Ep: 57 – Upgrade Your Systems and Procedures w/ Jeff Brown | Broker’s Playbook

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Ep: 57 - Upgrade Your Systems and Procedures w/ Jeff Brown | Broker's Playbook

Are you looking to take your systems to the next level?

If so, implementing systems and procedures may be just what you need. In this video, Broker’s Playbook COO hosts Jeff Brown of the @HeapsEstrinRealEstateTeam to discuss what systems and procedures are, and how they can help you streamline your business.

Understanding yourself is truly the key. Are you nurturing the right environment, or are you spinning your wheels? Tune in to see how taking the time to assess and implement proven systems and procedures sets your business up for long-term success.

Also, don’t forget to check out our other videos! Together, we can create a better future for everyone.

Thank you for watching.


Upgrade Your Systems and Procedures


Bobby Puim: Hey Broker Fam, welcome to another episode of the Broker’s Playbook podcast. This week we’ve got something special for you where I, Bobby Poom, the executive producer and COO at Brokers Playbook, actually take the mic and work with an equal of mine out in the in the real estate world. His name is Jeff Brown. He’s the director of people and operations at the Houston Team Royal LePage’s number one GCI earner. Over the last four years running, they run an incredible ship and we get some insight into how Jeff does that with his people and operations. With what you’re seeing today with brokers, Playbook podcast is a little bit of behind the scenes how we run everything that makes a wonderful real estate team tick. So if you like what you’re seeing or hearing on today’s podcast, please let us know with a comment below and we’ll make sure that we bring the background to the forefront for you all the time. Welcome to the show Brokers Playbook Nation. I’m not your typical host. My name is Bobby Puma, and normally I’m in the background just taking care of everything that Simeon needs. But today. Today I’ve come to the forefront to host for you because we have a colleague here of mine today. His name is Jeff Brown with a heap Zastron team. Welcome. Great to be here. And Jeff also works in the background with a real estate team. So we thought that we’d bring everybody from the background into the forefront today to give you guys an understanding of sort of how we see the real estate world and what we work to implement for you so that you can become a better, bigger, faster, stronger realtor. So again, Jeff, welcome. Thanks for joining me. Good to see you, Bobby. All right. This is my first hosting job. I think you’re doing great. So far, so good, right? Celebrate already? Yeah. So tell everybody a little bit about what you do at Heap Sestrin.


Jeff Brown: Yeah, for sure. So my title is director of People and Operations, so I oversee the administrative functions. Finance, You have our sales assistants and also our people function. So we have 15 staff, so they need to be supported. They need a go to person, a manager. So I play that function. And then over the last year I’ve been with Heap Sestrin. Kaylee’s been leading us through quite a big strategic change, and so I’ve been partnering with her on creating the 2 to 3 year strategic plan as well as creating the talent plan to to complement that, because we have to bring in the right expertise and skills to make that vision a reality.


Bobby Puim: It’s actually a lot of what I tell people when they ask me what I do right. I’m ultra forward facing. I’m probably the most forward facing individual at RBC Canada. Right. What are we going to do two, three, four years down the line here? But also then taking a look backwards to say, where did we fail? Why are these changes required and what happens next for us here? So always farthest in the into the front, but also farthest into the past. Do you find the same thing?


Jeff Brown: Yeah. And I’d say sometimes it’s not even based on failure. It’s just what got you to where you are today is not going to be the exact same thing. You need to get to the next level.


Bobby Puim: It’s so well said. So tell me a little bit about your background. You came from, if I’m not mistaken, banking background.


Jeff Brown: That’s right. Most of my career was at BMO Financial Group, did progressive HR roles there, so it was in diversity and inclusion when I got started, was very passionate about that subject matter. Still am Then I was an HR generalist, so basically if there was a branch that you’ve been in in Toronto or the GTA, I was the HR guy for those spaces. I loved that job. At one point I was like biking between the branches during the day, which I really loved, and then I took on more strategic roles. I supported the chief HR officer for a while and did some special projects there.


Bobby Puim: Amazing. Why real estate then what happened?


Jeff Brown: Accident, I think. Similar to to your story. Maybe so. I had gone to a company that was in the hospitality live event space right before the pandemic. So that was quite the adventure. And then it was it was a mutually agreed upon decision for us to to think about the next chapter. And the company is is doing great. But I needed a new challenge. And so Kailey had a job posting up. I saw the brand, I saw the company. I was attracted to it because it was a female led company and the marketing was on point. And so I reached out. We had some conversations. The skill set that she needed on her leadership team matched what I could bring to the table, and it’s been a fun year ever since.


Bobby Puim: That’s amazing. Let’s talk a little bit about Heaps. Estrin Sure. So for context, for everybody that’s listening or watching today, I’m with RCC Canada. That’s Royal LePage, Canada-wide number two, GCI, Gross Commissionable income as the metric. We’re number two in the country Heaps Estrin number one and has been for how many years running, I believe four.


Jeff Brown: Don’t quote me on that, but I believe four.


Bobby Puim: Yeah, It’s this is amazing team. And I think what enough people that listen to this particular show understand is that collaboration is a portion of the key to their success. We believe in that very, very much. And because you’re the number one team in the country, we’re the number two team in the country, we actually don’t compete very often. Correct? You have very different goals, and very different subsets of the population that you work with than RBC Canada does. So tell us a little bit about the business and what you love about that.


Jeff Brown: Yeah, we are lucky enough to be working with some of the best clients in the city and our agents. I’m really, really proud of them. Like I felt like an outsider for a long time because again, new to the industry. But now, having been there for a year, like I have referred my best friend and his spouse to our company and the way Meghan Landry and our team completely transformed their home search experience, my friend Chris and his wife Laura were looking all over the city outside of where they really wanted to be, close to their parents, close to the school district. They wanted because they thought they had to compromise and they were getting kind of sick of it. And they paused their search. And then when they restarted it, I. Mend them, connect with Megan. And she played a few roles. She was obviously a very strategic realtor, a dynamite negotiator, but she was also a coach for them. My friend Chris is like six foot seven and so if he couldn’t fit in one of the showers in the house, he was like, We can’t do it. And she was like, Maybe you consider doing a renovation a year from now and not losing this amazing opportunity. Long story short, they were able to find a home in their preferred area in the Summerhill neighbourhood of Toronto. And so through that, like our team does repeats lather. Rinse repeats that all the time. I’m confident to refer anyone that I love to one of our agents because they are such great strategic advisors and we work as I probably should have been clearer up on the front of we’re in the residential side and for our purposes we focus on Toronto Central mostly, but we do do business across the city.


Bobby Puim: It’s so amazing and I’m glad you went back to the to the residential side of it right? Because what Canada does is work almost exclusively in investment. Correct. But the one commonality there was that we become advisors, coaches to our clients. It’s that’s the differentiator that I believe our Canada obsession in any great team actually brings is the educational component to the real estate transaction itself. But it also said you said something there. I’m not going to be able to repeat it perfectly here, but that it’s a lather, rinse and repeat type scenario. And you and I talk a lot on the outside, right, about standard operating procedures or SOPs. Tell me a little bit about some of the ones that you’ve worked to implement at Heap since you started.


Jeff Brown: Yeah, I can’t take credit for many of the processes that are foundational to the company. Catherine, who has been leading our listings function for a few years now, has an amazing project management based approach to how we manage our listings and coordinate across marketing. My team on the administrative side and with the agents and the client, when we started getting higher volumes, we needed to have a process that didn’t just live in email because it was driving everybody crazy and there was a high, high risk of dropping the ball. And that’s just not acceptable for the client experience that we’re going to deliver. So that that listings process and using Monday.com project management software became a foundation of of what we do. And that was also co-created with one of our agents, Amanda. And I think that element of having both the administrative side and the client facing side building something, that’s how you can make a recipe for success because it’s not just some, you know, administrator in the background saying, Here’s how you sell, because we all know how that lands with salespeople.


Bobby Puim: Yeah, absolutely. So how has reaction been to some of the things that you’ve worked to implement on the realtor side of things? I think as a preface to that, I would say that most of the realtors that that approach us at RBC Canada to join our team or come to brokers playbook looking for training. They’re actually looking for mentorship from a team, but then they’re also quite rigid in most cases about the way that they want to run their business. Our model different than Heap sestrin allows for that to a degree, right? But where I would kind of go with it is I bump up a lot against a lot of resistance when it comes to, well, I kind of do it this way and I always have. And I don’t feel like changing. Do you notice the same thing?


Jeff Brown: Yeah. That’s not unique to our industry. Right? Right. It’s just change is difficult. It sucks. And anyone who says they like it, you know, maybe they like the end product, but naturally, humans are adverse to change. I’d say with what we’ve rolled out over the last year, we’ve launched a training platform, we’ve doubled down on our CRM and it’s never I can’t pinpoint people on our team who had a challenging time versus an easy time because across all those different implementations it landed differently with different people. And so the key, no matter what you’re doing is, as you’ve alluded to, is the discipline is repeating the messaging on why something’s important. It’s assessing ahead of time, who may have some requirements to have a little bit more support to get there. But the key thing is that desire to change. And if you have that willingness and if you can trust in a colleague who has a background like you and I do, or trust in someone who says, Hey, I’ve been there, this is how I’ve grown my business, if you follow those steps, then you can reflect back and say what works for you and what doesn’t. But if you don’t try, you won’t know.


Bobby Puim: Give me a baseline for how you attempt to to build out any particular process. Do you follow a step by step system that you adhere to? Is it interviewing some of the realtors on your team to find out what they’re doing in the best possible way and then recreating it for some of the others? Give me some insight on that.


Jeff Brown: Yeah, for sure. In an ideal state. Well, what I did when I started with Houston is I had a few town halls with our agents where really they drove the agenda of what was working, what was what they wanted to see continue, and what they really wanted to see change. And that drove most of the agenda for the balance of the year. And when I think back to that time last spring, some of it was they wanted more hands on sales assistance support. So we’ve added a second sales assistant from the process side of things. They knew that the client relationship software follow up boss that we use was more powerful than what we were actually using it for. And so once you have that, instead of me as an administrator or Kaylee as an owner, being like, thou shalt do this. Hearing from them, okay, this is the outcome I want. We can then pair that with. Well, this is the these are these are the solutions we’re proposing. Let’s try it. And so that consultation period to get the buy in from the team is key. From there, it’s really writing down and being clear on what the policy is and what the ask is of everybody on emails. When I send them out, I’ll literally say action required so that that email doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. We also have a weekly sales meeting where we’ll go over the material and then whoever on my team or myself who’s leading the project will always have office hours or one on one meetings with agents so that they can really understand. So already there are three different ways that we’re rolling out the learning and the change so that no matter what your learning style, whether you like to read something, be shown something, or just listen and give feedback and ask questions, all those channels are open so that you can have a successful implementation.


Bobby Puim: It’s fantastic. I love the organization as a whole that comes from from you. You and I had spoken briefly a little while back now about residual training, if you will, or repeat training and what you’ve worked to design with that. I find with our team, we get we get the consistent message like there’s a lot going on all of the time. It can be really overwhelming. And because we allow for most of our agents to work as sort of independent contractors flying the flag of Canada, the tendency is to prioritize business first and then come back to whatever foundational piece they can find in order to then push out more client experience after the fact. Right. But you guys went ahead and designed something that’s very forward facing instead. Right? Tell me about your training specifically.


Jeff Brown: Yeah, for sure. So Mike Logo on our team joined us I think in September and he has a really wonderful, disciplined approach when it comes to lead generation and lead nurturing. And so we attacked sort of this prickly market in the fall and, you know, we’re coming out of it now, thank God. But we attacked it with just discipline. And so we started to do a power hour each month where the whole team comes together, looks at their database, sends out monthly update messages, looks at the analytics that come back from it and does some calling and some and some lead generation. If they’re not disciplined in in generating that business now than they could have a problem three months from now. And also just from a client experience and client expectation perspective, people want that high touch. They want to be talked to, they want to be communicated to, they want to be listened to. So this is an opportunity to build that to your original ask around training. Well, that kind of came next because Mike identified that there were some gaps in in people wanting to know what to say, what to do, how to follow up appropriately and not seem too salesy. And so we built a platform using training wheels accessible to anybody that you can load up videos and screengrabs of how to do things, scripts and they forever live there. So instead of having to dig through email or dig through a Google Drive, if someone wants to brush up on something, we can just send them the link and they’re able to review it.


Bobby Puim: And you guys have that set up sort of as an LMS. If you were going to onboard somebody new, does that learning management software exist for that person to be able to start at day one and push all the way through? Well, I love.


Jeff Brown: How you did your onboarding with follow up Boss. We’ve done it a bit differently to your point through training and yes, so everything from me having a video saying, Hi, this is who I am, this is what I do. Down to FINTRAC compliance, which everyone’s favorite topic, everyone. It’s all in there so that people don’t have to go looking. Mike Lugo said to me, pretty straightforward. I did not love my onboarding experience and I was the one accountable for his onboarding experience. So we knew that something had to change. And and this, this platform and getting the buy in from our team to use it. Back to your question before this training launch was probably the most well received. I got the most unsolicited positive emails from agents saying you’re hitting the mark on this. So yeah, big kudos to Mike on our team.


Bobby Puim: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Big kudos to you. It’s something that we still struggle with every day. And maybe to be fair, it’s because of the way that the team is structured. Right? Tell us a little bit about your structure. Everybody works underneath the heap. Sestrin flag, right, Right. And they are dedicated agents that work with heap Sestrin specifically. Correct. Amazing. We don’t get into splits and things of that nature on the team. This isn’t meant to pump the tires of the heap session team, although you guys are amazing, right? So the inner workings of this is of value to any particular realtor, right? When you started with Heap Sestrin you were coming from you said hospitality and banking. Previous to that was the first thing that you noticed that was crazy different about real estate as opposed to those more corporate settings.


Jeff Brown: So for me.


Jeff Brown: I always practiced HR and operations and environment where everyone was an employee. That’s only half true for my current mandate. My agents are my colleagues, but they’re also my clients. They work on this team and in doing so, they are they’re investing some of their commission into this team. And they it creates a healthy tension because they expect high quality service from the marketing team. Same from my team. And really it’s important for me to wear both hats of okay, I need to lead the team down a certain direction so we can all be successful. But I also have to listen to my clients, which in this case are the agents. So that was a big shift for me. I really like that though. I think it’s I when I joked with some of our agents because I was rolling out a new policy and we had a really good kind of heated discussion about it and I was like, I need you guys to appreciate that. I have to roll out policy to like five of the best negotiators in the city right now. It’s not easy, and I think they respected that. But over time, as I showed that me that I and my team were there to add value and to help them succeed. And they saw us genuinely dive in, get our hands dirty, whether it was jumping on the front desk when someone was sick to answer calls or opening closing houses because we have a concierge service that does that and seeing, you know, senior members of my team jump in to fill gaps there, they knew we were all. Rolling in the same direction and genuinely caring about their clients, which is what they care the most about. That’s so.


Bobby Puim: Amazing. This has been wonderful. Okay, now we put you on the hot seat. Okay. The whole point of brokers playbook. Okay. So literally baked into the name, right? Playbook. I would like for you to give us two today to two, because you and I aren’t realtors, but we speak to that industry. Right. So from a realtor perspective, give somebody 2 or 3 things that they can be leveraging their back end teams for that they’re probably not leveraging them for today.


Jeff Brown: Ooh. Um.


Jeff Brown: Especially for high performing individuals, which real estate agents tend to be. Delegation is really hard, so I think it would start with the agent doing a bit of a self audit around what is the work that they they lose energy from doing where they really they might even be good at it, but it just takes up too much time. Right now we’re trying to work with our agents to trust our admin staff to to to pull some paperwork together for them and of course, the agents accountable for that end product. But just to have that support to pull together maybe some of the inputs for an offer to make their life easier. A lot of agents will go, well, it’s just faster if I do it. I need to have the quality assurance for my client. Respect that for sure. But in order to get capacity back, we’re now actively asking our agents before it gets hopefully too busy in the spring market to sit down with our sales assistants and walk through how they like to write an offer. What’s their process? What do they look out for so that they get that leverage of the team and they build that comfort and trust. So I think audit yourself, see where you could get some more support and then build that trust with your team in a not a pressure cooker environment.


Bobby Puim: It’s so wonderful. I literally echo the same thing every single day. Leverage the team for what you need. That’s great. So there’s for the agent. Now, you and I. Well, I want to believe that we’re the most unique individuals in all of real estate and all of Canada. Okay, Okay. I’ll go there with you. I love it. I love it. But. But we aren’t we’re not the only operational directors around, Right? So. So let’s hit them for a second. Give them 2 or 3 tips, tricks, little bits of advice that you would suggest implementing today if you’re running operations with a real estate team.


Jeff Brown: Yeah, I’d say maybe I’ll give you two for one. So I think executive presence is a is a skill set that I think is really under is not well understood and is not nearly invested in as much as it needs to be. Linkedin learning has great courses and if you’re ever stuck going there, I think you can. I think you can do a free trial if you want to, but I wrote it down so I didn’t forget. John Ullman does an executive presence course that I love, and it really helps if you’re an administrator or a leader within more of a back end function. How can you approach the team with confidence, with clarity? How can you communicate and how can you make sure you’re budgeting the time to listen to your team to solicit feedback? It it’s something that I go back to often to make sure I’m practicing what I preach and that executive presence element. Do a little research on that that will do wonders for your current situation and your career overall. The next, I think, is understanding how you respond to external accountability and internal accountability. So one of my favorite authors is Gretchen Rubin. She was the, Oh, I’m going to I’m going to mess this up. But I think she was a clerk for the Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the States. And then she became a researcher and she looked into happiness. And what it boiled down to for her was people tended to go in four different directions when it came to how they viewed outer accountability and inner accountability. So, for example, some people do really well with external challenge Hey Bobby, keep me accountable. I want to run 10-K every week this, this month and if I don’t do it by the end of the month, I owe you 40 bucks. Some people respond really well to that. I would not I would resent you by the end of the first week.


Bobby Puim: I also would not.


Jeff Brown: Exactly, but someone who would respond well to that challenge. I believe if someone called an obliger, someone who, if they externalize the accountability, they actually get motivated opposite for me. So I’m on her framework, what they call questioner. I just need to know why. So if I say, okay, well, Jeff, why are you going to be running 40km this month? Oh, I want to achieve my health goal. And if I answer that question, I’m more motivated and would actually more likely succeed in the new habit than if I took another approach. So I think the free online quiz. Gretchen Rubin Ibelieve.com. If not, it’ll point you in the right direction. Find out what your tendency is and then if you’re a leader of team members, find out what theirs are, because that way you can have an honest conversation around goal setting and accountability both ways, both up and down and across and understand how each other tick a bit so that you’re not projecting how you like to be held accountable on other people when they might really resist it just because of who they are.


Bobby Puim: It’s so wonderfully said. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today. Hey, Brokers Playbook Nation. This is Jeff Brown of the heaps eastern team here in. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. All right. We’re going to have you back 100 million times. Great. Listen, I only get to pick one person to bring on so that I can get to host. So I’m going to start hosting all of them with just you, you and I back and forth the operational brokers playbook. Thank you. I would love to. This was fun. My man. We’re going to do this again. Thanks for joining us. Great.


Jeff Brown: Take care. Bye, everyone. Bye.


Simeon Papailias: Thank you so very much for spending your time with us here at Brokers Playbook. This is a growing community. If you found value in this video, please invite others to subscribe and of course, share the videos with. We’ll see you soon.