Nicole Solari is a top-producing broker-owner in Northern California whose regular bimonthly column, which covers real estate marketing, selling strategies and working with clients, publishes on Tuesdays.
Remember what it was like to be a new agent? That first year was just one eye-opening experience after another — scary and exhilarating and unlike anything else you’d ever tried.
It’s the same deal for all new agents. So, here’s what they need to hear as the selling season slows down.
1. Breathe: This is normal.
The selling “year” has its own ebb and flow. The specifics may vary by market but, within those markets, the rhythm of the sales year repeats year after year. Agents only figure that out in hindsight on their own.
By confirming that the ups and downs new agents have experienced are completely normal, you can help them stay calm when they’re too busy to think and when, suddenly, nothing at all is happening and they have nothing but time to imagine the worst.
2. They should take a vacation.
Every agent needs time away from the phone and the 14-hour-a-day demands of an active client list. Slow downs are the ideal time to take time off. Maybe your new agents haven’t put aside money for a two-week getaway, but they need down time, even if they have to get it on the cheap.
Walks in the park, long hikes, hitting the gym, dancing in the dark, or escaping into a movie are all good mental health boosters. Persuade your agents that vacations — even staycations — are beneficial especially when your agents cover for one another, so phones can be turned off without triggering a full-blown FOMO attack.
3. They will benefit from having time to reflect.
New agents especially ought to be encouraged to give themselves an opportunity to process what they’ve learned and experienced — not just this year but every year. No one is good at everything. The best agents figure out early in their careers where their talents shine most brightly, what they enjoy doing most and what they would be better off farming out now or in the future.
4. They have to find their inner entrepreneur.
Most people get into a business because they enjoy doing the thing the business is about, whether that “thing” is plumbing, dentistry or real estate. But regardless of the size team or franchise any agent is affiliated with, every one of us is the CEO of Me, Inc. And, as such, we all have to deal with the business side of our profession.
As a broker, you know this and have figured out ways for your agency to handle the nitty gritty business stuff. Your new agents need to do likewise even if they’re sole practitioners. So encourage them to:
Take charge of their finances (and taxes!)
The main challenge of any business is to generate a predictable cash flow that consistently exceeds expenses. If new agents have done it right, Year One was one big experiment in business (and cash flow) generation. Reviewing what worked — and what didn’t — in the past is instructive for everyone but most especially for new agents.
Learning to project where to most effectively spend time and money to ensure desired financial outcomes is a bedrock CEO skill, one that’s fundamental to setting realistic goals and objectives. And it’s also pretty useful in calculating estimated quarterly tax payments.
Create a marketing plan, and stick with it
A good marketing plan is crucial to taking charge of one’s finances. Plus, the elements of the plan can be a ton of fun to create. Once the plan and its elements are created and have to be repeated (because repetition of a clear message is the key to effectiveness), implementing the plan gets boring. So people change the plan, even though it’s working, which is super dumb.
Help your new agents realize that their marketing plan is there to pay off — but not in entertainment value. Yes, it will get boring, so they should automate as much of it as possible, farm particularly repetitious parts of it out, and give themselves little treats when they keep implementing effective but tedious parts of the plan religiously.
They should only change elements of the plan when they aren’t working. That’s a tweak, not an overhaul. And they need to make assessing and tweaking their marketing plan an on-going task. But not because they’re bored.
Never stop networking
Good networking is about establishing relationships that benefit all parties. Even so, networking is never about an immediate payoff. So send those holiday greetings, host those seminars and other events, show up for the service group monthly meetings, support the fundraisers for worthy causes, keep your service provider list evergreen so you can refer top professionals to members of your network when they need help, participate in neighborhood and professional activities, and do random acts of kindness. Because all this stuff is good for your soul — and, eventually, your business.
5. They can profitably use slack periods to further their education.
Whether your agents need to master new tech or want to seek accreditation in general or special aspects of real estate, education is one of the highest and best uses of downtimes. It’s tough for agents to spend money when there’s not much coming in. But investing in themselves not only builds agents’ expertise — and confidence — but also provides new opportunities to market themselves. You should encourage it.
You’ve been down the same path your new agents are just discovering. So you are your agents’ best career resource, simply because you know what’s worth worrying about and what’s not. They don’t. But you can fix that. And you should.
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.