Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Take Care of Your Best Source of Business FIRST

The number one source of business for the top-producing agents in the country is repeat and referral business through their spheres of influence. It makes sense to get a system in place now that ensures regular follow-up with your most important people. Top producer Judy Markowitz of Flushing, NY, calls these people her VVIP's (Very, VERY Important People).

The simplest method I know of that really works is to call your sphere quarterly and mail at least monthly. Mailing can take on a variety of forms, from added-value postcards that offer people discounts on local services or even free items (top producer Janet Parsons sends a card at Valentine's Day for each person to get a free rose when they visit a local florist), to an e-newsletter with market updates and useful tips on preparing a property to show, for example.

When designing the monthly mailings, always keep in mind that the piece must bring value to the consumer. In addition, you may choose to place a call to action on the mailout to get a higher level of engagement with your sphere (e.g., ask the consumer to update their email with you and offer to enter them into a drawing for a dinner certificate or other valuable item).

More challenging than the monthly mailing for most agents is the quarterly phone call. Most people don’t do an Hour of Power daily for the following reasons:
1. They don’t schedule the time.
2. They don’t know who to call.
3. They don’t know what to say.

Break your sphere into manageable bites. If you’re going to call quarterly, then do it over ten weeks and take three weeks off each quarter. This will give you the space to factor in vacation time and not have to worry about the calls getting done!

Steps to making the Hour come together:
#1 – block off time on your schedule each day, Monday through Friday. You may need 30 minutes or two hours, depending on the number of calls you'll be making each day (see #2). Real estate legend Allan Domb is still making 100 calls a day, and he is so disciplined that he can make that happen in 90 minutes when he's focused.
#2 – take the number of total people you have in your sphere (past clients & customers, and best referral resources) and divide those calls first by ten weeks, and then by five days in a week. For example, let’s say your sphere is 500 people. That’s 50 a week, or just ten a day.
#3 – people need to know two things when you call: that you’re still in the business, and that you care about them. Whether you’re leaving a voice mail or reaching a live person, these two items remain key. So anything at all you communicate that lets them know you’re still active in real estate and that you truly care about what’s in their best interests will work.

If you're still doubting your ability to follow through, find an accountability partner to hold you to the commitment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Whether You Think You Can or Can't You're Right

My mother is not only a great lady, she is also one of my best friends. She retired on February 1, 2008, after over 25 years at the same company. She is the epitome of a loyal team member. She worried too much about work, and stuck it out through thick and thin. She worked full time most of our childhood years, so our family could make ends meet. She is a very pragmatic, detail-oriented person.

When my dad died unexpectedly (massive heart attack) May 28, 1999, we weren't sure what would become of my Mom. First of all, as much as my folks grumped about each other, they did love and need each other. Second, she had never been alone in her life. Thank God my older sister, Shari, jumped in and filled a maternal role with our Mom to help her through countless episodes of anger, fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

Thanks to the huge blessing of the STAR POWER network, I had met Dr. Tom Hill of the Eagle Institute and he sent me a fantastic book for my Mom to read about finding the second love of her life. My Mom ended up moving into a new mindset. She discovered she could be independent. She sold the house she and my Dad had lived in and bought a brand-new house. She put herself out on the dating circuit after well over 35 years. She fell in love and married in September 2003. And now, my Mom is traveling the east coast in an RV and enjoying life. That's my Mom, in the picture, holding an alligator! She's discovering an adventurous, carefree life and she's proving it's never too late to start living the life you want.

Moral of the story: my Mom went from a mindset of despair and loneliness to a vibrant, fun-filled future. Your thoughts are powerful things. Be mindful what you're feeding your brain.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Onsite Consults Provide Direction and Bring Change

I had the absolute pleasure of spending three days with The Nellis Group in Burke, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. This was an onsite consult, to evaluate the effectiveness of their team, their structure, and their systems.

Many people ask how they would know if they needed an onsite consult. One of the benefits of an onsite consult is that the consultant can look at your business from a "helicopter view" - as a part of that team yourself, you often are unable to have an unbiased perspective on what's going on and how to improve it.

Another benefit of an onsite consult is reorganizing roles and job descriptions on the team. In Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, he talks about having "the right people on the bus" and then having those people "in the right seats on the bus." A great consultant will be able to identify if you have the right people, and whether they're in the roles that give the team the most efficiency and the individuals the most personal satisfaction.

I took the time while at The Nellis Group to share the DISC profile of individual team members, and elaborated on how the personality types are different and what that means in terms of daily interaction. Most people are operating off the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. If you're ready to take that to the next level, practice the Platinum Rule: treat others as they want to be treated.

Recommendations follow the consult, in all areas that were agreed upon to discuss. It's up to you to choose what you'll implement. In one case, a team I consulted only did one item on the multi-page list of recommendations within the first thirty days, and it was one of the most minor of suggestions. In another case, the team took my recommendations to heart and had implemented every item on the list within 90 days of my visit.

I've always heard that change won't happen until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change. If you're willing to invest in having a consultant, be willing to do what it takes to make the changes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coping with Chaos

“I work long days and never seem to catch up. I’m constantly distracted by thousands of things running through my head that need to get done. I’m full of anxiety. Help!”

Many of the clients I coach have experienced this. Let me share a three-step process to bring order to your personal chaos.

Step One: CLARITY. Ask questions that help you become clear on what you want; go deeper into not only your business but also a personal understanding of what’s driving the surface issue. In business you have learned the ‘three-deep’ process for helping clients get to the issue beyond the issue. How about going three deep with yourself? Example: you don’t have the energy to get it all done. What’s impacting the energy? Are you getting enough sleep? How are your eating habits? What sort of physical activity are you engaging in?

Step Two: ALIGNMENT. Focus in on what you’ve gotten clarity on. What resources are available to you to support a change? Identify what your action steps will be as you design a plan of action. Continuing with the same example, you might dedicate one hour, three days a week, to working out (plan of action), and hire a personal trainer (gather resource). You might do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training each session (action steps).

Step Three: ACTION. In the words of Nike, just do it. Make sure you have accountability. Set benchmarks for progress. Check out a great book on The Power of Personal Accountability written by Mark Samuel.

Finding someone to partner with - be it a paid coach, a peer partner, or even your significant other - in this process will help you reach your goals faster, with adjustments being made along the way as life continues to unfold. Your “coach” will hold you accountable and help you make significant changes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Book Review of Presentation Mastery

When I think of who some of the all-around, most successful businesspeople in the real estate industry, I think of Linda & Jim McKissack. Not only have they built an incredibly successful real estate team, but they also built it to run without them involved in the day-to-day business. They have created many other sources of revenue in their lives so that they are no longer reliant on the real estate sales income. And they've succeeded at partnering in business with people who are also lifelong friends.

How did they do it? First and foremost, they walk their talk. Spend a few minutes with either one of them, and you'll witness first hand their passion for leading a quality life and encouraging others to do the same. They're smart businesspeople, and they're full of integrity.

Their book, Presentation Mastery for REALTORS, does a great job of laying out what they've focused on in order to create a sustainable, ongoing successful real estate practice. If you're a new agent, it's a great blueprint. If you're a seasoned agent, you'll find yourself saying, "Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that," or even, "I'd heard that before and I'm ready to do it now."

I recommend you pick up a copy and read it.