During my recent winter trip south, I had the pleasure of having lunch with my friends Shirley Porter and her remarkable partner, Ken Goodfellow. It was a lovely day on a restaurant patio in Fort Lauderdale as Ken and I got talking about our passion, real estate (sorry Shirley!).

Ken is not a mainstream real estate coach, he is at the upper crust of real estate coaches. Before he takes on a salesperson they must be grossing at least $600,000 and then some. There is also an extensive questionnaire before he decides if the person is actually coachable.

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I have been fascinated for some years about the development of teams. If I were younger I would push hard to build a team but I am a content niche player, a go-to expert in my own areas of real estate.

As we ate, we discussed why teams make it but also why teams fail.

As Ken explained, many do not have good business models nor the discipline needed. Salespeople are entrepreneurial in spirit and as it has been stated so many times, a good salesperson is not always a good manager. Ken blames the collapse or failure of a team at the feet of its leader. A team requires a full-time manager. A strong manager keeps the paperwork flowing, follows up, keeps everyone working together and most important, ensures that there is full service for the leads, the customers and the clients.

A team has to constantly be growing and that means constant recruiting of the people who are a good fit and will bring skills to that team. The team has to have a common goal. There has to be a synergy amongst the team members.

I asked Ken why so many agents leave teams and he said there are three main reasons:

  1. a lack of recognition
  2. a lack of growth within the team
  3. a lack of decent money or earnings

Some brokerages embrace teams but others are threatened by them. In order to attract strong teams, a brokerage must provide value for them, and it has to be flexible in respect to commission splits. Teams are different and the rules for individual agents are not the same as for a team.

It was a superb lunch with friends and being with one of the great leaders in our industry. At the end of a lovely meal we just sat back and watched the yachts go by our table, while thinking that some of them likely belong to real estate professionals who have mastered the concept of how to run a team properly. They got trained.


  1. Great article Barry. I was invited to a team once. They wanted me to bring all of my listings (25) and join them at 33% as there were two of them. My GCI was double what theirs was. And I was hearing bad stuff about them from clients and other folk…when i said NO it was like throwing a dog a bone then taking it back…turned on me like a pack of wolves. I will build my own team with my branding, and we will be BIG!

    • I recently happened upon an old national newspaper article, that appeared when I did a Google search on a different topic (that often happens in Google searches). The subject of the newspaper writer was part of his findings having searched out top agents in the GTA who had left a brokerage, gone to another and had maintained their status quo production. And he wanted the scoop for his article.

      How he got his research for his article that went nationwide in the brand name newspaper, was he noted, that he had interviewed the prior brokerage, inquiring as to why the top agents each had left.

      I immediately recognized many of the names as prior colleagues where I had been a top producer as well, but different branches.

      One comment in particular I found wanting if not entirely odd, when he wrote something to this effect (from memory): “She was statuesque even so quite tall.” And went on to describe her and her (boring but wellbred looking) attire.
      Then his claimed remark from her prior broker, a branch manager, he quoted, whose name I also knew and at one time had as a referral agent: (allegedly said): “Ah, but she wasn’t a team player!”

      My heart broke reading on as his penned words seemed such an unfair assessment of the particular woman. Nearly a personal attack, that would perhaps have been read by clients, colleagues, family, and friends. How disparaging and unkind. Such things often seem to be the bane of success. Why is that? Is it jealousy?

      I hadn’t seen the article when it initially was published a few years ago. How awful. And still floating around Google. And why would a major newspaper permit such a takedown, put-down article in the real estate segment of their national newspaper, where literally thousands of agents advertise on a regular basis, her included. Working the high end price range and upscale locations in her GTA trading area, she alone spends boatloads of money in paper prints ads.

      Perhaps those who either worked with her or otherwise know her would see through his untoward assessment. He mentioned a group of other well-known names, noting that one seemed to have no education worth mentioning, according to him, but that historically, he had discovered she had been a purser or ticket taker at an airlines counter and almost seemed to think that somehow meant he was surprised at her earnings being in the half-million dollar range, and didn’t in his opinion seem to deserve it. She, too, is an excellent agent, and likewise I was so surprised to see his disparaging remarks, Both these particular agents I’d be pleased to call “my agent” as a homeowner or buyer, any day in the week.

      I can tell you I have flown, business class then, across the country with both these agents, and one with her (deceased) twin sister agent. And was happy and proud to have them on my personal referral list. I still have corporate professional magazine pictures of us together. I was and am proud to know them. But for their privacy, I would name them. There will, no doubt, be readers who read between the lines.

      And for sure if that fellow were writing about me, he would have the same report probably. Like the one in particular, I too was not, am not, a team player. We didn’t get to the top of the heap being groupies. It works for some agents but not for others of us who prefer the one on one personal methods of doing business. That’s not a criticism, it’s just.”an is.”

      That doesn’t make us deplorable or part of Clinton’s so-called basket of deplorables.

      The ‘statuesque’ one in particular is still a well-known and well-respected top producer in another well-known firm. I suspect maybe she left due to office misplaced jealousies perhaps. Similar to what happened when I worked at the same firm.

      My manager expressed his personal thoughts on my outrageous so-called success more than once, and one day, standing, hand on chin, gently shaking his head side to side, said: “I’ve never known anyone who earns as much as you do.” (And what was that supposed to say? Not meant as a compliment. I maybe should have rebutted with: “You hang out with the wrong people (team).”

      But I just hung my head, feeling almost ashamed of being the regional number one rep, and walked away. There’s nothing to say to such a remark. I am a prolific reader and in more than one bio and autobiography words reign true that the proverbial glass ceiling may never be officially cracked, and those who end up in the corner office may always be threatened as having gotten there by supercilious means.

      And many a successful wife offered ‘corporate titled’ office, has turned down the corner office “so as not to embarrass her husband” in front of his family, friends and colleagues. Sad, but absolutely true. Different but not unlike the good family man who happens to love upscale cars and even so can afford one chooses not to partake of that market because his boss drives a Chevy. Why? for fear of being dismissed or never receiving another promotion or even a raise. And definitely he cannot move his family into an upscale real estate residential area, nicer than where his boss lives.

      Why is life like that?

      Hard to imagine biting the hand that feeds you? Managers typically got a portion of every dollar their agents produced. I don’t know if it’s true because I had no way to calculate, and actually had never even thought to do so, but after I left I was told the manager’s income was substantially less, perhaps to the tune of nearly a 100k annually. I truly had never thought about it.

      Such a wonderful business can be so sad and so misinterpreted. But team or no team, top producers are what they are. And no need to make excuses (especially to their managers) for their success, the more so if they are not team-players. Shouldn’t be required. Should never have to leave the company for those reasons. No place for jealousy or politics in the workplace.

      Carolyne L ?

      • Sub teams are the answer. Why has no one thought of them? Isn’t it obvious that if a team does not succeed it is because the team members have not first been part of a sub team, and, that the team leader has not first been a sub team leader? If failures-in-waiting can’t hack it on their own, it stands to reason that they will not be able to hack being a member of a team without first learning the ropes regarding how to ‘not’ stand alone on one’s own merits, to learn to be a follower. Ergo, enter the sub team, wherein floundering bottom feeders, like their fishy namesakes, bottom feeding Flounders (which have both eyes perched on one side of their heads, so that they can only look one way) feed off of bits and pieces/leftovers at the bottom of the food chain.
        I think that I need to start a sub team course. There are boat loads (mostly submarines) of potential students waiting to be prepped for team school, that is, after they have passed their career preparing OREA University (Ontario) undergrad/licensing/degree courses. Readers: how much should I charge? Should I demand a no-lifejacket sink-or-swim passing rate, i.e.; 100%? Should my school song be “We all live in a Yellow Submarine”?
        Where is Captain Nemo when you need him?

        • In yesterday’s Toronto news online it was noted that “82% of millennials intend to buy a house in the next 5 years.” Didn’t explain if that meant “during” the next 5 years, or as at the 5 year time period, this would kick in. Someone had apparently done a survey.

          If agents can hang on long enough it might mean there is a future in real estate.

          And, I just heard a horrid Brampton stat: The population has doubled in recent years. So this indeed seems odd.

          I kept stats on many things. Numbers of deals written by local colleagues was not among my research. It simply didn’t matter to me what others were transacting. I concentrated fully on what “I” was doing relative to my own production, and I never compared myself to others. For a very long time, I mistakenly believed that everyone did what I did. I really was naive. My career stood on its own two feet. But from time to time I never understood the jealousy. I never thought my production was special, and no one was more surprised than me when I was offered the title of number one rep representing corporate Western Ontario Region, out of 3900 agents at the time. It cost me about 200-250k annually to be there, when other corps were offering 100% commission structures. I never complained about what cost me because I was smart enough to recognize (and my mind goes back to the recent REM Alberta story…) that it costs money for a brokerage to run a stable business.

          But eventually the office politics and harassment won out, and thinking I would never leave the firm, I did the unthinkable and went off on my own.

          I still don’t track that information but a colleague who does, just shared some info with me that I found quite disturbing.

          On the forever local stat basis, no wonder my average of a transaction record (property sold, either my listings or I sold another MLS listing) caused so much jealousy, as I for nearly every year wrote plus or minus, “a transaction per week.” I think my lowest number one year was thirty-five or thirty-six transactions; and I never compared myself to other agents. I just figured there were many out there doing more business than I was, according to their advertising and promo.

          I didn’t keep close track of how many transactions other agents put together annually. (And then divided among husband wife teams and group-teams. ) WOW! doesn’t nearly express it.

          And was surprised that this figure, allegedly supported by TREB stats, (new processes let agents at large track each other’s production) apparently says that historically Brampton agents wrote six transactions on average, annually each and every year for a very long time.

          BUT in recent few years, that number of average transactions had dropped to only “two” !!! (2) per agent annually.

          Those are earth shattering stats. Means agents specific to Brampton area are literally starving to death. That doesn’t begin to even cover their franchise and branch affiliation fees, licensing, renewals, and insurance.

          WOW! the local agent earnings is much worse than I realized, in recent few years. And even not great historically compared to agents in other areas. I don’t know if the stats reflect the number of new registrants compared to other areas or not. Someone may be able to speak to that. Again, I never kept track of such info.

          Then you have a few agents who do a dozen deals annually or more, and that just proves repeatedly that averaging lies. But nonetheless it is indeed a bleak market for local agents, infiltrated deeply as it is by Toronto, Bolton, Georgetown and Mississauga agents. They even work at offices in Markham, Hamilton, and Oakville and sell in Brampton, having no local knowledge. So dangerous. Keeps lawyers busy, I guess.

          Carolyne L ?


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