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The End of the Year Big Bang Theory in Real Estate

turkeyThe news of the tax credit being extended and expanded rippled through the real estate industry as the masses of “seasonal” Realtors breathed a long awaited sigh of relief. For a while there it seemed like we might have to grind through the holidays (gasp!) and who wants to do that, right? I mean, prospective clients are either all turkey-ed up in their Tryptophan high or fist fighting over LCD screens after Thanksgiving. Everyone knows that the market is dead during the holidays. How about this instead? We take these 5-6 weeks to recharge our batteries and come back with a brand new resolutions list for 2010 that – like all other years – we have zero intention of following through on. Now, where’s that Best Buy insert?

Dissipating Urgency

Stimulus efforts, like any other government action, bring with them strong, polarized opinions that fuel the usual blog posts. But given that as of late, my interest in political debate has been subzero, I am going to leave that for the AG Sunday Politics. From a more pragmatic standpoint however, this thought kept rearing its head in my mind over and over again. In the PreExtension Era, the doubts about the measure passing were causing back muscles to contract, postures to straighten and holiday plans to change. There was more hustling in the forecast with a 50% chance of drumming up more business. Now, as the urgency dissipates many of us are taking the rest of this year off knowing that their fair share of the tax credit dough is awaiting right up the road.

You Get What You Put In

In my last post, I told you about my Russell Shaw-induced ephiphany : Every dollar you make today originates in some action you took 60-90 days ago. With that in mind, what do you suppose will happen come February or March if you take the next month off? Don’t answer that. Look, if mediocrity is a viable option for you, I can’t argue with that. But if you are looking for a way to make the next 4-5 weeks really count, end the year with the Big Bang and fuel the 1st quarter of 2010 to your best ever, here’s your plan:

  1. Exclusive Focus on Appointments – A month full of closings is always preceded by a month (or two) full of appointments. It would seem as obvious as it sounds, until you notice that the overwhelming majority of real estate agents out there seem to do everything but focus on appointments. They love preparing to prepare, even sharing their preparation methods through social media to much praise and applause. But when it comes time to act, it’s just more prep. The harsh truth is you can’t make soup  if you only chop onions from here until Easter. What do I mean by exclusive focus? Tomorrow morning, sit down with your team or yourself and don’t get up until you have answered this question: What can we do to get a minimum of 4 qualified appointments per week, every week starting today? Then brainstorm without worrying about logistics. Come up with ideas that are efficient short term and a plan to implement them. For instance, you might plan an hour a day of phone calls to your past clients – they might be looking to move up or know someone who’s buying or selling or leasing. If you are already generating leads, you make them first priority then you leave 5 empty spots. Nothing gets done until leads are called back and followed up diligently. If you don’t have any leads, your first priority is to generate some. Call some local agents with listings that have been on the market awhile and see if they wouldn’t mind if you helped them advertise the property at your own cost. Then use classified sites to generate business. Or bandit signs. Or expireds. Whatever you come up with, put it on a calendar and follow it like a damn cult. If you are doing it right, there shouldn’t be any time left for Facebook, Yoville, Twitter or the Moron Test.
  2. Get to KNOW your stats – As Matt as pointed out here before, incorporating a stats solution like AltosResearch on your website can result in increased traffic and higher number of leads over the long term. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I mean KNOW your stats, like they were hardwired into your brain. In my experience, the best way to do this is by preparing for a video market report. Print out the monthly stats released by your MLS on your real estate market and study those figures. Get to know the median sales price, the trend of sales, inventory levels, foreclosure impact etc. When you have to do a concise 2 min segment on your market, you HAVE to know your numbers to get through it. And even if you never publish the video to the world, you have just polished a major selling skill. Next time a prospect asks you about how the market is doing,  your response will no longer be a vague “slow but getting better”. Instead you will blow their mind if you can deliver solid market data in a manner they can digest.
  3. Invest in some 2.0 – The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things expecting a different result. Ultimately is about generating abundant leads. Point 1 above talks about some short term tactics that could generate some short term success but in the end you have to make some smart and prudent investments to propel your business. If your site stills looks like some software from 1999 threw up some links and endless paragraphs on a page, it might be time for an upgrade. If you have the skill (or the time to learn) create a dynamic site with WordPress.org and bring your look and functionality into the current century for under $100 with premium themes. Or you can have someone do it for you for an affordable price (hundreds) that’s usually just a fraction of the cost on a full fledged custom design (thousands). Next, pimp it with a great IDX search solution, that will pay for itself in just a few months and keep producing for you as long as your site is up. (Diverse Solutions is what I rock). Next, you could elevate your marketing with a syndicated virtual tour tool: Create tours of your own listings or features of communities you cover and distributed them everywhere with a click. (i.e. RealEstateShows and MLBroadcast). Finally, the database is the lifeline of your business and it should be managed as such. Whether you go server-based (REST, Outlook or Act) or web-based (Heap, Javelin or Highrise), pick one that best suits your needs and USE IT.
  4. Exclusive focus on appointments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Written By

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    November 26, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Erion,

    This is a perfect bookend for Ken Brand’s “How to Plough Deep While Sluggards Sleep” post earlier this week, and I’ve had that Russell Shaw quote spinning in my head since your last missive. Great reminders to get out there and get humpin’ – make the New Year sizzle with the business other agents are blowing off right now.

    I do, however, take issue with – “If you are doing it right, there shouldn’t be any time left for Facebook…” If you’re doing Social Media right, it’s a part of your efforts. I take it you probably meant spending time in Farmville or playing Mafia Wars and such?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride!

    Oh, and by the way – HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

  2. Scott Cowan

    November 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for a well written and spot on post.

    What we work on today will pay us in 60 to 90 days is the mantra I use daily. I used to wonder why my business was so much like a roller coaster. Now, I know focused work = consistent results.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    November 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Only a Navy Chief would comment on a post at 7:20 am on Thanksgiving Day. Much appreciated, Sir. 🙂

    As far as the Facebook line, it was within the context of the idea that for a relatively short period of time (4-6 weeks) it’s easier to focus entirely on generating business without any distractions. I remain steadfast on the idea that social media must remain part of any agent’s long term strategy.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    November 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Erion – First, thanks for the mention. I would (logically) assume I am the Matt in question. I’ve been thinking about how to best prep myself for the coming year and your post came at a great time for me. Appointments are something I have been lax at acquiring. I get them and I get the business, but I don’t get enough of them. I’m currently thinking of ways to increase this. As for your comments about stats, I love the idea of the video. It’s kind of like practicing a speech in the mirror before the big debate. I do try and understand my stats, but I do find myself to often giving generic answers and then following up with the market report via email or a follow up call. Not sure why I do that, so now I have some work to do.

    Thanks for the post Erion, you may have just helped me be twice as successful in the coming year.

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