By Glen Tomlinson
In a changing real estate world, companies that prepare intelligently and effectively for 2008 will reap the greatest success. Those who properly structure their companies and their agents are the ones that can negotiate through these uncertain times and realize growth.
Careful preparation has helped Century 21 Sussex & Reilly reach $1 billion in sales annually over the last five years, and we aim for continuity in 2008 by orchestrating and implementing sound business plans.
Preparing Your Company for 2008
Company budgets are essential in uncertain times, and need to be carefully developed, followed and monitored every single month. A formal, written budget will guide company growth and help attain goals. It will also keep your company competitive and profitable. For example, look at income and expenses every month. How much are they? Where are they coming from? Are they in line with companies of like size? Is any fine tuning necessary?
Company productivity is also essential and flows from good agent recruitment and retention. In the high-attrition real estate industry, you must bring fresh blood into the organization on a regular basis, both newly-licensed agents and experienced agents. Have a recruiting plan and work at it every day.
Retention means understanding your agents’ operations, needs and feelings. You must be in the trenches with your agents, elbow to elbow, working together toward every deal. In the old days, some brokers would manage from 30,000 feet away and throw praise at their order-taking agents — not anymore. Now, you must know all agents on a daily basis, hold them accountable and support them.
Finally, you must identify and act on unproductive agents who are a drag on the bottom line. If an agent has not closed a home in several months, talk with them and help them get on track. If that doesn’t work, perhaps at this point it is best to guide them to another career.
Marketing and advertising are changing dramatically in this day and age. With 80 to 90 percent of buyers coming from the Internet, consider adding Internet marketing to your arsenal. Most real estate companies are slow to do this, thinking sellers only want to see their homes pictured in newspaper ads.
Preparing Your Agents for 2008
Successful real estate companies will provide their agents with the skills, talents and motivation to grow in 2008.
Agent productivity is critical. Agents must think about listing and selling every single day and consider how to obtain their next paycheck. Many agents waste time on peripheral activities instead of what counts. Make sure they transfer routine activities, such as addressing envelopes, to assistants. Agents’ time is better spent in front of decision makers.
Value propositions characterize powerful agents. These powerful agents have a vision and mission statement. They can articulate why prospects should do business with them and their company.
Excellent customer service now defines success. The real estate industry has changed dramatically in my 26 years, from a broker-driven industry decades ago to a customer-centric industry today. Using the Internet, customers stay up late learning everything about potential homes, including specs, neighborhoods, comparables and more. They need an agent who provides value by understanding, educating and counseling them. Being an effective agent is much more complicated than it was years ago. Agents thrive when their broker is fully engaged with them and their business.
Currently, it is typically the first agent responding to an Internet query who gets the business. Speed, quality and outstanding service define the victor. We tell our agents to follow the Nordstrom model, to provide excellent customer service and make sure every single detail is addressed. Outstanding service not only wins the business, but also keeps clients and attracts referrals, making this truly a professionals market.
Preparing your company and agents for 2008 will have a major impact on success. It will ready an organization to plan, market, operate, monitor and grow effectively.
GLEN TOMLINSON IS PARTNER AND GENERAL MANAGER OF CENTURY 21 SUSSEX & REILLY, A BILLION-DOLLAR CHICAGO REAL ESTATE COMPANY. HE CAN BE REACHED AT 773.524.4402 OR GTOMLINSON@SRCHICAGO.COM.
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