After starting his career in 2006, Lee Tessier never had the intention of building a real estate team. Today—as team leader of The Lee Tessier Team at eXp Realty—Tessier leads a team of agents, sales partners, directors and managers as they navigate the Baltimore market. With nearly 80% of his business coming from referrals, over 20 years of experience, and a passion for educating consumers, Tessier offers his insight on building and maintaining a real estate team.
Putting together a thriving real estate team is not an easy task. From understanding your own needs and goals to managing multiple agents with their own expectations and guiding them toward the finish line, there are many things to consider when it comes to teams.
Setting goals, meeting and exceeding expectations, understanding and implementing the fundamentals, and education are all important points to touch on before and during the process of building a strong real estate team. For Tessier, sacrifice, passion and dedication have helped him rise to the top, stand out among the competition and lead his team to become the No. 1 real estate team in their county, with over $1 billion sold.
Paige Brown: What drew you to starting a real estate team? Lee Tessier: My first year in real estate I did about 36 sales. The following year, I brought in an assistant and went to 46, and then the third year I went up to 64 and hired a second assistant. I didn’t realize that I was building a team at first, and it wasn’t really on my radar until I heard people talking about building their own teams at different conferences. I realized that many people would hire agents first, and I’m glad I didn’t take that path, as I would be giving half of my money away, right away. I was drawn to the idea of a team because of how busy I was getting. I couldn’t do more myself, and I knew I needed leverage.
PB: How do you navigate individual personalities and skill sets when working on a real estate team? LT: We start with the DISC assessment (examines how an individual ranks in the four primary personality types: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) because I want to have a good overview of who they are naturally. I’m certified in DISC, which allows me to look at the reports and gain a quicker understanding of what an agent’s natural strengths and weaknesses are. The reports also give us a bigger spread on their natural versus adaptive rankings, which helps us know if they’ll fit…and where.
PB: Can you share some of your team’s core values and how they will help you meet your goals this year? LT: Our No. 1 core value is integrity. If they don’t have integrity, they shouldn’t be on the team. Next would be grit. This business is not an easy one. A lot of people get in, see a big commission check and start chasing that. We like to make sure they aren’t solely focused on commissions and understand that they’re going to get a lot of punches thrown their way, and they need to get up every time. The industry is constantly changing, and if we don’t change or adapt to it quickly, we’re going to get left in the dust. They need to be coachable and have the ability to tweak their fundamentals.
Do what you say, create core value, and be caring. If you’re not caring in this business, you’re in the wrong business. You’re helping people with the biggest investment or purchase of their life, so it’s important to be caring and not just chasing a commission check. And, of course, you need to be a team player. We’re like a sports team. When I hire, I always ask if they’ve played sports before because of how relative it is with a real estate team. If you can’t play nice in the sandbox with everyone else, it simply won’t work.
PB: How is the current market influencing your team when it comes to decision-making, strategy and sales? LT: Our strategies are way different than what they have been, even just three years ago, as the market continues to change. We’re definitely scrutinizing P&L more and more often, and we’re looking at our lead sources more than anything else—what’s closing, where we’re spending money—and making sure we’re getting a good return on investment.
We’re also tapping into our fundamentals. Are they making a minimum of 20 calls every day? They should be calling three other Top 50, two other spheres and at least 15 lead follow ups to see who’s warm and who’s not. Today’s buyers have to be motivated enough and have a need more than just a want. Going in and having deeper conversations is important for building a relationship with someone. You also have to educate people and set expectations. Buyers and sellers have a lot of questions, and you need to be the expert.
PB: I understand you do most of your business through referrals. Can you share your team’s approach to building and maintaining strong relationships? LT: We have a weekly newsletter that goes out, and a lot of it has video content. We also do a market update once a month where I provide statistics on the counties we cover as well as real examples and stories they can relate to. When it comes to our past clients, we’ve created an MVP program for our most valuable partners, where we host a lot of different client events. It’s taking good care of them and expecting nothing back. It’s all about building those big relationships.
PB: What advice can you give to other real estate teams for measuring the success of a referral strategy, and how they can improve and refine it? LT: Workman Success Systems created the Top 50, the who’s who of your clients that you want to talk to every month. They could be past clients, family members, friends and their sphere of input, who could be somebody they know, like and trust that would entrust us. And just like any client, it’s about having that conversation and dialogue—family, occupation, recreation, dreams—and making notes in your database. As you continue to have these conversations every month, the more open they are to you asking for referrals. It’s important to stay on top of your Top 50 every month.
PB: While the market continues to experience ups and downs, what are you doing differently to ensure success for your real estate team? LT: Educate, educate, educate. We’re focusing on this more than ever. We produce multiple videos per week, both agent-facing and client-facing, keeping them updated and educated on the market and happenings. We’re also doing some fun social media with our team. We want other agents to be attracted to our business, seeing that we’re making money and having fun working together and collaborating as a team. This is a challenging and very frustrating market. We want to let you know ahead of time and set expectations, both for agents coming into the company and the clients that we serve.
Another important topic is staying unique. There are 1.6 million agents nationwide. It’s oversaturated for 4.2 million homes being sold this year. What are you doing to be different? How educated are you coming across to the client? How are you standing out? In today’s market, you need to stand out more than ever.
PB: What advice do you have for new team leaders? LT: Know that it’s going to be hard, and know that it’s going to take more work, and more hours, than you think. Think of what your sacrifices are, and make sure you’re willing to make those sacrifices. Also, measure, measure, measure. Whatever you’re doing, make sure it’s being tracked. As you’re hiring agents or making calls, know the type of agent you need, or how many calls it will take to get an appointment. And keep track of your expenses. Get a profit and loss statement, and know that you’re going to put money into this business before you get a return on it. Lastly, don’t start growing a team until you’re leading with revenue. Make sure you have sales coming in the door before hiring an assistant or buyer’s agent. This is what I often see as a mentality, and I think that’s why a lot of teams fail.
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