Every agent is a business owner - and you can’t run a business without planning and intention. Read on to learn what makes the difference between lucky breaks and consistent growth.
Real estate agents love to say that they’re "business owners." But how many of them ACTUALLY look at themselves like they’re a business?
Businesses set up systems and processes to gain organizational efficiencies. They expand through well-planned growth initiatives, which usually center around smart and strategic hires. And as they expand, they learn to delegate.
Business owners, in particular, must be constantly replacing themselves. They must learn to leverage either people or technology to bear the load of all of the important tasks that don’t directly relate to growing the top-line of the company.
If you’re an agent, you’re a business owner - even if you’re a one-person team. And in this article, I’m going to go over the top 4 mistakes I see real estate agents making that keep them from growing.
1. They fail to delegate
It’s no secret that real estate agents aren’t just agents - they’re salespeople, marketers, bookkeepers, customer service representatives, graphic designers. Sometimes even a plumber or an electrician. You get the picture.
By far the BIGGEST mistake that I see real estate agents making is that they try to do everything themselves. Usually, they say something like “well, I NEED to do that thing because it’s important that I do it personally.”
What a lame thing to say without having actually considered it first! Do you REALLY need to do that thing? And how many things do you do on a daily basis that are repetitive in nature?
Try asking a different question: “If I continue to do this thing or these things myself, can I realistically scale my business.” If the answer is no, well then, you need to figure something out.
Most agents have no idea that they can hire an online assistant for around $10/hour. Even agents who know this, moan and groan about having to train them. And sure, you’ll have to spend the time training them up a bit. But once they’re trained, consider how much time you’ll save every week… every month… every year.
An in-person assistant will cost more. But the question should not be "how much will an assistant cost me.” That’s a terribly near-sighted question.
The REAL question is “how much time can an assistant save me, and how much more can I grow my business with that additional time?”
In my personal case, I have two assistants! An online assistant that now manages almost 90% of the administrative tasks that I used to have to manage personally. Tasks such as billing, payroll, customer satisfaction. This assistant even manages my email and messages, and whose responsibilities will continue to grow.
AND I also have an in-person assistant, who manages all of my appointments, my nutrition, training, and my content marketing team.
Whenever I want to make a video, all I have to do is basically say the word, my videographers get the set ready within 15 minutes and my script loaded up on the teleprompter. I then sit down to record, and when I’m done, they edit it down, add b-roll and everything else. And all I have to do afterward is review the final version.
If I was setting up the set, and editing the videos myself, I’d probably still be living in my parents' basement.
Instead, I run AgentFire and manage its 40 employees. I have my own Spanish YouTube channel. I’m opening a gym this year. I train, dance and box.
Learning how to delegate is the ONLY way to scale because time is a limited resource. And if your goal is growth, you need to be constantly replacing yourself so that you can create more time to focus on the things that ACTUALLY grow your business, or that you actually care about.
2. They don’t invest in business systems
Real estate is a very process-intensive work. From prospecting to team management to contract administration, there's just so many moving parts that go into this business that inefficiencies can potentially disrupt.
Systems will allow you to turn your business into a well-oiled machine of service and profit that won’t crash and burn if you don’t personally babysit it.
Your systems should allow you to do ALL of the following:
- Automate repetitive tasks
- Streamline activities
- Track and project results
- Assign responsibilities to team members
- Conserve energy to pursue opportunities for further growth
Here are some essential systems you should have in place:
Marketing and Sales Systems
Here we’re talking about your Facebook marketing, social media, website, collaterals. You need to build a marketing funnel that guides leads through the decision-making process so that they can be primed before you even pick up the phone.
For listings especially, it’s imperative that you establish a standard operating procedure from start to finish. Everything from research, to cleaning and staging, to home visits, requesting a positive review to your Zillow or Yelp profile, and down to the gift basket you send at the end of the transaction
If you don’t want to build the system yourself, there are loads of companies within the real estate space that can get things set up for you, and then either continue to manage it for you or just hand over the keys if you want to bring it in house.
Invest in a decent CRM to track all of your correspondence and set up automated drip email sequences. A lot of agents are resistant to this because they think it’s impersonal, without even having TRIED to make this stuff personal.
Drip email doesn’t HAVE to be spammy and generic. For example, you could set up a drip email that automatically sends an email to 3-month-old leads to invite them to coffee on your behalf. And that’s just one example.
You can also use CRM’s to set up all sorts of reminders to do things that are personal in nature, without having to rely on memory alone.
If you’re working within a team, use communication and project management apps to delegate and keep track of assigned tasks and more importantly, the output of those tasks.
If you can hire an accountant, do it. If it’s bothersome to record every single transaction at the moment of receipt, then have a physical inbox where you toss every document you get during the week. Then designate one day of that week to go through them to digitize or upload to QuickBooks.
A spreadsheet can only take you so far until you pull your hair out.
3. They don’t set goals
One major benefit of having a system is being able to track and project what the next few months and years are going to look like. Set monthly, quarterly and yearly goals to scale your business. Then, you can reverse-engineer your goals and figure out what you need to do to accomplish them.
Are you trying to build an all-star team in the next three years?
Are you trying to hit a certain sales target?
Put it all down in writing, break it up into workable and achievable goals, and put a date for each one.
As the old saying goes, "failure to plan is planning to fail."
4. They focus only on the short-term
Thanks to reality TV influencers, from the outside, the world of real estate looks like THE key to overnight success. Just wear nice suits, bleach your teeth, and drive a sports car (or pose in front of one as the camera pans around you), and the money automatically comes to you.
The ACTUAL reality is that growing a business (ANY business) takes time. And anything that takes time to build means that you HAVE to focus on the long-term.
Invest in your sphere of influence - not just your leads. Your colleagues and friends might know someone selling a house later this year.
Join organizations, and form alliances. Every single person that you work with during the course of a real estate transaction - from mortgage brokers down to the person that prepares the edible arrangements that you send to your clients after the close - should become a source of referrals to you.
As an added bonus - If you have reliable experts in your circle, you’ll not only fill gaps in your knowledge but you’ll be able to augment your business efficiency and cut back on extra responsibilities. Henry Ford was famous for having “a row of electric buttons” in his office, that would call the person who could answer the question on any subject he wanted to know. Why can’t you do the same?
So to conclude, here’s a quick recap:
Learn how to delegate tasks to give you more breathing room to grow the business.
Invest in systems that streamline processes to not only to improve efficiency but also to keep all aspects of the business operations without you having to babysit.
Set goals to track your progress, find areas of improvement, and project growth.
Invest in your sphere of influence, even if you don’t see immediate returns. You’re building a reservoir of referrals and expert knowledge that can help you grow at a much faster rate and will eventually cause a snowball effect for your business.
I’ll say this again - every agent is a business owner. This is the beauty of real estate: whether you grow and thrive in the industry or stagnate in your own comfort zone is up to you.
And the cost may feel great at times, but the OPPORTUNITY cost is much greater. Everything listed here are “growing pains” that every business owner has to overcome but they are what spells the difference between working for yourself and working for survival.
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