teach you about running a better brokerage

Updated: Jan 17

Do you ever walk into a business — maybe it's a restaurant, maybe it's a store, or maybe it's your doctor's office — and think, "Wow. This place runs like a fine-tuned machine."

You know that I am a big fan of competence, both the individual and organizational kind. Arguably, developing organizational competence is even harder than developing individual competence, because it requires so many individuals to develop their own skills, then mesh seamlessly with each other.

You may or may not have seen the meme that features a confident and competent-looking McDonald's manager with the caption: "I know she be running a mcdonalds like its the navy." It's one of my favorites because we all know someone like this: Highly competent and whipping everything and everybody else into shape. Who wouldn't hire her to run their brokerage?

If you're running an office, you know how hard it can be to get everybody on the same page. In real estate, we talk a lot about recruiting and retention, tech stacks and budgets, but we don't talk nearly enough about putting an operational plan in place so that you can streamline and manage your organization efficiently and effectively.

One of my daughters is studying for her optician's license and introduced me to a YouTuber named John Seegers, one of the foremost experts in the education and operation of an optical lab, dispensary and store. Now, you may wonder, "What does that have to do with real estate?" but effectively running a business is similar operationally across many different industries and niches.

Larson is an optician and Director of Education at Laramy-K Optical, an independent lab and dispensary in Indianola, Iowa. While a lot of his content is about the nuts and bolts of making and fitting different types of glasses, there's plenty to learn about operations, staffing, and sales as well.

One of my favorite lessons he teaches about management is the importance of consistent messaging. In his view, the receptionist is the most important element of the staff because they have the most frequent and direct interaction with the public, and they have the most power when it comes to keeping everyone on track operationally.

Think about this in your own office. A bad receptionist can:

  • Create a poor first impression on clients, potentially driving them away or putting them in a bad mood before the agent interacts with them.

  • Create a communication breakdown through misunderstandings, missed messages, and delayed responses, affecting client relationships and deals.

  • Result in lost opportunities through missed calls or mishandled inquiries, resulting in lost business and clients.

  • Decrease productivity by hindering the smooth flow of operations and effective communication.

  • Give the office a negative reputation through bad word-of-mouth.

  • Frustrate clients and cooperating agents by making it difficult to reach the right person or obtain necessary information.

  • Reflect a lack of professionalism that can affect the way everyone in the office is perceived.

  • Mishandle sensitive information, leading to breaches in client and deal confidentiality.

  • Poorly manage appointments and schedules, leading to confusion, missed meetings, and disrupted workflow.

  • Impact staff morale and create a negative working environment that impacts overall office culture.

All of that power lies in (probably) the poorest-paid, least-vetted person in your organization.

Consistent messaging needs to flow in a number of different directions, not just from the receptionist to the rest of the team.

  • It needs to flow from the top down, through a well-defined organizational structure and ongoing, one-on-one performance reviews.

  • It needs to flow from the bottom up, through a consistent program of feedback and management review.

  • It needs to flow cross-organizationally through regular meetings and team-building events.

  • It needs to flow from the outside in through masterminds, trainings, and client reviews.

  • It needs to flow from the inside out through branding, marketing, lead nurture, and community and industry involvement.

How do you maintain consistent messaging?

If you want consistent messaging you have to start by defining your message. Know who you are, what you stand for, what's acceptable and what's not, in and out of your organization. Some of the tools you'll need for this include:

  • Well-developed and frequently considered Mission, Vision and Values statements.

  • A brand template with logos, color codes, fonts, and other brand collateral, provided to all agents and staff members and mandated for every piece of marketing or lead gen that represents your brokerage.

  • A clear communication flow within the brokerage and from the public to the brokerage. That requires professional reception, in-depth training, and a well-defined organizational flow.

  • Solid onboarding for new agents and staff members so that they understand expectations and stay on brand from day one plus ongoing training and team meetings so that you can quickly address new laws, regulations, or strategies.

  • Centralized content creation to maintain control over messaging. Have a designated team or individual responsible for creating and approving content, including property descriptions, ensuring consistency across all documents.

  • Well-developed guidelines for social media usage, ensuring that all posts align with the brokerage's messaging and values. Monitor social media channels to address any deviations from the approved messaging.

  • Scripts for common client interactions to ensure consistency in the information shared. Emphasize the importance of conveying a unified message during client interactions.

  • An established feedback mechanism where team members can provide input on messaging. Regularly review and update messaging based on feedback, market conditions, and evolving client expectations.

Next time you walk into a business and are wowed by how smoothly it runs, take time to notice the things they're doing well and compliment them on their operation. Get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce and learn from other business leaders in your area, not just your fellow real estate professionals. You may just find that the operational mentor who helps you take your business to the next level is an eye doctor or a McDonald's manager.


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