In the following interview, Andrew Duncan, of The Duncan Duo with RE/MAX Dynamic in Tampa, Fla., discusses coaching, education, and expanding and leading a team.
Years in Real Estate: Since 2005
Team Members: 48
When and why did you form a team?
I had gone to a conference and heard team leaders speak about running a team. I liked the idea of running a business instead of just having a job. My wife (Angela) had been working for Bank of America and was getting tired of the corporate world and was ready for a new challenge. It was my second year working in the industry and I had more business than I could keep up with; I was working crazy hours and getting frustrated. So, she decided to come join me. We started the team in 2007.
What are some of the biggest competitive advantages to having a team?
I think the first competitive advantage is leverage—being able to hire people who are better than you at certain things, so you can focus on what you’re good at. Every great athlete knows that you have to have a team—great people contributing to your success. When you get to the point when you’re not in production anymore, you can catch trends before they happen, like new technology and systems. You get to think like a CEO and a business owner, instead of a salesperson.
Is it difficult to make the jump from top producer to team leader?
As the team grows, you have to learn about new things. You have to become skilled at being a leader, not just a salesperson. As we’ve grown, it’s stretched me. The reality is, both of us have stepped up into what the organization needed at that time, and every year, that seems to be a little different.
Advertising and marketing are a huge part of your strategy, from videos and commercials to your radio show. How did you get so good at it?
I studied business in college, so I always had a fascination with marketing. My first couple of years in the business, I watched what top agents did. How is that team doing 20-30 transactions a year? How are they getting the phone to ring? A lot of the ideas I had were ideas someone else had done in different markets—I would take it and put our own spin on it. So many people in the real estate industry are givers. I built a relationship with these individuals and established a core group of real estate agents and business owners and learned from them. It was all about seeing what other people were successful with in other markets and finding a way to do the same thing in Tampa, putting our own spin on it.
Do you also attend conferences and seek out educational opportunities?
We go to as many events as we can—and not everything is within the real estate industry, like the Inc. Conference. We like to look at other industries and apply what we learn to real estate. When we go to a real estate conference, we’re looking for specific things. The national brokerage events do a great job of educating the many, but we want to be in a room with the few. We’re looking for specific break-outs. We go to four or five events outside of the area a year, then a lot of local business events. We’re constantly looking for ideas, and locally, we’re looking for talent.
When it comes to bringing on new team members, what are you looking for?
We really like to bring in new agents—they don’t have any bad habits, and they’re more coachable. We love people who have been successful in other industries. When we go to networking groups with other real estate agents, every single person in the room is hawking someone to buy or sell a home. We’re hawking someone who can help someone else buy or sell a home. Bringing on new agents is way more lucrative for our company.
How do you handle the challenges of running such a large, successful agent team?
For me, I’ve had a business coach for eight years: Bob Corcoran. He really coaches my life. He knows to hold me accountable. When we have our challenges, we can talk to family and friends, but they’re going to avoid the conflict. You need someone who’s willing to peel back the layers and be unafraid to tell you when you’re doing something stupid and when you need to fix it. Having a coach to help you go from 100 sales to 1,000 sales while also having quality of life helps keep that balance. Bob makes us schedule vacations and take time off. Everyone that gets to this level needs that. If you don’t have that, it can be a real pressure cooker.
Good points! That said, what advice do you have for someone thinking about starting a team?
What we do is really hard, and that goes unnoticed. To get to where we are today involved a lot of challenges. If you’re thinking about running a business like ours, understand the mental aspect of it. It’s been great, but you need to understand some of the downside of what you have to deal with—it’s not for the faint of heart!
What’s in store for the future of the team? Do you intend to keep growing?
I know market expansion is the “it” thing, but I want to keep doing well in Tampa Bay and gain as much marketshare expansion as we can by growing organically, building other real estate-related businesses and becoming more advanced in real estate investing. We also want to continue to give back to the Tampa Bay community through our charitable foundation. We’re going to focus on what we’re good at and what we enjoy. If it doesn’t check one of those two boxes, then why are we still doing it?