Jimmy Burgess likes to ask top-producing agents: “What do you wish you would have done sooner?”  After interacting with thousands of agents, here’s the seven most common things they wish they would have done sooner.

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This post was last updated May 23, 2023.

There are often two ways of learning, through trial and error or through the experience of others. Many prefer to learn from the experience of others, particularly those who have found success in the same field or industry. One of my favorite questions for top-producing agents is: “What do you wish you would have done sooner?”

After interacting with thousands of agents, the following are the seven most common things top-producing agents tell me they wish they would have done sooner.

1. Hired an assistant

If a real estate agent doesn’t have an assistant, then they are the assistant. Every agent has areas of strengths and areas of weaknesses. The key in many top producers’ businesses is that they do what they are best at, and they hire an assistant to help with the areas where they are weak.

For their businesses to be optimized, they must do the highest dollar-producing activities possible.

For every $100,000 annual earnings someone makes, that comes out to roughly $50 an hour. If you make $100,000 a year and you are doing tasks like scheduling showings, inputting listings in MLS or organizing mail campaigns, then you are doing $15-$20 per hour activities instead of $50 per hour activities, like going on listing appointments, showing properties, or making phone calls to your sphere of influence.

Top producers understand the value of their time. They make sure they leverage an assistant to help them with lower-cost activities and for them to have the ability to scale their businesses. Every single top agent I know wishes they would have hired an assistant sooner.

2. Became a better student of the game

There comes a point in every top agent’s career when they realize they don’t know what they don’t know. This is the beginning of enlightenment and of becoming a student of this business.

As a new agent some 28 years ago, I was in an office with four other agents. I watched how they did their work and modeled everything I did after them. My mom was the broker-owner of the company, and she encouraged me and my brother to attend a national real estate convention after I had been selling for one year.

I remember sitting in breakout sessions and hearing agents talk about their businesses and how they were closing over 100 transactions a year. My mind was blown. My limited view of what was possible had held me back, but after seeing others doing more, I began to believe it was possible for me to do it as well.

My brother and I studied the way these top agents ran their businesses, and four years later, we closed over 100 transactions. My only regret was that I didn’t attend the convention and begin learning more about how others were finding success earlier.

If you’re serious about growing your business, become a student of what other successful agents are doing, and model your business after theirs. This is a path top agents wish they would have followed sooner.

3. Farmed a geographical area

Most agents begin their career focusing on helping buyers. But almost all top agents come to a point in their career when they realize agents that work mostly with buyers are real estate salespeople. Meanwhile, agents who work mostly with listings are running a real estate business. This leads to a change in focus from buyer business to listings.

This shift in focus leads to the most fundamental listing strategy in real estate — geographic farming. The process of adding consistent value to a specific neighborhood allows agents to be seen as the expert in that area and leads to consistent listing opportunities.

Top producers understand the compounding effect of consistently adding value to a geographic farm, and their only regret when it comes to farming is that they wish they would have started sooner.

4. Went all-in on video

Video has become a critical marketing tool for top real estate agents. But there is a process with video. If you commit to video, over time your videos will become better. You will see which videos your ideal client responds to, and you will produce more of those videos. The key top agents realize is that the sooner they would have started, the sooner they would have caught their stride with video.

If you’re still wondering if video will help your business, here are a few statistics to consider:

  • 73 percent of homeowners say they are more likely to list with an agent that uses video
  • 403 percent more inquiries are driven from listings with videos
  • Social media videos generate 1,200 percent more shares compared with images and text combined
  • Marketers who use video grow revenue 49 percent faster than non-video users

The use of video helps agents grow their businesses faster than otherwise possible. All top-producing agents that go all-in on video wish they would have done so sooner.

5. Optimized their database through a CRM

Show me your database, and I feel confident I can tell you where your business will be in the next one to five years. Top agents come to a point in their careers where the information about the clients they are currently working with, or past clients, becomes too much to remember. That is when they realize the value of an organized database.

The ability to keep client information organized, set up automated follow-up programs, and segment the database into different groups that can be communicated to in a way that is relevant to them are just a few reasons top agents love their CRMs. They understand that the ability for their business to grow is based on their ability to communicate and add value at scale.

These capabilities are the reason top agents wish they would have optimized their databases through a CRM sooner.

6. Joined a mastermind or hired a coach

You can’t build the business of your dreams without the input of other people. Point of reference, even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto. All top agents realize that for them to have a full perspective of their business and what is possible, they need guidance.

Just as top athletes have coaches, so do top agents. The best of the best always want others around them that are striving to grow their businesses and themselves. This is where masterminds can also lead to business growth and a broader perspective of what’s possible.

There are different coaching styles for different people, but every agent that finds the perfect fit for themself regrets not finding the right coaches or masterminds sooner.

7. Built relationships with other agents

There is a point in most top agents’ careers when they realize other agents in their local market are their competition, and they are also their allies. They realize relationships with other top agents in their market are what help them put deals together when inventory is low like it was during the pandemic. They understand that collaboration helps sellers sell and buyers buy.

They also realize building relationships with agents in other markets leads to referrals and idea sharing. Whether these relationships are built via meetings at conferences, targeted mailers to agents in feeder markets or visiting offices in other markets, referrals from agents in other markets prove we truly are better when we work together.

The best of the best in real estate wish they would have built more and deeper relationships with other agents sooner.

These are the seven things I’ve most often heard veteran agents wish they would have done sooner. Will you act now, or will you look back in the future with regret?

Jimmy Burgess is the Chief Growth Officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida. Connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.

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