I am talking about systems you should set up as a real estate agent to make you the most productive. These systems must include the structure of how you go about your tasks during your day, as well as the technological make up of your business.
First is the structure of your day. You can roll into the office at 11:30am, have lunch with a colleague, make 2 or 3 phone calls (your mom, your sister and your best friend that has just returned from a vacation), check MLS to see what has come up for sale today and go home. After all, you are running your own business and can do whatever you want. There will be one or two transactions that fall on your lap during the year and once the year is up you will have to promptly start looking for another job, because you have just taken a year off. However, if you want to make money, start your day early. High performing agents in the US often start calling Expireds at 7:45am. If someone is keen on selling their property, they will be happy to talk to a professional at any hour. If someone is complaining about it being too early, be polite, hang up and move on.
Keep in mind that prospecting is one of the most boredom inducing activities a human being can do. If you don’t get it out of the way early in morning, chances are that it will not be done. If you create a system for your morning, from the time you wake up, until lunch time, the rest of the day will almost automatically fall into place. Block off 3 to 4 hours for prospecting, starting no later than 9am, I recommend starting at 8am and make sure that you role play right before your prospecting sessions. I am tempted to say that whatever you do between the time you wake up and your role playing time plus prospecting, as well as after lunch is up to you, however I know that in order for you to have a focused 3 to 4 hour prospecting session you need to prepare yourself in the morning for about 2 hours, so it looks like you would need to be getting up around 5:30am. Also, with a 4 hour prospecting session, you will likely generate enough business for your afternoons to be busy with appointments and appointment preparation. As I said, get your morning right and the rest of the day will almost magically fall into place.
Second is the system to keep track of your leads. If you do phone prospecting or door knocking, than you are sifting through dozens of contacts every day and need to have a system to keep good ones on top of your mind. The simplest way of keeping track of your good leads is a set of 3x4 cards where you write down their information, including the date you acquired the lead and the date it expires and no longer deserves your consideration. This simple system works well for a solo agent and you can convert a stack of 3x4 cards into hundreds of thousand of dollars every year without having to invest into anything more sophisticated. There is not setup required, there is no expense and there is no learning curve. It is ready to go “out of the box”. It is not scaleable though and if you want any sort of separation of responsibilities and have plans to grow your business you need to use something else. There is a lot of CRMs on the market and choosing the right one for your business is a topic for a separate blog. My quick recommendation would be to go with something real estate specific. You can consider Followup Boss, as there is little setup required to make it work for you. You can also consider Hubspot - this CRM with its basic components is free, but be prepared to spend time configuring it. I have hands-on experience with half a dozen CRMs and our team is currently using Infusionsoft. It is flexible, expensive and complex. It is complex to both configure and use. Tightly coupled integration with an auto dealer called turboDial is excellent and can completely automate your prospecting backend. Non-technical salespeople have hard time understanding the flow within this CRM and find it non-intuitive. Having used it for more than 2 years, I would not recommend it as a first choose for real estate agents. My bet would be on you not even being able to do the initial configuration without professional help.
Third is the listing process. Do you have a system for the listing process? Simply put, it is a system that allows you to go out to an appointment and walk out with the listing signed more often than not. It has a handful of simple steps and it usually takes years of practice to get every step just right. Let’s start with pre-qualification. I am assuming you know what this is and what it is for. Do you pre-qualify at the same time as you are setting the appointment or do you call at a later time and ask additional questions aimed at discovering their motivation and pricing expectations. Well, pre-qualifying your lead right when you set the appointment is better for many reasons. Here is a few:
- You are not risking not being able to get them on the phone again before your appointment, they are already talking to you now.
- You will not be waisting time on doing preliminary property research if there is no motivation or if the pricing is off.
- You will establish (or not) good rapport with your lead right in the first conversation you have with them and will know whether you want to move on with them or not.
- You will know that every appointment appearing on your calendar is pre-qualified and therefore a commitment for you to go to. There will be no deceptively exciting self-congratulations on setting appointments that are not convertible into listings.
- There will be no anxiety bouts before your pre-qualification call. Will it pan out or not? Once you hang up the phone after talking to them for the first time, you know where you stand.
Once pre-qualified, you will be sending your lead a pre-listing package that will include your personal and your brokerage performance, market and property analysis, your plan of executing the sale of the property and a spreadsheet clearly showing your client what they will net at the end of the transaction.
Depending on how technologically savvy your lead is, you can hand deliver, courier or email the package. Once it is done, and this as important as sending the package itself, call them and ask whether they have received the package and have any questions. Most likely anything you need to specifically prepare for will come out once you ask this question. Whether the price is too low, the commission is too high or the execution plan is too thin, you will know about it before you see them. Call them one more time, right before you get into your car to go to the appointment. Be punctual. Once you are in the house, dazzle them with your listing presentation, deal with their objections, ask the closing question(s) and sign them up.
Fourth is marketing, selling and generating more leads out of your listing. If the prices in your marketplace are going up, selling property is easy. It requires little skill. Buyers will snatch it up almost despite your efforts. In all other markets, you need to do a lot to get it sold. Yes, MLS is key for exposure, however promoting your property through various industry specific and general ethnic portals, calling your sphere and investors, marketing it through social media and preparing and sending out property specific promotional emails is very important as well. They may not pack as much punch individually as MLS exposure, but when you stack them up, they will give you the edge of additional exposure that will help get the property sold. Remember that in most cases buyers act through their agents. Think about how you can target that group of agent that’s likely to help you sell your listing. You could be segregating the target agent group based on the geographic area of your listing, the price point or a specific property appeal (like conversion lofts). Once you identify your target group, make sure you go after them with gusto, send them promotional information, call them and very importantly invite them to a fun agent’s open house. Call around the neighbourhood where your listing is to both promote it and to generate new leads. With this simple system in place (execution is everything) you can expect to generate 1 to 2 additional listings from the one you originally taken.
Fifth is the post-sale follow up. We know that acquiring a new client is costly. It requires a lot of time and possibly money to get a listing signed with someone who has not worked with you in the past. That’s why past clients are gold. After the transaction is done you need to set the stage for more future business with them. While they are excited about the purchase or a sale, ask them for a referral. Give them a gift or take them out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. Keep in touch with them several times a year and send them little or large tokens of appreciation on important dates like birthdays, major holidays, anniversaries etc. They will remember and will almost always come back to you themselves and send people they love and care about your way whenever there is anything real estate related they need to do.