As a real estate coach, I’ve helped my clients through every imaginable challenge in their business. But now with the pandemic, we’re all facing some unimaginable ones, too. My work training and supporting agents over the past six years (after more than 20 years as an agent myself in the Chicago and Boston areas) focuses on helping them develop strategies and tactics for boosting sales goals and identifying untapped sources of business. Now, like all of us in real estate, I’ve had to shift my mission with the times. The daily schedules and routines that I’ve helped my clients develop and stick to are suddenly out the window when you can’t attend a networking group, meet people for coffee, or pick up clients for showings. It’s easy to feel at loose ends about how to run a real estate business in this environment.
The good news is, as I tell my clients, consumers who need to move forward with selling or buying a home may need your support and guidance more than ever as we navigate this uncertain business environment. I’ve been busy supporting my longtime clients and putting myself out there to help those who might be in need of a business coach for the first time. Social media has been a tremendous way to make those connections. I rely on my Facebook business page, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and I recently started a YouTubeChannel, Coaching With Roxy.
As always, I am an accountability partner. And as we continue in this unexpected pivot in our business and our lives, I’m finding that many are intensely grateful for this kind of connection by phone or by screen. As I’ve been telling my clients lately, your buyers, sellers, and even your prospects need to hear from you with facts about what’s happening now with real estate and the economy, as well as some reassurance about the future. This is not the time to go silent.
My advice is not one-size-fits-all, as in some places, my clients are considered “essential” service providers, and others they are not. And I always reiterate that it’s critical to pay attention to the business and office policies adapted by your own managing broker, which could change by the week or the day.
Regardless of which state they are licensed in, my clients express many common concerns about getting through this challenging time. Here are some tips that I’ve shared with them that may help you stay on track.
1. Feel your feelings. First, and most important, take some time to sort through your feelings. You probably are juggling many different emotions right now, and I encourage you to honor them, rather than stuff them down. Among the big ones: fear (quite justified!), frustration (just one more thing setting me back!), confusion (how am I supposed to get my job done, and what should I say to my clients?), anger (I don’t need or deserve this right now!), overwhelmed (as if I don’t have enough to deal with already!), and panic (how am I supposed to make a living?).
The goal is to be gentle and patient with yourself. Take one thing at a time, one day at a time. But do take time.
2. Reach out to clients. Once you are clear on what you can and cannot do given state guidelines or local policies, and you’ve checked in with or heard from your managing broker, schedule appointments with your clients to have an important conversation about expectations over the phone or via web communication. Do your best to remain calm and communicate confidence and a sense of camaraderie. For example, you can remind them, “We are all in this together, we will figure things out along the way, and you are my highest priority.”
You may have clients that decide to put their plans on hold for the time being. That would be understandable. But, as we know, there are always people who need to move for one reason or another, and those folks will need extra care, counseling (this is a chance to show up as a consultant more than a salesperson), assurances, and, yes, some extra creativity on your part! But remember, at all times, follow health precautions necessary to keep you and your community safe.
3. Create a structure. You may find that working from home, with some clients on hold, creates extra time in your day. It’s more important than ever to use a calendar and follow a schedule. Consider color-coding your calendar; this helps to be sure you have a balance of activities. You don’t want your day to turn into a long blur of getting nothing accomplished. Dress as if you are going into the office or meeting a client; you’ll feel more productive. Set a time-block each morning for planning your day and a time-block at the end of the day to review what you got done and what is still left to accomplish. This will add some accountability to your day and your week.
4. Go deeper with outreach and marketing. This is an important time for you to connect with past clients and active prospects. You want to remain top of mind and let them know you are still here, and that you care. It would be a great time to send a hand-written, personal note communicating good wishes and expressing concern. Been putting off those geographic farm mailings, just listed/just sold postcards or flyers? Now is the time to get caught up. Dig out all those old open house leads you have in a folder somewhere and follow up. You know they are probably home now!
5. Keep in mind that people are scrolling more. Social media is super important right now! You want to be where people are spending their time. Make sure you are time-blocking spots in your calendar for building your presence on Facebook, Instagram, and others. Look at your profiles and make sure they are up-to-date. Post positive and helpful items, and stay away from negative or politically charged ones. Now’s a great time to learn a new tech tool. Post videos on YouTube. It will help your sellers greatly if you can handle home showings virtually, because you’ve posted a great video or virtual tour.
6. Beef up your business planning. Do you have written goals? If not, now is your chance to create a business plan. Yes, it’s difficult now to project what’s to come, but you still have a sense of what you need your income to be. Now’s the time to review and take stock: What were my numbers from 2019—average sales price, average days on market, seller-to-buyer ratios, etc.? Knowing where you’ve been will help you determine where you can go. If you don’t track and measure, how will you know what aspects of your business need improvement?
If you haven’t already, learn QuickBooks and start a monthly profit and loss statement (it’s not too difficult to backtrack to January and get that accomplished for 2020). When you do your taxes next year, you will be so glad you got that done. Organize and clean your home office. You may be surprised how much more efficient you feel with a clean and tidy desk/office space.7. Stay connected. Be sure to check in with your associates, the office staff, and your affiliated service people. Set up a quick virtual coffee or lunch—see how everyone else is doing and, perhaps, do a bit of brainstorming and exchange ideas. It’s always great to learn from others, as well as continue these important relationships. Everyone is reeling right now. Don’t do it alone.