This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.
In today’s world, it is easier than ever to get off track. Why? Distractions. A million of them. From social media and app notifications to world events and stressful news to just the bottom-line functions needed to manage a real estate business effectively, a lot is going on that can keep you from hitting your stride or goals.
I get it, there’s a lot that is out of our control these days, but there is a lot that you certainly can do to build your business with more balance. Let’s dive into some of what can distract agents and create unnecessary detours in their days.
1. Poor time management
Get into real estate, they say. You can set your own schedule, they say. Whoever “they” are, be careful who you listen to. Yes, you can set your own schedule and create your own calendar, which is awesome for those agents who actually do that. Time blocking and life management are one of the most crucial skills an agent can have. You’ve got to know yourself well enough to use your high-energy time wisely.
If you’re most productive, energetic and open in the mornings, that should be the time where you lean into your highest priority activities, like prospecting. I loved this article by Christy Murdock, who outlines how to be more productive with less stress. From not buying into hype to managing production based on your personality type, to making space for a personal life, she hits it out of the park.
2. Not using systems
One mistake I’ve continuously seen in my 30-plus years in this industry is agents who do not implement a system like a contact relationship management (CRM) system. Without one, an agent will always be chasing new business because they don’t have an effective way to stay top of mind with what should be their book of business, which is all those people who already know them and trust them.
There is way too much left to chance and too much to fall through the cracks without one. What are you going to do? Remember every month to contact your sphere in some way? Remember when a past client has a birthday or home anniversary?
Listen, with the number of things going on in any of our daily lives, the last thing in the world we should do is try to remember something, especially something this important.
Get a CRM, preferably a real estate-specific CRM. Load it with all your contacts, then let it help you put a plan in place for the system to stay in touch and stay top of mind.
3. Working by crisis, not objective
What I mean when I say working by crisis is for those of you who wait to go out and get a listing or pick up the phone for prospecting calls when there’s no money left in the bank. Or for those pulling the trigger on a 1,000-piece mail marketing campaign (that you have no intention of following up on) because you’ve got no leads in the pipeline.
Conversely, working by objective is creating a solid business plan that allows you to tap into now business, future business, and create financial freedom. Working by objective means you have clear goals that reflect your commitment and help give you the energy you need to get more done in less time (and be happy about it)!
I want you to think about a time when you had an event you were committed to, like a holiday dinner. If you’re anything like most people, you can get more done on the morning before a holiday dinner than you could possibly get done in a week! Cooking, dusting, vacuuming, table-setting, decorating — the works. Take that concept and apply it to your career.
When you’re committed to something, and you’re crystal clear about it, when you’ve got a real desire to take your business to the next level, your actions will happen more automatically, more fluidly, and serve your purpose better. That’s when your job feels more like a passion than work.
At least three or four times a month, on a coaching call, an agent will ask me when to make their prospecting calls or how to format their prospecting lists, or to tell them exactly what to say when someone picks up the other end of the line and says hello.
While I appreciate someone who wants to have all their bases covered, at some point, you have to stop getting ready to be ready and jump in and actually do the activities. There’s such a thing as “analysis paralysis,” which is when the fear of making a mistake keeps someone from taking any action at all. It even has its own Wikipedia page.
Get ready, but don’t over-think it or over-analyze anything. Take action. That’s the only way to move forward.
5. Thinking small
I often say you can’t create a six-figure income if you have a $6-an-hour mindset. To do great things, you can’t think small — you have to think expansively. There is a famous quote by Nelson Mandela, “There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Build into your daily routine opportunities for gratitude and reflection. For inspiration and affirmation. Add skill-building opportunities to your days as well. The more skilled you feel like a human being, the more confident and courageous you will become, leading you to think bigger and live more abundantly.
6. Trying to do it all
Ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” There’s a reason for that. Trying to do everything every day is not only impossible, but it’s also disempowering. It stops people in their tracks and detracts from the value of what is in front of you.
Long ago, I learned a strategy from Warren Buffet, who prioritized the top three things he was committed to each day. No matter what, those things got done. After that, the rest is gravy. If you focus on getting everything done, you’ll set your days up to be a win/fail rather than a win/win.
Each morning as you document your to-do list, choose the top three things you are committed to, then do those first. You’ll feel more productive and positive for it.
7. Being transactionally focused vs. relationship focused
When you are solely in business for the “transaction” — translation: commission — it shows. People can sense it, and not in a good way. It also means that your focus is not where it should be, which is the clients in front of you at the time or the relationships you should be building.
When I ask people what their goal is on prospecting calls, and they say to get a listing appointment, I have to stop them and steer them in a different direction.
Your goal when making calls should be to get anything – to take anything. Your goal is to build rapport and relationships with fellow human beings and to communicate that you are a trusted resource who can help them during these crazy times to make the best real estate decisions for their family and to see how you can help them.
8. Getting too emotional
Listen, I’m Italian. We’re emotional, so I get it. However, getting too emotional when it comes to business can cost you time and energy, and sometimes it feels like a little of your soul.
All right, that might be a little dramatic, but I hear it often when agents call in, and they’re struggling to “let go” of a situation that has them so upset they have a hard time focusing on what they can do.
- Like when a friend uses another agent.
- Or they feel like a client or potential client is doing all the talking and there’s no commitment.
- When the buyer they’ve worked with for three months signs with the listing agent down the street or a for-sale-by-owner they dropped in to see.
There is no real estate woe that up and finding a new listing or working with a new buyer (only with an agency agreement) can’t solve. The same time you spend fretting over the why of a toxic client or someone who chose another agent can be spent prospecting for a new client or calling up someone in your sphere to reconnect.
We only have so many hours in the day; don’t let someone who is an energy zapper steal any of yours. The faster you move on and get refocused, the happier and more successful you’ll be.
As I said, the world is filled to the brim with distractions these days, and it can be hard not to go so far down a rabbit hole with them that you lose time that can cost you your goals and your joy.
Like most things worthwhile in this life, staying on track takes practice. It takes redirecting your focus and activities daily, heck, sometimes hourly. While I don’t necessarily believe that practice makes “perfect,” I do think it makes perfect sense when it comes to protecting your well-being and keeping on course.
At the end of almost every webinar, seminar, or coaching session, I tell agents the same three things: Stay safe, stay focused and don’t forget to keep smiling. I wish the same for you.
Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at his website or connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.