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In a time of pandemics and economic upheaval, it can feel like nothing you do will help your business weather out the uncertainty. But that is, pointed out by speakers at Inman Connect Now’s “How To Future-Proof Your Business” session, far from the case.
While any real estate enterprise will not be immune to the ebbs and flows of major world events, the strategies you build in your regular work will help navigate crises that emerge much more smoothly. These could range from large-scale marketing and technology goals to, as Keller Williams team leader Sue Adler pointed out, learning to find inventory for buyers before it hits the market.
The key is knowing what your clients need, learning how to change gears when it is needed and maximizing how you bring value.
“I personally have learned that I can work from anywhere,” Adler said. “I can do my listing presentation virtually, I can share the screen. I’ve gotten to be a whiz on Zoom. All these different options are such a time-saver.”
Here are six strategies to help make sure your business thrives no matter what 2021 throws your way.
1. Learn to shift and adjust
When things change fast, the key to success is not learning specific tools but rather knowing how to pivot and adjust. If in-person showings get cancelled, use the opportunity to improve the quality of your virtual showings. If low inventory is causing the market to stall, start learning (and also educating clients) about new markets. Continuously trying new things will help you stay afloat while others are floundering.
“This whole virtual environment has definitely proved a great arena for us to continue to thrive in and look at new ways of connecting with people,” Adam Sartin, area vice president of RE/MAX in the greater Denver area, told Inman Connect Now’s virtual audience.
2. Don’t wait to try new things
When things get busy, it can become easy to run on autopilot and just try to get by with day-to-day work. But as Adler points out, the new things you try out of necessity or crisis can actually end up propelling your business forward later.
For her team, serving a number of commuter train towns in New Jersey, this turned out to be everything from an updated website with virtual tours for every listing to an outdoor and masked “Pie Day” in the community.
“People are feeling lonely, they are craving connection,” Adler said. “How can we help them feel that they are part of something?”
3. Communication is key
While trying new things, agents also shouldn’t forget to stay in constant communication with their clients. With inventory shortages and record-low interest rates, buyers are moving fast and have a plethora of other agents to choose from. To make sure that you stay at the top of their minds, reach out not only when you need their business. Ask about grandkids, holiday gifts and simply check in any time a major closure in your area is announced.
“We doubled down on communications that we’ve had with [our client base] to ensure that, at the end of the day, we are still connected with them, albeit virtually,” Sartin said.
4. Connect with technology
While 2020 has forced almost every agent to expand their use of technology, many are still waiting for things to “go back to normal.” This, Sartin pointed out, is a major mistake.
Even when businesses reopen and in-person events regain steam, things like virtual showings and online signings are going to continue. Think beyond what everyone else is doing and go even further — do you do video emails? Do you partner with a tech-forward mortgage company where you can redirect your clients?
“That buzzword in our industry is the one that some agents embrace and a lot of agents shy away from but it’s definitely not going anywhere,” he said. “Going into 2021, there’s going to be a shortage of inventory just like there was in 2020. How do you find ways to connect and tap into your database of clients to drum up business?”
5. Inventory is king
A constant throughout 2020 that will most likely continue into 2021 is low inventory. With so few houses on the market, buyers tend to flock to each new listing without much effort on the agent’s part.
As a result, agents who are able to find properties beyond what is already out there will be guaranteed to win business. Learn to look beyond what is on Redfin and Zillow and, most importantly, build a network that will alert you about listings before they hit the market.
“Be really proactive in finding properties for your buyers that haven’t hit the market,” Adler said. “If you’re just waiting for inventory to show up on Zillow, your buyers are going to see that anyway. You’re not adding value to that client.”
6. Focus on the client experience
In the quest to bring in more business, an agent should never forget the personal touch that clients increasingly crave. While technology can help you stay connected, it can also make it easier to forget that almost every client is an individual and embarking on the biggest purchase of their lives. Make sure that doesn’t happen by staying in constant communication and, like Sartin points out, stepping into your clients’ shoes.
“Being kind at times like this shows that we care,” Sartin said. “That’s what people want to know right now. With all the uncertainty and everything that is going on, they want to turn to people they can trust.”