The months of September, October, November, and December are in my opinion the most critical months on a real estate agent’s calendar. These four months are filled with wonderful holidays and events, and in some real estate markets there’s even a surge. There’s a serious side to this season, though; it’s the time to crank up the sales and listings, because many of your pending sales will close in the next calendar year (referred to as “carry-over volume”). Those sales make it possible to begin 2016 with positive cash flow and get a jump-start on your GCI and sales volume, so I wrote “Four September-December Must Do’s for Every REALTOR®” to help you stay focused and productive. These four months can make the next year your best ever, or they can make 2016 a year to forget; the choice is yours.
The 4 Must Do’s
- Crank up the contacts. Doing so can create some serious leads, because this is when a lot of homeowners and potential homeowners start thinking about selling or buying next year. This is the time to talk to every person in your Sphere of Influence and send everyone in your database (including your neighborhood farm) a newsletter and a postcard every month. Sure, it’s going to cost a few bucks—about $1 per card—but if you send 1,000 cards a month, that will only cost $4,000, or close to one average commission. This is also the time to say thank you to those who supported you this year: buyers and sellers (both current and past), other agents, service providers (lawn care people, plumbers, electricians), appraisers, home inspectors, etc.
- Go to a REALTOR Convention®. These conventions are a wonderful place to meet new people, add to your network, and support your trade association. Get a new nametag, a box full of business cards, and a new outfit; put a smile on your face and go have a good time! The things you learn and the people you meet will help make you MONEY, and this is a great time of year to let your fellow agents get you revved up for next year.
- Set Goals. September is a good month to start talking about next year with your family and friends. Think about what you want to have and do next year and how much money it will take to have the life you want. This thinking is critical to success in any field! Every great accomplishment begins as a thought in a person’s mind, so writing goals is your preview of the future. In order to have it, you must first be able to see it, so give yourself time to step away and THINK.
- Enroll in a Course. Learning something new is one of the most motivating things a human being can do, and a huge array of courses is usually offered this time of year. Regardless of your age, experience, location, company, or how successful (or not) you’ve been, NOW is the time to learn something new. Learning helps your life and career take on new meaning and is one of the best ways to stay young.
Money is a Good Thing
My mother and father owned and operated a restaurant in Hopewell, VA for most of their lives. The restaurant opened around 4AM and closed at 3PM, and they worked hard during every single hour. Why? Because both of them were raised without much money and had learned the value of hard-earned dollars. In fact, even when I was an adult, both of them made it a point to ask me if I had “any money in my pocket” just about every time they saw me.
I agree with them: having money is a good thing, and not having cash is a bad thing. Avoid that empty-pocket feeling by working hard at developing leads and selling them September thru December so you have a “little money in your pocket” (and some great prospects for even more pocket money) at the beginning of the New Year!
Technology has caused more changes in the way we sell and list real estate than anything in recent history. I wrote this blog “How to Capture and Convert the Digital Home Shopper” because most of the questions I hear as a coach/trainer are related to technology—or are about problems that can be solved by technology. It’s at the center of almost every real estate equation in one way or another, so the days of being able to turn your back on tech and have a booming real estate career are fast disappearing. This blog is written for the geeks and non-geeks as well; after all, just because a person knows how to use all the technology doesn’t mean they’ll make a dime as an agent. You have to have fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, so read on!
The Digital Factors
- The Digital House Hunt. In 2013, the National Association of REALTORS® and Google did a joint study to determine the latest consumer and market trends in real estate. It’s called “The Digital House Hunt” and every REALTOR® needs to have a copy. It’s the best study I’ve seen and has become the encyclopedia of how homebuyers and sellers shop. If you’re a broker/owner/trainer, there’s enough info in this article to teach it weekly for at least a year, and if you’re an agent, this info could fill up many newsletters. Get your FREE downloadable copy here: http://tinyurl.com/p75gegu.
- Information Builds Loyalty. It’s so important as a salesperson to know how to build loyalty. It doesn’t occur just because of a phone, in-person, or online conversation. Instead, loyalty comes as a result of giving someone more and performing at a level beyond their expectations. We’ve all had relationships with salespeople who were top performers like that, as well as with those who unfortunately were not. Fortunately, following these two rules on the first contact can help keep those clients coming back to you:
- Rule #1: Have an information package that you can send electronically or via direct mail. Cyber shoppers call because they want information; they seldom if ever buy the house they originally call about. Give them an information package, and they’ll come back for more.
- Rule #2: Call them as quickly as possible—within seconds, not minutes. Many will work with/buy/list with the first person who picks up the phone and returns the call. Texting is an excellent method for having an “online chat,” but don’t be picky; know how to chat with email just like text. Do whatever makes them happy. Your comfort zone isn’t nearly as important as theirs.
- Stay with It for 18 Months Minimum. You should have a category in your database for digital leads and a schedule for contacting them weekly or daily with information about houses for sale, houses sold, new listings, and changes in the real estate market.
- Train or Hire an Assistant. I believe it’s nearly impossible for an agent to create and maintain a significantly profitable real estate business without an administrative assistant, aka admin. I just see too many well-meaning individuals in my coaching program who are extremely talented and have ample contacts but don’t have a database or any of the tools or systems included in this blog. Hire an assistant to do the things you can’t or don’t want to do. Your job is to generate the leads, sell the properties, and GO TO THE BANK!!!
RealtyTimes summarized the most important points of “The Digital House Hunt” that you can check out here: http://tinyurl.com/oav9l6c. Please don’t think for a minute that the digital customer is any more difficult to work with than the person who calls you off of a sign; they are one and the same. And don’t despair: you don’t need to have all the skills necessary to use the latest technological tools. Instead, hire an assistant who has the tech skills, make more money, and take more time off. Have a great life; you deserve it!
Selling residential real estate is nothing like it used to be! Buyers can now find a house to buy without a real estate agent and much of the effective marketing activities are being driven by technology of some sort but a very large number of agents are prospecting today like they always prospected before. It just doesn’t work like it did in the past, and most agents who don’t have an assistant are suffering…and I mean really suffering. I wrote this blog “Four Reasons Why You Should Hire a Marketing Assistant – NOW!” to encourage you to rethink the idea of having an assistant to help you with this new way of prospecting. Your first assistant should be a MARKETING ASSISTANT. Why? Because the major function of a MA is to market YOU and your listings—nothing else!
Help! What an Assistant Can Do For You
- Create and/or Manage All Marketing Materials. I work with a large number of real estate companies that make an extensive library of marketing items available to their agents but have trouble getting the agents to utilize those items. Agents would like to use them but don’t know how or don’t have the time, which creates a Lose-Lose situation for both the company and the agent. If you’re a solo agent (i.e., work alone without an assistant), it’s possible that you know everything to do but just don’t have anyone to handle it. If so, HIRE AN ASSISTANT and make some serious money. Agents don’t get paid for creating an Open House postcard, but assistants do. Frankly, most talented assistants can either find useful material or know how to find people who can create it. For example, you don’t need an assistant who’s a graphic artist; instead, just have one who can FIND a graphic artist. That’s where their value comes in—because having good marketing is key to having a good business. Without it, there is NO business. “Marketing is everything and everything is Marketing”- Regis McKenna, the guru of modern marketing.
- Update Your Website. I see websites that are a detriment to an agent’s business instead of an asset. Updating your website is something that should happen multiple times per week; you should be posting newsletters, photos, new listings, community and real estate information, etc. In short, it should contain everything a person needs to know to buy or sell a home, and your MA should be in charge of assembling and posting that information. Your website can be one of the very best lead generation sources you have, but you must provide the information searchers are looking for and market your site on every one of your marketing pieces, both printed and digital.
- Manage Your Database. A REAL BIGGIE. Most agents know the value of having a database loaded with contacts and the importance of reaching out to them on a regular basis. However, too many agents struggle with getting the value out of their database because they don’t have the skills or time to use it properly. This sickens me because a database filled with the right contacts who are contacted on a regular basis (more than 18 times annually) can make an agent a fortune! An assistant can handle all of these functions, including the creation of email and direct mail materials, cleaning up your database groups, refreshing your database with new contacts you’ve met, and much more.
- Stay in Touch. Your MA can maintain regular contact with current buyers, sellers, leads, and prospects and supply them with the appropriate information, and they can be in charge of maintaining monthly contact with all past buyers and sellers. This function pretty much explains itself, right?
The Last Word
From a moneymaking point of view, this may be the best blog I’ve written this year, because it’s focused on the one thing that attracts most of us to a career in real estate: MONEY! Selling real estate in 2015 is better today than it’s ever been for those willing to work hard, learn more, treat people with respect, and hire an assistant (or assistants) who can do what they cannot or will not do. You can do it—hire an assistant TODAY!p>