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As yet another year winds down and a new one waits on the horizon, a group of real estate professionals convened this week to argue that agents can be successful in the near-term future — if they have the right business plan.
The conversations took place during a session of Connect Now dubbed “Your 2022 Success Checklist: Tips and Strategies to Make It Your Best Year Yet.” The session featured Mike Bernier, owner and president of Minnesota-based Realty Group, as well as Leah Robinson-Christian, an Atlanta-based agent with Engel & Völkers.
The takeaway from the duo, along with moderator Katie Kossev, was that agents need the right planning, mentors and adaptability if they want to thrive.
Here are the tips that came up during the session.
Find the right mentors
Bernier said that it’s important for agents to continually learn throughout their career, and noted that one way to do that is to make sure there are smarter people around at all times.
“If you’re ever the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room,” he argued. “You want to be the dumbest person in the room, learning all the time.”
His point was that there will always be someone more successful, further along in their career or with different experiences that can offer insights. In order to find such mentors, Bernier suggested agents travel to other industry gatherings such as Inman Connect and conferences help by groups such as Lab Coat Agents.
“If you want to level up in real estate get out, go national, travel,” Bernier added.
Robinson-Christian made a similar point, urging agents to “find someone who is actively working with the client base that you are looking to work with.” She also suggested agents focus on their would-be mentors’ work, rather than on other metrics such as social media followers.
“Look at their business, look at what they’re doing,” she said.
Speak the client’s language
At another point in the session, Robinson-Christian said that at this particular moment many “high net worth entrepreneurs” are investing in cryptocurrency. And even if those interests don’t automatically intersect with real estate, it’s an important topic for agents to understand so that they are speaking the same language as their clients.
“We need to be on the same planning field in terms of our knowledge base,” she explained.
The point was that agents need to be constantly learning so they remain in touch with their clients’ needs. And Robinson-Christian went on to note that agents can’t continue to operate the say way that they did even a few years.
“We should always be educating ourselves,” she said. “You’ve got to be present and you’ve got to be seeking that knowledge.”
Go deep on what works best
Early during the conversation, Bernier noted that he sometimes sees agents spread themselves too thin. They might focus on getting leads from for-sale-by-owner properties, from online lead generation sources, and from door knocking. They are, in other words, trying to do it all.
But Bernier argued that it’s better to go deep on the things that work for a particular agent, rather than to cast a wider net and try to do everything.
“They’re going so wide they’re failing to go deep,” Bernier said of some agents. “Make sure you understand which lead gen package you’re going to work and then go deep on those systems. Make sure you actually have a system.”
Case in point: Bernier said door knocking and cold calling just aren’t the right fit for him, so he doesn’t do them. Instead, he focuses on the things that suit his style better. Those things will vary from person to person, but whatever path agents choose, Bernier suggested they focus on taking “actual, granular steps every single day.”
Keep your business plan evolving
Finally, Bernier said that one of the most important parts of a successful business plan is for it to be a living document. He noted that in some cases, agents write up plans, only to put them in a drawer and leave them there forever. But the problem is that “if it’s sitting in a drawer, it’s not doing you any good,” he added.
Bernier said that instead he tries to keep his plan active and accessible throughout the year.
“One thing I’m passionate about, that I think I’m pretty good at, is I like to live in my business plan,” he said. “It’s a living breathing evolving thing.”
Robinson-Christian made a similar point, noting that agents who want to succeed need to be adaptable.
“Pivot,” she advised. “You have to be able to pivot and shift.”