2014 image via Shutterstock.
The holidays are here! It’s time time to turn off the cellphone, put the business aside and forget about all things real estate until Jan. 1, right?
At ActiveRain we are huge fans of spending time with family and enjoying the holidays, but this quiet period is a great time for Realtors to reflect on where their business is at and to ready themselves for what promises to be a busy January!
So, what should you be working on? ActiveRain ambassador Celeste “Sally” Cheeseman challenged our real estate community to blog about the activities it would do in December. Here is what we learned:
Give your business a health check
First and foremost, review your November credit card statement and go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Are you spending money on real estate services that you haven’t used in more than six months and have no intent on using? Are you paying for things that are not generating growth for your business? Stop it.
Clean up your contact database. 2013 was blissful mayhem for many agents, but the side effect of a hot real estate market is often sloppy lead management. Get that shovel out and start digging through every lead you acquired and make sure they are loaded in your contact management system, aka your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Remember how long the typical buying cycle is — it is entirely possible that you’ve got some hot leads hiding in there. Realtor Silvia Dukes in Spring Hill, Fla., wrote, ”The list started out short, but as names and addresses are being added, it provides a great outline of where the business will be coming from — at least in the first few months of the coming year — and what to focus on now.”
Lisa Archer, named by Inman News as one of the 100 most influential agents for 2013, added, “Our databank is our bank of business for now and the future. It requires constant addition, nurture and contact, or it dies.”
When was the last time you looked at your own real estate website? Time block an hour to read every page on your website to make sure the information is both current and visually appealing.
Make your mom proud and tidy up your desk or home office! According to Realtor Gene Riemenschneider in eastern Contra Costa County, Calif., “The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a week for cleaning out the desk, the files, and general office cleanup, and to get ready for the new year. It is generally a slow week and a good time to do this.” Tame those dust bunnies and hit the recycling bin while things are quiet.
Holiday prospecting isn’t limited to Christmas cards
Real estate is a belly-to-belly business, and you need to make your belly bigger with eggnog and cookies. Attend as many holiday parties in your community as your digestive system can handle. Realtor Gail Robinson in Fairfield County, Conn., blogged, “Without fail someone at the party or event will ask me how the real estate market is going, so I’m already working on my year-end statistics and analyzing them against last year’s statistics.”
Door knocking. You didn’t think we would take it there, did you? Realtor Paula Bradfield in Salida, Colo., goes door to door with, “A one-page informational flier on the market with some splashy color graphs (and NOT about yourself). Everyone is interested in local numbers. Use minimal text. It is just a way to get to know someone.”
It’s never too late or early to reconnect with industry peers. Realtor Jeff Fritzson in Frisco, Texas, is planning to “learn more about what other successful agents are doing. That may mean more time at my office, reading more on AR, and taking additional classes. These things can help me learn more about current methods of customer service and extend my expertise so I can better serve my clients.”
Lay the groundwork for 2014
When was the last time you Googled yourself? Odds are good that when a buyer or seller searches for your name online, he is going to find your profile on ActiveRain, Trulia, LinkedIn and other national websites. Update your online profiles on these sites during the holidays to make sure those prospects get a great first impression of you. Realtor Tracy Santrock in Raleigh, N.C., wrote, “Facebook continues to revamp [its] structure, and I am constantly trying to keep up with how to structure my landing page, Facebook cover and other items.”
Write your 2014 business plan. In a nutshell, your plan just needs to say how many transactions you need next year and where that business is going to come from. According to Realtor Dorie Dillard in Austin, Texas, “My 2014 business plan has been hand-written after reviewing performance of 2013 and will be tweaked the first of December.”
Re-examine your market niche. As a real estate agent, you can’t be all things to all people. You’ll get the most bang for your marketing buck if you choose a specific niche like luxury homes, investment properties, first-time buyers, etc. If your marketing still revolves entirely around distressed properties, it’s time to to shift your focus to a new niche. Realtor Andrea Bedard in Silver Spring, Md., said, “Creating and working a niche has been one of my weak areas. I had trouble defining mine. I wasn’t sure what that was until I had a major light-bulb moment recently.”