The month of December is a month of reflection, celebration, but also a month of preparation. 2013 is around the corner and Real Estate is not letting up; this means this is your opportunity to continue focusing on Prospecting and getting Real Estate Listings. My overall focus of Thoughts of The Day is around the topics of Growing a Strong Real Estate Business, Time Management, Internet Marketing, and how they affect the growth of Real Estate Agents and Brokers. This ongoing daily Blog is nurtured by my coaching and training seminars and no matter how much technology is put in the hands of Real Estate Agents, there is one fundamental truth that seems to persist – preparing for one’s Business Day gives an edge to highest percentile of Real Estate Professionals. The theme of Prospecting and full integration within an agent’s Internet Marketing SEO is also a continuing focus of the series. Share your thoughts and comments, and if you wish feel free to ask me a question.
posted December 21st, 2012
The Transactions of Real Estate are fraught with lots of emotions, and from many sides; Sellers, Buyers, Agents, Brokers, and throw in the vendors in the industry. The Business brings out the best in many, as well as lots of tears and anger in many others; it is also a business that requires an understanding that negotiations and compromise are the key to making deals work; but one must also understand that Sellers want to Sell as high as possible and only see the home they are offering and think of it as ‘absolutely’ unique; Buyers wish to pay the least possible and at times over-negotiate and place deals in jeopardy; and let’s not forget some agents take each deal personally, way too personally, and at times become combative with other agents and clients. You throw in this many people into a deal and conflict will arise. You the agent cannot fix or alter the feelings of any participant to a transaction, but you can stay Calm, collected, and remind people of what is most important to them; the more grounded you are, and view the transaction from a higher plain, the easier it will be to let people calm down and see what is in their best interest.
When you ponder about Real Estate think of Baseball, well; at least in terms of Statistics; Real Estate is a Numbers Game. The 2012 Baseball Major League Batting Average was .254, which simply translates to: the best players in baseball hit once for every 4 trips to the mound (at Bat.) What some people miss is the fact that in baseball you miss more than you hit, and that is ok; you just need to show up more often to the mound and work to connect once in four attempts and you are a major league baseball player. I know, this is an oversimplification, but you must think of Prospecting in terms of Statistics; you are not looking to get a Yes from every person you talk to; in fact you are supposed to get a lot of No’s; and if you manage to stick it out with good scripts – One Yes for every 20 No’s, you will become the top listing agent in your town; that’s right 1 Yes for every 20 No’s and you have created an amazing lucrative career in Real Estate; think about that!
Taking courses; Spending thousands on Seminars; Organizing your outgoing emails; Hoarding your Scripts; Listening to Motivational Speakers; and even enjoying the company of Real Estate Trainers who inspire you will NOT make you a cent – in fact it will cost you money. So you either get in the ‘Doing Mode’, and then the spending on the above is a Great Investment; or you are wasting away money wishing for miracles that don’t exist. The above trainings and tools help you increase your skill level - NOT close deals; being face to face with clients helps you close deals. Think of the Skill Level you acquire when you attend trainings and lectures as a way of going from closing 1 deal for every 100 prospects to 1 deal for every 30 or 50; In essence you are learning to double or triple your potential – but it is the activities of Prospecting and Door Knocking, and Calling, and Mailing, and following up that create the conditions for Sales – NOT Trainings!
Today I deleted my Instagram Account, and ‘No Instagram and Facebook, you Do Not Have the Right to Sell my Photos!’ An article yesterday in cNet referenced a new policy change from Instagram that states that they have the perpetual right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification. For me this is a stunning Policy Shift; remember that Instagram is owned by Facebook; will this be the fate of our content on Facebook as well? The Policy takes effect January 16th and if you have an account you will be automatically Opted-in. Some will probably like their pictures showing up in a Restaurant Ad paid by Restaurant chains to Facebook in which they appear laughing and enjoying themselves; but I don’t. If you do not delete your account before January 16th, and decide to do so later on you may have granted them the right to all the photos you have already uploaded – they keep this fact gray. I have a strong feeling that the backlash to this policy is going to upset a lot of users, and many are going to find a new place to share and interact with their photos on other platforms.
No… The Concept No… The Word No… The Idea ‘No’ sting; and for many viscerally. Rejection does not feel good, and many have abandoned Prospecting for new business, because they heard a few forceful No’s and have internalized them. Emotional rejection will never feel good; but the No’s of someone not listing with you should be placed on a different plane than someone liking you. Human Beings are Social Beings, we may not groom each other by picking fleas from each other hair, but we do seek acceptance and being part of social group. Picking up the phone on someone who will hang up on you hurts; having the door of a Homeowner slammed shut in your face will make you cringe; Being told to never call back or knock on someone's property will feel devastating; yet the business of Real Estate is Prospecting Not Processing Deals. Teach your agents and yourself to handle ‘No’ with class and move on to the next door without any residual feeling, and you will become a successful Listing Agent!
A good number of agents in the Real Estate Business get caught off guard, from time to time, by not having enough business – some are new to the business and it seems understandable, others have a lot of experience, yet the same happens to them – the culprit, 9 out 10 times, is a Lack of Prospecting; or a Reduction in Prospecting Efforts. You can learn everything there is about SEO, Marketing, Smartphone technology, developing great procedural systems, writing contracts; negotiating, and on and on – but if you neglect Prospecting then you are neglecting your Real Estate Business. Let’s put in starker terms; reduce your Prospecting Game Plan and you will reduce your income; especially if you are a Brokerage. We are not just in the business of servicing the clients we have, we are in the ‘acquisition business’ of new business. Write a Prospecting Plan you can follow and act on it as soon as possible!
Who you are and your vision must never be reduced to one agent or one participant in your business. Real Estate is a wonderful endeavor, and it is driven by big pay rewards at times, and this fact, on it own, creates ‘Huge Egos’ and entitlement from the few agents you think are succeeding for you. This blog post is for Brokers/Managers; I have two simple questions to ask of you: If some unfortunate life terminating act happens to one of your superstar agents; does this mean that your business is over? Will Real Estate in your market stop functioning because of the demise of one of your, or other, local superstar agents? If your answer is ‘Yes’ to either to these questions then you are Not a Real Estate Brokerage, and your Business Plan is weak and lacking of a grand vision. You are the Leader of your office, and as such, must nurture new talent to grow and succeed in your office; if the ego of one of your superstars starts interfering with the growth of your business plan then stop being a Real Estate Brokerage and get yourself a regular job – sorry :(.
Real Estate Success requires of you to be organized, and your finances need not only be accurate they need to be audited. An easy way to track your expenses is to dedicate a Credit Card just for your Business Expenses and not to commingle it with your personal expenses. The habit that you must acquire is not just to pay your Credit Card on time, but to audit all your expenses once a month; you have to accept that you will have recurring bills once a month, like MLS Dues, Websites, Marketing Software, etc… but sometimes many of you pay the bill and are not sure why that charge is appearing on your Statement. Some shady vendors count on you being distracted or busy to charge you recurring expenses sometimes months and years after you have stopped using their service. Ask Questions and Audit everything! PS: The best time to prepare your expenses and your taxes is at the end of each month!
Real Estate is a demanding Business, and few ever truly thrive and excel at it, and this is why your family must be involved in your vision. Many share the complaints and frustrations of their daily battles in Real Estate, but few ever share their vision, goals, aspirations, and future rewards with their spouses. When you walk into a Real Estate Career you have agreed, for many of your beginning years, to work longer hours than those who have so-called regular jobs; 60 to 80 hours a week are not unheard of; weekend toiling in your garage or shopping with your family are rare; your phone ringing late at night or waking you up early in the morning is almost the norm; it simply means that Real Estate does not have a boundary in your office – it goes with you wherever you go! Let your family in on your Goals and Vision; and do share the positive progress you are making – and don’t feel obligated to vomit every single problem and tribulation you undergo; they care about you and may start interpreting that your Real Estate Career is hurting you.
Your physical space affects how you feel and work and one of the best ways to re-energize your spirit is to re-arrange your office once a year, some even do it every six months. Don’t be afraid to think of painting your space, adding artwork, moving your furniture, or even changing the whole orientation of your office. You have to remember that you are a ‘feeling being’ and you are affected by energy, and your surroundings do affect your mood. Ask a Family member, friends, or even get a decorator to help you rethink how you engage your physical space. One thing you will uncover as you start tackling your workspace is what you will find hidden in some pile of paperwork, deep inside drawers, or full of dust behind a desk or filing cabinet. Nurture your office, cubicle, work desk, and who you are with sounds and sights that allow you to love what you do and why you do it!
A large number of new agents to Real Estate never develop an eye towards ‘Property Values’ because they have failed to adopt the habit of Previewing Listings. New Agents must add to their weekly to-do list the task of physically Previewing Listings; no, not on the computer, but in person. Learning the value of properties in your market area is an important skill that customers value, and I have come across many in my trainings who make up numbers and pretend they know – when they truly don’t know! Our Brokers must put all our agents on a regiment that requires the development of such a fundamental skill, both Buyers’ Agents and Sellers’ Agents. The value of your agents is in the advice they give customers based on sound fundamentals and grounded knowledge; push them to acquire these skills – they may not thank you now; but they will do so in the long run!
There are 2 types of Real Estate Agents; those who need Motivation and those who have transcended Motivation… You need to know where you fit, and be honest about it – there is no right or wrong about each way of being. If you are in the kind of agent who enjoys Motivation let me share with you a daily trick you can use to keep yourself going: Get yourself a to-do list in which you add no less than 10 things to-do each day; just find a way to connect these tasks to your Real Estate Business; Second get yourself a highlighter. Every time you accomplish or finish a task just highlight it on your to-do list. At the end of your day focus on what you have accomplished by looking at the highlighted items; then transfer the tasks you did not finish to the next day; and repeat the process the next day. Don’t over-think it; just make sure you have 10 Real Estate Tasks daily!
If you are the type of Real Estate Agent who has gotten to a place that transcends Motivation do the following: Get yourself a task list and a black sharpie; every time you finish or accomplish a task scratch it off; and at the end of the day focus on the items you did not complete and ask yourself why you placed those unfinished items on the list in the first place; Move the unaccomplished tasks to tomorrow’s list and start over – your list must be longer than 10 items per day. Motivation does not work the same for everyone; but finding that which works for you is the most important daily activity!
Knowing where you stand at all times and the progress you are making are crucial to the growth of your business, and in the building of your ongoing confidence. Know your Real Estate Inventory and Know your Buyers’ Leads! If you create a way to visualize where you are right now, you will be able to do something about it; many of you continue to misuse your brain and rely on it for information storage, and when you are asked how many listings do you currently have, many make up a number that is close enough – this way of being is hurting you and you are not even aware of it. Know your numbers exactly, and create a visual representation of them that you will confront daily. In this blog I will focus on your listings: Get yourself a small writing board or print a large excel spreadsheet that forces you to look at your listings – it should include addresses; Listing#; current price; and Date listed; and anything else you deem important. Confronting your inventory daily and knowing the stages of progress will force to know when it is time to prospect (Hint: it is daily…) But it also will force you to confront the most important conversation with your Sellers – Pricing Strategy. Bring some sunshine to your business model and you will create opportunity and diligence!
What is NFC? NFC (Near Field Communication) has been viewed by many as a way of using your Android Smartphone to pay by bumping them using Apps like Google Wallet, MasterCard, or by having 2 NFC devices share information when they are nearby. NFC is actually much more than that! NFC enabled devices work with magnetic induction to extract programs or instructions when they come in contact with NFC Tags which are outfitted with a radio chip connected to an antenna and a small memory and no battery; the induction process (from the phone) causes electricity to flow through the NFC Tag and activate (very cool.) You can order NFC Tags from Amazon at $2 a piece and then program them. If you have a Nexus 7, Galaxy S3, or NFC enabled Smartphone you can get started. Buy yourself a few NFC Tags, and download the App NFC Task Launcher (it’s free) which will allow you to program your NFC Tag to do what you when you tap it. iPhones do not come equipped with NFC capability but I guarantee that the next one (say the 5S) will be NFC enabled. Why is this exciting? The technology is in its infancy but the capacity to have devices interacting in Near Field with the Physical world, and Programmed by us humans will open a world of Productivity (multiple steps reduced to one compact program) we have yet to imagine. Here is a great article with a video to help you get familiar with NFC http://goo.gl/Ftzfn)
Why is it difficult to build a book of business working with just Real Estate Buyers? Let us all be clear there are a few good Agents who are doing very well being strictly Real Estate Buyers’ Agents, and they work hard, very hard to earn that income – and God bless them. But let us talk about what happened 6 to 9 years ago; during the heady days of Home Prices skyrocketing every year, if you worked with a Buyer then, you were almost guaranteed a second bite at the apple of Salesmanship; they were going to either become ‘flippers’ and a buy a second house and they gave you a chance at that; or their house went up in value so fast than within 3 years you were getting a call to help them sell the house they recently bought from you. It was insane! Let’s now look at today’s reality; The average length of stay in the same house has moved from about 5 years to more than 9 years; and that simply means your second bite at the ‘sale apple’ may have to wait a decade or more; and with technology changing so fast 10 years is an eternity. Throw in the mix of your business ‘Prospecting’ for Listings and your Real Estate Career will balance out much better; when you work with sellers you open yourself to being visible to their neighbors as well; and if you learn the right way to canvass your book of business will always increase.
As you get deeper into December and start planning for 2013 you may want to have a better picture for what it means to Plan; Think of Planning as the reaching into the guts of the Future and bringing them forward to today; inspecting what you see; creating what you want; and then doing something about it today! You can choose to haphazardly walk into tomorrow satisfied with what each day may bring; or you may choose to claim your reality by painting the future with the shade of pink you are desiring! (substitute pink for your own color.) Planning starts with clear measurable goals that are refined to Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly, then Daily Activities that must be accomplished so the whole is stronger then the parts. Once you have clarity about the full range of your activities you can proceed and start reviewing your results on a weekly basis; and they will either produce the results you anticipated or you need to be trained at accomplishing those tasks better.
Ground your business around Activities and realize that all of us will face procrastination at some point. If you are hanging in your office spending hours rearranging the files on your desk, and you do that way too often, then you are not prospecting enough. Real Estate is about stirring the pot and causing conversations; and on those days when the phone is not ringing, leads are not flowing to your mailbox, maybe you put on your badge, grab lots of business cards, and start canvassing your neighborhoods. You should probably design a better long term plan of action, but sitting on your couch, or at the office lamenting the lack of business will NOT advance you a bit. The more you choose to be active and engage others about their Real Estate Needs the more business will find its way towards you. Keep this simple quote in mind: ‘People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.’ – Albert Einstein.
Stop driving yourself insane – you will not always finish all the items on your To-Do List… and that’s ok! For many the problem with Time Management is not the fact that they are not driven to accomplish, but their twisted desire to have a perfect record. This way of being leads to stress and needless agony. Say you have 10 items on today’s to-do list and you must accomplish all of them, and you know that they will take you 6 hours to do them all – guess what: because you are busy the universe is going to reward you with leads and new business, and you must chase those leads and new business – will that cause you to drop 1 or 2 items from your to-do list? Yes, but that’s ok! Call the recipients of the work you needed to do and apologize and reschedule when you can get them the info you said you will give them. So yes you will drop some items and not get them done, but it is the way you connect with others responsibly that is going to be the mark of your true professionalism.
Think of a better description for the concept Time Management; what if a more correct way of approaching Time was to tackle Yourself, as in: Personal Management. Rearranging the seconds and minutes of time is not within our developed technology, but rearranging the self is within our control. From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep you are making decisions about what you are going to do or not going to do, and the more clarity you bring to this Personal-Management paradigm the more Time will become your ally. Because you have chosen to work in Real Estate you must prepare yourself to spending a lot of your day in Reactive Mode, meaning dealing with the requests, wishes, desires, and agonies of others. Your salvation will come in the form of you setting aside some time during the day driven by Proactive Actions with a clear agenda. You will not control all of your day and that is fine, but if all of your day is controlled by others and by reactions, then you will burn out and start hating this wonderful industry! Think Personal-Management Not Time-Management!
Your December 30-Day Challenge is about becoming an effective Real Estate Agent with your Sphere of Influence. One of the worst habits you can develop is to enter into a customer relationship using scraps of paper and never entering the person in your Sphere Database. Let me explain; as you grow your business you are going to need multiple databases but they do not all serve the same purpose; this post is not about all of the databases you should have but about your core Sphere Database, the one that syncs with your Smartphone, Tablet, and Computer. Let us say you have a Gmail Account, well it comes with a Contact Manager and the ability to take notes about your contacts and your conversations with them. Your Challenge for the month of December is simple – as soon as you enter into a talking or emailing relationship with a potential client or colleague, go to your contact manager; enter their contact information; add their picture (they are all online on Facebook); Categorize them – Placing colleagues and potential clients to categories is crucial; finally write a time-stamped note about how you came to know them and what major ideas you should remember about them. When you do this right you will have at your fingertips all the necessary data to nurture those with whom you are Talking, Texting, and Emailing and generate more business. Try it for 30 Days, you will be amazed how you were able to function without this simple idea.