Your real estate career is punctuated with “oh shift” moments, where your choice can make or break your business. How can you recognize and then make the best of these pivotal moments?

  • Most top producers will say the biggest "oh shift" moment was not hiring an assistant sooner.
  • The rule of thumb is that you need one team member for every 50 transactions.
  • When it comes to “oh shift” moments, the sooner you can take action, the better off you will be.

Your real estate career is punctuated with “oh shift” moments, where your choice can make or break your business. How can you recognize and then make the best of these pivotal moments?

What is an “oh shift” moment? It could be the moment you walk away from a listing because the seller asked you not to disclose a serious problem. It might be the moment you spot that the inventory is increasing rapidly, and you help your sellers shift from expecting multiple offers to pricing properties realistically to avoid chasing the market down.

It could also occur when your MLS changes providers, you face new regulatory requirements such as TRID or your favorite technology provider changes their platform or goes out of business.

An ‘oh shift’ to tripled profitability

I recently had a conversation with Meghan Vost, the CEO and owner of Avenue West Phoenix. The Avenue West model helps clients locate properties suitable for the corporate housing market and manages the properties for them, as well as matching its investors’ properties with companies that need corporate housing.

When Vost looked at her company’s metrics, it was hitting all the marks on service, their pricing was right and all the other data suggested that they were on track. But they were still spending too much time and not achieving the return they needed.

Vost and her partner decided to review what had happened on the deals they did not close. Their analysis made them realize that they were staring at an “oh shift” moment. In case after case, their investors’ properties didn’t fit the profile that the corporate housing client wanted.

The next step was to identify the areas that consistently attracted corporate housing clients as well as the most popular type of properties in each area. Their “oh shift” moment came when they flipped their model upside down.

Instead of letting their investment clients determine which properties to purchase, they located properties that matched the corporate housing demand and provided the metrics to their investment clients about why these properties were a good fit for this market segment.

The result? Their profit margin tripled with no additional increase in work.

To spot an “oh shift” moment in your business, track the reasons you failed to obtain the listing, why a buyer opted not to buy from you or what caused your listings not to sell. When you spot what is not working, your “oh shift” moment means leaving what you were doing behind in favor of moving in an entirely different direction.

The ‘oh shift’ moment required to break the $100,000 GCI barrier

To earn $100,000 in GCI (gross commission income), most agents need an assistant. In fact, most top-producing agents will tell you the biggest “oh shift” moment that they missed was not hiring an assistant sooner.

The “oh shift” decision that sinks many agents is that they hire a buyer’s agent. Adding more business without having adequate systems and administrative support is the formula for chaos and lost revenue.

Gary Keller’s “Millionaire Real Estate Agent” recommends that your first two hires are administrative. An administrative hire can free you up from the paperwork and handle transaction issues, which will allow you to spend more time on dollar productive lead generation and lead conversion activities.

The ‘oh shift’ from solo agent to agent team lead

There’s another barrier for agents at about $250,000 in GCI. The rule of thumb is that you need one team member for every 50 transactions. This usually means making the shift from a solo agent with a single assistant to building a team.

Ira Serkes of Berkeley Homes had an “oh shift” moment when he had to decide whether he wanted to start a team. His “oh shift” decision was to become the happiest agent in Berkeley.

Rather than taking on more business, he decided that he only wanted to work with clients who met certain criteria, and he decided to refer everyone else to other competent local agents.

Today, he only works with nice clients who are realistic and highly qualified, and he is paid handsomely for the referrals he makes to other agents.

The “oh shift” moment here is deciding whether you are cut out to be a team lead. If you are, your business could grow exponentially. If not, it can be one of the costliest mistakes you will ever make.

Feather, bat — then you go splat!

How can you tell when there’s an “oh shift” moment on the horizon? The “feather, bat, splat model” is a powerful way to recognize when an “oh shift” moment might be at hand.

The feather is typically that little voice inside that suggests that something is wrong. The baseball bat is much more serious; it’s that moment when taking action becomes imperative. Continued failure to deal with the “oh shift” moment can have devastating results (splat!) like the experience one of our coaching clients had:

“I had a funny red lump on my ankle. It didn’t hurt, but it didn’t go away either. I took my annual physical but didn’t mention it to my doctor. A number of months later, I did mention it to a friend who is a nurse.

“She scared me into seeing my doctor the very next day. Unfortunately, the lump was malignant melanoma. Procrastination not only cost me a major part of my leg; it nearly cost me my life.”

In this case, the red lump was the feather. The client dealt with the issue at the bat level and lost part of his leg. Had he waited, his splat could have cost him his life.

The bottom line is that when it comes to “oh shift” moments, the sooner you can spot them and take action, the better off you will be.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at and

Email Bernice Ross.

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