Every January I have a little sit down with the agents in my office to do a little business planning. I send out a survey before hand and ask them to put their goals on paper. It always seems a bit more real when you see it in black and white. We talk about the successes of the year, what worked and what didn’t, how much money they spent and what did they spend it on, etc etc. It’s a great exercise and I get an instant overview of who is going to be a stand out in the coming year. Let’s face it, if I have to chase you down to do some business planning then I know how committed you are to work.
If you’ve seen my video posts before than you know how important running is to me. It is a perfect metaphor for life and business. If you want to succeed you need to work…hard. Last year I made the committment to run 100 ten Kilometre runs and I made it, barely. I learned a lot about what I was capable of during that year but if I hoped to lead by example, and do 20% more in 2013 then I had two choices; run more often or run more distance. I thought about keeping my distance the same and running more but finding the time for 100 is hard enough when you factor in climate challenges, injury or sickness. Instead I opted to run a longer distance. What’s an extra 15 minutes anyway? To date I have passed the midway point. 50 twelve kilometre runs under my belt.
If you are like most of the agents out there then your goal is to make more money this year than you did last year. Well, like my running, there are two ways to do that; sell more houses or sell more expensive houses. Either are possible.
Selling more houses requires a bit more planning and time management. If you want to increase your income by 20% that may only translate to 2 extra deals a year. Not an insurmountable challenge. Spend a bit more money marketing, keep working your prospects, network a bit more, do a few extra open houses this year, utilize other advertising mediums. Selling more expensive houses should also be relatively easy. Talk to your old clients and get them to sell and buy bigger houses, convert renters to owners, expand your farm area.
Either way, the opportunities exist if you are willing to commit to working hard and forging new opportunities. We are at the halfway point in the year. If things haven’t been going your way, it’s time to do a little re-evaluation. The summer is not just an opportunity to travel and relax, it is also time to lay out a plan for the Fall. It is going to get busy again. I promise.
I’m a big fan of trying to explain real estate in the simplest of terms, not because my readers have a low threshold for understanding information but because I want them to remember it. So without further ado, I bring you the three R’s of real estate. Relationships, Rewards and Referrals. I talk a lot about prospecting because, simply put, if you aren’t adding 10 prospects a day to your sales funnel (hey I’d settle for 5 a day), then you aren’t doing it right. Of course adding names to a list or a computer program isn’t going to improve your business unless you are prepared to act (or interact) with your prospects. Successful agents manage their prospect lists on a daily basis. It goes without saying that this is about building relationships. Typically you build relationships by building trust. That trust comes from honest discussions, market and product knowledge, how you dress and how you talk and communicate. It can even come from something as simple as returning calls promptly. So you’ve built the trust and your clients have purchased a house. It’s reward time for both of you. Short and sweet. You have found the perfect house, you’ve negotiated the deal and provided excellent post-sale care. You have been rewarded with a commission and your clients have a new home. Time to watch the referrals pour in. It should literally be as easy as that. Lets call it the circle of real estate life. Lets also remember that buyers and sellers are a fickle bunch so keep constant contact with past clients. You never know when their friends or relatives are going to sell and you want to remain top of mind!
Well lets start off by saying that there is absolutely no point prospecting if you forget to follow-up with an interested person. I know at one time or other we are all guilty of the “forgotten follow-up”. It happens innocently enough. You meet a person at an open house. They are interested in looking at a house a couple of streets over so you jot down their name and number and promise to follow up. They tell you that they are out-of-town for a few days and ask you to touch base the following weekend. The note gets scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere and is forgotten. The next weekend passes but you’re tired and don’t feel like calling today. The next day, your cat has kittens so you promise yourself that you will call the next day. The next day comes and goes. Eventually you sit down and call the guy and the call goes something like this;
Ring ring… Hi this is Mark, we met at my open house a few weeks ago. I know you were interested in that house a few blocks over and I just wanted to touch base to see if you want to see it. Oh, I see, you called the agent directly? Oh, well, I knew you were away and ummm, and then my cat had kittens and ummmm…. Oh, you bought it? Wow, ok. Well, um, hopefully we can stay in touch. Click.
What’s that sound? That’s the sound of my stomach going thud! But there is an even more disturbing potential ending. That involves you forgetting to call altogether OR postponing it to the point where you are now too embarrassed to call. It never fails however…you will bump into that person later and there will be a very awkward moment to contend with. You see, our job is to always be prospecting. There are some interesting statistics out there on how many calls you have to make with a potential prospect before they become a solid client. I have heard that number is as high as eight calls to convert a perfect stranger you met at an open house into a buyer (or seller). I’m not sure I am terribly surprised.
Contact with your sphere, whether it is past ,current of future clients, should be a priority in your life. Luckily there are a number of tools available today to make this task easier. Have you heard the term CRM? It stands for Customer Relationship Management. A fancy buzzword for staying in touch. There are a number of different companies that offer versions perfectly suited for the real estate industry. Top Producer and iXact are just two and there are a bunch more. If you are so inclined you may just decide to plug names into your phone’s daytimer or use your Outlook. Like everything, it takes time to make the action of adding names to your database a habit.
My top agent would be lost without her CRM system. Every morning it alerts her to call 5 past clients. These are simply catch up calls to say hi and stay in the client’s head or maybe it’s to wish them a Happy Birthday. Then it’s on to new business and touching base with new clients. There is no question that a CRM system is an invaluable tool of our trade and to get better, you have to use it. As a runner, I firmly believe in my heart rate monitor. It keeps me going. I know when to speed up and when to slow down. Ultimately it keeps me training at a constant level and I can monitor my performance more accurately.
That’s it for this week.