13 Ways to Keep Business Flowing in All MarketsApr 26, 2023
13 Ways to Keep Business Flowing in All Markets
Want to be the agent who always has a pipeline of business? Here are some tips from real estate vets who find success no matter what the market.
In hot markets, you likely feel you have too much business. And then a slowdown hits, and your listings and income take a nosedive. To maintain a healthy flow of work whatever the market, always do outreach, even in frenzied times.
“When agents are busy closing deals, it’s all they focus on,” says Debbie Rector, broker-owner with TOP PERFORMANCE Real Estate Consultants in Crystal River. “They don’t generate leads for tomorrow, which is why they have ups and downs. Always find time to reach out and get new business. I don’t care how busy you are.”
Read on for tips from Rector and other veterans of the field on honing your business and improving your outreach for continued success in all markets.
Honing your business
1. Develop specific expertise.
“When the market gets slow, buyers and sellers want experts to guide them, rather than anyone with a license,” says Donna Stott, a real estate broker and coach with Your Coaching Matters in Georgia. “Have a focus that you know more than anyone else about. It could be one ZIP Code or town. It could be one large neighborhood or three condo complexes next to each other. It could be working with veterans or investors. It could be everything in a small town over $400,000 or $1 million. Most agents try to be a little bit knowledgeable about a ton of things rather than becoming a true expert in something.”
Charmaine Hickey, an agent with Lang Realty in Port St. Lucie, agrees, pointing out that “you cannot know all areas. Your focus should be learning as much as you can about your area so you can be the resource person.”
2. Stick to minimum standards.
Set minimum standards in terms of location and price range, advises Stott. Decide what they are and stick to them. “While it’s tempting when the market slows to take anything and everything anywhere, that is a mistake,” she says. “Business begets business.”
If you take a listing 50 miles away, you will generate more business in that far-off location. Instead, refer more remote listings to experts in those areas and earn referral fees, she adds. One caveat: Make sure there’s enough business to meet your standards. “I once had a client who wanted to only work $6 million+ homes in one town,” says Stott. “When we looked at how much business was available with that standard, on average, it was only two closings a year. That was too tight.”
3. Look for opportunities in each market.
When the market cascaded downward in 2008–2010, opportunities abounded for private investors and first-time homebuyers, says Kim Knapp, a team leader with Team Knapp at Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Fleming Island. “Agents who specialized in short sales or REOs not only survived but thrived.”
Hickey agrees, revealing that at one point, 80% of her business was short sales. During colder markets, she also targets rental communities. Greg Gorman, broker-associate with John R. Wood Properties in Naples, reveals that in slower times, he offers tips and trends to those who may be forced to relocate, downsize or exit homeownership altogether.
Improving your outreach
1. Focus on people with whom you’ve already done business.
“Everything I do is around past clients,” says Rector. “I just work on communicating with the people I know.” For instance, she sends post-
closing congratulatory notes with pictures of the buyers’ new homes. She’ll wish them happiness and invite them to get in touch if they have any questions about their new neighborhood. Similarly, Hickey sets aside a few hours each month to call past clients. “Sometimes, it’s just a catch-up or check-in call, just to find out how they are doing.”
Smart ideas: Start a community Facebook group to help people connect, or use an app like Milestones to stay in touch with buyers and sellers.
2. Devote marketing dollars to your VIPs.
“When there is a ton of income coming in, agents tend to market widely, trying to hit a large number of potential prospects,” says Stott. “When the market slows, it’s critical to reallocate that marketing spend to a smaller group and more often, for a better return.” She points out the importance of finding a core group that will do business with you personally and recommend you to others. “This works, no matter how hot or cold the market is,” she says. “If you have the right 150 people, you can have a great business.”
3. Reach out regularly.
“My mailers go out each month, whether it’s a hot or cold market,” says Hickey. “If you are door knocking or sending postcards or other marketing materials, do it the same time each month or every two months.”
To make sure her customer base remembers her, she sends materials they’ll want to keep handy. She relies on postcards with informational content, like the many uses for WD40 or recipes, say for rum cake. “People will keep these cards—and they have your contact information.”
4. Cast a wide net with property marketing.
“I throw everything against the wall when getting sellers and trying to market my properties,” says Rector. Use social media, but don’t forget to pick up the phone and talk to clients, she advises.
Rector also sends out email newsletters and videos, invests in billboard ads, and gifts bottles of wine with her name on them. Recently, to reach those who don’t read emails or watch videos, she sent out print magazines (via the company Home By Design).
Meanwhile, Knapp invites her clients to meet her for coffee on National Donut Day. Gorman sends handwritten notes and cards, which he says are one of the best ways to keep in touch. “We all enjoy a handwritten note, and so few people ever receive them anymore.”
5. Tailor your medium to your audience.
Ask people how they’d like to be in touch with you, urges Rector. “Communicate with people the way they want to be communicated with. I will text, call, or email—figure out who likes what.” For past clients who are active on Facebook, Rector might comment on one of their posts. Annette Anthony, director of Corporate Engagement for EXIT Realty Corp., also comments on her client’s social media posts, sending them IMs or even calling them to tell them she saw their posts.
6. Always bring business cards.
Hickey never forgets her business cards, aiming to distribute three to five every time she goes shopping. “Last week, I gave a [seasonal visitor] my card. She called me to secure a rental for her, just like that. You never know.”
7. Plan activities for your client base.
Throughout the year, Gorman hosts events, including movies (he rents out an entire theater), cooking classes, wine and beer tastings, date nights, and decorating events at local interior design shops. “We make it a point to touch all ages and those who are new to the area,” he says. “Clients love these events. We often get calls to make sure they’re still on our events list.”
At a minimum, follow Knapp’s example and host an annual client appreciation event. Post pictures on social media, describing the get-together as “honoring the people who trust me with their friends and family.”
8. Join groups.
Rector rides horses, sponsors horse shows, and is on the board of directors for a local charity. “Choose a charity you are passionate about,” she says. “Pick a hobby you enjoy, not just to meet people, but to grow your business organically. “Then, people will reach out to you. You’ll be their real estate source.”
9. Cultivate relationships with other agents.
When agents write offers for her properties, Rector sends them cards with brownies (via the company, sendoutcards.com). She does the same for agents who won her listings. “Since we’re going to work together, I want to start off our relationship well,” she says. “Agents don’t realize that another part of their job is to collaborate with other agents. You want to be known as an agent who is easy to work with.”
“Tough markets have always existed,” says Anthony. “The benefit of challenging markets is agents are stretched to sharpen their skills. Hot or cold markets are irrelevant to agents who understand the value of high-dollar activities that yield a high-dollar return. They do them in hot and cold markets because that is what continues to keep them successful in any market.”