Deciding Where to Focus in Your Business

focus

I’ll never forget the one, gut-wrenching moment when a business mentor called me out on everything great we were doing at our firm. “Valerie, you keep telling me all the things you guys are but what I’m not hearing is who are you not?” It hit me like a bullet between the eyes! He was right! In fact, he was so right that there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since where his words haven’t echoed like a freight train in my mind. We had grown an amazing business but were wondering why we couldn’t get to the next level and it had to do with one simple thing…we were focused but not focused enough!

Until that day, I thought I fully understood the power of focus, – in marketing, in strategy, in client service, in virtually every area of our business. For me, focus always came instinctively and, as a business owner, my nature has always been to question whether every action we take will lead to a nice return on investment (ROI).

Return-on-investment usually boils down to money; what will give us the best return for a given investment of resources. I believe you can only pay yourself in two ways: 1) by making more money, or 2) by finding more time to do the things you love. I think we often forget to focus on what parts of our business we find satisfying and fun because we’re too busy focusing on what the market looks like or on what types of customers we can reach.

So, for us, the question, “who are we not?” led us to the answer we’d been searching for all along. It redirected our focus to the opportunities we saw in the marketplace and away from the parts of the business we didn’t enjoy. Today, the payback has been exceptional, and I owe it to a perceptive, bold coach who was willing to risk telling me something I may not want to hear.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you could use some advice on keeping your business goals in focus.

6 Habits of Effective Realtors

I have been blessed to consult with tons of realtors and I have a huge respect for them. Many of the agents I have connected with have large offices and do huge amounts of business.  Some have home offices.  Some work part-time, others work full-time.   I have worked with both men and women who sell real estate and I am proud to say I have helped many people take their business to the next level.

So, what is the secret formula to be a successful realtor in today’s market?

The first thing is always passion. It’s a hard business and it takes a lot of attention to detail and a commitment to great customer service. In talking with agents I’ve noticed that the best agents all share some of the same qualities:

They return calls and emails at lightning speed – These are the people that get a lead and don’t let it go. They immediately make contact and they follow up.  They answer any questions and are happy to stay on the phone with nervous clients. They are the warriors of email, text, and phone and they keep that rhythm right up through the whole transaction, .  I have heard it called the “Land, sea, and air approach” where realtors reach out to clients through as many channels as possible.    Their clients feel like they are very important to the agent. They also switch their communication style to match the client. If the client prefers text, they text, if the client wants a phone call, they call. They mirror the client’s communication style so the client feels more comfortable.

They are up on the latest technology – They are iPad toters and smartphone addicts. They do everything from anywhere. They don’t just have a tablet and a smartphone; they make sure they have great data plans so they are never stuck without an internet connection. They try to go paperless as much as possible. They read a lot of information both about the real estate industry but also about general trends regarding technology.

They know their neighborhoods intimately – The phrase “neighborhood expert” gets bandied about quite a bit but when it comes to top agents, they are walking, talking encyclopedias of neighborhood lore. Ask a question about a street and they know what’s on the market, what sold recently, and the overall status of the neighborhood. Tell the agent what you like in a neighborhood and suggestions on places to look will come tumbling out. Looking to sell? The agent knows what is on the market, what just sold, and what you can get for your money.  These days anyone can look at houses online but the top agents know what lurks below the surface and they keep their value that way.

They explain everything they are doing – Like straight A students doing math homework, successful agents show their work. When they meet with the client for the first time they explain the process, the potential roadblocks, and a few scenarios that could occur. They let the client know that they are negotiating, they keep in regular communication, and they adjust their strategy as needed. Sellers who are surveyed after a closing almost always say what made them most satisfied with their agents was regular communication on what was happening with the efforts to sell the home.

They get leads any way they can – Nobody really likes to talk about leads but leads are how many agents get clients. A lead is an introduction to someone the realtor hasn’t met yet. Smart agents are experimenters, they try out different types of lead sources, they explore different types of ad campaigns, and they take notes on what works and what doesn’t. They understand that having a social presence is important and that staying top of mind means being active with their clients through social media, through advertising, and even through more traditional methods such as postcard mailings. Postcards and bus stop bench ads are still around because they still work in some cases.

They have a great network– These agents don’t just have a network to bring them clients they have a network of top-notch partners who provide the same level of service they do. They know the best contractors, appraisers, lenders, and insurance providers in the business.  The agent is the hub of a group of professionals that can advise and assist with anything real estate or home related. Top agents care for their network and are happy to refer clients that they know will get top care. They are ruthless about cutting out anyone who doesn’t provide great customer service to their clients.  They realize that everyone in that network represents their brand and they cannot afford to have anyone in that network that is not top notch.

Overall, great customer service is about two things, knowledge and authenticity. The agents that succeed are able to treat each client’s purchase as vitally important as any other.  They are able to steer the client through any hiccups in the process and leave the client feeling that the whole process was as easy as possible.

Keep following my blog for articles and tips on having a successful real estate practice.

-Valerie R. Leonard, AIF® / Financial Consultant

*Original article by Deidre Woollard on realtor.com.

10 Productivity Tips for Realtors {Anatomy of a Happy Office}

Having worked closely with many realtors in my career, I love the opportunity to share here some of the tips I have given them to help them have a more productive, successful business.   It is not easy to stay on top of everything but if you can take some of this advice to practice, you will start to see some amazing results.

10 Productivity Tips for Realtors

  1.  Break big tasks into smaller pieces.
  2. Set your priorities.
  3. Isolate the one task that you have to get done.
  4. Start easy.
  5. If it is not your forte, delegate it.
  6. Set deadlines.
  7. Don’t start your day with emails.
  8. Create a flexible schedule.
  9. Forget multi-tasking.
  10. Work hard when you are in the zone.

My infographic below gives more details on these tips.  Keep following my blog for more ways to increase productivity and see more success in your real estate business.


All through November, all of the advisors at our office are doing a series of articles, tips and tools and geared toward the “Anatomy of a Happy Office”.  Follow all of our blogs to read it all.
Northside of Average by Valerie Leonard
TAG-Living Loud by Trent Grinkmeyer
Motivated Monday by Caleb Bagwell
401kBizResource by Jamie Kertis