Let’s imagine that after years of building your professional bona fides and a lot of trial and error, you realize you really understand the things that support and grow your business and are ready to turn your back on the shiny-object distractions that really never worked but that you felt obligated to continue.
Here’s the hard part. Assume for a moment that money is no object. Assume that you have at least one of the following two things going for you (and maybe both): Either you have the cash on hand — the capital to invest — in your “sure thing” business plan, or you have enough excess monthly cash flow to fund your new investments month after month. And make no mistake: Spending money on your “sure thing” is an investment, not an expense.
What Didn’t Work
When I think about efforts that never worked — meaning, any return on investment I enjoyed was nowhere near the money or time I put into it — I think of these greatest misses:
• Paying for leads. Yes, I’ve tried paying for leads on Zillow and Realtor.com. It was a waste of money and no way to work.
• Personal marketing and building awareness. “Hey, I’m a great guy. You should know that. Let me remind you of that by throwing some money at Facebook ads. It’s easy — they have my credit card on file.”
• And how about those mass emails to purchased mailing lists that nobody opened?
• Bringing on new agents “for the money.” Back in the day, broker-owners brought new agents into their companies because they had more work than they could handle. They needed help to field incoming phone calls and get their listings shown. If they happened to make a little money — like, half — on any business that new agent generated, it was considered a big, fat bonus. Now, most of us aspire to get a cut from whatever income an agent generates. We’ve become body shops for anyone willing to hang their license with us.
• Working with people I don’t enjoy working with because it’s my job.
I thought, “Do I really want this job?” Lousy hours, no healthcare, inconsistent paychecks and everybody — including my broker — had their hand out. What I needed to do was build a business on terms that worked for me.
What Does Work
• Working by referral and making the ongoing investment necessary to execute your after-unit marketing plan.
• Creating a before-unit plan that offers potential buyers and sellers exactly the information they need when they need it.
• Investing in the training necessary to ensure that your team members offer a during-unit service experience that is second to none.
• Bringing on team members and agents because you have more incoming work than you can handle.
• Collaborating with other business owners and service providers to add greater value to your clients.
• Focusing on listing multiplier goals.
• Meaningful brand awareness — people love and will wear free t-shirts.
• Nurturing a database and staying in touch.
• Becoming a savant about the neighborhoods you work in.
• Coaching and training for your team.
• Coaching and training for yourself.
What You Can Bet On
Broker-owners and entrepreneurs have to add greater and greater value to our clients, agents and collaborators every year. Often, we may never be paid directly for the value we provide, but if we don’t offer the tools, education and perspective our clients and future clients require, then we are no better than the broker down the street.
Always be willing to bet on education marketing with quality content that is exclusive to your company.
Aim to be the go-to resource first and foremost. However, you should also look for ways to become part of the fabric of the neighborhoods you serve with community involvement that promotes agents as real estate experts and complete human beings.
Know your clients, and know where they live. Every broker wants to build a business around listings. But could you build a strategy that allows you to dominate whatever geographic area you or one of your agents wants to specialize in? Start by knowing just about everything there is to know about these homes, including the owners.
You can make your own markets. Attract buyers because you go deep into their neighborhoods. Your job is to put buyers and sellers together.
I know there are agents out there who can be superstars if they want to be. A successful broker-owner can also help motivated agents, regardless of where their business is today, level up dramatically. Know the names of every agent in your market areas, where they live, where they work and how many houses they sell a year. Know who to talk to and the value you can provide.
It’s Really About Confidence
As a broker-owner, you have your own list of hits and misses. Are you conscious of them? Are you putting your experience to good use? Or, are you doing what everyone else is doing?
If you are like me, you are tired of playing the same game everyone else is playing. You want a new game and a new set of rules. Now is your chance to get after it.