No matter how great of a year it’s been, inevitably, business will slow down at some point, due to weather, holidays or the market. What’s an agent to do with all that free time?

No matter how great of a year it’s been, business will inevitably slow down due to weather, holidays or the market at some point. What’s an agent to do with all that free time?

I keep a list of to-do items in my bullet journal to keep myself busy when I have a little extra time. If you’d like to do the same, here are 10 things all agents can do to build a better business in their spare time.

1. Business planning

October is a wonderful time to do a little business planning. Business planning can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Set a goal for how much money you want to make. Find your average commission from last year, and divide to get the number of homes you will need to sell. Commissions are not 100 percent profit, but it isn’t too hard to figure in a percentage for taxes and expenses and then add as many sales as needed to get to your income goal.

The rest of the plan is about where the business is going to come from and what you are going to do to get it. Maybe you will need to do one open house each week for a year to win some listings. Prospecting is a numbers game.

Your broker should be able to help you put together a simple business plan. There are also several books on the subject and even a few for real estate agents. If you are a Realtor, check out the National Association of Realtors’ library where you can borrow paper books or electronic books.

2. Marketing materials

Do you have a listing presentation? Do you have a glossy brochure? Can you answer the all-important question: “Why should I work with you?”

Do you have an elevator pitch that sums up your value proposition? Master these aspects of your marketing.

3. Market research

If you have access to data, look at home sales data for your market. Learn the averages.

What is the average sale price? The average number of days on market? Who are your biggest competitors? What are they doing to win business?

Know your numbers. Get them at least once a month.

Think like a homebuyer or seller. Which numbers would you want to know? Wouldn’t you appreciate an agent who knew those numbers?

If you have no idea where to find numbers, start with Google. Also check with your broker, MLS and association.

I get my numbers straight out of the MLS. I download data, sort it in a spreadsheet, and I’m prepared to recite market statistics anytime someone asks — and they do ask.

4. Continuing education

Don’t you just hate it when continuing education is due and you are too busy to take some classes? You end up taking something that isn’t going to do you any good just so you can have enough credits to keep your license.

Keep a running list of classes you are interested in, so you’re prepared when a slow time creeps up on you.

5. Record keeping

Fall and winter might be the perfect time to update that database and start getting your tax records in order.

Are your record keeping systems a mess because you have been too busy to straighten them out? If so, work on improving your systems.

This might also be a good time to calculate the ROI of your last big Zillow or Facebook spend or of any service you are buying for your business. It isn’t always the big expenses that kill us; it’s the small spends that go out each month, year after year.

Is that service that costs $45 a month but rarely gets used worth it? What could you do with that money that might result in a bigger return?

6. Clean up your mess

Are you a digital hoarder? Is your desktop a mess with pictures and files you rarely use? Sure, most people’s are.

Do a digital cleanse, and purge the things you don’t use to make room for the things you will. If you don’t have a system back-up and a data recovery plan, now is the perfect time to get both.

Choose a service that automatically backs up your data and stores it in the cloud. It probably won’t be free but protecting your data is priceless.

7. Call on clients

I like to send out Thanksgiving cards. I handwrite each card. I don’t send them to everyone in my database. I send them to anyone who bought a home with my help this year and to many of my past clients.

It’s an easy campaign to adapt, especially when the weather is bad or sales are slow.

8. Social media accounts

We all have social media accounts with poorly written profiles. Some of us don’t even know how many accounts we have; some of them could, and should, be deleted.

Passwords need to be changed at least once a year. Most real estate professionals could probably spend an entire day just changing old passwords, social media and business accounts.

9. Manage your passwords, and tighten security

It isn’t just your social media accounts that need new passwords. If you haven’t been hacked yet, there’s a good chance you could be, and having the same password for everything leads to disaster.

That one password is probably already on the dark web next to your email address and the Social Security number that got stolen during the Equifax breach.

Consider using a password manager that generates passwords and stores them so that you only need to remember one password. You will be able to keep track of when you last changed a password and if you are using the same password more than once.

10. Learn something new

Take a class, read a book or two, listen to some podcasts. Go back and read the articles on Inman that you may have missed.

Find software tutorials on YouTube. Didn’t you always want to learn to use Photoshop like a boss? Or how to maintain your water heater or change a flat on your bike? You will find excellent video tutorials on all of those subjects and more on YouTube.

Make a list of things to do to make yourself and your business even better in 2018 than it is today. If things happen to slow down, which is unlikely but possible, you will be able to make the most of any extra time with ease.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of

Email Teresa Boardman.

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