It’s that time of year, when we reflect on how successful we have been and look forward to where we want to be in the coming year. Everyone wants to improve, but where do you start?

It’s that time of year, when we reflect on how successful we have been and look forward to where we want to be in the coming year. Everyone wants to improve, but where do you start?

Here are 10 ways that any real estate agent can improve his or her success in the coming year:

Talk to someone

I consistently talk with agents who say they have regular communication with their clients. They are doing it right and keeping in touch like they should.

However, when you really dig into what agents are doing to communicate, it isn’t keeping in touch. Email campaigns and mailings are a great tool, but they are not a replacement for real honest to goodness communication.

Personal communication makes the difference. Pick up the phone, send a text, take someone to lunch — whatever you can do to personally connect will trump a postcard or an email of the latest recipe all day long.

It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch, it doesn’t have to be long, but simply reaching out and connecting personally will make all the difference in your success.

Hire a photographer

We have all seen them, some of us may even be guilty parties: bad photos.

Posting pictures of a toilet or a room so dark it is unrecognizable is not only a disservice to our clients, but it’s a disservice to your income.

Stop crouching in corners of bathrooms in awkward positions trying to get just far enough back to get a shot of the room.

Stop adding the five or 10 shots you got that turned out OK, when you are allotted more photos. Hiring a photographer can cost less than $100 and will absolutely save time on market and get listings sold for more money.

You will have more time to prospect and take care of your clients, which also lead to more success. Your clients will be happier and so will you. Just do it.

Set the expectation

Think about this folks: buying or selling a house is the largest financial transaction most people will ever have in their life. This is scary stuff!

Setting expectations with our clients upfront on what they can expect, good, bad and ugly, can make all the difference. Make a list of all the most common issues in a transaction, and then put a system in place to prepare your clients for these issues.

Think about how much more at ease your clients would be if they expected possible bumps in the road up front. Think about how much more time you would have as an agent.

Instead of putting out fires and dealing with high emotions when something unexpected goes wrong, you will have prepared your clients upfront for the problems that may occur.

Because of this, your clients will handle issues better when they do happen, and you will look like even more of the expert. Buyers and sellers will be more likely to use your services again and refer their friends and family knowing that you are in the driver’s seat to guide them thru this process.

Make a to-do list

Do you work proactively or reactively? Most agents work reactively, preparing for each new opportunity as it comes and not planning in advance. Do yourself a favor, and start this new year with this one change: make a daily to-do list.

Before bed or first thing in the morning, list off all the things you have to do. Don’t plan for the day in front of you, look two or three days out and tackle the items coming up in advance.

By working proactively and having a plan, you will have more time to focus on problems when they need your attention. You will also have more time structured in your schedule for communicating with past clients and taking the best possible care of your current clients; this will add dollars to your pocket.

Give back

The founder of my company had a great philosophy of “paying your civic rent.” Most people tend to be self-focused in their business.

However, when you “pay your civic rent” and turn your attention to how your success can help others, you will likely be more motivated to accomplish your goals and see more growth in your business.

Find an organization that you are passionate about in your community and volunteer (hint: this is great networking too).

Give a portion of all your sales to a charity of you or your client’s choice. Pick something you are good at, and pass on this knowledge to others in your industry so they can see the same success.

I guarantee you will get more from your generosity and sharing than you give up.

Get involved

Many agents are raised in a real estate cocoon: they learn from those agents immediately surrounding them and never branch out. Getting involved is one of the best things an agent can do to grow his or her knowledge and confidence in the industry.

Whether it is your local real estate board, a mastermind group or national designation organization, getting involved will dramatically widen your knowledge in your field.

This involvement will also introduce you to many real estate professionals outside of your office. Knowing others in your industry adds to your confidence and success as transactions will go smoother with agents who already know and trust you as a professional.

Know what makes you different

The average person knows over 200 people. You better believe at least a few of those 200 people are Realtors. Why would anyone choose you for their real estate needs? Too often agents are not prepared to answer this question.

If you want to have a more successful 2018, sit down and answer this question: What makes you different?

By investigating these differences, you will be able to highlight for consumers what you are good at and why you will do a better job than the competition as their agent. Marketing these differences will ensure more success in your business.

Know your goals, and set rewards

Did you know that people who set goals are highly more likely to accomplish them? Did you know that those who write down their goals are even more likely to achieve success? Yet so many of us go year to year without a plan for what we want to succeed.

Do yourself a favor and block off a few hours on your calendar over the next few weeks to write a plan for your 2018 goals.

Set your goals on paper, and then go one step further, and plan on how to accomplish them. When you do this year to year, you will be more focused on where your business comes from and what you need to do to achieve your goals.

A great motivator to add to your plan is rewards for your accomplishments. Plan a trip or a purchase as a reward for meeting a portion of your goal; it will encourage you to get the job done.

Be a saver not a spender

Once you get thru the mud of the first tough few years of growing your business, real estate can be one of the most financially rewarding careers out there.

However, there are two financial problems with real estate:

  1. This job is a roller coaster, and everyone will have ups and downs to their success.
  2. Most real estate agents are not the best financial planners; they are bad savers.

Do yourself a favor: sit down and make a financial plan. Set aside percentages for business expenses, saving for taxes, saving for retirement and saving for less successful times in the market.

Next comes the hard part: stick to the plan.

There is no better feeling than getting that big commission check after a job well done. It is tough to take a large portion of that check and set it aside.

However, doing this will ensure your financial stability and put you at ease when you hit the natural highs and lows in your business.

Take a deep breath

As your mom used to say: there are starving children in Africa. And there are many problems in the world bigger than your real estate deal.

However, many agents treat any bump in a real estate transaction like the end of the world.

Take a deep breath!

Remaining calm in a transaction when things go wrong will not only help your stress level, but it will also help your deals get closed.

Too often, agents let their emotions or egos get in the way of a transaction. Stay calm, and treat everyone how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes. You will be happier day to day and be more successful in your business.

As you reflect in the coming weeks, I hope you will implement some of these tools to your plan for 2018.

In implementing even just a few of these tools, you are more likely to have success and be on your way to having your best year yet in real estate.

Lynn Wheeler serves as 2nd Vice President and Branch Manager for The F.C. Tucker Company Keystone office. 

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