When you got into real estate you probably thought that you were taking on a single job right?
I have bad news for you. You couldn’t have been more wrong…
Although if you are reading this you probably already realize that. If you have been a real estate agent for more than a week I am sure that you know that you wear a number of different hats in your day-to-day work.
Your main job is to help people buy and sell homes. But even that one “job” has many different requirements.
You have to follow up with leads, set up searches, show homes, go on listing appointments, complete CMA’s, write and negotiate offers, attend inspections, attend appraisals, attend closings, and play counselor/baby sitter to your clients.
Ok, that last one isn’t true… Even though it probably feels like it at times.
And that’s just to sell homes.
On top of that, you are in charge of marketing, accounting, customer service, and even human resources.
When you think about it that way, being a real estate agent can seem a bit overwhelming. Working all those “jobs” seems a bit complicated, doesn’t it?
It sure does!
So let’s break it down and make it less complicated and overwhelming.
First, let’s start off by really acknowledging what you really are. You may be called a real estate agent, but in reality, you are an entrepreneur.
What does that mean?
It means that the success – or failure – of your business is up to you. The amount of money you make this year is 100% up to you.
That can either be really exciting or really scary depending on how you choose to look at it.
The key is to choose the outlook that will support your entrepreneurial efforts.
To truly act as an entrepreneur, you have to think like an entrepreneur.
How do you do that?
Well to start off with you need to have a positive outlook. One that supports your goals. One that pushes you to constantly get better.
But just thinking positively isn’t enough. You also have to have the big picture view.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that you have to think about more than just the day-to-day activities of being a real estate agent. You also have to think about the things that need to be done to grow your business and make it a success.
Let’s break it down a little further…
Everything that you need to do to be both a successful real estate agent and a successful entrepreneur can be broken down into two categories:
- Business Activities
- Business Development
The first category – business activities – is made up of all the tasks I mentioned above that you do to help people buy or sell homes. They are the tasks that make you a real estate agent.
The second category – business development – is made up of all the things that you need to do to make your business successful. They are the tasks that make you a business owner – an entrepreneur. And they have nothing to do with real estate.
In his book The E-Myth Revisited, author Michael E. Gerber refers to these two categories as:
- Working in your business
- Working on your business
Which category do most real estate agents focus on?
Which category do the most successful real estate agents focus on?
So in this post, we are going to talk about 4 ways that you can work ON your real estate business.
Each of these covers a different area of your business – eg. finances, human resources, operations, and marketing.
1. Start Using Cloud Accounting Software
One of the main reasons that many small businesses fail is because they are bad with money.
They don’t try to make bad financial decisions.
They just don’t have all the facts that they need to have when it comes to the way that they spend their money.
Why is that?
Because many of them never take the time to put a process in place to track their finances.
Sure, you can say that you are going to open up your bank account and use a spreadsheet to analyze your revenue and expenses, but in reality, that just takes too much time.
I am a huge excel nerd. In fact, during college I had friends make fun of me for the way that I used excel to analyze pretty much everything.
But after I got out of school and tried to use excel to manage all my finances I quickly realized that there was not enough time in my day to be able to effectively do this.
I needed a different tool that could help me to more easily, and quickly, manage my business finances.
That’s when I found FreshBooks.
And I LOVE using it.
It has been a huge time saver.
What used to take me an hour to complete now takes mere minutes.
After connecting FreshBooks to my bank account, the software automatically tracks all my expenses.
Once an expense has been tracked it can be classified through the use of tagging it with a vendor, category, and notes.
Let’s look at an example…
Here are the expenses tracking input for my email marketing bill. Each month ConvertKit charges me for their service, and I tag it with ConvertKit as the vendor and Email marketing as the category.
Email marketing is actually a sub-category within advertising so when I look at an expense report it gives me a breakdown that shows my total advertising expenses each month, but it also breaks it down further to show me how much I am spending on each subcategory within advertising.
Advertising is just one of the top-level categories FreshBooks includes by default. Here are the others:
So why is it important to use software to break down your expenses into categories?
Because it allows you to hold your costs accountable.
If you are spending $2,000 per month on advertising, and only getting a closed sale off of it every 4 months with an average commission of $6,000 you are losing money.
It is tempting to think that all of the advertising that we do, or all of the tools that we pay for each month, are worth the money. But does your bank account agree?
So many of us spend money every month that could be cut out of our budget without it affecting our business production.
Using good accounting software makes it easy for you to spot and eliminate these types of expenses.
There is a bunch of other accounting software on the market, so find the one that you like the best.
Many people use Quickbooks. Personally I never really liked it all that much, but that is just a personal preference.
Maybe Quickbooks is the tool for you. Maybe FreshBooks is. Maybe the tool you will end up using is one that I have never heard of before.
It doesn’t matter which one you use, as long as you actually use it.
That’s the key.
Choose one that you will enjoy using and actually use it!
2. Hire An Assistant … At Least A Virtual One
Have you ever heard the saying “If you don’t have an assistant, you are one”?
It’s so true.
That doesn’t mean that if you don’t have an assistant, you will end up being someone else’s. It means that if you don’t have an assistant you will end up being your own assistant.
Which is a problem…
Let me ask you a question. How much do you make per hour?
Don’t know the answer to that question? Implementing a cloud account software as I talked about above will help you to be able to answer this question.
Here is a simple exercise:
Take your revenue, which should be automatically tracked in your accounting software, and divide it by 2,000.
That is the average number of hours you work during the year.
40 hours per week x 50 weeks per year = 2,000 hours.
Do you work more than 40 hours per week?
That’s ok. Still use 2,000 hours as a guide. Unless you want to keep working those long hours let’s try and set it up so that you build your plan around decreasing your hours to a more manageable level.
If you make $100,000 per year, you earn a rate of $50 per hour.
Now that you know your hourly rate, make a list of all the tasks you do on your given day. These are the tasks that we talked about above where you are working in your business.
This could be things like calling leads, showing homes, writing contracts, etc.
Once you have a list of every task that you have to do as part of your day-to-day job, put a checkmark next to each task that you would not be willing to pay someone else your hourly rate to complete.
Let’s look at an example…
One task on your list could be following up with agents to get showing feedback. If you make $50 per hour like our example above, would you be willing to pay someone else $50 per hour to call and get showing feedback?
I am guessing the answer to that is no.
You could find someone to do that for way cheaper than $50 per hour.
So why are you doing it? Isn’t your rate $50 per hour?
The goal of this exercise is to create a list of tasks that can be handed off to an assistant.
These are all the tasks that you value at less than your hourly rate.
But what if you don’t have the money to hire a fun time assistant?
Hire someone part-time. It could even be for a few hours per week to start with.
Or hire a virtual assistant part-time to complete tasks remotely – this can be a decent amount cheaper.
Don’t know where to find a good virtual assistant? Check out eaHELP.com or VirtualStaffFinder.com.
Using a part-time assistant can be a way to save money while unloading some tasks from your schedule.
So why should you do this at all?
The goal is to free up your time a bit. Paying an assistant a lower hourly rate to complete tasks that you don’t value at your hourly rate, frees up your time to focus on the tasks that are worth your hourly rate.
The key here is to spend more of your time working on the tasks that only you can do.
Everything that can be done for cheaper, or better, by someone else should be handed off as soon as possible.
So where do you begin?
Start off slow and pick a few tasks that you can hand off to an assistant.
You will be surprised how much more productive you will feel when you begin focusing more of your time and energy on the most important tasks in your business.
3. Write Down Your Process for Doing Things
Do you have a way that you do things within your real estate sales business?
Maybe it is a certain way that you write emails. Or a specific script you use when you call a prospect.
Do you have that process written down?
For most of us the answer to that is no.
We do things a certain way because that is the way we have found that it works best.
But we don’t have that documented anywhere. It is just in our brain.
So is this a problem?
Not at first. In fact, until you have a defined method for competing a task it doesn’t make sense to take the time to write it down, only to have to re-write it later when you change it.
However, once you have a tried and tested method for completing a task it is time to put it into writing.
If you follow what I talked about in the section above on hiring an assistant, you will need to be able to teach them how to do things the way that you have found achieves your desired result.
There are a lot of agents that have a hard time ever hiring an assistant, or an additional team member because they don’t know how to let go of a task and trust that their new hire will do it the same way that they have done it so successfully for so long.
Hiring a new assistant can seem overwhelming if you have to sit down with them and teach them every task from scratch.
But what if there was a better way?
If you had taken the time to document the way you complete tasks as you come up with the methods that work, you would be able to hand your new assistant these instructions and let them learn that process from the documents, rather than from you.
You will still need to oversee that they are following the instructions and make small course corrections as necessary. But you will be able to save lots of time by having the processes already documented.
As you hand off more and more tasks to an assistant, the process of documenting tasks will become more and more important.
Do the work of documenting the process once, and then let the process instructions do the work of training your new employees or team members when you are ready to hand off the task.
Think of everything you do in your day to day and come up with a list of tasks that you need to document. Then document them as you go. Each time you do a task takes notes on how you do it, and why you do it that way. It won’t take much extra time, and shortly down the road, you will have a complete operational plan as to how you do everything in your business.
Here are a few tasks to consider documenting:
The communication a new lead receives
- Phone lead follow-up
- Email lead follow-up
- Home search setup
- Writing a contract
- The tasks you complete as part of a home sale for your seller
- The tasks you complete as part of a home purchase for your buyer
- How you handle a complaint on your social media
4. Create a Marketing Strategy
When it comes to marketing, the key to achieving the results that you are looking for is to be intentional.
If you want to achieve a certain result, you have to take specific actions that have been proven to get you that result right?
Let’s look at it from a different perspective…
When you have a client come to you and tell you that they want to buy a home, what do you do?
To start with you find out the details of the home they want to buy right?
You find out details such as their desired location, price range, number of bedrooms & bathrooms, square footage, etc.
Without knowing the desired result that they are looking for in their home search you would not be able to effectively set them up a search that would generate the type of results that they are looking for.
The same is true in your marketing.
Just jumping in and hoping for the best is not a strategy. You need a plan…
The good news is that creating a marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated.
Start by answering the following question:
What are you trying to achieve with your marketing?
The answer could be something like:
- I want to generate more buyer leads
- I want to generate more seller leads
- I want more leads, both buyer and seller
- I want to build a strong brand around my name
- I want to break into a certain niche in the market
There are all sorts of answers that you could come up with. There is no right or wrong. The results that you want to achieve in your business are 100 percent up to you.
But you do have to decide.
You have to come up with an answer to that question. A single answer.
Let’s say your answer is that you want to generate more seller leads. The way you approach your marketing for that desired outcome will be very different from the way you would approach it if your goal was to get more buyer leads.
Once you have decided on your goal for your marketing, the next step is to determine the resources that you have at your disposal to achieve your goals.
What resources am I talking about?
How much money are you willing to invest in your marketing? How much time? Do you have any connections that can help you get your message in front of more people for a discounted price?
These are all questions to consider when you sit down to create your marketing plan.
The last step in the marketing strategy creation process is where you break it down into methods for achieving your goal.
One of the big questions you need to answer is the following:
Where are your potential customers?
There are lots of different ways that you can do marketing, but they are commonly broken down into two different types.
The reason that it is important to ask yourself where your customers are, is because it can make a big difference between focusing on one of these two types of marketing over the other.
There may be a chance that your desired target market is harder to reach through digital marketing than they are through traditional methods, however, this is becoming rarer and rarer by the day.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for traditional marketing. Depending on your market, and the amount of money that you are willing to spend on marketing, some of the traditional methods (flyers, postcards, calendars, fridge magnets, pens, etc.) can all be effective.
However, they are not nearly as easy to track and analyze as digital marketing methods.
There are good and bad things about both, but I believe that digital marketing is the better option for most agents to focus on.
Shocker right? After all, I do run a company that is dedicated to helping real estate agents implement digital marketing strategies into your business.
So where do you learn about using digital marketing in real estate?
My goal is to make PropertyBrain.co your top resource for all things related to real estate social media and digital marketing.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be diving more in-depth into ways that you can implement different digital marketing strategies into your business.
But you need to be ready when the time comes…
So your first step is to decide on the reason that you are doing your marketing. Decide what your desired outcome is. Decide how much time and money you can put towards your marketing strategy. And lastly, decide if you want to go the traditional or digital marketing route.
The average real estate agent focuses nearly 100% of their time on working IN their business.
But you aren’t average, are you?
The average agent doesn’t read blog posts about how to work ON their business.
But you just did…
If you want to be a better agent and a better entrepreneur, you need to act like a business owner. You need to set aside time to work ON your business
Put these four things into practice as soon as possible and you will see your business begin to grow.
So what is the first step to getting started with all of this?
You have to decide how much time you can set aside to work ON your business.
Is it an hour a day? Maybe more?
It may be only an hour a week…
That’s ok. Whatever amount of time you can set aside to work ON your business is an improvement.
So what is it for you?
How much time are you willing to commit to every week to set aside to work ON your business?