you, as the owner, help your best people grow and meet the standards you have set. In the end, people accountability is how you help them take your business to the highest level possible.
While we have already outlined the methods for achieving accountability (weekly meetings and the consultative interview) and the system for quantifying goals and standards (the goals to action worksheet), what you must take away from this section is an understanding and acceptance that "people accountability" will always and ultimately be your responsibility. When you have the right three people in place, accountability is an easy and often uplifting experience. Talent, after all, tends to overshoot the mark. When you are lacking talent in these three positions, accountability will take more of your time, be more stressful, and accomplish less. Just remember, as stressful as it can be to hold someone accountable for a broken standard or unmet goal, accountability is not nearly as stressful as losing the business or having to get back into the day-to-day work of the business.
Our experience with accountability has shown that tough-love accountability with people who are not true talent eventually leads to a mutual parting of the ways or a reduction in their responsibilities. And then you will need to find a truly great hire to replace them. If your other two hires have been great, they will help you make this transition in a way that forces you to step back into the business and completely take over the missing person's job. But you've got to be prepared to do this at any time, if that is what is necessary to preserve the business and get it back on track. It's like James Stewart's character, George Bailey, in It's a Wonderful Life, who, on his wedding night, jumps behind the counter to save the family business, the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan, from a potentially disastrous bank run. Business ownership is never really passive, and sometimes it requires sacrifices on your part. Holding your people accountable to standards is the way you improve the odds of not having to jump behind the counter and back into your business.
Beyond this, you are tracking and making sure your key staff members are holding their people accountable to the same standards. Accountability is a skill you want to nourish and develop in them. You'll also be helping them constantly to improve the performance of the team and upgrade talent among the team whenever possible. It goes without saying that the better you are at people accountability, the better your key three will be at hiring talent and upholding standards, and the higher the success of your business.
The final area of responsibility for the Millionaire Real Estate Agent business owner is capital accountability—the financial side of ownership. As the owner of a business, you are responsible for providing the financial resources the business needs to survive and grow. You are also ultimately responsible for ensuring that ongoing obligations are fulfilled (you pay the bills) and new systems or hires are funded (you invest in growth and improvement). Owners follow their money, evaluate results seriously, and hold their dollars accountable to appropriate results. Again, we are saying you need to play the Red Light, Green Light game to make sure your return on investments is better than "dollar for dollar."
Fundamentally, this means you are approving all budgets and reviewing your monthly P&Ls (profit and loss statements) with your three key people. It means having every budget variance justified to ensure fiscal accountability. As explained in the Controlling Your Costs section of Net a Million, a handy trick for making sure you are involved any time expenses exceed your budget is to:
1. Separate your deposit account from your operating account;
2. Authorize only yourself to write checks or move money from your deposit account; and
3. Place in the operating account at the start of each month only enough money to cover budgeted and approved expenses.
In this way, when expenses run over, your bookkeeping team member will have to come to you to transfer the difference into the operating account. Half of the battle of accountability is awareness. (Incidentally, we've also seen that this method drastically reduces the risk of embezzlement and financial mismanagement—a lesson too many top agents have learned the hard way.) In a similar way, you'll be insisting on economic justification for any new lead-generation ideas, equipment or furniture purchases, or staff hirings. You'll be evaluating whether these proposed costs will generate enough new profit to justify the money spent.
The goal of all of these measures is not just to say no. Besides being the ultimate keeper of the budget, your role is to teach budget accountability to your team. Getting people to understand how to evaluate costs in light of potential benefits, rather than current needs, is invaluable and makes your job much easier. You will be a financial teacher. And as the owner, budget accountability will be a primary area of focus until the day you sell the business.
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