Change is here, and though the final outcome isn’t certain, agents who are determined to make it work know that the path is forward. Creating a “right now” strategy to keep their business steady is at the top of their to-do list.
Over the past few months, we have revealed many pain points and weaknesses in the housing industry business model around service, leadership, conduct and accountability. With 2024 less than two months away, agents need action steps to keep their business going, not more arguments about what’s wrong.
Old school business practices are falling flat, consumers demand (and deserve) a better overall experience, and you need solutions, not chatter about “just work harder.” Instead of pointing the finger and passing blame, here are 10 action steps to prevent collateral damage and start being proactive with what’s to come.
1. Simmer down
Keep yourself out of potential legal trouble by not commenting on any of the conversations on social media or on media publications about the current verdict. Once it’s out, it can’t be put back, and until things shift and there is a clear direction from moving forward, you need to distance yourself from any speculation or squabbles online.
Spend time to educate yourself on what is happening, and ensure you are familiar with terms, timelines and potential pitfalls that might directly impact your current procedures. Inman has you covered with in-depth coverage, breakdowns and opinion pieces from top thought leaders in the industry.
2. Make some calls
Call your leadership and ask what they are doing; if they do not have a good answer, start shopping for a new place to hang your license. They have had plenty of notice to get a head-start on solutions on this; now is the time when prepared leaders will showcase their skills and value.
3. Trim the excess
If you haven’t already, it’s time to cut any unnecessary overhead, fees, etc., and move that overhead budget into a high-yield savings account or some other savings method. I cannot stress this enough: You need to build some space to breathe in your budget so you can think clearly about strategy.
This might mean giving up office space, getting a more practical car, figuring out smart digital practices for marketing, reducing travel and taking a hard look at whether franchise fees have a measurable ROI.
4. Cover your a**
Call your E&O insurance and get a better understanding of what it covers and if there are any gaps that additional insurance would be useful to have on hand to protect your business.
5. Get squeaky clean
Go through your transactions from 2020 to now, do a full audit, and make sure that your files are clean and well-documented, especially if contingencies were waived and prices were escalated.
Make sure to collect any documentation and communication on those files in an organized place that you can easily access if a legal entity wants to review it.
6. Advocate for action
Contact your state governing association and MLS for specific guidance on contracts, agreements and preferred language for consumer negotiations.
7. Scribe a new script
Once you have a full understanding of what is required in your state, prepare a FAQ statement about consumer rights (Many state organizations already have documents for consumers). Have this statement handy for conversations with consumers, accessible on your website and social media channels if needed.
8. Show your work and math
Start using a preliminary net sheet on appointments to help clients understand the projected costs.
9. Paddle a new stream of income
If your business is already working at a 20 percent or more deficit from last year, I would recommend creating an additional stream of income that will not only close that gap but create some extra breathing room for yourself.
Remote work, holiday retail work, administrative work and substitute teaching are all great ways to bridge the market conditions until things free up.
10. Bet on yourself
Invest in your health, self-care, and wellness. You cannot sustain a business if you are feeling anxious, depressed, burned out and generally unhealthy. If you are placing yourself last and not making time to care for your body, spirit, and home life, things are going to continue to be chaos-driven.
This means making time to take walks, getting plenty of sleep, choosing healthier foods, asking for help from others in your household, and potentially hiring help to take some work off your shoulders if you can afford to do it.
Advocating for labor equity in your home and in your office needs to be a top priority. You cannot be your best self if there is nothing left of you to give. Save yourself so you can save your livelihood.
Most importantly, stay away from toxic people who waste your time with nonsense. Grinding, hustling, cold calling, and generally harassing people for business is not the way to prospect in 2024. Consumers will want a calm, digitally savvy and efficient agent, not a character or a car salesman.
Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram.