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« It's too easy to criticize hope | Main | Marketing in a recession »

Advice for real estate agents (quit now!)

I had the good fortune to speak to a large gathering of real estate agents last week. Here’s my best advice (everyone knows an agent or two, so feel free to forward this along).

Plan A: You should quit selling real estate.

I’m serious.

Quit being an agent. Get a job doing something else.

Some of you have been waiting to hear that. My pleasure.

...

Now, if you’re still with me, you’ll be glad to know that the competition for attention just got smaller. The agents who built their business on low interest rates, easy money and speculation (the order takers) have left the building.

The ones that are left, that’s you, can consider Plan B:

If you’re not going to be able to make a living by taking orders, by selling houses the way everyone else does, by using the never-ending rise in real estate prices to make sales, then what are you going to do? Whining is not an option.

In fact, I think this is an extraordinary opportunity for you.

Without a frenzy, without short-term competition, you can actually build assets that will pay off for the long run. I have two in mind:

The first is to become the expert in what you do. Which means micro-specialization. Who is the single-best agent for condos in your zip code? Or for single family homes for large families? Who is the one and the only best person to turn to if you’re looking for investment property in this part of town?

As I wrote in The Dip, you’re either the best in the world (where ‘world’ can be a tiny slice of the environment) or you’re invisible.

This means being Draconian in your choices. No, you can’t also do a little of this or a little of that. Best in your world means burning your other bridges and obsessing.

"I have no time!"

Of course you have that time available. Remember nine months ago when you were three times as busy with incoming calls as you are now? Invest that time in building up your expertise and becoming the person people who don't even like you turn to for insight.

Or, consider this: Take half your office (the half made vacant by the people following Plan A) and turn it over to local groups. Let the active (and nascent) clubs and organizations meet in your office. Not once in a while. Regularly. All the time. Become the hub. Because, after all, you’re the mayor.

The second asset to build is permission. It turns out (according to the NAR) that 91% of all Realtors never contact the buyer or the seller of a home after the closing. Not once. Wow. Someone just spent a million dollars with you and you don’t bother to call or write?

The opportunity during the current pause (and yes, it's a pause) is to find, one by one, the people who would benefit from hearing from you and then earn the right to talk to them. Earn the right to send them a newsletter or a regular update or a subscription to your blog. NOT to talk about what matters to you, but to give them information (real information, not just data) that matters to them. Visit dailycandy.com to see an example of what people like to hear.

The opportunity is to reinvent the way you interact with citizens, with prospects, with the mildly interested and with your past clients. The opportunity, in other words, is to stop waiting around for the phone to ring and instead figure out how to do what you do best... connect buyers and sellers in a way that makes them both confident.

Some of you will stick with the standard business card with the standard photo, the standard office and the standard ad strategy and the standard approach to making the phone ring. It's going to be a long haul if that's your route.

I'm betting, though, that the best of you will end up with a business model that will survive, thrive and prosper. Best time to start is right now.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Advice for real estate agents (quit now!):

» Seth Godin Says Become a Watercooler from Real Agent Blogs
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» Burn Your Boat from Bob Poole's Distracted Reality
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» Advice to Advertisers and Ad Agencies from marginally subversive communication thoughts
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» Business Turnarounds: Sometimes It Looks Easy from Businomics Blog
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