When I was eighteen, I was walking through campus at Bucknell one day when I saw a flyer: WANT TO MAKE MONEY THIS SUMMER?
The flyer said I could buy into a painting franchise and rake it in during the summer months. I decided to do it.
One minor problem: I had zero painting experience.
That summer was full of disasters. I learned just about everything that can go wrong with paint. Excited about running our own business, my team of college friends and I:
- Painted windows irrevocably shut.
- Rolled over light switches.
- Spilled a can of paint down a residential road, leaving a beige stain that lasted until the road was repaved years later.
- Gave my dad’s truck an unwanted paint job.
- Were asked to leave one property because we’d done such poor work.
After two weeks, we had to hold a team meeting. The truth was we were destroying homes, not painting them.
What went wrong? A near-total failure to train us.
The franchise had trained my employees for half a day. As the owner of the franchise, I had received just two days of training.
After that, we were expected to handle all kinds of situations on our own. We had one person to call in case of emergencies—and believe me, we called him—but otherwise we were flying solo.
When we had to choose which type of paint to use, or what was the best way to paint along trim, we were forced to come up with our own “ingenious” solutions.
Our training lacked texture and nuance, leaving us woefully unprepared.
Have you ever played a board game and been read the instructions at the beginning, only to have no idea what to actually do when it’s your turn?
Our situation was similar. We’d been given the instructions, but now, faced with real situations, we didn’t know how to apply those instructions in real time.
This experience demonstrated to me the importance of rich, in-depth training.
I might have wasted a lot of paint that summer, but I did learn something valuable. In addition to confirming that I’m not handy or mechanical at all, I learned how important it is to train your team members well.
A short training period at the beginning is good, but not enough. In fact, it’s probably MORE important to train people by walking them through real situations, play by play, for an extended period of time.
In-depth training means being there for new agents as they encounter real problems.
A good teacher is on call, ready to lend deep knowledge and experience.
This style of training takes longer, but it’s worth it. Instead of floundering, new agents learn how to handle complex situations the right way. Often, they retain this knowledge better because they learned it during real interactions.
Better-trained team members are more confident, persuasive and ultimately more successful. So in the end, investing in your team pays off for everyone.
Plus, there’s much less paint to clean up.
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Matt Mittman and Eric Rehling are the owners of RE/MAX Ready in Conshohocken, PA. See articles from them about measuring profitability, routines, taking the right kinds of risks, real experience of being a real estate agent, communication styles, building an audience, and more.