As the real estate industry finds its footing, what should an independent broker do to ensure minimal business disruption? The answer: Start by focusing on your agents.

Uncertainty is the word of the day. Uncertainty regarding COVID-19, uncertainty regarding the economy, and uncertainty regarding how we can go about doing our jobs in this new environment. As business grinds to a halt, what is an independent broker to do? Here you’ll find several critical actions you can take to help you through this challenging time. 

1. Get your agents paid

In times of crisis, information can be scarce. During this pandemic, we know that our primary function of showing homes is limited. Since real estate agents work nose-to-nose with their clients, this is obviously alarming, but you need to make it a priority to preserve all pending sales to ensure that your agents get compensated.

To accomplish this, we reached out to all closing attorneys for each deal to ensure there was no interference in the process chain. We wanted our people and their clients to have minimal disruption. It proved successful in preserving those deals. 

Bonus tip: When we contacted closing attorneys, we also asked: Who’s in and who’s out when it comes to transactions? We had to know who would be able to get our clients to the closing table versus who was not operational. This same process was executed for our lenders as well, and it gave our agents an advantage.

2. Support your agents’ business

Produce useful marketing content for them that’s flexible enough to be distributed by email, direct mail or over social media. For example, we designed COVID-19 “health and safety” and “financial protection” infographics that had no real estate info on them. We just included useful information on how to protect yourself and your family, in regards to health and finances. 

Next, we produced thousands — and I mean thousands — of mailers. Some were generic follow-up letters for their client base. Others were specific to investors. This remains an ongoing benefit to them. We generated so many because we wanted to do our best to keep our transaction manager, who is salaried, busy at home when some of our competition furloughed their office staff. 

Bonus tip: Each piece of content was designed so that the agent could promote themselves and customize it for use on their Facebook pages, Instagram and direct mail. We also took it a step further and actually put their likeness on each one. Saved them a step! 

3. Remember that culture is key

Everyone likes to talk a good culture game, but creating a safe environment with a strong sense of purpose is crucial. This especially applies during this period of social distancing. Regular Zoom meetings with everyone is so important.

Walk them through the contingency plan, explain the do’s and don’ts of their operations, and show them the marketing content that they could use during their downtime.

We hosted live meetings with attorneys and mortgage brokers. They walked our agents through what could be done if their deals were falling apart and provided recommendations if they ran into issues. It provided value to our agents.

Bonus tip: Make these meetings frequent and regular — twice a week with entertaining content. Stick together. Call and stay in touch with your agents. 

4. Conserve your resources, go deep with your sphere

As you know, there’s no shortage of lead generation services that you can spend your hard-earned money on. My suggestion? Stop. There’s a ton of uncertainty, and with nonessential workers being delayed return, it’s best if you sit tight on spending any cash.

Instead, focus on your sphere and encourage your agents to do the same. Go deep, but not wide. Focus heavily on your past and current clients. Believe me — it will pay off. 

Bonus tip: Cut where you can. If you’re having trouble with rent, then talk to your landlord. Be a resource for your agents. Find out where you’re going to get information — like, state and local Realtor associations, State Department of Labor, U.S. Small Business Administration.

If you don’t know the answer to your agents’ questions, then you need to find out where to send them. Common questions your agents will ask: “Can we still show houses?” “What about final walk-throughs?” “Can I apply for unemployment insurance?” Be ready! (Here is an example infographic we made about the final walk through process. Feel free to copy it.)

Looking back, the planning was great but the single most important reason it was successful was our focus on agents. This meant ensuring they had continuity of business, which meant we had to maintain the process chain in a time when it was deteriorating.

Our focus ultimately gave us an edge during a period of uncertainty in an industry where staying ahead of the curve defines your success. 

David Paciello is the broker and owner of One Realty Partners in New York. Connect with him via Facebook or Instagram.  

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