From the outside looking in, a career in real estate looks like a walk in the park. You get to spend your days looking at houses, making new friends, and taking time off whenever you want to meet friends for lunch or attend a child’s sporting event.
Once you’re in the trenches, you realize that while some agents do treat it that way, success requires a considerable amount of self-discipline to stay on track.
With no employer to set your working hours, direct your activities, withhold your taxes, possibly provide your insurance, bring in the customers and clients, it’s all up to you.
Your working hours: Although you can schedule your time to be present for your children’s events, and you can schedule lunch with a friend or take time off for a dental appointment without having to get permission, you do need regular working hours.
It takes discipline to get up and get moving when there’s no one but yourself to answer to. So be a stern taskmaster. Don’t allow yourself to sleep an extra hour or two in the morning, and don’t put off getting to work just because you don’t happen to have a pressing appointment.
Your daily activities: Who knew that there would be so many choices – and so many things that really need to be done?
Perhaps the fact that there ARE so many things to be done is what stops so many agents from doing them. They’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. So – instead of getting busy, they gossip with their office mates, spend time discussing last night’s TV shows, or go on line to shop, play games, or while away their time on Facebook. They may go to the office, but they don’t “work when they’re working.”
To avoid falling into that trap, make a plan, then make a list. Put the most important, most urgent items at the top and get to work on them any time you have a spare half hour. It wouldn’t hurt to make two lists – one with items you can do in 15 to 30 minutes. You may be shocked at how much you can accomplish taking “One small bite at a time.”
If you’re feeling stuck, come over to my new agent website and print off the 14 activities you can do to make profitable use of an “empty week.” I challenge you to try to do them all!
Your finances: It takes discipline to put money aside to pay your income taxes, dues, business insurance, health insurance, etc. but failure to do so can be your ruin.
I’ve known agents whose spouses worked, so they didn’t have to have their income from real estate for daily living expenses. Because they had no discipline, they spent every dime of every commission check on things they and their families perhaps wanted but didn’t need. When it came time to pay Uncle Sam, pay their annual dues, or renew their licenses, the money wasn’t there.
Self-employed individuals like us also have to plan ahead for business expenses such as new equipment and software, and we have to budget both time and money for marketing.
Your Marketing: It takes discipline to keep marketing yourself when you’re busy – and sometimes even when you’re not. It also takes discipline to keep marketing when you feel like you can’t afford it. But failure to do so can lead to months without income. So don’t go overboard and put yourself deeply into debt, but don’t stop marketing.
It’s a fact that most of us pay first attention to those activities that that have urgency because someone else is involved. For you that might be a meeting with a client, getting documents to a closer, attending an inspection, etc.
And that’s fine – those do have to be done on time, but so does marketing. Just because there’s no one demanding that it be done is not a reason to let it slide. Just like with budgeting, you ignore it at your peril.
To market effectively, you must first decide on the outcome you want. Is it more listings in a certain area? Is it more listings of a certain type – such as homes in probate, vacation homes, or homes belonging to divorcing couples? Perhaps you’d rather serve buyers – do you want first time buyers, move-up buyers, vacation home buyers?
Next decide how you’ll reach them, both on line and off.
- Will you use postal mail to send prospecting letters, just listed cards, and just sold cards?
- Will you use email to prospect to internet leads?
- Will you create a monthly or weekly newsletter?
- Will you place newspaper or magazine ads?
- Will you use social media?
- Will you blog about your listings, your market, and your community?
- Will your blog include advice for buyers and/or sellers?
- Will you hold open houses, knock on doors, or network extensively?
- Will you cultivate your sphere of influence and past clients?
Usually, it takes more than one form of marketing to keep your pipeline full, and each of the activities you choose should be done both consistently and on schedule.
Consistency and continuity are crucial to an effective marketing campaign, so decide what you can do and when you’ll do it – and then stick with it.
Turn on your self-discipline and don’t cut yourself any slack.
Tax man courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Planner courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net