As an Operations Manager, you have so many things that you are responsible for. Tell us more about what you do and how you support Anna, the CEO of Anna K Intown.
I wear a tiny hat for almost every role. I feel like a puppet master. As operations manager, I report directly to Anna. I oversee all of the financial decisions; I review the P&L every month, I work with our bookkeeper on payroll, I track the lead and lag measures of our team, I know what’s coming in, in terms of commissions, splits, etc., and I also oversee all of the marketing at Anna K Intown.
I keep my eye on what our agents are producing, where they’re going, and how they are closing the gap as they move towards their goals. I am a leverage source for Anna, developing the talent within our operations team. Our closing manager, listing manager, and our relationships manager all report to me. I have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the team, coordinate our next moves from an operational position, run team meetings, and I’m very involved in the hiring process.
You mentioned you’re involved with hiring. What is your role in the hiring process?
I manage all of the hiring. If it’s an agent, Anna leads the process of bringing them in and speaking with them before I ever meet them. Once we determine it’s someone we think could be a fit, that’s where I come in and become involved in the process.
If it’s an operations team member, however, I’m bringing them in and introducing them to Anna later in the process. I do the initial interviews. If someone is a fit, Anna comes in on the KPA evaluations. We never skip validating an assessment someone took, but if it’s a clear miss, I’ll validate myself. In addition, I conduct the majority of the reference calls.
When you’re hiring, do you have specific things you look for to know someone will be successful within your team?
I would describe our culture as being fast-paced, high-achievers who live big lives as a result of their hard work and efforts. When hiring, we tend to look for someone who will not only fit in with the organization but also help the organization as it grows. We usually gravitate towards coachable individuals who have a positive mindset and are willing to put in the effort in order to succeed. Our team takes a special person, someone who can keep up with the pace, thinks outside the box, and is willing to get creative. We also realized, after COVID, that we really like each other and want to return to our “in-office” culture. Being in the office and being able to collaborate with each other is important to fulfilling our goals and keeping our commitments to our clients. The best way to spawn creativity is by collaborating with others. Right now, we feel extremely lucky to have all of the right ingredients to “bake our cake”.
It is my job to nurture this culture, lead by example, encourage our team members to think outside the box, and think big. I also think it is important to note that we don’t shy away from people who lack experience in the role they are considering with us. Take our Operations Team, for example; all 4 of us came from different industries outside of real estate before joining the team. We want to hire the right person for the team and the role, but the tactical skill set for the role can be taught. We focus more on making sure we have the right person in terms of their mindset, drive, and capacity to be successful within AKI.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy wearing a lot of hats. I enjoy organizing for the team and coordinating the many facets of our business. I was previously in the events industry and started as an event coordinator and then found myself in event sales. It was really the coordination piece that I enjoyed the most.
The goal when you joined the organization was to get Anna out of production, what has that been like?
The goal has always been to get Anna out of production. Last year we had a lot of organizational changes. Because of that, she stepped back into production to ensure the business wasn’t suffering from the loss of two agents that happened simultaneously. By July of 2021, she was out of production.
For us, because we have a team culture, it was more about making Anna feel confident that her people were being taken care of the way she would take care of them. One of the ways we do this is by keeping our CRM updated with notes on the status of the client. We also set up a CEO snapshot of the business document that I fill out once a month once our P&L has been validated. This document compiles information from several different places such as the YPP tracking system, CTE, FUB, marketing initiatives, etc., so she can have an idea of where the business is headed. With this document, I send a quick recap of trends and anything else I think is important to point out.
Once Anna stepped out of production, we knew that our cost of sale was going to go up and understood that we needed to replace the business she was bringing in by adding new agents and growing our team.
The team’s income and success are dependent on what the agents do and don’t do. Getting agents into production is clearly a big focus for you. What trends do you look at and how do you utilize the tracking system?
We’re looking at number of appointments, number of contracts written (how many went under contract) and what our pending pipeline looks like. We put 19 units under contract in January, which means our March closings are looking much better. At the end of every month, Anna and I review the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) spreadsheet that I put together for her. When I’m filling it out, I’m noticing trends and reporting my observations to her. As an L1, I really thrive digging into the database, understanding what it’s telling us, and making suggestions as a result of that data.
I update all of our lag measures for our team in the YPP tracking system (the team tracks their lead measures, meaning what they do every day) so that gives me the opportunity to put a finger on what everyone is doing individually. At the end of every week, I update pendings, anything that has closed, active listings/active buyers, and I update any canceled/deals fell through. Our agents are responsible for everything else. I pay attention to where they are in comparison to their goals. I have a place in our CTE where I have everyone’s goals listed and I have it broken down into appointments, listing agreements/BBA signed, number of pendings, and number of closed units for every single individual agent.
How do you support your team focusing on their lead measures through the YPP tracking system?
Our coach has been empowering me to be more vocal in the YPP tracking system. For the past two months, I have had a goal to send the team updates through the tracking system at least twice a week. For example, I might say “I see you’ve been killing it in your 2-way convos, but you haven’t asked for many referrals this week”, or “I see that you’ve had a lot of 1-way convos, but you haven’t gotten any 30-day leads or nurturers this week. What could you be doing to fill your funnel?” By being more vocal, I’m focusing them on the lead measures. Lead measures are the activities we do to generate results, which are lag measures. We want to celebrate the lead measures. The closings are great, but you have to have the lead measures to get closings. If you lack a top of the funnel, your business will suffer.
Through using the YPP tracking system, I’ve been able to notice more trends. Kate mentioned collectively we were accomplishing 40% of the lead measures (in 2021) and hitting 85% of our goals, now our team is tracking 50% with our lead measure goals and only hitting 55% of our goals. They’re having to work harder for fewer deals. They need more people in the funnel. Lead measures do matter. This is a market for salespeople, not just order takers. Our commitment is to continue to skill up our “feet on the street” sales team to thrive in ANY market.
What have you noticed over the last 2 months of being more vocal in the tracking system?
I’ve noticed that some people are not very good at consistently entering their numbers into the tracking system so they may need more encouragement throughout the week. Encouragement matters. Numbers don’t lie. I know they’re completing the work; they’re just not putting it in the tracking system. Through my communication in YPP’s tracking tool, I hope I’m giving people encouragement. Hopefully, they’re expecting to hear from me at the end of the week and they’re excited to hear from me saying “Hey, you’re SO close to your goals!”. Salespeople typically need someone that can make sense of what they are doing in order to produce the result. This is the only way to build a predictable and duplicate-level business.
Since I have been more involved, I’ve noticed people are tracking more regularly. There are a few people I tend to see a ton of green and blue from (meaning they’ve met and/or exceeded their weekly goal) and if they’re in office, I’m giving them that high five. I’ve seen improvement in those that aren’t dedicated to tracking. With the new agents, it’s been fun to say “Hey, I can’t wait to see all of your efforts in the tracking system!” to encourage them to do it regularly.
What is your role in supporting agents in being productive?
I like to think I can help come up with creative solutions to make their work a little more efficient. If I can keep things running on my end, they should have no problem; their technology is set up to be efficient, making phone calls to circle prospect should be easy, etc.
I’m being gifted with our team. It is said that “talent pushes you” and these people push me. They are incredibly talented. In previous work experiences, where I formed a lot of friendships, the team culture wasn’t there. It was every department competing with another or every man for himself, and it felt like the operations side and the sales side were not working synergistically. It’s not like that here. It’s not competitive like that – we’re all in it together. We’re all wanting the other to succeed.
How has your mindset changed since you started working with YPP?
Our business and culture are very different since this time last year. I continue to tell Anna thank you so much for letting me be on these calls because light bulbs are going off, things are making more sense. When our coach first suggested getting me into the YPP tracking system and sending messages, I asked if text messages would suffice, and she said “No, I want it in the tracking system because I want them to get used to you being in there and looking at their tracking efforts.” Now, I see that my presence there makes a difference; I understand so much better because I am using it. I am committed to coming up with creative ways to empower the agents to do more, to push against their current boundaries, to become part of their success, and point out where they have opportunities for growth.
Anna Kilinski is one of those leaders that wants to see me have success. She is willing to allow me to take over a coaching call IF it means my growth. She clearly understands as I grow, she grows. Our coach is part of our C-Suite team. She cares. She will say whatever needs to be said if it means growth for us and the people that live within our organization.
What’s your top tip for another Operations Team Member?
If they’re new to real estate, I’d remind them it takes time and to trust their gut and ask a lot of questions. That’s something I’m actively working on – asking more and better questions to dive deeper. In operations, we move at a very fast pace, and sometimes I don’t stop to ask “Why? What’s this going to do for us in the future”? Learn to balance the drive to get items accomplished while also stepping back and looking at the big picture. That advice is applicable whether you’re new to real estate or not.
How do you define success?
I think it’s a feeling. It’s feeling like I’m in a healthy environment, like I can see growth in myself. I don’t think I’ve ever learned this much information and how to handle situations/scenarios; the last year and a half has been nothing but learning. I majored in real estate in college, but I feel like everything I’ve learned with the team is completely new.
I finally feel like I’ve gotten to a place where I’m not second-guessing a lot of the decisions I’m making. Being in a small organization is different. Being in a healthy organization is a game-changer.
What is a book you think everyone should read?
The Road Less Stupid. We’re reading it as a team and discussing the book. It dives into thinking time, asking the right questions, and it’s very eye-opening. Something I think everyone wants to add to their daily/weekly routine.
If you could put anything on a billboard, what would it be?
Our new team photo – we put a lot of work into it!