Most consumers feel that spring is the time to get into the real estate market, but for agents, our momentum is constant and needs to be renewed immediately after the New Year. During the end of each year, the market naturally slows, so we finalize closings, have a few active listings and give thanks to those we have worked with throughout the year.
I am always energized with the beginning of the New Year because of opportunities that lay ahead. My motto has always been, “don’t wait for the phone to ring with clients, you must go out and seek clients,” and when you get those new leads you better be well prepared.
With a New Year, agents must renew their business goals and focus on four key areas to prepare for a successful 2014:
1. Organization – After a year of managing appointments, calls, listings, showings, offers, inspections, lenders, problem resolution, closings and much more, agents tend to let their organization go by the wayside. I find that when your business is well organized, it makes you a more efficient agent and alleviates a lot of unnecessary stress. Each December/January, I make a concerted effort to clean up my email account, computer files, contact lists, office files and supplies, storage, etc.
I go through my personal marketing materials to “refresh” them, order marketing supplies, get more brokerage materials and make sure I am ready with materials for those last-minute client meetings. While I get my “house in order” I tend to find many things that will be useful, ways to change things up a bit and recall more contacts to make. Agents must utilize the less demanding times to reorganize and prepare.
2. Training – No matter how many years you have worked in real estate, there is always more to learn. Changing trends, technology and laws keep our profession evolving all the time. One of the top characteristics clients seek in an agent is our level of knowledge, and to effectively utilize technologies. Agents are expected to show their value in the resources they can provide, especially in our technology- driven world.
The New Year is a great time to register for courses on the systems your brokerage offers, social media sites, software programs and apps, continuing education courses, real estate designations or other areas of interest. Do not be hesitant to try new things; they may just be the resources that make your job easier or more attractive to potential clients. Knowledge always brings confidence.
3. Online Presence – As we all know, more than 90 percent of consumers utilize the Internet when researching the market, planning to sell their home, searching for a home and looking at agents (even when recommended, consumers still check out your profiles). Agents should regularly update their profiles on every website that may have your information.
Your skills, areas and accomplishments change all the time, so your online profiles need to be updated. What you wish to say about yourself to consumers also changes. Chances are when you update your information, you will discover improved site options and more ways to connect with consumers. Organized, easy to read, attractive content makes a difference in representing your business. Also consider updating your headshot every few years (your hairstyle evolves too!).
4. Outreach – No matter how many referrals you are getting form past clients, your business will only continue to sustain and grow with prospecting consumers and keeping in touch with potential clients and contacts. This is where you can’t afford to wait for your phone to ring, but need to go out and seek new business.
Any top-producing agent will acknowledge that they continue to do prospecting. The New Year is the best time to make goals as to how you plan to maintain regular communication with prior leads and generate new ones. Setup your monthly marketing activities, such as newsletters, expired/cancelled/FSBO communications, Open Houses, social media posting, etc. Then setup your seasonal marketing activities, such as promotional offers, advertising, events, holidays, sponsorships, mailings, etc. Maintain communications with other contacts that may also provide great leads, such as lenders, businesses, community groups, etc. Provide a value-added stream of information and offers to keep your name out there throughout the entire year.
Agents may be self-employed, but we run successful businesses that need our attention at all times. Take advantage of the “slower” times of year to keep your business well organized and ready for the busy year ahead. Best wishes for a wonderful 2014!
She can be reached at 630.346.3272 or Christine.Groves@CBexchange.com.