In recent years, it has been hard to ignore all of the negative publicity that has been circulating about the national economy, the stock market and current events. The state of the real estate market in particular has received a lot of bad press. With all of the foreclosures and short sales that have been flooding our market, and all of the problems that have been occurring in the lending industry, I thought it would be in all of our best interests to create a quick business plan to help us focus.
Simplify, simplify, simplify — Find a few things that you are good at and become an expert in each one. We are constantly being bombarded by massive amounts of data, new marketing strategies, advancements in technology and new techniques for serving our clients. To succeed in today’s market, it’s critical that we simplify and streamline our process. Don’t try to be an expert with every new idea or technology; you will only end up being mediocre at everything. Instead, become a specialist, target the markets you know, create strong efficacy and the results will come.
1) Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current marketing plan. What is working for you? What isn’t? What new strategies are a good match for your individual talents and skills? The important thing is not to over extend yourself. If you want to try something new, for example the mailing of postcards to reach a new farm, make sure you have enough resources to cover the cost of the project for a period of at least six months. If you don’t have the budget, don’t start the project. Implementing a new marketing strategy without giving it enough time to succeed will only dilute the effectiveness of your other marketing programs, because it will sap you of your time, effort and energy. If you don’t have a budget for a new plan, have a look at what you are currently doing and brainstorm about how to refine the process.
2) Improve your sales skills. This starts with writing down a list of the top areas where you feel you need improvement for 2012. The key is to approach yourself with the most critical eye possible. Re-assess your list in light of our current economic climate and the condition of your local real estate market. Make it a goal to become more educated, so that you can speak knowledgeably and project confidence. Find an associate who is willing to put forth the effort and time it takes to improve, practice what you want to say and perform some role playing exercises. If you practice and work hard enough, you will receive the benefit of new business relationships as a result.
3) Understand your branding and the demographics you need to reach. The economic downturn has changed the status for many of our markets. Several years ago, I was selling multiple homes valued over $6 million, but that segment of the market has slowed to a standstill. To be successful, it’s important to constantly evaluate what types of homes people are looking for in your area and what they are willing to pay. After you figure out what type of clients you want to target, take the time to adjust your marketing strategy according to their preferences.
4) Update your pictures, résumés, websites and marketing materials. Chances are, if your pictures and business cards make you look like you are 25 years younger than you actually are, then it’s time for an update. Shocking the customer is typically not a good idea. One of the advantages to the recent slowdown in the economy is that it has given us the downtime that we need to work on this type of thing. Also, it’s always a good idea to periodically revise your résumé to ensure that it speaks to today’s consumer dealing with the modern financial environment.
5) Set a goal for how many buyer sides and seller sides you want to close next year. Remember to include your personal percentage of deals that typically fall through and add that to your top number.
6) For the benefit of our industry, if not for yourself, please make a decision to utilize buyer brokerage agreements next year. Using a buyer brokerage agreement will not only give you and your business a more professional appearance, it will help you eliminate a great deal of time and frustration. Choose not to be used and abused and feel great about it!! The importance of adopting buyer broker agreements was the subject of one of my earlier articles for RISMedia, The Evolution of Buyer-Agent Relationships.
7) Decide which new technologies and hardware are worth implementing in 2012. Will you update your websites? Will you create an online listing presentation or a customized website for your seller? As I mentioned before, it’s a good idea to find a few things that you are good at and then apply the time and effort it will take to become an expert in those few things. Trying to become an expert at everything will only lead to mediocrity.
8) Implement a stronger time management strategy for 2012. Create a weekly schedule and stick to it. Schedule the points above, including your training, continuing education, new marketing efforts, appointment times and vacations. If you create a schedule that shows success, then you should achieve your goals based on the amount of time, effort and discipline you are willing to apply to keeping to your schedule.
9) Consider hiring a real estate coach next year. I have benefited from the guidance and advice of coaches for most of my career. There are many terrific companies that can help you accomplish everything that you set out to do. I am a big fan of Tom Ferry’s coaching systems, but I recommend you talk to at least two or three different mentors and coaches to see which one is the best fit for your business.
10) Know that the R.E.G. (Real Estate Guru or REG for short) is watching. To us, the REG is an imaginary, all-knowing embodiment of that top-producing Realtor who always makes the best possible use of his time. We all know that there are times in our day when we are forced to do certain activities that don’t produce a direct result. Somehow the results just come—from straight luck, coincidence or just good timing. We call that REG. REG knows that when we do what we are supposed to do, we get rewarded. REG also knows that when you don’t do what you should be doing….things are going to be tough. So have blind faith, believe in yourself, improve yourself, and go have an amazing 2012!!
Alan Shafran is the No. 1 REALTOR® in San Diego for Prudential California Realty, President of ShowingSuite.com and author of Blueprint for 100 Deals Per Year in Real Estate. For more information, please visit www.AlanShafran.com.