Colleagues developing business plan

© Luis Alvarez - DigitalVision/Getty Images

The pandemic has ushered in a wild housing market, and you may be feeling the effects of the rapid pace over the last few months. You may have dropped some of your systems and processes and lead generation efforts as homes sell fast and business keeps coming. But the frenzy may be taking a toll: You may be tired of juggling five, 10, or 40 offers on a home and the anguish of telling a buyer—yet again—that they lost out on another home they wanted. You may not have had a day off in weeks.

2021 REALTORS Conference & Expo logo

But the market will shift—as it always eventually does. Will you be ready to continue to thrive? And will you have the energy to? Leigh Brown, broker and owner of One Community Real Estate in Concord, N.C., said that a solid business plan that reflects your problem-solving skills, demonstrates your value to clients, and offers plenty of relationship connections is key to keeping your career growing in any market. Brown spoke to a crowd at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo on Friday at the session, “Your Post-COVID Business Plan.”

Prove yourself to be essential. Real estate professionals who focus their marketing on the fact that they put a home under contract in mere hours or made a massive number of sales over the past year are making real estate look too easy. The public is going to think they don’t need you, Brown warned. “We told the world our job is easy,” Brown said. “What makes a REALTOR® essential has nothing to do with a sign in the yard or the Sentrilock key in your hand that will let you inside the house. You are a professional problem solver. Until we teach the public that, they’re never going to respect the job we do.”

Show the value you offer: Help your clients determine their best plan given their circumstances, educate them about market conditions and purchasing power, offer a roster of local vendors to assist them, and serve as an ally in a competitive market.

Commit to one call per day. You may be busy, but make time to stay in touch. Brown urged attendees to commit to making one call per day. “Just call a contact who is already saved in your phone, and have a conversation,” Brown said. She cited a study that reviewed 60 years of data showing outbound calls can result in 10% of new business. Using that one call per day metric over five days a week could potentially result in two real estate transactions a month, Brown said.

“We have to get over our call reluctance,” Brown said. Don’t just rely on text, which can lead to communication misunderstandings. Make a phone call and start with the question: “How are you?” “Then just let them talk,” Brown said. “We’re too aggressive oftentimes in our approach. You’re not calling about real estate or trying to sell them a house.”

Brown recalled a time when she called a contact to whom she hadn’t sold a home to in 11 years. She called to ask about a social media post she saw about the woman’s son. The conversation led to the woman talking about how she wanted to sell her home. “You could be the key to the person’s future success, but you never called them and then they forgot you’re an [agent],” Brown said.

Expand your thinking and network. Brown cited a stat from NAR that shows about a quarter of Americans are considering purchasing a second home. These second homes are not just in coastal areas, but in university towns or in areas where people either want to be near family or are interested in short-term rentals. These buyers could be an opportunity to open new line of business leads.

Look to build referral networks with other agents to help clients and to build a pipeline of new business opportunities. Brown encouraged real estate professionals to consider earning a designation or certification to learn new skills in the industry.

Brown also shared a form with attendees for creating “My Dream Year” in real estate. The form has agents consider elements of a business plan they might not normally include, such as mental health and commitment to the community. The form asks agents to set a day off each week and schedule a vacation week to reenergize. It asks about fitness and health goals and asks agents to identify business areas, such as in working with investors, listings, or technology, where agents would like to get additional education over the next year.

Show your appreciation. Consider hosting a client appreciation event to connect with clients. But Brown said any such event should have a contactless option based on differences in comfort levels during the pandemic. Brown hosts a communitywide shredding event twice a year where people can drive up to drop off unwanted documents. Some people want to get out of their car and socialize, so she has a bounce house for kids and makes herself available to talk. Others are fully masked and want to remain in the car, so she offers an option to drive up and pop the trunk, and event participants will remove the items to be shredded. “Match everybody where they are,” Brown said.