It’s so easy to forget the fundamental principles that always lead to success in building, growing and sustaining a real estate business. Here’s a simple reminder.

Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.

There are many times during the week when an agent will knock on my office door and ask how they can get their real estate business moving in the right direction.

I ask them what they have been doing to procure prospects and convert them to clients.

The majority of the time I identify one common problem that appears to come to the surface from everyone who seeks my counsel — they forgot the fundamentals of what it takes to be a successful real estate agent.

It is so easy to forget the fundamental principles that always lead to success in building and growing and sustaining a real estate business.


As I see it, five principles are fundamental:

1. Manage your time

How do you spend your time during the day? Do you know how much time each day you spend on growing your business? Are you using your time “wisely”?

I ask these questions, and others, of agents who seem to be struggling in getting or retaining business. I’ve found that those who do not have their day well-organized and laid out like a road map usually never make much progress in becoming productive. I believe productivity is tied to proper time management.

There are 24 hours in a day. No more, no less.

Each day should be divided into “segments” or time blocks, allowing a more focused approach to accomplishing what needs to be done during the day.

Allow for flexibility, but try to do specific daily tasks at the same time each day, so a routine and discipline are formed.

Also, most successful business people begin their workday early and make the most of the time they have to accomplish their goals.

It is difficult to sell a house if you roll out of bed at 9 a.m. and arrive at your office or meet a client at 11 a.m. Get up, and get at it!

2. Focus on daily client prospecting and retention

Successful agents hunt for new opportunities every single day. Agents are like farmers in that if we do not continually plant seeds and tend to our “crops,” there will be no future harvest. Good prospectors in this business utilize effective prospecting systems, processes and techniques to find new clients.

A specific amount of time during the day should be spent on prospecting and developing your business. A minimum of three hours each day should be devoted to finding new business. Yes, a minimum of three hours.  

Sales production is directly related to the amount of time you spend on prospecting for new business.

It is important to be consistent in your efforts to not only find new clients, but also retaining those you served in the past.

Develop relationships with attorneys, accountants, doctors, dentists, pastors, rabbis, past clients and others who are most likely to refer prospective buyers and sellers to you.

Create prospecting plans for for-sale-by-owners (FSBO), expired listings, neighborhood farm areas, investors, international buyers and other revenue-generating sources. Remember, consistent prospecting does pay off in the end!

3. Delegate the work

One of the most important lessons I learned early on as an agent and owner of my real estate business was to surround myself with people who are experts at what they do, and let them do it!

One example is how agents handle transaction management and paperwork. Agents might find themselves caught up in the minutia of all the little details involved with client transactions.

Not that we do not want to know what is happening with our listings, contracts, closings, etc., but an excellent real estate assistant can free up quite a bit of an agent’s time by taking care of the paperwork and the “little stuff.” An assistant who is licensed adds more value to the equation.

4. Be the expert on the real estate market

The most successful real estate professionals are those who know the real estate market up, down, backward and forward. They know their community, new-construction developments, demographics, local public and private schools, and universities as well as the current market statistics and housing trends in the area.   

Agents who are “in the know” are trusted by their buyer and seller clients to give them the latest and most accurate information needed as the client decides to purchase or sell their home.

5. Remember that the client comes first

The Realtor Code of Ethics and most state real estate commissions or regulatory agencies require agents to put the needs of their clients above their own.

This requirement does not mean giving away our services for free or lowering our commissions.

It does mean, however, that we do not make decisions based on how it will impact us financially.

If an agent always focuses on the money they can earn from a sale, they can never be considered a true professional in this industry.

The money is secondary to doing a good job in finding a client a new home or selling their existing one. Our Code of Ethics has within it a foundation based on the golden rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The client is king (or queen!). Learn it, and live it.

These five principals are the basic elements of a successful real estate career. Your annual business plan needs to be written with these principles in mind.

If you are struggling right now in getting your business in “forward motion” consider how you can make some needed changes in your real estate practice (and in you) that can incorporate all five of these “pillars to success.” Without them, you are like a boat without a rudder. You will remain where you are and just drifting along aimlessly.

I know that is something none of us want to do.

John Giffen is the director of broker operations with Benchmark Realty, LLC Company in Tennessee. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn.

How do you stay ahead in a changing market? Inman Connect Las Vegas — Featuring 250+ experts from across the industry sharing insight and tactics to navigate threat and seize opportunity in tomorrow’s real estate. Join over 4,000 top producers, brokers and industry leaders to network and discover what’s next, July 23-26 at the Aria Resort. Hurry! Tickets are going fast, register today!

Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy tickets together. Contact us to find out more.


John Giffen is director of broker operations at Benchmark realty in Franklin and Nashville Tennessee.  Connect with him on Facebook and LinkedIn

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription