Lots of Hats: The Office Manager’s Role

What makes you think I got out of social work?

–Josh Kaplan, Edina Realty- City Lakes Office Manager (and former social worker)

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home through an agent who works for a big broker (Edina Realty, Coldwell Banker Burnet, etc.), your deal was very likely guided — at least a little bit — by someone completely unknown to you.

(If your deal was especially challenging, make that guided a lot.)


Your agent’s office manager.

All those bathroom breaks your agent took during that complicated closing?

It’s a fair bet that they were actually on the phone with their office manager, getting direction.

(In my own case, I vividly recall frantically speed-dialing Josh Kaplan, my office manager, in the middle of a closing involving a South Minneapolis duplex. The buyer — yours truly! — had neglected to require that the tenants’ security deposits be assigned as part of the Purchase Agreement.)

Even if your agent is a veteran, it’s still likely that their office manager influences how they conduct their real estate practice.

Here’s a (partial) list of all the hats that the office manager wears:

Recruiter. The office manager decides who your colleagues will be.

The reason that the City Lakes office is one of the most diverse, interesting (and productive) in town is because Josh picked the Realtors in it (and vice versa).

Referee/Umpire. Real estate is a competitive business, full of big ego’s, turf battles, and occasionally (too) sharp elbows — and that’s just the Realtors!

The office manager gets to sort them all out.

Business Coach. Even excellent agents go through slumps, have the occasional tough deal (or a string of them), can get burned out, etc. The first door they knock on is usually their office manager’s (see next).

Psychologist/Social Worker. The reason real estate agents seem so unflappable is that they do all their venting behind closed doors (their office manager’s).

Trainer. No one learns how to sell real estate in a classroom. You learn by doing it, and by being in an office where the culture is cooperative and dedicated to continuous skill-building.

Ethical Guidepost. The office manager sets the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable. The Realtors in the City Lakes office are known for their professionalism and ethics, because Josh makes those priorities.

Businessperson. At the end of the day, the office manager’s ultimate responsibility is to make sure that their office is profitable . . . so that it STAYS OPEN.

The City Lakes office is consistently one of Edina Realty’s most profitable — and has been a standout the last few years.

Thanks, Josh! (Do I get that vacant corner office now?)

P.S.: One last office manager “hat,” at least in my own case: proof-reading and vetting (sensitive) blog posts.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.
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