Beyonce and Jay-Z, Melinda and Bill Gates, Sonny and Cher, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Hart to Hart, even Ant-Man and the Wasp… there a lot of stories – some successful, some not so much - of husbands and wives working together out there. And in our industry, of course, is no different. If you take a look at some of the real estate agents in The OFFICIAL Real Estate Agent Directory®, you will see a lot of pictures with two people in it; they are what we call working couples. Most of the time they are husbands and wives working together but sometimes they are just a dynamic duo; two people that work together well and decided to go about their real estate careers as a team, with no romantic relationship between them.
Because humans are extremely complex beings, of course, there are a lot of difficulties that arrive from that choice of sharing the duties with another person, so, with that in mind, our team at RealEstateAgent.com decided to write an article about dynamic duos in Real Estate, more specifically about working couples corporate ethics and guidelines.
This should be obvious but most of the time it's not: no smooching while working. Showing intimacy with your duo is actually a pro when selling a house; you can convince clients when the two of you share personal stories they can relate to. They feel closer to you; it breaks a bit of the formality. But you shouldn’t do that all of the time; it’s sort of a special power you use only when “invited” by the client to do so. These are special occasions, when you feel the client needs to have a positive example where you go: “Listen, you know me and my spouse have been together for X years, right?” and you go on talking about something cute and positive that helps you sell whatever it is you’re selling because ultimately you showed the client that aside from being a very professional working couple, you are also a happy in-love couple.
But the rest of the 95% of the times, there’s no calling each other “honey” or “baby”, holding hands or holding grudges and having an argument in front of clients or colleagues – if you work at a bigger firm. Love, its good parts and its bad parts, should be left inside your house when you go to work.
Having an exit strategy doesn’t mean you’re not 100% committed to something. Several couples therapists, in fact, recommend that couples start their married life by discussing the exit strategy of divorce. It’s a mind trick, really. We are afraid of the unknown, so, by addressing a specific problem, we lessen its burden. For working couples in our industry or elsewhere, we feel it’s important to have a sort of quarterly review where both parts of the duo analyze if it’s been worth working together. Your personal relationship with each other – being a loving one or a friendship one – is more important than any business, so if the two of you’ve been fighting a lot – or not making as much progress on the business side as you’d thought you would – then just go about your professional life as a single again. By doing that, it will never be “too late”, and you will never have “lost too much” by having embarked on this real estate agent duo idea.
When you decide your real estate careers are to be lived as a duo, in the form of a working couple, you’ve essentially become a team, so you have to act like one. It makes no sense to hold secrets about the business, or try to do more than your partner. Sure, there are sometimes where one is more qualified, required, better at something than the other, then it’s in their both interest to have this one exclusively doing this task. But if that means more work hours and effort on his/her behalf, then the other should be aware to try and compensate the workload on another area of their work, relieving the partner of further burden. For instance, Real Estate Agent Debra has excellent people's skills, while Joseph is great at the more administrative tasks. During an open house for a luxury real estate, Agent Debra will be busy being the life of the party talking with clients; so Joseph has to step up and deal with everything from checking if it’s time to change the food platter, paying the workers (when applicable) and whatever else is happening while Debra works her magic. The other way around should happen when it’s time for closing; if Joseph is the one mainly dealing with the Appraiser, the mortgage lender and whoever else, Debra should be actively dealing with other stuff like dealing with follow-up calls, new clients, and office stuff.
Side note, especially for the men out there: share the burden at work, but at home too. Don’t think the household is a women’s duty. Divide the chores between the both of you, so that it ends faster and the two of you are well rested for work.
The best thing you could do when deciding to become a working couple is finding out how you two will distribute work between you too at work and outside of it. One of the great blessings of sharing a life with someone is the ability to accomplish more because, combined, you have 4 arms, 4 legs, and 2 minds.
All work and no play makes working couples… divorce. What good does that do to the business?
Schedule date nights as if it was part of the job. If you have children, schedule a date where you can all get together and have some quality family time. Don’t do it just to do it. Go somewhere, dress up, turn off the phone. If you can, try going out on a weekend to somewhere nice and romantic. Every time you extract yourself out of work and reconnect what made you two fall in love – we guess it’s not because he/she is a great real estate agent, right? – those vows are renewed and grow stronger.
Same goes if you’re not romantically involved. Mingle your families. Have a BBQ. Go to a game. While you need to be professional at work, you also need to like and know someone personally to bring out the best in her and vice-versa. So you see how it’s important to save some time to have a relationship outside of work, right?
We just talked about investing on time together outside of work but there’s the other side to that too… You two will be spending so much time together between home and work as a working couple, that chances are you’ll get on each other nerves. Fear not; it’s normal. But have a workaround plan to diminish that. Schedule some alone time where each of you gets to do their own thing.
We know you’re thinking “these guys at RealEstateAgent.com think we have time for that?! They’re crazy!”. Yes, we know how the life of a real estate agent goes… we’re well aware that that time is a luxury for you. That’s why, to make it possible, you have to be a team even when each one is by themselves. Do it concomitantly! And whatever it is that you guys want to do it for your alone time, can you both do it at home? Say, she can garden/read/write/knit/workout/whatever in her She Shed by the backyard, while he plays a video game/watches a movie/drink/workout/whatever at his Man Cave? By doing that, you’ll maximize time and, maybe even half an hour a day will fuel the both of you not to kill each other and do a fantastic job.
We know it’s difficult, but hey… everything can wait; except your well being. If you’re not willing to stand up for your life as a couple right now, you will never. So avoid talking about work at home the best you can. If you drive together from work to home and vice-versa, make the car a sort of depressurizing chamber. Talk about everything you guys need regarding work and once the door of the car is locked, no more work. And do your best not to check e-mails and phone calls out of work hours, unless there’s a programmed emergency. Sometimes we are to blame when clients call us outside of work hours. We give them permission. No one will die of waiting 12 hours (and only 5 or so of them are actually awake, so…)
You’ve noticed that communication is everything, right? But sometimes the communication between the two of you is so damaged because of a lot of factors, so don’t feel ashamed of looking for professional help. Sometimes couples therapy will be the only way to resolve tensions that, because of how intractably you two are attached as a working couple, there’s no way of dealing with it by yourself, without a trained third-party to intermediate.
Now, before we go, a question…
What if you are not a working couple but a trio? Is that even possible? Though much rarer, we have seen trios once or twice. However, the truth is that people view it as a company rather than an actual trio. Like the countless law firms that have three main partners – Lawson, Judgeson & Moneyson - but several people under them. Can it work? Who are we to tell… we just don’t understand why not formalize the company instead of coming as a trio, watering down the commissions and going through the whole trouble of dealing with not one, but two different personalities than their own. But hey, maybe you think it’s perfect; whatever floats your boat and sells your property! If that’s your case, tell us in the comments what is it that works so well for you. If you are a working couple who struggles with other corporate ethics that we haven’t dealt with in the post, give us a shout out too! Let’s do it just like husbands and wives working together do: communicating frankly and respectfully so we all become better professionals!