Not that long ago I was asked why I chose the first company I ever worked for. The Truth is that as a young guy getting into real estate, over 25 years ago, I literally had no clue what to expect. I knew I wanted to be successful so I thought the best thing I could do was surround myself with successful people. Before entering real estate sales I built and renovated houses so I was always reading the real estate section of the newspapers to get a handle on the market and what was available. The company that I eventually started at was a boutique company with several offices around the city and, from the looks of it, had lots of great listings. The day I started, the manager assigned me a desk and wished me good luck. I soon found out that being successful in real estate was a lot of hard work.
Looking back, I had a lot of fun at that brokerage but I was missing one critical piece of the success puzzle…training. I simply didn’t know that training was something that realtors did. So I guess, if I could go back and do it again, I probably would have started with a company that offered training. This was the nexus for my meeting topic this week. I billed it as a sort of ideas exchange in the theme of “Hot Tub Time Machine”, one of the best movies EVER. So with a few dozen people at the meeting I asked everyone to imagine travelling back in time and starting their careers over again. What would they do differently if they could. Here are the top responses and associated notes in no particular order;
1. Start farming an area right from the start. Market yourself as the expert, and send out information with frequency. Most recognized that this is an expensive proposition for someone just starting out but everyone agreed that if they had spent the money they would have seen the fruits of their labour. The truth is that it often takes a year or two to see returns on advertising initiatives but one or two sales easily covers the expenditure.
2. Set up the right systems. This includes a solid CRM program that would help you work efficiently and effectively and not leave any potential client unattended. Agents are reluctant to spend money on a system early. A good CRM program is often one of the last tools that an agent buys when, in fact, it should be one of the first.
3. Get a coach. Again, the initial investment is hard to swallow. Imagine if I said…you pay me $500 per month and I will give you the means and tools to earn $100K? It’s a hard notion to get your head around. The truth is that coaches work. They keep you accountable, but more importantly provide you with great ideas on how to improve your business.
4. Prospect. Well this goes without saying. Real estate is a numbers game. The more people you know and talk to , the more business you do. Many agents know they have to prospect but the fear of rejection prevents them from starting. Experienced agents would say that they now have enough skill to prospect easily, but they wished they did it earlier in their careers.
5. Work longer hours. One of the reasons I got into real estate was to set my own hours. I quickly learned that the harder I work the more successful I became. This is a business that is 24/7. Working part-time will only cut it if you are happy to supplement your income with a sale once in a while. If real estate is your full-time gig, then you can’t wake up at 10am and roll into the office at noon.
6. Several agents said they would have started their careers earlier or taken the plunge to be full-time right away. This is not a business that you can be successful in if you are doing it part-time. I have interviewed many agents who have said they were going to transition into fulltime sales from their fulltime jobs. It almost never happens that way.
7. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some agents said that the fear of the unknown kept them from trying new things. Some agents would say that the use of social media is an integral part of the marketing that they need to do but at the same time it can be daunting space if you aren’t a social media user. Picking the right one to use and utilizing it properly is a job on its own.
8. Be a better communicator of your value. As many new agents would admit, one of the questions you are terrified by is…how long have you been in real estate? This can be a tough one to answer or it can be an opportunity to build amazing relationships with potential clients. All agents agreed that if they could go back in time, they would try to be better equipt to diffuse their own self doubt.
9. Find your own voice or identity early on. Define your “brand” and use it consistently.
10. Spend money. The old adage is true… you need to spend money to make money. If you don’t have money than designate funds from each cheque to pay yourself, pay your expenses, pay your taxes and pay for your marketing. Don’t just run out there and buy a Tesla with that first cheque.
We had a great discussion and when I look at this now it is evident that these are great tips for anyone considering a career in real estate. Mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office, the Immediate Past President the Toronto Real Estate Board and a director at the Ontario Real estate Association . The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB, OREA or Bosley RE
I know you’re dying to find out the results. Earlier this week I sent out a simple message to my agents…”The results of my little survey are in BUT you will have to attend tomorrow morning’s meeting to find out where clients come from. The methods were highly unscientific but the results will be mildly informative (hopefully) and, with any luck, generate some worthwhile conversation”. The heading was also a bit catchy…Dum Da Da Daaa!
I have to admit that I was rather curious too. A few weeks ago I pulled the last 120 deals from our records. I wanted to know two things; Where did the agent meet the client AND how long did they know them before they bought or sold their house. I had a feeling what the top response would be but I was more curious about other responses. It took me some time to contact each agent and ask the questions but in the end I was able to categorize the responses into twelve clear groups. We had a full house at our meeting to unveil the results. Now, if you know me then you know that reading them off is NOT something I do well. I prefer the pomp and circumstance of an event, even if the results aren’t all that exciting so we played the “Realtor Feud” game, pitting the Red team against the Blue team in an epic battle (not really) with the winner getting bragging rights for the day.
Obviously the results will vary but I thought it interesting that the top four responses, representing 67%, came from the people we know the most; past clients and friends. I suppose that makes sense, after all, our past clients and friends know us the best. We are still picking up clients from people we don’t know as well. That’s a good sign and evidence that traditional methods of prospecting work. Flyers, news letters, open houses, sign calls and walk-ins accounted for 15%, family and neighbours accounted for 10%, clients coming from social media and web accounted for 6%, and professional referrals (people you are associated with in business such as referral companies, lawyers, accountants) accounted for 3%.
So the next question is how quick did agents buy or sell homes? Well not surprisingly (again) agents had long-lasting relationships with friends, past clients, family and professional referrals. Social media and web-based clients had the shortest relationship time followed by signs calls, open houses and walk ins. This indicates that clients coming from these sources have done their research and are in the active buying or selling process.
The take away from this little bit of non scientific research is that you need to prioritize your inbound clients. Past clients and friends are on a slow drip campaign when it comes to touching base and follow-up. Online leads, open house and sign call clients are ready and able so deal with them quickly. I believe this little test is further proof that a solid CRM system is a mandatory tool for our business. I would encourage all Realtors to evaluate where their clients are coming from and prioritize their contacts.
mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.
It can get a bit crazy with all the information out there on real estate and social media. Luckily there’s RealtyLab’s Friday Five to help you wade through all the noise. Each week I pick out the top five stories and put them together in this handy bite sized format. Each week is something completely different. Hope you enjoy it.
Sometimes you have to look outside your industry for ideas and innovations that might be adaptable to the things you do. Check out this post and see if there is any inspiration to be found. I especially like the title…How To Win Over Customers: Lessons From 8 Rock-Star Brands. http://www.fastcodesign.com/3025028/how-to-win-over-customers-lessons-from-8-rock-star-brands#1
One of the best ways to outsmart Google and get some serious SEO juice is to write killer blogs. Ok that might not be for everyone but if you ever thought about blogging then you should check out 5 Questions to Ask When Writing Content from blogging and social media genius @JeffBullas http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/02/27/5-questions-to-ask-when-writing-content/
And speaking of SEO..It is getting more and more complicated. Luckily we have @Inmannews to explain some SEO strategies to focus on in 2014. http://www.inman.com/next/seo-strategies-going-beyond-google-analytics-to-discover-keywords-to-go-after-in-2014/
Another great post talks about the statistics of social media and what effect they will have on everything we do in 2014. It seems there was a tipping point last year that has major implications for business and brands and it will impact publishing and marketing strategies and tactics in the future. http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/
Many people struggle with reinvention whether they are making a small change or really overhauling their life or their business. The thing about reinvention though, is that you get a mulligan, a do-over. You get to start again with a clean slate–only this time with more wisdom. Wouldn’t it be great to do things the way that will make you most successful? Check out these five insights. http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/5-tips-for-successful-reinvention.html?cid=home1
Hey, in case you didn’t know.. I work at Bosley Real Estate in Toronto. We aren’t just the oldest AND largest independant brokerage in the city, we are also the most tech savvy.