Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Four proven tricks for winning family real estate teams

Family-owned businesses can bring relatives closer together and allow them to work side-by-side all day, every day. But they also present issues that non-family entities don’t have to work through. For Greg Johnston of Keller Williams Realty East Idaho and one of the franchises’ top-selling agents, working with his older brother Mike Johnson (office broker who doesn’t list or sell) and their father, Jim Johnston, has proven to be a magical combination.

“People often say to me, ‘Greg, I’m surprised that you can work with family, because a lot of people can’t do that,’” says Johnston, who has been working with his father for the last 19 years. “But we’ve found a formula which works in an industry where not all family teams get along, and where some just wind up going out on their own.”

Here’s how they do it:

 1.  They check their egos at the door. Being selfish or self-centered doesn’t cut it in a family business, where everyone has to pull their weight and be “in it” for the right reasons. This is particularly important in real estate, where all members of the family tend to have the same sphere of influence to pull from. “We’re working together, so it’s not about any one person,” says Johnston. “When one of us wins, we all win.

2.  They collaborate a lot. Open lines of communication are critical in a family business, where close relationships between team members can be both a blessing and a curse. The Johnstons regularly bounce ideas off one another (“Hey, who are you meeting with this afternoon?” and “Who’s covering the office this morning?”) and coordinate their activities in a way that benefits everyone. “Good communication really goes far in the team environment,” he says.

3.  They sell themselves as a “package” deal. In today’s real estate market, consumers like instant responses from people who know their stuff. Because their knowledge is cloned across multiple family members, the Johnstons often use the pitch: “Hey, you’re getting all of us for the price of one.” So, where a seller may sign her listing paperwork with Greg, the next day that seller could find herself working directly with Jim to set up an inspection

4.  They’re not afraid to crack jokes at their own expense. When people ask Johnston where he gets his business from, he likes to joke that “he stole all of his dad’s business,” and that’s how he generates his leads. “They called my dad first,” he says, “and when he wasn’t available, I started working with them.”