In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
Let’s face it — real estate agents, generally, are not the best-equipped group to handle a crisis. In normal times, Realtors with over 16 years of experience earned a gross income of $71,000, according to statistics released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Those with two years or less of experience brought in a median gross income of $9,300.
Worse yet, most agents unfortunately live commission-check-to-commission-check. Therefore, when there’s a crisis that impacts the real estate market, like an economic downturn, natural disaster or, in this case, a pandemic, real estate agents become drastically affected.
In effect, every real estate agent runs their own small business. Unless you have three months or more of financial reserves and a large pipeline of leads and clients, you may be ready to throw in the towel right now.
Back in 2008 when the financial crisis hit, this is exactly what happened. Following the crash, the number of Realtors decreased by 23.32 percent, and the number of brokerages dropped by 21.4 percent, according to data by NAR.
Unfortunately, I believe this time will actually be worse. Unlike in 2008, in the case of COVID-19, every industry across all sectors is experiencing an impact. The unemployment rate will spike, and people’s incomes will be reduced.
With all of that, though, there’s always opportunity in the market. People will always need to buy and sell homes. The only question is whether they will do that with you or with someone else.
If you want to be one of the “thriving few” after this pandemic is over, here is a five-step plan that you can execute during and after this crisis to set yourself up for success.
Step 1: Stay safe
At this point, this should go without saying, but everyone should be taking this situation very seriously. I’m the first to admit that when I first starting hearing about this, I somewhat downplayed it, thinking it would blow over. When I saw it was getting more serious, I thought it was probably just a heightened flu.
Clearly, that’s not the case. I’m not a medical expert, and I don’t claim to be one. What I do recommend is that you listen, watch and read only credible and reliable sources of information that aren’t politically biased.
The most important thing during this time is to keep yourself and your family safe so that you can set yourself up to thrive after this is over.
Step 2: Stay healthy
We’re all spending a lot more time at home. Most kids are home from school, and that has the potential to wreak havoc on your health. I know it’s easy to start snacking all day, abandon your exercise routine and pick up a few pounds in the process.
The problem is that when you do that, it has very negative consequences on every aspect of your life. You’ll end up having less energy, less motivation and less enthusiasm. Once these new bad habits become ingrained in your life, it will also be very challenging to break them.
Instead, try to maintain a daily routine with a special attention to the following areas: mindfulness, exercise, gratitude and healthy eating.
If you don’t currently do anything for mindfulness, that’s OK. There are many things you can try, including meditation, visualization, reading, reviewing your goals and business plan or even journaling. The idea is to take some time for yourself — without any distractions.
If you had a normal exercise routine, now is not the time to abandon it. In fact, doubling down wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Gym closed? No problem. Most gyms now offer online workout routines, and if yours doesn’t, there are plenty of others that do.
Didn’t have a gym? No problem. Go for a walk or run, or do a home workout that you can find online. There’s absolutely no excuse for not exercising right now. The benefits of exercise are too numerous to list, but suffice to say that working out every day will help with all aspects of your life.
There are understandably many things to be upset about right now. At the same time, no matter your situation, take time every day to be grateful for what you have. Approach your life and your day with love and joy.
If you’re having a hard time with this, during your mindfulness practice, make a list of everything you’re grateful for, and read it daily. You’ll be amazed at how many things you put onto the list!
Keeping your body in peak physical shape with proper nutrition is paramount right now. Resist the urge to binge eat, snack all day and eat junk food.
Instead, pack your diet with the right nutrients and supplements so that your mind’s in top shape and your body is able and ready to fight off any potential infection or disease. There are plenty of online resources for eating healthy, and most restaurants are offering healthy take-out options.
Step 3: Get productive
There are two ways you could approach this situation. First, you could play the victim, feel sorry for yourself and your situation, and do nothing. But ask yourself, who benefits from that? Who will that help?
The answer is no one — certainly not you or your clients. The second approach is to adopt an “accountability mindset.” Acknowledge that this situation has happened, and focus on adapting, pivoting and thriving!
Here is a fantastic exercise I recommend. Take out a piece of paper (yes, good old-fashioned paper), and then look through all of the contacts in your phone, your email and your fancy CRM that you never use.
Write down everyone from those lists who you would like to speak with. At a minimum, make sure to include your family, friends, past and current clients and referral sources.
Then call, text or video conference with them! Email doesn’t count. I want you to get into a conversation with these people, see how they’re doing, and offer your assistance with anything they may need.
Stay in a mindset of curiosity to see how they’re doing, how their family is doing, and how they’re getting through these challenging times. Set a goal to talk to at least two people on your list every day.
You’ll be amazed at how uplifting these conversations will be for you and for them. These people are all your current and future clients, as well as referral sources. But you have to speak with them, especially during these times.
Step 4: Thrive financially
As I mentioned earlier, most real estate agents simply aren’t prepared for this type of crisis. If that’s you, don’t panic. The reality is that right now is a fantastic time to get your financial house in order and set yourself up for success. With all of the extra time we have right now, there are a few things I strongly recommend.
First, read or listen to Profit First by Mike Michalawicz. This book changed my life well before this situation happened. Now is a perfect time to implement the concepts mentioned in the book.
There are some specific things you can do right now to get your finances in order. Print out your last few months of bank statements and credit card bills. If you have profit and loss statements, grab those.
Open your favorite bottle of wine (or something else if you don’t drink), grab a few highlighters, and get to work! First off, strike through and cancel all services, subscriptions and other things that you don’t need. You will be shocked at how many things you find that you didn’t even know you pay for!
Second, go through and highlight any items that you can renegotiate or find a less expensive alternative. Just doing these things will eliminate a lot of waste from your budget immediately. Then actually go read the rest of “Profit First.” You’ll thank me later!
If you’re faced with a tough financial situation right now, you may need to get resourceful. In every crisis there is also opportunity. Think about how you can earn extra money right now if you need it, or what else you can do to get through these challenging times.
Step 5: Have fun
The three tenets of my philosophy are that you should create a business that’s predictable, profitable and fun. And the fun shouldn’t stop even in tough times.
Earlier, I mentioned that you should take time each day to be grateful for what you have. Another great book to read or listen to is The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. It talks about how to turn trials into triumph.
No matter your individual situation — and I know times are tough for a lot of people — take at least a few minutes every day to have fun. Whether that means watching a comedy and laughing, face-timing with your friends or family, or going on a walk with your significant other, having fun, laughing and being grateful are key to making it through this situation.
In conclusion, realize that we will all get through this difficult time. People will continue to buy and sell homes. What you do right now could set you up to thrive during and after this crisis, but you have to take action now!
Danny Batsalkin is the Founder of the DSCVR Real Estate Network, the only complete real estate business solution for agents. Checkout Danny’s YouTube channel and connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.