The first few years after receiving a real estate license are tough. If you’re successful enough to build your listings and close some deals, you see your self-employed income attacked from all sides with marketing expenses, brokerage fees, income taxes and more.
At this point, your retirement strategy is an after-thought, but with some foresight and planning, you are on your way to financial freedom. Here are three steps to ensuring longevity in your real estate career and your financial future.
1. Build a team to protect your sales
One truth you’ve learned is that holidays and time off are a luxury. Any time you stop working, your income dries up quickly. Relying on others to help you continue your solo business while you’re away eats into your earnings and can cause unavoidable conflicts.
Should you avoid “salesperson burn-out,” you will realize that to protect your business and income, you need to build a team.
By being the “team leader,” you can bring on other salespeople that support your activities with their expertise. You’ll ensure that the business culture and work ethic you exemplify are the guiding principles of your team’s performance.
As you grow, you will work toward expanding your team. You’ll start to specialize your team’s roles. Eventually, you will likely hire a digital marketer, sales specialists, listing specialists and a stable of professionals to handle photography, video and other tasks on an as-needed basis.
Strengthening your team is the first step toward securing your income as you proceed with your goals in the real estate industry and your eventual retirement.
2. Build a clientele base to protect your sales
As your sales team grows their listings and sales numbers, you’ll realize that referral business is either driving your sales or holding you back. If your team has focused primarily on attracting new clients while ignoring past clients, your referral business will not perform at its potential.
You built your team with the best specialists, and to protect your business future, you must create a culture of customer service excellence that lasts long after the transaction close.
Plan the after-sale customer contact so that your clients don’t forget about your service as you offer your experience and help throughout their home ownership life.
Remembering that homeowners will purchase five or more homes throughout their lifetime. Because they will bring new clients to you only if they remember you, formulate a plan that involves maintaining a gracious and fruitful two-way relationship with your customers.
The three pillars of building your clientele base and referral business are:
- Excellent customer service from the start of the process to completion (whether a deal closes or not). Your clients will be excited to share great service with their circle of influence.
- Keeping your clients informed throughout the transaction process while staying abreast of any third parties that contribute to the positive outcome of the transaction (mortgage brokers, renovators, home inspectors).
- Post-transaction follow-up to maintain a relevant and helpful, professional relationship that includes personalized homeownership tips, community events and exciting news. Not every client will enjoy a generic email newsletter or postcard — you must excel at the “personalization.”
3. The final piece of the puzzle to cement your success
Throughout your real estate career so far, you’ve transformed from a solo real estate agent to a team leader who has built a successful business and clientele base that brings your team a steady flow of returning and new clients.
However, you’ve been working for someone else’s brokerage, and they have been reaping the larger rewards that you’ve passed on to them, such as your marketing experience, your leadership by example and the financial obligations of the brokerage dues you pay every month and every close.
Opening your own brokerage is something you might have wanted to do — and you now realize that you need to take this step to protect your future. Eventually, you will retire from the real estate business, and the equity you’ve built so far doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to the brokerage on your business card.
Your decision to open your brokerage becomes a foregone conclusion to protect your interests, to provide for your family and to achieve a comfortable retirement through your hard work and success.
The equity you have built with your sales team, with your clientele base and your years of hard work will provide for you long after you hang the last “for sale” sign.
You also have options to protect your team by offering them shares in your brokerage that will keep them with you and encourage them to continue the culture of excellence you began in the early years of your career.
Your comfortable retirement can translate into protecting your team for the long-term and will allow your business to continue long after you have handed the reins to the next generation.
James Hussaini is the founder and president of Realty Point.
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