With all of the technology, tools, tasks and toys out there that a real estate agent can take advantage of, the challenge becomes how to get everything integrated and working efficiently. What agents often forget is that real estate is a business, and in business there are only two things that you can really leverage: time and money.
Time and money are both precious and limited commodities that dictate how much you can accomplish on both a personal level and a business level. Yes, you can design your own website and marketing tools; write blogs; create fliers; photograph your listings; follow up and nurture all of your leads; keep in contact with past clients; and manage your current clients and transactions on your own. The question isn’t if you can do this, but rather, are you able to do this at a high-quality level, consistently and still grow your business? Eventually you and your business will hit a plateau where you simply can’t do another thing without sacrificing the quality of something else. This is where leverage comes into play.
What is leverage?
Leverage, by definition, is the ability to use something to exert force on something else. Time and money are the ultimate form of leverage — spending time to save money or spending money to save time. Are you spending several hours a day or a week doing non- or low-income-producing tasks? Regardless of where you are in the world, there are only 24 hours in a day. If you are happy working 80-plus hours a week, then more power to you, but this is not a sustainable, nor healthy, long-term business model. It’s not healthy for yourself, your family, friends or loved ones, and eventually something is going to break. Some agents might not want to surpass that plateau and are happy with $3 million to $5 million in production. For those who aren’t happy with that ceiling and want to take their business to the next level, leverage is a necessity.
How does leverage work?
If you can hire someone for $10 an hour to do a set of tasks, then those tasks probably aren’t the best use of your time. Instead, you leverage your money to hire someone to do those tasks for you. By paying someone $10 an hour to do those tasks, you free up more time for yourself to go out and make more contacts, show more homes or list more properties. All three of these income-producing tasks should yield a greater return than the $10 an hour you are paying someone to do the other items that don’t produce as much income. You are leveraging your money to give you additional time to make more money. That’s how leverage works.
What can you leverage?
You will need to evaluate your business model, your budget, your current tasks and activities, as well as your own interests and desires. Think about all of the things that you are doing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and figure out if there are some tasks that you can let go of and give those tasks to someone else. Here are some of the common tasks that agents often do themselves that can be easily outsourced:
The saying goes, “If you don’t have an assistant, you are the assistant.” As in the example above, if you can hire an administrative assistant to take some of the workload off of your shoulders, you can spend more time on items that will generate a higher revenue. Depending on if your assistant is licensed or unlicensed, they can do things including designing your newsletter, creating marketing material, meeting inspectors or photographers at your listing, answering phone calls, calling leads back and database management.
Are you depending on template emails from a company or brokerage to convert leads for you? Nothing can do as good of a job as something that looks like you, sounds like you and has some local flare — all of which template emails don’t have. Personality is important, but so are headlines, calls to action and appropriate timing. If you aren’t familiar with how to design these, hiring a professional might be the way to go. A company called Happy Grasshopper provides a product called “Position Me” in which they interview you, find out about your local area, your business model and your personality, and then they write your follow-up campaigns to match. This is a great product run by a fantastic team and they do a wonderful job.
Are you taking your own listing photos? A picture is worth a thousand words and your listing photos can speak volumes about the quality of your business. This is another area where hiring a professional can really pay off. Not only can a professional photographer help save you time by not having to go out and take the photos, but they usually can take much better photos and have better technology in this field than you do. This will make your marketing look even better, which can mean selling homes faster and makes you and your business look even more professional.
How many transactions can you handle at one time before dates and numbers begin to get a little hazy in your mind? Usually you get the call while you are running to an appointment or showing properties, and you don’t have immediate access to your files. A professional transaction coordinator can be a lifesaver — and a deal saver. They are always in the office in front of a computer. They have systems in place to manage phone calls, information and follow-up, which ensures deals go quickly, smoothly and never get confusing, while always keeping you in the loop as to what’s going on and what important dates are coming up. These are often done at a flat fee per transaction, and the time and frustration it helps to save are usually well worth it for a busy agent such as yourself.
Are you generating — and converting — more clients than you can handle? This is a great problem to have in your real estate business, and one that can be easily solved by hiring a buyer’s agent. You can now hand off some of those leads to the buyer’s agent or showing assistant in exchange for a commission split or referral fee. Now as a team, you can handle more clients and provide the top-notch customer service for your leads that you might not have been able to provide before when you were running around like a chicken with your head cut off. This could also allow you to focus more on building your listing business.
Many agents have created their own website using a low-cost platform such as WordPress. What most have not done, however, is continue to add great content, keep current on SEO best practices, and provide a great user experience for those they intend to use their website.
A website can be a real estate lead generation machine, but all too often, it is nothing more than an online business card — one that doesn’t look or perform that great as it is. Consider hiring a professional developer to redesign your site if you want it to do a good job at lead generation.
Just need to boost the content? Consider hiring out for some blogs to be written. You can look at sites such as Fiverr for generic blogs, or consider hiring a tech-savvy local high school or college journalism, marketing or English student who can give your blog posts that local feel and might also provide a different voice or perspective to your blog.
It can be a scary thing to let go of the reins so to speak, but your time is valuable. For one week, make a note of everything that you are doing in your business and figure out what you could outsource to give you more time to spend on things that will make you more money or allow you to spend more time with family and friends without hurting your real estate business.
Brian Rayl is a Dallas real estate agent with Keller Williams and the co-founder of Home Value Leads, where he teaches agents how to generate real estate seller leads quickly and cost-effectively.