There are five common themes to the questions I hear from real estate agents on a regular basis. Whether they are new or experienced, in the business for one, three or 10 years, the questions around how to build a great business are focused on what should get done, how it gets done, who should be on the team, when the work should get done, and finally, why are we doing it?
Let’s explore each of these questions to uncover why the answers are so important to a successful and thriving career in real estate.
Question #1: Where do I begin?
This question pretty much sums up the starting point of many of my coaching conversations. Agents at all stages in their careers struggle with what’s next. Identifying the initial steps to get moving are essential. We are in two businesses: The obvious one is real estate and successfully facilitating a transaction that meets the needs of all parties. The second, and less evident, is business development—creating relationships that result in opportunities to do the business of real estate.
Many agents miss the most essential part of creating a successful business; first and foremost, you need clients. Engaging in the activities that build relationships that result in direct leads and referrals to friends and family is the key. We know that in today’s real estate market, buyers and sellers are moving every seven to 10 years. At that rate, you can’t build a career based only on friends and family. You have to reach further—and the way to do that is to come from a mindset of contribution and adding value to every interaction.
Question #2: How do I do it?
There is a big difference between having a conversation and engaging in business development discussions. We always want to be sure that we are being empathetic and connecting, all the while letting people we talk to know that we are in the business of real estate and helping families realize their real estate dreams. After all, you don’t want to be a secret agent.
Never assume that because you told someone six months ago that you got your real estate license that they will remember when the time comes. According to the National Association of Realtors, 8 to 10 percent of the adult population will need a real estate professional in the next 12 months—and the way you ensure that you are the Realtor of choice and are top of mind is by remembering the ABC rule: Always Be Connecting. Build a database of everyone you know and then systematically communicate with each and every one of them regularly. A database is a collection of names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, but more importantly, it is a community of people. To create a strong foundation for a long-term business, you need to call, write, email, and visit frequently enough that your name becomes synonymous with real estate when the need arises. The tool you select—whether an electronic system or a box full of index cards—doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you use it.
Question #3: Why am I doing this?
When we have a big “why,” the “how” shows up, and we are motivated to keep up the effort necessary to reach our goals.
This question comes from a place of struggle, that is, maintaining the effort until we get results. Building a successful business is not easy, yet it is simple. When we focus our efforts that are aligned with our purpose, we are fulfilled—and that begs the question: How do know our purpose, our why? John Maxwell tells us that our big “why” is the thought or feeling around something that gives us deep feelings. What makes us laugh, really laugh? What makes us cry, not in a sad way but in a deep and moving way? What do we dream about? What is that picture in our heads of what a great life looks like; is it money, things, places or people? What is the legacy we want to leave? When we have a big “why,” the “how” shows up, and we are motivated to keep up the effort necessary to reach our goals.
I just had this conversation with an agent today. She is struggling with the challenges of life, and she shared with me that it would just be easier to find a simple job. But in the same breath, she also shared that she wouldn’t feel fulfilled and would miss the chance to do big things. Let your big “why” help you through the daily challenges and realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train, but a great opportunity.
Question #4: Who should I work with?
The first answer is: Not everyone. Building a successful business is the result of successfully completing a transaction with as many people as possible in the time we are willing to allot to work. To accomplish this, we calculate the number of hours that we will commit to work, family, travel, vacation and education. For some, there are other restrictions on our time that would have a direct effect. Once we do this math, we then need to allocate the time we will apply to developing business, which leaves us with the time we will have to work with our clients.
Because time is scarce and is the equalizing factor, choosing who to invest our time in is a very important decision.
Understanding the motivations of the buyers and sellers with whom we engage is the foundation. Knowing what they want to accomplish, setting clear expectations, and determining whether we are able and willing to work to meet them, will drive our decisions to enter into a contract with them or not. For example, working with sellers who have unrealistic price and/or transaction expectations generally results in dissatisfied clients and expired listings. And working with buyers before we do complete and thorough consultations leads to lowball offers and failed transactions—consuming large amounts of time and no benefit to either party.
The solution is to have a structured dialogue that helps uncover what’s important to the client, establish mutual obligations and understandings, and use an Exclusive Buyer Broker Agreement to memorialize the terms, conditions, and agreements of the parties. I have learned that “the root of all unhappiness is unmet expectations.” Following these simple steps helps ensure a great experience for all concerned.
Question #5: When should I get it done?
Have you ever seen a real estate ad in which the agent promises to be on call 24/7? Do you get jealous that they have that much stamina? Is this something you aspire to? When building a successful business, we need to build a successful personal life, and we do that by allocating time to both. Starting the day by connecting with our Creator and planning how we will accomplish the work of the day is the foundation for a fulfilling professional and personal life.
We have a term that we use to describe a method of allocating time to ensure that we are working on the right things when appropriate. We call this Time Blocking. Blocking time to build business and create relationships comes first every day at the time when we have the most energy. Following up on every lead and referral is the natural next step, then showing properties, writing contracts, and negotiating offers wrap up our business day. With the right structure in place, we can start out the day strong in the morning and finish our business early enough in the evening to allow for quality personal time with family and friends. It also leaves time to engage in meaningful thought and meditation about the results of our day and what we will undertake tomorrow.
The Five Ps
Creating the foundation of a thriving business takes effort. It takes focus and direction. What I call the 5 Ps may help with this focus and direction:
Propriety is working on the right activities.
Priority is doing them in the right order at the right time.
Purpose is doing them for the right reason.
Perseverance is doing them with effort. And this, combined with Purpose results in:
Productivity, a.k.a. great results.
Focused effort toward building the habits and behaviors are the activities that all successful businesses undertake—and real estate is no different. A successful career in real estate leads to a successful business that funds our big “why” and allows us to live a life of plenty and satisfaction.