Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Plan Your Business

It is amazing to me how many people try to operate a business without a business plan. It is amazing how many sales people try to sell real estate, or anything, without a business plan. Planning your business is like planning your wedding or planning your vacation - it is the time you spend to make sure that things happen the way you want them to happen.

Planning is work. It is important work. Steven Covey would say that it is quadrant two work; it is important, but not urgent.

Because it is not urgent, so many people never take the time to plan. Most people simply react to the next stimulus. They wait for a buyer to call or a past client to offer a referral. They provide great service to their current customers and they hope that there will be a stream of future customers when they have closed their current transactions. Maybe they do a little marketing here and there - mostly when they have run out of current customers and clients. They have no systems, no prospecting habits, no mailing program, no networking practice.

Most salespeople are dependent upon the market to provide for them a source of leads. They rely on floor or opportunity time to generate leads for them. They count on open houses to bring in current buyers or sellers. Sometimes they even pay for leads through online sources. As the market grows their business grows, but as the market slows

Monday, August 3, 2009

Begin Taking Control

Buyer Qualification
One of the most common shortcuts that Realtors try to make is in the buyer qualification process, yet that process is one of the most important services that we provide and one of the most important aspects of our work. It is human nature to want to draw to a conclusion quickly.
It has been said that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

We often will try to categorize things into what we already know. This tendency compels us to assume we know what the buyer wants and, worse, what the buyer qualifies for in terms of a purchase price.

Buyer qualification is about more than finances, however; it relates to the desire and ability to buy. It is as much emotional as it is financial. Some people just aren’t ready to buy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Attitude is Everything

We cannot control the market or the circumstance of a transaction, but we can control our attitude.

Bad things happen. Market forces create adverse conditions for sellers where there is insufficient demand compared to supply or interest rates are too high for reasonable housing payments. Inspections reveal previously unknown problems with a property. Appraisals produce results that do not support purchase prices. Underwriting guidelines change. These are all circumstances over which we, as Realtors, do not have control.

It is natural for us to react to these situations with strong emotions. Our emotions are real. We feel anger, anxiety, frustration, bewilderment; real feelings. However, feelings are momentary. After the feelings surface we have opportunity to review and analyze our feelings. We have time to reflect on those feelings and choose our attitude. Our attitude is our perspective on the situation which may or may not be controlled by our feelings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Impressions: Professional Attire Makes a Difference

Classy, professional attire can help overcome mediocre presentation skills and modest self-confidence. For the new agent trying to make solid first impressions professional attire is a must in the real estate business. If veteran agents are trying to move to the next level, they should examine the attire they wear to conduct business.

Dressing up in sharp clothes will generally boost one's self-confidence, which in turn will produce better performance for sales professionals. It is well documented that self-confidence is an important ingredient in sales success. When you look your best you feel your best.

I have known far too many agents that would get dressed up every time they had a closing, but wore average clothing to open houses or buyer and seller presentations. There should be less need to make a good impression at the closing table than at the kitchen table. The goal should be to leave a good impression every time you meet with a client or customer.

People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. The manner in which someone is dressed can make them more appealing or more attractive. People will have a greater affinity or like for someone they find attractive.

While it may be difficult to change our facial features or body shape, we should do our best with what is within our control. We can control how we style our hair or groom ourselves. We can control how we wear make-up or how clean and neat we appear. We also can control our wardrobe.

Realtors should be careful to select clothing that is appropriate to the work they do and best suited for their body type and their personal colors. You can look to some top performing agents as a model of the type of attire that would be best for their market. You may also find successful Realtors whose body type and coloring is similar. Often you can rely on the advice of others in their office - particularly your managers. If necessary, hire a fashion consultant.

Like it or not people rely on their first impressions to help them make important decisions. Investing time, money, and effort in assembling appropriate, professional attire will pay substantial dividends. The failure to make the investment in a professional wardrobe may result in a failure to succeed in the real estate industry.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Time Blocking and Time Compression for Sales Productivity

Dollar productive activities in real estate include negotiate, sell, list, keep a deal together and prospect. Prospecting is the wildcard in the bunch. Prospecting is an activity that a real estate agent has complete control over and it is also the activity for which Realtors often don't have time.
There are essential tasks in the real estate industry that by definition would not be considered dollar productive tasks. These tasks require time, but do not produce income for the real estate agent. Such tasks as property searches in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), market analysis research and presentation preparation, paperwork, returning some phone calls and email are all tasks which require time but do not produce income directly. These are non-dollar productive tasks. In that these tasks represent much of the "work" of real estate they typically garner more attention and time commitment than they deserve.
The Realtor with a strong work ethic will take pride in their work and will want to do a good job. This will lead them to work to perfect the methods of producing the best comparative market analysis or to searching every corner of the MLS for the right property for their buyer. This work ethic typically does not lead them to conducting more prospecting calls or pursuing more networking opportunities.
When many Realtors learn about the concept of dollar productivity they immediately embrace the idea and seek to increase the time they spend with dollar productive activities. The challenge, however, is that you cannot just decide that you are going to negotiate more today or that you are going to list a property today without having a previously scheduled appointment. Other than prospecting the Realtor does not have direct control over their dollar productive tasks. Only through prospecting can you produce more opportunities for the other dollar productive activities.
The use of time blocking as a time management tool can help Realtors keep better track of the time they spend in different activities. Evaluating exactly how much time is spent in dollar productive behavior is often very enlightening and sometimes alarming.
Once you have begun to focus on dollar productive work versus the non-dollar productive you can begin to compress the time that you spend on the non-dollar productive work. Essentially you give yourself time limits to complete certain tasks - the tasks that don't make you money. How quickly can you do a market analysis? How much time do you really need to spend on mailings?
In a market like this one we need to be keenly focused on dollar productive work.