1. Make a decision. The power to decide and understand that you will have to do something is one of the most powerful decisions in the universe. The process of deciding that you will be a success, have a great marriage, strong relationship with your children, or certain type of business or wealth will cause you to move forward towards your goal. Most people never decide what they truly want in life therefore they get nothing. Your conscious decision will cause your mind to diligently search and create the reality that you have chosen. For example over six years ago, I decided to work a Monday through Thursday workweek. That was the most powerful decision of my life at that time. I made the decision and created the specific plan for me to achieve the goal of a four-day workweek. By making the decision, I was able to block out things that were taking me farther away from my goal. This allowed me to successfully achieve my goal with lasting results for my life.
2. Creating a schedule. Your schedule should encompass your whole life. Your business and personal life need to be factored in to create balance. I have seen far too many Agents sacrifice their family to achieve a production or commission goal. When they finally reach their goal, they have no one to share it with or they realize what little importance that goal had compared to their family. I have a friend who tragically lost a child and now is reflecting on the years of decisions made for the sake of a few plaques and personal production goals. Those plaques or even the money earned are little comfort to her at a time of great sorrow. What a hollow feeling for that highly successful Agent!
The schedule should encompass the “time block” system. By time blocking I mean to schedule specific time for each daily activity in real estate. Schedule time to prospect, qualify buyers and sellers, negotiate contracts, return phone calls, listing presentations, and show property. The better you “time block” the more effective you will be. The more that you adhere to the schedule the more success you will have in sales. Remember to allow for a little “play time” or “flex time.” You will need some time to relax and decompress. This time for relaxing will enable you to stay focused and sharp during the “up time.” Give yourself 15 minute “flex time” every two to three hours. This should be sufficient to break the tension or catch up so that you are able to stay focused and “time blocked.”
3. Value of Time. To decrease your time worked and increase your production, you must know and understand the value of your time. Anyone can make more money if he trades more time for it. Even the ditch digger can do that. He merely needs to work overtime. The secret is to trade less time for more income.
People who understand the value of time trade less and less time for more and more income. You must first know the value of your time today. What are you worth per hour? Do you know? If you do not, it is a simple equation. Determine your gross commission for last year and divide it by the total hours you worked. The total would be your hourly rate or what you are worth per hour.
Now if you want a more accurate figure of what you are worth per hour, subtract your business expenses for last year from your gross commission for last year. Divide that figure by the total hours you worked. Now, look at you value per hour. Most people don’t have the courage to really look at this number. For one of my clients, before we began to coach him he was grossing $300,000.00 per year; it showed him he was making around $80.00 an hour. With his high level of skill in the real estate business his hourly rate was about a third of what he should have been making.
People who know the value of time in their life create masterful lives. People who do not know have a miserable existence, because they do not understand the importance of time. Let me give you an example.
If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,000—that carried over no balance from day to day—that allowed you to keep no cash in your account…and every evening cancelled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day—what would you do? Draw out every cent, of course! Well, you do have such a bank—its name is ‘time.’ Every morning it credits you with 86,000 seconds…every night it rules off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purposes. It carries no balance…It allows no overdrafts. Each day it opens a new account for you. If you fail to use the day’s deposit, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow. You must live in the present on today’s deposit.
If you and I make the most of our time, it will be because we understand the value of each and every second. We will learn how to spend our time wisely.
4. Invest your time in high payoff activities. You must invest your time and define what the high payoff activities are for you. Once you have defined the activities, you need the discipline to do them daily. These are the only activities you can do to pay yourself well. You need to also understand that these activities will change as your hourly value increases. For a new Agent, there are a lot of high payoff activities compared to a top Agent in the office. For a top Agent, who makes $300.00 plus per hour, there are very few high payoff activities. You must invest the time to define what the high payoff activities are for you. The following were my high payoff activities when I was a real estate Agent.
2. Lead follow-up.
3. Going on listing appointments.
4. Negotiating contracts.
5. Coaching staff.
6. Planning my business.
These were the only activities I could do and effectively bill the amount per hour I was worth. You must focus, like an attorney does, in billing out hours daily. The more hours you bill, the more income you make. The greater percentage of the day I did these six activities the more income I earned.
5. Developing a philosophy. By philosophy, I mean guidelines for doing business both personally and professionally. If you understand your value per hour and your average commission check, you can determine the type of people you are willing to work with, i.e. personality types, price range, and the type of clients to look for. You may not be able to work in a certain price range or with certain types of people. When a buyer does not provide you the answers you need, you can refer him to another Agent or drop him because he does not meet your philosophy. You need to understand you were not put on this earth to help everyone. There are people you cannot help. This fact does not make them or us bad people or you a bad person. It just makes you a business person who expects a reasonable profit for the amount of time invested. Once I was clear on my philosophy of what a client was and my expectations for a client, I was able to work with people who conformed to my philosophy. You must define clearly your world of business. This definition will enable you to better select the people to work with. We have all selected the wrong people. We have spent large amounts of time and money working with people we should not have and felt awful afterwards. In some instances, we were never paid or appreciated for our efforts. You will feel much better turning them down before you invest your time, energy, and money in a losing cause. By understanding your “core” philosophy, you will be able to seek out the clients who meet your criteria rather than finding those that do not. By having this philosophy, you will generally find the clients you are looking for. You will also be able to quickly dispense with those clients who do not meet your standard operating procedures.
6. Understand your business. Know what generates your business. What are the top three income producing activities that you do? Where do you spend your time daily? Compare those two answers and look at what you are worth per hour. Do only those activities that earn you the highest return the bulk of your day. I will give you a hint; high payoff activities are not putting up signs and lock boxes. These are only high payoff activities if you want to make less than $10.00 per hour. You are a business owner of a company that sells millions of dollars in product per year. You need to know and understand your business. You must know where your sales come from to enable you to sell at higher volume. Most Agents earn success by the sweat of their brow. They outwork the competition. Your job is to outthink your competition. Then outwork them, if you desire.
7. Prospecting. There are as many ways of prospecting, as there are people. The key is you must prospect daily to bring in the business. You can prospect via the phone or in person. You can prospect expired, FSBO, cold call, appointments for buyers, investment properties, your sphere, and out of area owners. The list is endless. If you are not spending a minimum of one hour everyday prospecting for new business, you will have difficulty during stretches of your career. Even calling your past clients and asking for referrals is an excellent way to prospect.
When you begin to get busy, do not fall into the common trap of letting prospecting slide. Just because you are busy, do not think you do not need to prospect anymore. This is the time to focus on prospecting and bringing in more clients. You have momentum, so keep going. The analogy I like to use is that if a plane is on the runway it takes a tremendous amount of energy to climb to 20,000 feet. Once the plane is at 20,000 feet, it can throttle back a little and easily maintain its cruising altitude. If the plane throttles back completely, it will soon be back down on the runway. Do not throttle back in your prospecting or you will find yourself on the runway quickly. By continuing to prospect, you can then climb higher or do the same production in less time. Consistency in your prospecting leads to consistency in your paydays.
8. Qualifying the potential client. This step is crucial to success. I see more Agents make mistakes in this area than in any other. They are afraid to qualify people to the point of excluding them out. Do not be like these foolish Agents. The whole goal in qualifying is the exclusion of the unmotivated. If you do not become skilled at excluding out the unmotivated buyer or seller, they will waste your time. They will eventually drive you out of the business, both emotionally and financially.
The most valuable commodity you have in life is your time. We all have a finite amount of time here on earth. We do not even know the amount of time we have left. If we choose to work with unqualified, unmotivated, unloanable, unable to sell people too often, we are out of business. By properly qualifying all leads, you are saving yourself from putting them in your car or going to their house to find out they are not a lead at all. Spending five hours showing property only to find out that they are working with another Agent, unable to buy because of bad credit, have no money, or are unrealistic of the value of homes today is a painful experience. Any one of these people causes us frustration and macaroni and cheese for dinner. Do not allow these people to control your business. The majority of the Agents in our industry really need to strengthen this discipline dramatically. They allow their clients to be the CEO of their real estate sales company.
To all of us, leads are like security. If we have them we feel secure and we do not have to find new ones. The truth is a lead by itself has no value. What is the true value of your leads? What would someone pay you for all your leads? Why not make them worth something to you and your family by qualifying them well, and then setting an appointment or throwing them out if they are of no value (which are most of them). Leads have little value warehoused in your computer. If you do not follow-up on your leads, throw them away. You can always create more leads. You can get more leads than you can handle. Why not pick only the best ones?
9. Create Strong Systems. Systems enable Agents to leverage themselves while still servicing their clients and prospects. You need to develop systems that create the desired result without your involvement. The reason why McDonalds is so popular is not the good food. It is because of the consistency. Whether you go into a McDonalds in Dallas, Texas or Tokyo, Japan the fries will be the same. They have developed their systems and procedures that allow them to sell billions of fries with the same effort and outcome every time.
As REALTORS® you do not have to be mechanical like McDonalds, but you do need systems. You need to have systems for listings, escrows, buyers, sellers, leads, other Agents, presenting offers, negotiating, follow-up with lead and clients, and the list goes on. You need a step-by-step process for each of these so you can delegate the tasks to other staff members.
10. Delegation. You need to delegate the low payoff tasks that need to be completed to other staff members. You need to teach and train your staff to replace you in certain functions. You need to monitor their progress with praise. And finally, you need to get out of the way and let them do it.
The last step is the most difficult step for most Agents. They hire assistants then never turn over ownership of the tasks to the assistant. You need to be able to relinquish control. They are going to fall down and bump their knee. They will ruin some deals and make some clients angry. But you have made mistakes, why wouldn’t they make similar mistakes?
Let me give you an example. Your child is learning to walk. How many times do you let him fall down before you say that is enough? You are done trying to walk. If you say enough, he will have to crawl the rest of his life since he will never learn to walk. But you would not do that; you would help him until he is able to walk all over the room. You need to let your staff fall down and get banged up. Don’t shelter them from the storm, but do not create a hurricane in your office either.
It took me years to learn these ten steps. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in time, energy, and money to work through the learning process of these disciplines. If I had the opportunity you have right now, I would have taken advantage of it. You have a rare opportunity to develop and learn and to apply these steps in months instead of years. Instead of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can invest less than one commission check to be coached to earn a larger income and create balance in your life.
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