REALTORMAG. REALTOR.ORG REALTOR® JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 35
Another option is to hire someone who can do what you don’t
want to do. Dan Kruse, president of the 54-office Century 21
Affiliated headquartered in Madison, Wis., says he knows lots
of good brokers who love the day-to-day interaction with their
salespeople. But they hate the grind of administrative issues. If
that describes you, Kruse suggests hiring an administrator or
clerical staffer to free up your time so you can do what you love.
Kruse also knows brokers who aren’t good at mentoring
salespeople; instead, they’re good at helping salespeople by
bringing leads into the company. That situation calls for hiring a
manager skilled at mentoring and coaching sales associates.
Can You A;ord It?
There’s a hitch: “Hiring costs money,” explains Bruce Ailion, CRB,
CRS, associate broker at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta in Marietta,
Ga. “Most owners, myself included, delay because it’s not just
[about] hiring a manager. It’s hiring a competent manager, and
good people don’t come cheap. We delay and delay because, of
course, no one can do the job better than we can and we’re not
sitting on huge bank accounts loaded with profits.”
Dub Dellis, COO at Walt Danley Realty in Paradise Valley,
Ariz., says when his boss, Walt Danley, hired him to manage the
company so Danley could spend more time selling, it was purely
a financial decision: “The question was, ‘What was Walt’s cost in
lost business of not hiring a manager?’ ”
That analysis was straightforward, says Dellis. Danley
evaluated how much of his time he was spending on tasks that
weren’t his strong suit. If it was 30 percent, Danley assumed he
could increase his sales by 30 percent if he hired someone to
handle those functions. Ardia, who hired a non-selling manager
to assist her, recommends looking beyond the upfront expense.
“The value of spending good money on a great manager will
come back to you three times over in any given year,” she says.
Ardia’s company pays the manager a “comfortable” base salary
and a monthly bonus based on the sales profits in her o;ces.
She says that’s a common way to compensate managers
without breaking the company bank.
It may also be a wise long-term move to take an immediate
loss. “Even though you may think economically you can’t hire a
manager, it’ll be the best move for your company,” says Kruse.
Delaying rarely makes sense either. “There’s an old saying that
goes something like, ‘The only regret I have is not doing something sooner,’ ” says Ardia.
By G.M. Filisko
It’s Only Temporary
Have you heard the news reports that the Internal Revenue
Service is targeting employers who misuse interns? It’s true,
to a point. “We’ve seen some weird cases hitting the news,”
explains Dianne Moretzsohn, an employment law expert with
McCausland Keen & Buckman in Radnor, Pa. “They alarmed
a lot of companies that have used interns on a regular basis.
The IRS looks at larger companies that use interns a lot and
where it’ll recoup more money if it cracks down. But it’s
smart for smaller real estate companies to be careful, too.”
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued six rules for
determining when an intern constitutes an employee, thus
triggering minimum wage and overtime pay. Workers can be
legally classified as unpaid interns if:
1. They receive training similar to the type they’d get in an
educational institution. Interns shouldn’t be doing mostly
clerical work, says Moretzsohn. They should do tasks like
shadowing salespeople, meeting with potential buyers,
and attending listing appointments and closings.
2. The work primarily benefits interns, not employers.
3. Interns don’t displace other workers.
4. Your company derives no immediate advantage from
having interns there. Translation: Avoid having interns do
work you might otherwise have to hire others to perform.
5. There’s no entitlement to a job at the end of the internship.
6. You and interns both understand there will be no wages
associated with the internship.
There aren’t as many risks in hiring temporary employees,
says Moretzsohn, as long as you contract with legitimate
third-party agencies and avoid treating temps as employees.
That means you don’t pay them directly and you discuss
performance issues with the agency, not the temp.
“Be careful [that] your temp agency contract protects you
su;ciently,” adds Moretzsohn. “There should be proper indemnification language protecting your company if the temp
seeks unemployment or workers compensation benefits.”
One more tip pertaining to short-term hires: Be careful
when classifying temps as independent contractors. “The tendency is to want to put a worker in an independent contractor
category to avoid paying benefits and withholding obligations,
and there’s a real danger in that,” says Moretzsohn. “That’s
an area the IRS is cracking down on. It really boils down to the
degree of control you exercise. If you control the where, when,
and how workers do their work, they’re likely employees.”