A $100 million team leader shares insights on building systems and groups
that can take you to higher levels
By Heather R. Johnson
Some agents like going solo. Don Matheson prefers to collaborate. And during his 20-year RE/MAX career, he’s collaborated his way to the top.
“When you work with a team of intelligent people, you get an inflow of good ideas and ways to do things that are different than yours,” says Matheson, a Team Leader who received the Luminary of Distinction award, the network’s highest career honor, at the 2016 R4 convention.
By year’s end, Matheson’s team at RE/MAX Fine Properties in Scottsdale, Arizona, will have closed between $90 million and $100 million in sales. More than half of that volume is tied to referrals from Calgary and Chicago, where clients are looking at Scottsdale for second homes or retirement properties. Matheson has built an excellent reputation in both places.
“When you’re able to come through for your clients, success builds on itself,” says Matheson, who specializes in luxury homes, golf homes and active-adult homes. “People know what to expect from RE/MAX, and they know what to expect from me.”
Matheson grows and maintains his vast referral base through strategic networking. In addition to traveling to Canada, he meets with an elite Chicago-based group of businesspeople three or four times a year for golfing trips, barbecues and other events.
A high-quality team is the key. When you work with a team of intelligent people, you get an inflow of good ideas and ways to do things that are different than yours. That’s been a key to my success.Don Matheson
“These are people with wide spheres of influence, from mayors of small cities to business owners, attorneys and corporate executives,” he says. “It’s a great group of people who really support each other professionally.”
While his networking relationships set things in motion, Matheson’s ability to serve his clients is the essential part. For that he credits his outstanding team of staff members and agents – and the system they’ve perfected together.
When prospects emerge, lead coordinator Rachel Reid connects them to the team member who fits their price range and profile. And that team member, supported by the staff, takes it from there. Reid also stays involved, checking in regularly to make sure communication is flowing correctly and progress is being made.
The system works nicely. In 2015, the Matheson team closed over 120 transaction sides. Following a sale, clients hear from Matheson, Reid, the agent involved and/or another member of the team.
“We’re working hard on connecting with past clients more often, and we’re focused on providing as much value as we can, even after the fact,” Matheson says. “A high-quality team is the key. When you work with a team of intelligent people, you get an inflow of good ideas and ways to do things that are different than yours. That’s been a key to my success.”
Don Matheson’s 4 Top Tips on Building Referrals
- Network strategically.
Make connections with your target demographic through business networking groups, your local Chamber of Commerce and other professional associations. And don’t overlook your hobbies. Matheson’s passion for golf connects him to many potential clients who might value his services long after they’ve met.
You can’t do it all. Build a system for moving buyers and sellers through the process – and assign specific roles to team members and staff.
- Keep learning.
Fight the urge to think you know everything. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, keep reading, studying and learning about real estate and its many components.
- Ask for feedback.
Matheson occasionally invites businesspeople he wants in his network to critique his listing presentations. Not only does the practice provide good feedback – it also sends a message that Matheson values the person’s opinion. And in the end, building relationships is what it’s all about.
Matheson’s 4 Top Tips on Building a Great Team
- Know what you want.
Clearly define your ideal candidate. What skills do your team members need to have? Can they improve those skills with classes and training? Be ready to invest in their development as needed, and “don’t ever hire on price,” Matheson says.
- Have high expectations.
Matheson compensates his people well. In exchange, he expects strong, consistent performance. “If there’s a slip-up, we try to figure out what happened – and what kind of support the person needs so it doesn’t occur ever again.”
- Hire team players.
When Matheson studies a resume, he looks for team experience of any kind. One of his latest additions, Michelle Rapp, was captain of her Division I college softball team. “I knew she would have good leadership skills because they’d be essential in that role. And I was right – she’s working out great.”
- Create a positive environment.
Matheson says there’s “great synergy” on his team. Members get along well and help each other as much as they can. They’re all committed to the group’s success. Matheson also encourages team members to prioritize personal time, boosting morale. “The most important things in life are health, family and work,” he says, “in that order.”