Loaves, fishes and real estate office managers

A lot of brokers have commented to me privately about my post a few weeks back in which I suggest it is time to get rid of the office manager/VP position in real estate brokerage.

The gist of these comments: “I agree with you, but a great office manager is worth his or her weight in gold.”

I can go along with that. I know killer managers like this. But when I ask the broker how many of those golden people they have in their organization the answer is usually “one or two.”

I guess that means the rest of the gang is worth their weight in something like Styrofoam.

What to do?

Well, one option is to use the miracle of technology to multiply the impact of that golden manager within your organization. To make he or she a bountiful source of support and inspiration beyond the office they inhabit.

Keep this person in his or her office. No need to move. But extend their reach into other offices using, for example:

DimDim: This is a crazy-good web conference service. It’s in-browser, meaning there’s no plug-in needed. For groups of up to 20 it’s free; larger groups are darn near free. Have your rock star manager conduct video conferences with agents in every office. Have her deliver training presentations on this platform. If an agent has a problem with a deal, set up a video conference in a couple clicks. Few new notebooks – Macs or PCs – come without web-cams these days and peripheral units are now cheap and good. Take advantage of this.

TokBox: Toxbox allows you to record video email messages or video chat with your IM buddies. It’s free and dead simple. Your manager can now have “face time” with agents throughout your organization with the click of a button.

Docstoc API: There’s a whole new world of document management and file sharing that has largely been ignored in real estate, despite the obvious benefits. DocStoc is just one example. This is a service that allows you to upload, share, embed and merchandize documents online. It’s been around awhile, but the API was released just last month. Implementing DocStoc would allow your manager to share and manage training presentations, legal updates, forms, and company related documents with multiple offices efficiently.

Of course, these tools can also be used to magnify the reach and impact of this manager’s other principal task: Recruiting.

I know nothing beats having someone on-site, in the flesh. It’s hard to beat breakfast and bed and a Swedish massage every morning too. Does the marginal benefit derived from having a mediocre manager warming a chair justify the hit to the P&L? Might the loss of a few agents loyal to a manager or dependent upon his hand-holding to even give the appearce of competence be viewed as catharsis rather than catastrophe?

Opinions may vary. My point is that for the adventurous, there is another path to consider.