At this point, brokerages should be planning to re-enter the market when COVID-19 restrictions lift. Here’s how one brokerage is rolling up its sleeves and building momentum.

In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.

A little over a month ago, real estate brokerages and their agents largely shuttered their doors and confined themselves and their businesses to non-productive, highly administrative tasks with the hope and prayer that COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted soon.

Five weeks later, it appears that businesses will soon begin reopening, and essential services will undoubtedly be at the forefront of this emergence. The “new normal” for many brokers is a scary new world where uncertainty lurks ever-present.

Brokers are responsible for the activity of their agents and the impact that has on their clients. Many brokers feel responsible for making sure that their agents, who typically live commission check to commission check, get back in business quickly. This is important for the agent, as well as the survival of the brokerage.

Some agents took this time to bury themselves in past-due projects like organizing their databases, calling past clients with a friendly “just wanted to see if you are OK” script, tidying their homes and garages, and attending to long-forgotten projects that have been shelved in favor of making a living in a normal world.

However, hitting the pause button right now may pose a big obstacle to agents, brokers and brokerages trying to propel themselves to success after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. It’s much easier to close down a business than it is to reopen it.

COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in phases, so real estate professionals better rev up their engines now so they can recover from lost momentum in their businesses.

At Pacific Playa Realty, a sizable Los Angeles urban boutique of 70 agents, we never stopped working. Experiencing only one month (March) of losses, we maintained all of our staff in both the brokerage and in the affiliated and independent escrow company. We powered through the first phase of the crisis and are poised to conquer the emerging market.

Our locally owned and operated brokerage is led by a high-energy team and remains propelled forward through a unique daily coaching program called ITP Power Habits led by its founder (and former Inman panelist) Munif Ali.

Ali is a no-nonsense, high-accountability motivational leader who has not missed a single day in the office since the pandemic. While the brokerage was closed, our 5,000-plus-square-foot open office floor plan easily accommodated the 6-foot guideline for social distancing, so our agents were able to safely come in when necessary. 

More importantly, our agents meet online every day at 8:30 a.m. to start their day without missing a beat. The daily connection, accountability and prospecting keeps experienced agents productive and helps newly minted agents build new business. Brokerages that plan to re-enter the market with momentum should follow these six key steps right now:

1. Continue prospecting

Continue to prospect daily using revised activities that comply with shelter-in-place orders. Practice scripts every day so that your agents are comfortable and prepared to answer client questions, concerns and objections accurately and with confidence.

2. Review your business plan

Revisit your pre-COVID-19 goals and business plan. Establish increased goals for lead generation, appointments and open and closed escrows. You will have to do more to get less for the next 12-24 months at least.

3. Establish accountability goals

Hold yourself and your team to strict accountability goals daily. We track the number of calls, contacts, leads, appointments, and now texts, email messages, and note cards in place of open house guests and door-knocking.

Be flexible because as challenges increase or recede, the ability of your team to meet their objectives will change. Remember this is intended to build muscle and mindset in you and your team. It will allow you to push through the frustrating challenges that a pandemic will continue to present.

4. Revisit your expenses and SOI

Continue to cut expenses smartly, and don’t be romanced into the notion that a digital tool or a virtual resource is going to create business for you. It may enhance your visibility online, but if you can’t capture and convert that lead into a relationship, you will loose it.

Online leads are the least loyal and the most easily distracted and disengaged type of lead; the cost of lead acquisition is high and relentless, skillful follow-up is necessary to see a return on investment.

Turn first to your sphere of influence, open house lists, referrals and leads that you have actually met. Don’t forget your past clients and long forgotten work, school and networking relationships. These semi-warm or not-totally-cold leads are going to be your best starting point for prospecting.

5. Brush up on certain skills

Up your skills, knowledge and mastery. You know where you’re weak or stale. I say “stale” because a fair number of experienced agents are going to perish in the new normal because they “know what they are doing.”

The problem is that experienced agents don’t know what they are not doing. Innovation and challenge requires experienced agents to reinvent themselves with new and improved skills. That casual conversation that used to land you a referral will not be enough because you are going to need a referral, two new leads and a solid client to get the same end result in the new market.  

6. Prepare for a buyer’s market

Be ready for the buyer’s market — it’s coming soon. Agents that have been in business for the last eight to 10 years have only sold in a seller’s market. Welcome to the new normal in a buyer’s market.

Those of us who have been fortunate to sell in both buyer and seller markets will understand that it is much more difficult to keep a transaction together and close in a recessionary buyer’s market. Train yourself and your team to be experts in working with buyers.

Teresa Mack is the co-founder and manager of Pacific Playa Realty in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram

After 25 years, Inman Connect is coming to you. We’re transcending our legendary events in a live digital event, Inman Connect Now. Get ready for the top industry leaders plotting the path forward, new business ideas and opportunities, networking like you’ve never imagined it, and tons of exciting new magic, all straight to you. It’s all part of an epic new Inman experience, Connect Now, June 2-4, 2020. Click here to save your seat.

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