Does your team have too many quarterbacks? – Orange County Register


Ahhh, winter! The smell of fires in the chimneys, the low rains and snowflakes in the mountains, the cooler temperatures, the uninterrupted rhythm of Christmas carols – and it’s college football ball season! A sport that is truly American in its origins. Whether you’ve played at a professional level or are just a fantastic geek, we’ve ALL played football!

What does football have to do with commercial real estate? Do me a favor, and I’ll try to explain.

Some would say the quarterback is the most important player on the pitch. Certainly, at all levels, the quarterback is in control. For all of you who have coached football at any youth level, you know that every kid wants to play QB.

I still remember my first training as an All-Star team coach. I showed up to be introduced to several quarters. How do you align a team with that? The answer is, you can’t and not all children can play at this post. A successful football team requires 11 offensive and 11 defensive players capable of blocking, tackling, breaking, passing, catching, running and kicking – a total group effort.

Now let’s move on to commercial real estate.

As some of you know, I recently added an administrative assistant. I am a team. Our assistant will work across from another team member whose job it is to run the business we generate. Some refer to the role of transaction coordinator. So far everything is going well. We’re a week away and she’s learning, helping, and assimilating the myriad of things we do as commercial real estate practitioners.

But why is she doing well? Is it my expert training, my good-humored soul, my dashing beauty or just plain stupid luck? Maybe all or none of these reasons, but probably some of the reasons.

I would say the main reason we have some success is that not all of us are quarterbacks. The three of us have distinct roles and responsibilities that overlap but are autonomous at the same time.

Tips for building a commercial real estate team:

– Look for actors, not all “rainmakers”;

Focus on compatibility;

Don’t add a team member just because your business will pay for it;

Think long and hard about what is “missing” from your practice and your staff as a result;

Can the role be fulfilled virtually?

Imagine you have a virtual assistant for about a week and imagine what the team member would do for you that day

Look carefully at your strengths and weaknesses – I know, I mean a collective – we’re good at everything. Uh, no, you are not! Or even in rare cases, just because you are the one that doesn’t mean you need to get the job done.

Family members are great, but they are family. A deleted step is good. One of our team members is our son-in-law. If you’ve changed their diaper, they might ignore your mentoring.

Carefully design a compensation package that will allow learning and provide incentives.

Good luck to you with all the quarterbacks on your team. You might want to mix in a wide receiver. After all, someone has to catch the ball when it’s thrown.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is Principal at Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services at Orange. He can be reached at [email protected] or 714.564.7104.