Delegation is not only vital in real estate but in any small business operation, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve succeeded in my career. Learning to delegate and trust the people around you can be really scary, but the only way to get better at it is to do it. There are two levels of delegation: delegating a task, and delegating a decision, and the first is much easier than the second.
Delegating a task is simply realizing that you can do something, or you can pay somebody to do it. If you run a lawn care company and pay an employee to use the trimmer for an hour, it may save you 45 minutes of your time. It’s still uncomfortable because you want to do it and not risk any mistakes, but when you get paid for your time you have to bring others in to maximize your earnings.
Start out by delegating tasks. Whether it’s trimming, customer service, an online assistant, or any other simple facet of your business, it will start to open up your life. Your time will be saved, and the tasks can be hired out fairly affordably. You can grow a really strong business just by learning to delegate tasks.
Delegating a decision is harder, but even more valuable. The owners that don’t do this make all the decisions on their own: who to hire, what to buy, how to solve a problem, etc. It causes decision fatigue, you’ll be stuck fighting fires all the time, and you’ll be a slave to your customers and employees. The key to growing a successful company is to empower your employees to make decisions. This isn’t as simple as delegating tasks, but if you can teach employees how to quote a job, sign a vendor, interview, and hire, or make other everyday decisions, you’ll free up your own time for much more valuable work.
My first major breakthrough with this came in 2012, our second year in business at Storage Squad. I was having dinner with my managers, and I was told about an employee who quit in the middle of their shift and abandoned their truck on the road. My manager found our employee information, texted a nearby employee, called him, and offered him a $50 bonus to finish the three-hour shift. He even arranged for supplies to be delivered to the substitute. My manager took it upon himself to solve the problem! At first, I was uncomfortable with this, but it transformed how I thought about the business and empowering employees. There will be some mistakes, and it takes work, but it’s worth it.
My second breakthrough came a decade later in early 2022 when Bolt Storage closed on a $9M self-storage facility in Virginia in a deal that I had nothing to do with. I didn’t find the deal, I didn’t negotiate or put it under contract, and I didn’t secure financing or investor capital. The only thing I did was get an email on the underwriting and offer price and approve it for my team, then signed the final closing docs. If you’ve never closed a real estate deal, you have no idea how much goes into it, and I was amazed that my team was able to execute all of it.
I’m reading a book called EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey, and he writes that when an employee comes to your office with a problem or question to imagine that they have a monkey on their back. When they ask you what to do, the monkey jumps on your desk and becomes your monkey. Most business owners send the employee off and inherit the monkey, suddenly becoming the bottleneck of the business with an office full of monkeys.
The monkey must leave the room with the employee that brings them to you. When an employee asks you what to do, ask them what they think they should do. Ask them probing questions, and tell them the next time they call you with a question to bring a potential solution. Over time, employees will get better at this. If you teach an employee how to make a decision it will save you a hundred future decisions. You’ll also learn about who is competent in their role and should be promoted and who isn’t. Decision-making is a muscle, there’s no guidebook, and the first step is hard work and practice.
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