Previously I wrote about the two types of real estate assistants — the idea-based chief operations officer and the task-based executive assistant.
Now, let’s explore exactly what the responsibilities of the COO are.
First and foremost, the COO needs to develop leadership skills. Pick up just about any John Maxwell book and you’ll get a pretty good leadership education right there.
In my mind, a strong leader is capable of quick decision-making and doesn’t second-guess herself. (Or, if she does have doubts, she doesn’t voice them to anyone on the team except for the Lead Agent.)
Making decisions becomes easier over time. Having repeat situations arise is normal. For instance, when the admin team doesn’t know how to handle a last-minute repair and you have a standing order in place that the Lead Agent will foot the bill for anything up to $500 if that problem is threatening the completion of a transaction. That’s an easy decision…just pay for it. But what if the bill is $625? The COO needs to make a decision and stand her ground.
Or, like in my case, the printer stops working, but I have to be in a meeting all day. Normally, researching and buying a printer would be my responsibility. But I had no time. So I delegated the task to a team member. We got a new printer that same day and I didn’t sweat it.
Creating and Executing the Business Plan
The COO and the Lead Agent needs to decide what items they want on their business plan every year along with deciding who is gong to execute which part of the plan. For the most part, the COO needs to be the one holding each team member (and herself) accountable to their respective parts of the plan.
I think, the majority of the plan should be executed entirely by the COO. Most real estate business plans I see are focused, at least in part, on increasing and converting leads, increasing customer service, and growing the team in order to service the increase in leads and customers. All of these are easily handled by the COO.
Event planning and marketing will increase leads, implementing a survey process will create better customer service, and of course hiring salespeople and admin staff will take care of serving the leads and customers. A talented COO will take these on and truly enjoy excel in these areas.
Coaching and Maximizing the Performance of the Team
As COO, I almost always know the answer. Knowing the answer is the easy part. The hard part is coaching the person asking the question into doing the right thing; especially when I’m short on time.
As a leader though, it’s my job to coach the team into being better salespeople and admin staff members. If I give them the answer, they will always come to me for the answers. If I coach them into discovering the answer for themselves, it will be easier for them to arrive at the correct answer in the future without consulting me.
A new transaction coordinator may ask me, “How many days is standard on an inspection?” I can easily answer, “Ten,” but that teaches the TC that I know all the answers. If instead I ask, “What does the contract say?” it forces the TC to find out the answer for herself and teaches her that she can discover the answers on her own instead of relying on me.
Create a Customer Focus
Someone has to ultimately be responsible to make sure the customer is having an amazing experience. Over time, a COO’s time with customers will be limited. More and more, the COO will be spending the majority of her time with the team and in implementing and overseeing systems.
As the COO becomes the “outsider looking in,” she should be actively seeking out gaps in customer service and looking for ways to fill those gaps.
I have witnessed team growth where typically 40-60% of the team’s closed business comes from repeat and referral business. This is why it is so important that the COO be responsible for overseeing the customer experience.
Whether the COO fills that role herself by implementing a client survey or other such means of measuring customer satisfaction, or whether the COO hires someone to fill that role, it doesn’t matter. What matters is seeing to it that each and every customer is thrilled with their experience.
Now that you know the overarching job duties of the COO role, I want you to review your job description. If you don’t have a job description, write one!
What duties are you going to be responsible for? How has your attitude about your position changed in light of this new information? What are you going to start doing, and what are you going to stop doing?
These reflective questions are best answered in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. The next time you find yourself alone in the office, take a stab at answering these questions. Or, get to the office an hour early, or stay an hour and really take the time to build out your role.
The COO role can be many things, but the duties I’ve outlined above are what I see the top teams doing, and the people in these roles are executing at a high level.
So how do you make the transition from executive assistant to COO? I’ll cover that next time!