Above: Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston’s Jim Allen Team
Why Teaming Up Is Key to a Successful Real Estate Career
Knowing when to team up and who to partner with are risky decisions that could result in a loss of millions in sales, and personal branding, if not done well. For those real estate professionals who have made the leap, done their homework and put in the time to build those partnerships, they have earned more than just stellar sales records and accolades. They’ve achieved invaluable relationships that keep their business growing.
Coldwell Banker Realty’s Choose Chad Team, headed by Chad Gradowski, has been the top-selling team in Southwest Michigan for 10 years. Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston’s Jim Allen Team, headed by Jim Allen, has been named by the Triangle Business Journal as the top team in the North Carolina Triangle area since 1996. The two teams combined achieved more than $638 million in sales volume and 1,385 unit sales in 2020 alone.
These are significant and nearly identical measures of success with vastly different approaches in that the Choose Chad Team consists of three members, while Allen’s team numbers more than 50.
How are such contrasting team structures able to dominate their markets—and why are teaming and team-building such an integral part of the success strategy for a growing number of agents?
A Focused Approach to Teaming “It was an easy choice for me,” says Heather Gradowski, who joined husband Chad’s team at Coldwell Banker Realty in New Buffalo, Michigan, seven years ago after working in advertising for 20 years. “Chad was a well-known REALTOR® in our market. But Chad knew he needed back-up, and when my ad agency partners retired, it seemed an opportune time for me to get licensed in real estate and join him.”
Relying on their problem-solving and negotiation skills to meet the needs of their clients, the Choose Chad Team quickly launched a working strategy.
“Chad is not a desk guy,” says Heather. “He’s out all the time, showing properties and writing deals. I’m better on the back-end: marketing, budgeting, doing what it takes to make sure every transaction has the right outcome.”
Aided by administrative assistant Sammie Lestinsky, who is also a licensed agent, the small but focused team is in a market where the average sales price is nearly $440,000, rising into the millions in the lakefront area where they specialize.
“Probably 95% of our clients are second-home buyers,” says Heather, “but every client gets our full attention, and that’s one of the best things about our focused approach to teaming. Also, as a newly licensed agent, I had a mentor, Chad, to bring me up to speed on what to do and how to do it in the real world. Plus, we have great flexibility. With three kids at home, and with Sammie behind us, Chad and I can tag-team to be sure everything stays on track.”
Heather credits having the right brokerage and team-friendly brand partner in Coldwell Banker for career-boosting tools and resources, including its Wealth Builder program, which provides financial strategies to help them grow their personal wealth, and Listing Concierge, a marketing assistant that would cost much more if they did it all on their own.
Keeping the Team Machine Humming For veteran agent Allen, who brought a team of 15 agents to Raleigh’s Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston in 2008, it was the brand’s 100-year history and global reach that attracted him.
“Although the pandemic slowed us down a bit, we compete in the world, not just in the local market,” says Allen. “I value the Coldwell Banker brand’s collegial outreach, it’s prestigious world-wide image and the efficiency of the Cartus relocation services.”
Allen’s team of more than 50 licensed people consists of strategically positioned listing and selling agents, marketing specialists, transaction administrators, a variety of niche specialists and personal assistants who keep the team machine humming.
“We have a great spirit of team cooperation backed by a very responsive executive team and perks such as office managers provided by the brokerage,” he says.
“My team knows every inch of every one of the different communities we serve, and so, we are better than most at seeing that every buyer finds the dream home they want.”
Finding Your Place in the Right Team Setting Like the Gradowskis, Allen believes that teaming is the best way for newer agents to learn from more experienced mentors and enjoy both the back-up and flexibility that comes with shared responsibility.
“The size of a team is really dependent on the goals of the team leader,” says Allen. “My well-ordered team structure gives me the time and resources to expand our reach and service into property development and new-home sales, for example.”
In general, Allen adds that the size of the team is less important than an organized but flexible structure, as well as an environment of mutual respect and a supportive brokerage and/or brand.
“Pick a team leader you respect, a brand you respect and be ready to learn fast, work hard and reap the rewards of being part of an efficient unit,” he advises.
“Be clear about your goals going in,” she counsels. “A smaller team, no matter how well organized, requires a lot of time and task flexibility. In a larger team, you may have more opportunity to specialize in the part of the business you most enjoy.”
Whichever you choose, Allen notes that finding your place in the right team setting inspires both confidence and loyalty.
“When you’re comfortable, you don’t leave home,” he says.