When Bethany Babcock founded Foresite Commercial Real Estate, she was determined to solve an age-old industry problem: There was little-to-no transparency in management and leasing. And she and her business partner, Chad Knibbe, knew they could fix that.
So, Bethany set up shop and got to work as the principal agent. She ran the day-to-day while Chad worked part-time to find new business opportunities. Fast forward a bit – Chad came on full-time, and the company grew to five people.
Soon after, Bethany hit a wall. “I was tired of answering all the same questions every day. I realized I had to duplicate myself. And around the same time, I came across a Facebook ad for Trainual that promised it could do exactly that,” she told us.
Bethany said she signed up immediately and started migrating over the word documents she had already created. Since then, she’s been to scale her efforts, pioneer new practices in the industry, and grow the company into a 25-person team – all within two years.
Here’s how she made that happen:
1. Stop doing and start delegating
Bethany realized she had to work less and delegate more shortly after founding the brokerage (before Chad came on full-time). At the time, she was pretty much a “one-woman show.” Chad was helping where he could. But everything else fell on her.
She was powering through and was even working with two other brokers to grow her business. But one day, the three of them were talking about brokerage valuations. And one of them mentioned that when a founder is retiring, stepping back, or something happens healthwise, you deduct the value their impact has on the business from the overall valuation.
“That meant that if I left my business, its value would be zero,” Bethany told us. And once she realized that doing it all was actually a disservice to the company, she knew it was time to duplicate herself.
“[Doing instead of delegating] was keeping us small because my own limitations are quite limiting,” she explained. “But if I could take some of it off my plate with [people] who are much more capable than me, then we could grow a lot faster.”
With her newfound mindset, Bethany became an advocate training your team, so they can take over. She added a few folks to her team. Then, using her process documentation, she delegated the repetitive tasks that she didn’t have to do herself. “We have an incredible team, so the more I can get off my plate and empower them to do, the better for everyone,” she shared.
2. Hire people who are value-fits
Once Bethany started delegating more day-to-day tasks, she freed up time to continue growing the business. And that also meant she had to hire more people. But she and Chad were concerned: How would they train on integrity?
After all, integrity was what set their company apart from the competition. But now, Foresite was multiplying quickly. And they feared the team would lose sight of the values and vision the brokerage was founded on.
So, Bethany says they decided to start using Trainual as a means to filter out candidates. “I’ll actually set up a training role for working interviews and have them walk through the step-by-step process for the job.”
It doesn’t matter where candidates rank in the company. Bethany wants to see how they work before she hires them. “It’s really easy to tweak resumes and make them marketable,” the founder explains. “But we want to see the actual output and how they communicate [with our existing team].”
To do that, Bethany walks candidates through the actual training for the role on Trainual. She explains what Forsite stands for as a company. And she listens closely to interviewees’ responses to get a feel for how they work.
That way, the company can let candidates know exactly what they stand for from the get-go. And if people are willing to abide by the company’s values (which means putting clients’ needs over their own), they’ll fit right in at Forsite.
3. Align on their company philosophy
Bethany says their company’s top-tier service is one thing, but their philosophy is what really attracts clients and grows the business. Unlike most brokerages that are just about closing the sale, Foresite focuses on “improving property values by targeting specific lease structures and tenancy that benefit the ownership.”
And for team members to be successful at the brokerage, they had to understand what makes the company tick. So, this founding philosophy was something she documented in Trainual.
“By putting it into words and then assigning it to others to read, we started to see how everyone was becoming part of the same team,” Bethany shared. “The cohesiveness of the group became a lot tighter, and it made training so much simpler.”
Hiring the first few employees to do the leasing was the most challenging transition. But once she had everything in writing, she said bringing on new people became easier because the training process became repeatable and scalable. So, she no longer had to be involved in every step.
“I finally felt confident in my ability to maintain standards in the company because I could point back quickly to what was clearly written out,” Bethany explained.
Now, the entire team rallies around the standards of the company. And, as a result, Bethany feels confident pursuing new growth opportunities – knowing that her team will take care of upholding those standards.
4. Prepare for future hires early
In the real estate industry, most highly-trained individuals are only 10 to 15 years away from retiring. “It’s a really big problem, and a lot of our competitors don’t necessarily care because they’ll be retiring, too,” Bethany told us.
But Bethany wants her company to stick around for the long haul, so she’s already working on securing the next generation of talent. By repurposing her team’s training materials on Trainual, Foresite has started offering an external CRE training program.
“During COVID, we saw on LinkedIn that students were saying they lost their internship or [they didn’t have enough credits to] graduate,” Bethany said. “So, I reached out to them [about the certification program]. And within less than an hour, we could fill 25 rooms.”
This certification program is an eight-week course that combines synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities that reflect the actual commercial real estate training Foresite provides their in-house agents. And it’s open to anyone who’s interested in the basics of commercial real estate and what it means to be an agent.
“[The Trainual certification program] is our way of making sure that new industry professionals understand our brand and what we are all about,” Bethany explained. “Then, we get to cherry-pick our favorite students and invite them over to the team.”
Today, this training program helps Forsite attract fresh, top talent. That way, they can start investing in their professional development as soon as possible. And when top-tier professionals are ready to retire, the company will already be prepared to fill their roles with qualified people.
5. Not all business all-the-time
But Bethany recognizes that it’s not just the work that’s gotten Foresite this far. According to the founder, a lot of their success comes from their fun company culture.
“Our office motto is that we take our jobs really seriously – but not ourselves,” she explained. Meaning, the Forcite team isn’t afraid to goof around and have a good time when there’s time to do so.
That’s why Bethany appreciates the ability to inject personality into their training with Trainual. “Being able to implement [memes and GIFs] that poke fun at ourselves was really important to me,” she shared. “Because we’re training virtually, we need to somehow communicate our sense of humor, attempts at humor, or lack thereof!”
Instead of giving trainees a boring wall of text, Bethany quick embeds memes and gifs to engage people in their training. That way, her team actually retains the information instead of just skimming over it.
And at the same time, the material lets new people know it’s okay (and even encourages them) to have a little fun around the office. As long as they produce quality work, stand for company values, and above all, care for their clients.
As a result, Foresite has been able to retain top agents better than other leading commercial brokerages. And it’s made it a lot easier to secure new talent.
It wasn’t long ago that Bethany was a one-woman show. And like many business leaders, she realized that doing it all just wasn’t sustainable. Bethany needed a tool that could help duplicate herself to maintain company standards while also focusing on growth.
With Trainual, she can do all that internally without sacrificing her company culture. And she can start scouting for new talent to set the company up for future success.