What can real estate agents do to grow their businesses? Here is Jimmy Burgess' 12-step plan for thriving through a market transition.
Each month, we’re seeing the number of transactions starting to pull back. The market constantly changes, and agents who work in their business and focus their efforts on the right activities will benefit the most from this slowdown.
As the market shifts, the question becomes: What are you going to do to make sure your business will continue to grow?
No matter what the market does, there are always agents who thrive. What is it they do differently? The following 12 steps are what top agents do in times of market transition. These steps will help you grow your business when, not if, the market shifts.
1. Evaluate your business
Compile the listings and closings that you’ve had in the last 24 months, and break them down to figure out what is working for you and what is not working.
What areas of your business are generating business for you?
Sphere of influence?
What are you doing that isn’t working?
Evaluate the activities you are spending time or money on that are not working as well.
We often get so busy that we don’t pause to evaluate what’s bringing the business in exactly and the activities that are not generating business. Once you’ve identified the activities bringing you opportunities, go all-in with the winning strategies — and eliminate the others.
2. Stay in touch with past clients
Check-in with clients, especially if you haven’t communicated with them in a while. Ask how they are doing, and start the conversation with no agenda in mind. Just be a real person.
“Just checking in with you guys because it has been a crazy year, and I wanted to see if you still love your house.”
These conversations help you build relationships with your clients, so they know that you’re there to help when they need you.
3. Send unsolicited video CMAs
In my opinion, there isn’t a better strategy for agents who want to add value to their clients and their business than the unsolicited CMA.
Record your screen using a screen recording app, like BombBomb or Zoom, going over the comparable homes that have sold, are under contract, and are currently on the market. Give them a range of their current value in the video and an estimate based on standard closing costs for your area of what they might net from the sale.
Email these videos to people who mentioned they might sell in the future, your past buyers, people you’ve met at open houses who own a home in the same neighborhood, and any other homeowners you have in your database.
With prices escalating the way they have in the past year, many homeowners are curious to know how their home’s value has been affected. I did one of these each day I worked in the last quarter of 2018, and I listed $11 million directly from the 72 videos CMAs.
Send one out each day, and you’ll generate new business right now and for months to come.
4. Evaluate your expenses
Survey all the subscriptions and other tools that you’re paying for each month but not using. Cancel those subscriptions, even if they are only $10 a month. I’ve seen agents free up as little as $50 and some as much as $500 per month by evaluating their credit card statements and eliminating these subscription-based products.
5. Learn a new skill
Identify a skill you wish you had, and spend time learning how to do it. You can learn how to use social media, grow your farm, use video in your marketing, or any other skill you’d like to develop.
We live in a fantastic time in history. We have the resources available at our fingertips to learn anything we’d like to know in the information age.
Take advantage of podcasts, YouTube, books, blogs, and countless other tools to become an expert at those skills that will help you grow your business.
A simple Google or YouTube search like “How to (whatever it is you want to learn)” is all you need to find an unlimited number of people willing to teach the desired skill.
6. Double down on farming
Farming is a core strategy for business growth, so if you don’t already have a neighborhood where you’re the expert and local resource, find one. If you already have a farm, add another one.
Look for a neighborhood that doesn’t have a dominant player and one that will become more valuable for you as you invest time and resources into it.
Use traditional methods like mailers, “just-listed” and “just-sold” fliers, door-knocking, circle prospecting, and hosting open houses. But also, get creative with how you can add value to your farm neighborhood through activities like coordinating a food truck night or a fall neighborhood festival.
When possible, build an email list of owners in the neighborhood and use routine communication to stay top-of-mind.
Farming is fundamental to growing your business.
7. Network with feeder market agents
Is there one particular area that people routinely leave to move into your area? There’s a lot of money to be made in finding feeder market agents that will send you referrals.
Build relationships with the agents in those markets by introducing yourself and offering to pay them a higher-than-normal referral fee for customers they send your way.
Send them gifts, and initiate phone calls to find out how you can help them in their businesses. Relationships are vital in receiving a steady flow of referrals, and feeder markets are an opportunity many agents overlook.
8. Shoot more video
Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words. Since a video is frame after frame, I would say it’s worth a million words. Utilizing video is vitally important now, and I believe it will be even more so in the future.
The more you shoot video, the better you’ll get at it, and your personality will shine through.
Wondering what to shoot? Here are a few ideas:
Market updates (especially valuable during market shifts
Virtual open houses
Neighborhood overview videos
The story of your favorite transaction
The story of your funniest transaction
These are just a few ideas, but the key is to take action — start shooting videos (or shoot more videos).
9. Broaden your knowledge of the market
Become the most knowledgeable agent in your market in regards to market statistics. Do a deep dive into the market so you can readily provide value to those prospects that need your expertise.
How has the price changed in your market over the past 10 years?
How has the price changed on your farm over the past 10 years?
How has the price changed over the past year or even this past spring?
How have the average days on market changed?
What trends can you see developing?
How do sales this year compare to sales in the same month last year?
Understand the data related to your market, and then use tools like videos to share that with your audience. Your expertise will build trust and deepen relationships with the people who are looking for their forever agent.
10. Have conversations with renters
The difference between the cost of renting versus buying has never been higher, so many renters can buy a home and pay less money each month than they would if they rented. Add to that the tax benefits and the financial investment of ownership, and it’s a better situation all the way around. Renters need to know this information.
Research websites or your MLS that show homes rented eight or nine months ago. Most residential leases are for 12 months, so these renters are probably beginning to wonder what their next move will be once their lease expires. Your communication to them could be something like this:
“I see that you signed this lease about nine months ago, and I assume it’s a 12-month lease. I just wondered if you had considered buying because your mortgage payment owning a home could be less than the monthly rental expense for the same size home.”
11. Check back in with buyers
Find those buyers who were frustrated because they missed out on multiple offer negotiations during the past year. Inventory is increasing in many areas across the country. Circle back to those buyers and see if they would like to resume their search due to the shift in the market.
Let them know that the market has shifted a bit and that it might work in their favor.
12. Put a system in place each month
As the market slows a little bit, we will have time to catch our breath and be intentional about our activity. Put systems in place that will keep you positioned to thrive no matter what the market is doing.
Build checklists to make sure you don’t miss steps with new listings.
Develop a follow-up system to stay in touch with past clients.
Design checklists that will move you from contract to closing.
Create a content calendar that streamlines your social media posts.
The market constantly changes, and those agents who work in their business and focus their efforts on successful activities will benefit the most from this slowdown. Try different things to see what works best for you, and look for ways to reach out while others might be pulling back.
By Jimmy Burgess