Yesterday, I went into the office “after hours,” (after 9p.m.) and came across two of our rising stars, two of our newest real estate agent hires trying to figure out the real estate sales business. Immediately, I smiled because it reminded me of me and how when I first started the business in 2005, I completely obsessed about winning clients and making money. And, therefore back in the day, I found myself working late and lurking about the office at night trying to figure it out.
In retrospect, I started my real estate career in an “easy” market, a market where lending practices were “loose” and people were naturally motivated to make a deal. My market then did not have the challenges we as real estate agents experience today like: short sales, record high foreclosures, stricter lending guidelines, declining home values, high gas prices, record high unemployment, rising health care costs, etc.
So, when I went into the office yesterday, I didn’t expect to have an impromptu coaching session, but the agents saw me come in and wanted to pick my brain. I sat with them for awhile as I waited for my client to arrive and told them about the value of three things:
Time – As agents, the one thing we offer our clients is our time and expertise in marketing, negotiations, neighborhood trends, conflict resolution, managing complex transactions, appointments, inspections, etc. . .and what our clients want from us is our complete and undivided attention when we are working for them, with them. I said to them that time is our most precious resource. I explained that we as agents have to make a commitment to spend our time wisely. There’s a time to train, a time to prospect and negotiate, a time to meet with clients, a time to preview houses, time to unwind, a time to socialize and network within the industry, a time to market, a time to reflect, a time to learn and utilize systems, a time to add and eliminate tools/technology . . .a time to prospect some more!
“To win clients consistently and to sell real estate at a high level, you have to value your time and spend it wisely.”
Having Faith, Momentum and Mind Over Matter – I didn’t really get it, until I trained with the best, until I surrounded myself with successful agents who were willing to show me the ropes and refer me clients to work with. 6 months in and back in 2005, I was just about to go referral when boom: three sales and three listings. It was then that I started to obsessed less about the WINNING part and focus more on helping others so that I might help myself. I feed my mind books, training courses and materials, and positive peer pressure to prevent myself from commiserating with other agents. I wasn’t always responsive to the training materials and I certainly didn’t leap to act and grow outside of my comfort zone, but I reminded myself to do the things that produced results for other agents.
“To make money in this business, you have build momentum and control your thoughts as much as your interactions.”
Setting Goals, Tracking Sales and Spacing Clients – In 2005, I didn’t have to keep track of my sales goals as much since sales prices were higher. 24 closings produced a more an decent income. But today, and with the recent boom in real estate sales, I warned my fellow agents that time is of the essence. In a market where we are starting to experience an inventory shortage and multiple offers, I explained to them that they have to choose their clients strategically and that in a busier market, clients will compete for their time.
This is where tracking sales, commissions, and understanding how to use spacing appropriately can come in handy. I personally projected when my closings were likely to take place and much commission I might earn from those deals. I then spaced my time out on weekends into 2-3 hour blocks of time so that I could work with 3 different clients within the same day. Saturdays and Sundays were for my time prime clients, the people who were:
- A. Pre-qualifed to buy or motivated to sell and
- B. Eager to move at any expense
I looked for the chase! The clients who wanted my help, chased me as often as I chased them. But, I also looked for equitable transactions. In tracking my sales, I started to see a trend in my business. As a buyer’s agent, I learned that I would spend roughly 40 hours with buyers over the course of several weeks or months (and yes years in some cases) to assist them on buying a home. 40 hours was my threshold. If I could not find them a home in that amount of time, I fired myself or referred them to another agent because the opportunity costs of continuing to work with them was simply way too high in some cases.
Lastly, and this was something that I have always found hard for me to stomach, I learned that not all clients will in fact produced equitable transactions, but some of these deals were necessary to get other referrals, other more profitable transactions. I was naive to think I could close all of my deals. Every agent has a fall through rate, right?
Anyways, my lessons where well received but somehow I know these young guns might still struggle for a bit. But its through struggle that we eventually find ourselves. I will keep my eye out on them and hopefully will one day will report that they have managed to overcome.
In the meantime, check out an iphone, ipad app called MiFunnel. When I projected my closings, I used a spreadsheet. If you are a busy agent like me, you will eventually outgrow your spreadsheet. If you are in the field and on the road a lot, I’ve developed a way to for you to utilize your a mobile device as a CRM system, one that allows you to calculate quick commissions and project your income on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.