In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
With every generation, the “job” of a real estate professional changes slightly. Twenty-five years ago, the main role was to be a gatekeeper of all the homes on the market, to guide customers through the process, negotiate offers and so on. Most of that is the still the same today. However, at some point in the last 20 years, as customers gained the ability to “find” houses on their own, the definition of an agent’s “job” changed.
Within the last couple of weeks, in most areas of the country, an agent’s job changed yet again. Many areas are under quarantine and shelter-in-place orders. Showing houses is no longer a possibility. Even in some areas where the practice is still allowed, it’s not desired or socially acceptable.
COVID-19 will bring some temporary — but also, lasting — changes to the way customers and even other industry professionals view our jobs. I’ve spoken to agents around the country, and it seems like the No. 1 role an agent needs to fulfill is to give people information, positivity and guidance. Agents also need to find creative ways to keep the real estate world moving.
In a world of uncertainty, buyers, sellers, investors and literally everyone else crave these things, which truly serve a crucial role in stabilizing the ship (in this analogy, the ship being our industry).
Most agents will also have a crucial second job. It’s something that may have been back-burnered when business seemed to skyrocket and mushroom every month since early 2015. Now, agents also have to be leaders — a familiar, but often-forgotten job.
The uncertainty in the market is making buyers crave leadership, now more than ever. So, whether you lead a team or just your own business, your role as a leader has never been more important.
If you take nothing else from this article (as you likely devour media today with voracity), I implore you to do one thing: Find two or three ways to be a good leader to everyone you interact with today. If you do this one thing, you will truly be doing your new “job” while helping elevate our industry at the same time. Here are a few things to think about.
How can you lead those who work for you (either as employees or vendors) as they work from home?
Many of your employees and team members crave structure. Are you providing it? We’re all motivated in different ways, but oftentimes, the people who work with you (those who aren’t in charge or in a commission role) are those who like certainty and structure.
Although you may not have a ton of that yourself, providing them worthwhile tasks to fill up their day and prepare for the rest of the year can be a great way to keep as much normalcy in your business as possible. Now that people are working from home, making sure that they know you are “watching” can be a good way to motivate.
This week, I’ve been very cognizant of calling my team at the beginning and end of the day — at the very least. We go over what they finished, any questions they had and any other issues or ideas that popped up throughout the day. Hosting a video chat for your first meeting of the day can be a good idea. It’ll encourage team members to get in the mental habit of starting work at a certain time.
When it comes to vendors and transaction partners, now is a great time to check in with them to see how their businesses have been affected and review the work you’ve done together in the past. Think about your photographer, inspectors, interior designers, lenders, title reps and anyone else you often do business with.
Many great providers are nervous right now and may feel like they’re on an island. Calling them with a positive message or compliments on past work is a good way to ensure they also make it through the crisis and are there to work with you in the future.
There has never been a better time to go deeper with your relationships. The people you make an impact on with your leadership today will seek you out when things are normal again.
How can you be a leader towards your family who counts on you, and who may be nervous about everything that’s going on?
If you have children old enough to understand what’s going on, ask them what they know, and have a conversation about how this affects them, you and others. Use it as an opportunity to have them learn more about medicine, economics and jobs. If they are younger, tell them about how we’re all working together towards one goal, even when things seem tough.
Create structured family activity time to do something positive for those in your community. Cards to family members, friends and favorite local businesses who are still serving your community can go along way. Not to mention, it can also be a great way to do crafts with the family at the same time.
How can you share the message of positivity?
Maybe you made it through the last downturn and can share tips on how you did it. Maybe you decide to focus on all the great local businesses out there when it comes to your social media posts. Whatever you do, be mindful that in every conversation, post or email, the sentiment should be positive and hopeful rather than fearful and negative.
Like breeds like. I usually talk about things that are tangible, but when it comes to the real estate and stock markets, I think positivity and hope are actually two of the guiding forces behind big swings. People make “moves” when they are in an enabled mindset to do so.
How can you be a leader for yourself?
Control the information that you allow yourself to see. Make a daily schedule and a plan. Find at least five “green time” money-making activities to do that you can either profit off now or when travel bans and quarantines are lifted.
Green time is broadly defined as the time you spend that has the most direct correlation to the money you earn. Luckily for quarantined sales professionals, many of these tasks can be done from anywhere with a phone, internet connection, paper and pen.
Today, I spoke with one NAR “30 under 30” agent. He said he’ll spend his green time at home contacting everyone in his sphere by phone at least once during the next two weeks. The purpose isn’t necessarily to sell anything in a pushy way, but just to see what they’re up to, how the quarantine affects them and if there’s anything he can do to help. If nothing else, it’s a good opportunity to update his database.
Another agent I spoke with was five days into her green-time strategy of doing 10 CMA’s per day accompanied with handwritten notes. Whatever your highest and best use of time is, time-block it in your schedule, and stick to it. In times like this, your clients won’t be upset that your toddler is barking in the background (mine currently is).
Matt Muscat is the author of TAG – The Tangible Action Guide for Real Estate Marketing. He is also the Marketing Director at Treadstone Funding and owner of Maltese Marketing.