What’s Office Policy Got To With Liability?

How do you keep your office running smoothly? These days it’s essential for companies to have written documentation about office policies and procedures. An easy-to-understand guidebook for salespeople to refer to in their daily business can help solve and prevent disputes, and helps ensure the success and reputation of your company.

Your Office Policy and Procedure Manual should be updated every year as your business changes and laws change.  By having your agents sign an office policy, if they stray or go outside the office policy, then there is mitigation if a complaint is ever filed against one of your agents.  You have your office policy to fall back on.  Since the agent signed the policy and then went against your policy, you are not as liable if you were not aware – this will save you in liability, time and time again.

Your brokerage office’s policy manual provides a road map for new workers during orientation and helps them understand your company, its goals, and what is expected of them to succeed. It should contain:

25 Things Every Policy Manual Needs

1. A mission statement and business philosophy.

2. Company history, including major milestones, accomplishments, and any background on mergers and acquisitions.

3. The company’s target markets, demographics, property types, list of services, and marketing plan.

4. National, state, and local codes of ethics, which formally explain how salespeople must adhere to regulations.

5. Fair housing regulations , sexual harassment policies.

6. Independent-contractor agreement .

7. Expense management—who bears responsibility for board dues, MLS fees, continuing education costs.

8. Fee and commission structure—splits, co-operative policies, bonus plans.

9. Advertising strategy—philosophy, costs to the salesperson, signage, and process for submitting ads.

10. Internet and e-mail policies —use of logos, photos, company name; who is responsible for designing and maintaining the site; spamming and opt-in marketing; copyright issues; legal and illegal contests.

11. Procedures —office hours, dress policy, personal safety.

12. Keys—locations and how they’re managed.

13. An equal employment opportunity statement, stating that applicants are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.

14. Sales meetings—suggested attendance.

15. Overhead costs— responsibility for local and long-distance calls, postage, photocopying, advertising.

16. Procedures —floor time, presenting offers, presenting agency and other disclosure statements, delivering paperwork, open house, forms of agency.

17. MLS—responsibility for entering listings into the system, how long listings can remain on the site after sale.

18. Job descriptions.

19. Policies for hiring and supervising personal assistants.

20. Substance abuse and, if applicable, smoking policy.

21. Equal opportunity in hiring statement.

22. Errors and omissions and liability insurance—provided and suggested.

23. Handling disputes—between associates and between associates and clients.

24. Confidentiality of company and client information.

25. Acknowledgement form that they have received and understood company policies.

Source: Realtor.org

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