I’ve been a licensed real estate agent for over 23 years. For most of those years I have been licensed as a broker. I have spent over 15 years as a manager of real estate offices. One of my four primary roles in that position was to train agents. (The other three primary roles of a Manager/Broker are recruiting, retention and releasing).
For the past several years I have been primarily a trainer for my company. I also deliver GRI courses, SRES courses and other real estate related training programs.
The reason why I bring all of this up is to offer a preamble to what follows. During all of these years I have intensely studied what the most successful agents do to make a living in our business. And I think I have a handle on that process.
What I’d like to do over a series of posts is to share what I have observed and learned with you. Not every agent that I have observed exhibits or uses all of the things that I will talk about, which is probably great news, but they all exhibit one thing in common, no matter how they actually run their businesses. I have also noticed one thing that none of them do. More on that later.
So, what’s that one thing that they all do? They all treat this as a business. Simple sentence and very easy to say, but what does it really mean? In my observation, it boils down to a few simple things:
1. They show up for work
2. They have a plan
3. They get things done
4. They are students of their craft
5. They create and nurture networks of people
6. They employ systems and tools that multiply their effectiveness
Trait one: They show up for work. What does that mean? Actually, it means different things to different people, but the common meaning shared by all, is that they work on a regular basis. They start at a consistent time each day and work until the job is done. For some this looks like 12 hour days. For others it is 8 hours. Some work from their office at home, some work from their broker’s facility. The common denominator is that you will find them at work when you expect them to be there. Since we deal with inspectors, lenders, title companies and so on who are usually at work from 8 until 5, M-F, this becomes a good starting point for them. There are as many variations of this as there are successful agents, with some taking days off during the week, but it is a good starting point for anyone in our business.
Trait two: They have a plan. What do I mean by that? Most successful businesses operate with a business plan. A business plan can be quite detailed or it can be as simple as a monetary goal for the year. The difference between the successful agents and the others, is that the successful agent knows what needs to be done to earn the income they want. And they know how to do the things they need to do. Many of them do have extensive written plans that take into account advertising, staffing, prospecting and so on. Many have plans that tell them what they need to be doing at any given point of the day or of the week. One of the benefits of a detailed plan is that you can refer to it from time to time to see if you are on track or not. Knowing that you are off track early in the year is far better than learning that you aren’t going to make your goal late in the year, as you’ll have time to make corrections.
Trait three: They get things done. Showing up for work and having a business plan does NOT guarantee that you will make your goals if you fail to take action. The successful agents that I have been fortunate to observe have all been good masters of time management. They know what they need to do, when it needs to be done and are able to shuffle things around so that they get the important things accomplished. They are very poor procrastinators. They really do prove the point that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know. They know that time is a precious commodity and very few of them waste time on non essential things.
Trait four: They are students of their craft. Successful agents are continual learners. You’ll find that many of then have earned advanced credentials such as GRI, CRS, ePro, SRES, ABR and so on. They have spent the considerable time (and money) over the years so that they are armed with the knowledge that they need to better serve their clients. By attending these courses they are also afforded the opportunity to network with like minded agents both locally and nationally. They are not overly concerned with whether or not their clients understand what the letters mean. They are hungry to provide a high level of service to their clients. Often this is only possible when an agent has years of experience or extensive knowledge gained in the classroom coupled with on the job experience. So, they read, take classes, get certifications and designations and continuously improve themselves.
Trait five: They create and nurture networks of people. Successful agents are always on the lookout to meet prospective clients. And they do it in many different ways. Some use social methods, some advertise heavily, some farm, some mail and so on. The key point is that they all prospect for new business in some fashion. They have all discovered a prospecting method that works for them and that they do on a regular basis. They also have mastered the ability to remain in contact with their past, present and future clients. And they have learned how to ask for a transaction in ways that do not drive people away.
Trait six: They employ systems and tools that multiply their effectiveness. This is a biggie, and it is the focal point of this post. Over the next several posts, I’ll detail many of the tools, systems and ways that I have seen being used by successful agents, and I’ll bring the new tools to the table as well. But for now, the successful agents have learned that there are ways to multiply their efforts, stretch time, look more professional and generally do a better job at what they need to do if they employ some tools and systems.
So what is the one thing that none of them do? That’s a one word answer. Quit. They don’t quit. They don’t give up if they run into difficulties. They find a way to get to their goals. They look for solutions. They improvise. They adapt. They overcome. But they never give up.