By Stephanie Sievers | Associate Editor
“The excuse that the market is bad has gone out the window,” says REALTOR® Scott Newman, managing broker-owner of Newman Realty in Chicago. “There are so many opportunities out there for agents to find a niche, establish themselves and take advantage of everything that’s going on out there. 2013 is going to be huge.”
Newman helps his agents prepare by offering monthly training on everything from social media and Facebook etiquette to sales techniques and tips for dressing professionally.
“The goal is how do we take this gigantic bundle of what we call opportunities - technology, customer service and networking - and how do we tie them all together in a way that actually makes you money,” he said.
The training sessions can be geared toward topics of interest to new agents to more advanced topics for seasoned agents such as tips for driving traffic from your Zillow or Trulia landing pages or incorporating video, Newman said.
The benefits of the in-depth training are two-fold. It helps Newman create a standard of service that consumers can expect from his agents, and also gets agents pumped up about the market.
“The results have been great and I’ve gotten messages from agents saying they are so enthusiastic and it has lit a fire under them,” Newman said.
Another way for agents to reach their full potential in 2013 is to take greater advantage of their natural strengths. Newman tries to pair up agents’ interests with the niche markets or networking avenues that can build their business.
Do you like helping people in tough situations? Maybe short sales are your thing. Do you enjoy working with computers? Join a local computer networking group to connect with people who share your interests and may turn to you for their next real estate transaction.
“Get in where you fit in,” Newman said. “Take the unique things that you bring to the table and figure out how to parlay that into business.”
You can’t get where you want to be in 2013 if you don’t have a plan to chart your course. REALTOR® Kevin Snow, assistant managing broker with Koenig & Strey’s Gold Coast office, said the new company-wide business plan will make it easier for agents to put a workable action plan in place.
“Real estate is the kind of industry where people can get so involved in the day-to-day activity that they get consumed by that and don’t keep the course,” he said.
In the past individual agents might come up with a business plan each year, but now Koenig & Strey has rolled out a comprehensive, overall system that allows agents to assess where they are with education and training, reflect on their previous year and set new goals. The plan is flexible enough to be tailored to the experience level of the agent.
But just as important as creating a plan is following through with it the rest of the year. If you make a plan, review it regularly, he said.
There is a sense of optimism about 2013 and agents must do more to increase their listings, Snow said. Contact the homeowners who decided to hold off on listing their home in 2012 because they wanted to ride out the market. Their motivations may now have changed.
Every other week, Snow’s office holds “call nights,” a two-hour session in which agents meet in the office to make prospecting calls. The goal is to keep it fun (ordering in pizza and seeing who can secure the most appointments) while also encouraging agents to contact potential clients.
“Even if that’s the only prospecting someone did at least they’re going to be picking up the phone for an hour and a half twice a month,” Snow said.
REALTOR® Julie Roth, managing broker of Prudential Snyder Real Estate in Champaign, keeps her agents motivated by giving them a few moments in the limelight. Before every sales meeting, each agent is given one “standing ovation” ticket they can award to someone else in the office.
She incorporated it about a year ago and finds it is a positive way to build office comaraderie and shine a light on agents who are having successes. Another way to build motivation is for agents to periodically get together outside of the office, whether it’s for a potluck, a happy hour or a holiday decorating contest. The activity gives everyone a chance to relax, regroup and feel like a team.
“It’s important to connect with people not only in their business lives, but also their personal lives and get to know them a little better,” Roth said.
Popular industry trainer Kim Daugherty gets motivated by thinking about how he can best serve today’s real estate customers and help them make good choices.
Daugherty, a frequent speaker/trainer at Illinois Association of REALTORS® events, also is the director of training and education for Coldwell Banker Gundaker with about 1,500 agents serving the St. Louis area.
The company has committed to an extensive sales motivation program, Monthly Mojo, that incorporates monthly audio recordings of interviews and tips from successful agents, a similar video series and on-site “mojo” meetings four times a year featuring industry presenters and trainers.
The idea is to showcase success stories and get agents pumped up about the market. Daugherty said information from people who are passionate about a topic helps him stay focused on a positive direction.
Can’t afford such a full-scale motivation program? Agents can get inspired for less on YouTube and Ted.com, a speakers’ forum on a variety of topics. Search for videos on negotiations, pricing, even motivational speakers such as the late Zig Zigler. The videos might not be real estate specific, but many will showcase general business ideas that you could use, he said.
The bottom line for 2013: The real estate market has been challenging for everyone the last few years, but it is getting better, Daugherty said.
“It might be gradual but it is getting better and I think most agents now are starting to reap the benefits of hanging in there and putting together better plans and systems to cause good outcomes,” he said. “The sky is becoming somewhat clearer and that, in and of itself, is energizing all of us.
Still need an idea to get your office pumped up about the market? Consider a sales contest. Four years ago when the economy was slow, REALTOR® Angie Palazzolo, managing broker-owner of RE/MAX Destiny in Elk Grove Village, came up with a contest to get everyone motivated.
For four months each spring, agents earn points for all of the business they bring in. For example a rental listing might be worth two points while a residential listing is worth three points and a closed transaction is worth four points. Two agents tied and split last year’s prize of an iPad and $500 cash.
“Every week we send out updates and agents really get competitive and pumped up and involved,” she said. “We do it every year and it definitely works.”
“The sky is becoming somewhat clearer and that, in and of itself, is energizing all of us.” - Kim Daugherty
Simple action steps for a strong 2013:
Commit to increase your listing inventory and put in the prospecting work to make it happen.
Make a business plan and use it. All the planning in the world won’t help you reach your goals if you don’t follow through.
Learn something new that you can apply to your business. Take advantage of training and other resources to become more productive.
Model successful behaviors. Study successful agents and incorporate their techniques and tools.