You’ve got your Washington real estate broker’s license. Great! Now what? Well, during the license application process, you found a sponsoring broker who will supervise you and help you get started. While you’ll be working from his or her office as part of a sales team, you’ll probably be an independent contractor. You’re actually going into business for yourself. Are you ready?
Read on for ideas and tips to get started on the right track and grow your real estate business.
Plan for Success
The business plan is a key ingredient of starting a business. It helps define where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what it’s going to take to be a success. Real estate professionals who have a written business plan are more successful than people who don’t.
Essentials of any good business plan include:
- Goals: What do you want? Make your goals clear, concise, measurable, and achievable.
- Services You Provide: Choose residential or commercial, buyers/sellers/renters, and area(s). New residential agents often start with buyers/renters and then move on to listing homes after they’ve completed a few transactions.
- Target market: Real estate products and services are targeted to buyers, sellers, and other real estate practitioners. Tailor your marketing strategy to each group.
- Budget: List current expenses (gas, groceries, cell phone, etc.), and then the new expenses you’re taking on (association and MLS dues, increased gas, increased cell usage, marketing etc.).
- Funding: How are you going to pay your bills with no income for the first three months? With the goals you’ve set for yourself, when will you break even?
- Marketing Plan: The most effective way to market yourself is to systematically work your own sphere of influence (people you know).
Tips for Rookies
Smart people learn from the mistakes of others. Some tips for agents just starting out include:
- Know Your Numbers: Set goal numbers and actual numbers for leads generated, listings, contracts written, contracts closed, and money.
- Have an Income Buffer: The concept of lag time often trips up new real estate agents. When you sell a house, you typically don’t get paid when the contract is accepted. Can you survive until you get paid?
- Use the Resources Available to You: Take advantage of all the resources around you: your brokerage, your colleagues, and professional organizations.
- Maximize Productivity: Agents who use at least one personal assistant have a significantly higher sales volume than those who don’t.
- Purchase Equipment as a Business Entity: When you purchase equipment as a business, the customer support you receive from your vendors and merchants will be much better and less time-intensive.
- Craft Your Marketing Message to Prospects’ Concerns: Your marketing should target the concerns of buyers and sellers: how you can help them through the sales process.
Most people see real estate agents as being basically the same, and they make a choice by the brand or by the price. If a broker doesn’t stand out from the crowd, the broker will only be able to gain prospects by price.
You’ve identified your target market, but when you’re prospecting, you want to ask yourself:
- What are your business values?
- What talents, specialties, and competencies do you bring from other fields?
- What are your benefits?
- How are you different from other real estate brokers?
The art of prospecting requires you to put yourself in situations where you can meet potential clients face to face or meet people who can refer you to others who may need your services.
Sphere of Influence
Your sphere of influence includes everyone you know: family, friends, fellow church members, acquaintances, former co-workers, the bartender at your favorite pub, the friendly server at your favorite café. They are everywhere and they should all know that you’re a real estate agent. Tell people what you do. People love to talk about real estate. Hand out lots of business cards!
With the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to connect with your sphere of influence, cultivate followers, and establish yourself as a real estate expert.
In addition to the traditional paper marketing materials, be sure to attract prospective clients and customers with:
- Your own Web site
- Word-of-mouth referrals
- Open houses
- Email newsletters
Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as the go-to real estate expert, establish an online community, and get prospects to come to you. Create buzz-worthy, sharable content then share and promote it on your social media channels. Start a discussion on an interesting topic and encourage people to comment and share.
The online community you create and maintain is similar to a “farm.” That’s the neighborhood that you service, work with, and become the center of. This is a community that you’ll farm for leads.
So to recap: have a plan, build up an income buffer, use all your resources to boost productivity, and cultivate your sphere of influence and online communities to stand out. With these steps, you will set a strong foundation for your new business and for future growth.
360training.com’s WA Real Estate Practices
360training.com’s TX Real Estate Marketing I
360training.com’s FL Post License Course