We’ve all heard the statistics: Real estate agents fail within the first two years, and many fail to thrive, muddling through with one or two transactions a year until they finally run out of steam.
For some agents, that might be OK. Everyone has a few agents in the office who are strictly part-time, using their one or two annual commission checks to fund family vacations, holidays or other extras. But for real estate agents who really want to make a go of it full time and build a real estate career that will sustain them over the long haul, it’s important to approach the first few months a little more professionally.
Here are five essential decisions to make as you launch your real estate career. If you’re still hanging back on some of these, you might be setting yourself up to become one of the statistics.
1. Choose the right brokerage
One of the most impactful decisions you’ll make as you’re starting out is where to hang your new license. It’s important for you to determine whether a big-box, franchise brokerage, or a small independent one will be the best fit for you.
If you have a background that has given you a leg up in the industry — like previous entrepreneurial or real estate investment experience, an engaged network, or related experience as a mortgage or title rep — you may be ready to hit the ground running. In that case, you may want to focus on a brokerage with solid administrative support and a favorable commission split.
If you are totally new to the real estate world and are hoping for more mentoring and support, you may want to focus on brokerages that provide in-house training and transaction coordination. Be honest with your potential broker, and communicate your needs. Find out what he or she has to offer that’s in alignment with your goals and your experience level.
2. Learn the technology
Your new brokerage may provide a suite of customer relationship and transaction management systems and technology. The more adept you become at using these, the more effective your follow-up and lead nurturing will be.
Attend training — even the optional training — in order to understand how to fully implement your broker’s systems into your day-to-day routine. Become as skilled at using the mobile version as you are with the desktop version. It will save you time, especially on those long days of showings where you won’t get back to the office until late.
If your broker also provides platforms for marketing and promotions, be just as diligent at learning and optimizing these. Remember, the more you take advantage of the technology you’re provided the less you have to pay for out-of-pocket. Later, when you have a better handle on your workflow, you may want to implement some of your own systems and processes. Upfront, however, it’s all about value.
3. Implement a marketing plan
Determine how you will bring in leads and how you will turn those leads into clients. Create a website and social media accounts to give potential clients a place to find out more about you. From there, you’ll need to decide on a marketing plan and commit to it.
Over time, you will want to develop some or all of the following marketing strategies:
- Geographic farming or circle prospecting
- Sphere of influence touch systems
- Content marketing with blogs, podcasts and/or video
- Niche marketing
Your marketing plan will be impacted by your personality, your market knowledge, your roots in the community and your budget.
You may want to explore paid advertising at some point, but first make sure that you are effectively implementing the abundant number of marketing strategies that require nothing more than shoe leather and time.
4. Create a continuing education plan
One of the things most real estate agents worry about when they’re starting out is sounding like, well, new real estate agents. The more time you spend in training and education, the more you will gain confidence and the ability to talk about your market and profession with authority.
Take advantage of training programs hosted by your brokerage as well as any available meetings for new agents. Check out your local Realtor association as well, and find out what continuing ed classes they have available.
Besides the knowledge you’ll gain from the class itself, the opportunity to network with well-informed, motivated real estate agents in your area will help you to develop your professional network as you learn from the conversations and insights they share.
5. Capture and analyze information
One of the most important things you can do as a new agent is to keep good records. Every time you get a client, take some time to record their information, including how they heard about you. Find out what is working in your marketing, networking and referral strategy so that you can build on that success.
Spend some time every month, quarter and each year looking at your transactions and your growing client list. Who should you reach out to? What leads have fallen by the wayside? What did you learn from each transaction? The more you track, learn from and communicate with past leads and clients, the more you will grow as an agent.
Use your analytics to target areas of growth and improvement over the next year.
- What classes do you need to take?
- What do you need to get better at?
- What tasks are you spending too much time on that could be done just as well by a freelancer or virtual assistant?
Constant improvement is the goal, but it’s only possible when you’re paying attention.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr