Last week we discussed ways to set your team up for success in Q4. If you missed it, you can read it here. This week we want to talk about supporting your team as this is not only a great way to love your people, but it’s a great retention effort as well. Here are some ways to support them during this time, while employing the tools we shared last week to structure their business (and yours!) for success in the new year.
Clear Communication. With so much going on this time of year having clear communication is extra important. Avoid last-minute changes and allow additional planning time for any events. Ensure that your team knows the goals, objectives and priorities and regularly share and re-share the updates and expectations so that they have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Provide a platform for them to ask questions and seek clarification to stay ahead of any bumps in the road.
Flexible Scheduling. Life-work balance is incredibly hard to find this time of year with so many having both personal and professional obligations and fun events. Allowing flexibility in work hours or remote work options will better assist team members in finding a way to make things work and reduce stress.
Resource Allocation. Assess your current workload and allocate your resources so that your team has the necessary tools, equipment, and personnel to meet the demands of the season. If necessary, consider temporary staff or outsourcing to ease the workload.
Team Well-being. Our people are being pulled in a variety of ways both personally and professionally to celebrate holidays, travel, and attend school functions, and that can lead to a lot of additional stress. Simultaneously, more than you might think may be suffering from some form of seasonal affective challenge, whether it be the actual weather that bums them out or a personal history that makes the holidays hard, this time of year doesn’t leave everyone on your team feeling their best, whether they show it or not. Being aware of this will go a long way, but encouraging breaks, reminding them to recharge and take time for themselves, or offering a wellness program for stress management or mental health support will aid them in coping with the increased demands.
Recognition and Awards. Have you ever been Jelly-of-the-Month-Clubbed? I have, and failing to be properly recognized for your hard work and dedication sure makes it easy to hand in your notice the Monday after the Holiday party. It’s not about the amount, it’s not about the shape or size of the award…it’s about how you make that person FEEL. Avoid giving out participation awards or awards to your entire organization, if everyone receives one it becomes diluted. Find other meaningful ways to show your appreciation for those who do not receive an award. Make efforts to show your appreciation to your team year-round, as the excitement of the annual awards ceremony doesn’t last long. If you didn’t do a great job of this last year, make a plan to recognize and appreciate your team throughout the year in 2024 to keep morale high. You can even make a smart list in Follow Up Boss to reach out to everyone on your team in a personal way so that no one falls through the cracks! (Reply to this post and I’ll show you how!)
Fourth quarter of the year is here, and with it comes so many things to wrap up and plan for while simultaneously experiencing a landslide of holidays and events until the end of the year. Use our guide below to help you approach this quarter with a solid plan and a sense of calm to prep yourself and your team to turn 2024 into your best year yet!
📈 Take an honest look at your 2023 goals. Did you adjust them properly to the current market conditions, or were you overly optimistic that things would go back to the way they were? Make any adjustments needed in your 2024 goal setting based on your predictions vs performance of the year so far.
👩🏫 Re-Train your team on the basics. If you’re a professional, you don’t start practicing free throws when the season starts, you master that in the off-season. Revisit and re-train your team on the basics so they are educated, confident, and ready to hit the ground running in the new year. Better yet, don’t stop training on the basics throughout the year and see how much better your team performs!
📊 Work with your team on THEIR goals. I hate to break it to you, but no one cares about your company goal. “But if YOU sell more houses to get us to that goal, you’ll make more money too!” Nope…still don’t care. Of COURSE, have a company goal. That’s necessary to any business plan! But what your team cares about is their bank account, their family and loved ones being taken care of, the food on their table, and if they can afford to go on that family vacation or not. Make your goal-setting conversations about building their book of business and accomplishing their personal goals. Keep the focus on them throughout the year and you will find that investment in them personally will pay off for you professionally.
🔎 Inspect your marketing. What marketing efforts or campaigns generated the most business for you last year? Look at reporting on what your results were so that you can lean into the messaging that resonated with your audience and do less of the things that didn’t. Keep varying your message, but double down on the types of things that were a hit.
📱 Dig into your outbound communications. Your 2023 goal has already been pre-determined by the efforts you put in earlier in the year. Sure, you may get someone who registers in your database, answers their phone, and writes a contract that will close before December 31, but you can’t count on those bluebirds to get you to the finish line. The real estate cycle from new lead to closing is anywhere from 90 days to nearly a year, depending on your local market and efforts. I’m not saying to abandon your 2023 efforts, but if you dig into your database of leads now, you will not only make up some ground to hit your 2023 goal, but you will be laying a super strong foundation of business for the first half of 2024. Educate and remind your team of this sales cycle and help them see the vision of putting in the work now to reward their future selves. The work you do today will pay you in 90-120 days from now, dig in and reward your future self!
The initial appeal of a real estate career is often about time. The freedom of flexibility, being present for all the family events, and no one telling you where to be and when…that sounds pretty fantastic! The reality, as we all know, is anything but the above and, over time, even the best of us can develop habits that rob us of our freedom and most valuable asset: time.
Here are some ways we can reset the clock on some of those bad habits and get back to where we are truly enjoying our careers instead of feeling burdened by the feeling of never having enough time in the day.
Set boundaries with your clients – and yourself!
These are important to put into place at the outset of the relationship with your clients to set their expectations, and even more important that you stand firm on those boundaries. Decide which hours you respond to emails, texts, and phone calls and which you do not. You may be their only agent, but they are not your only client so communications at 9 PM (or later!) is not something that is going to set you up for success in the morning to have a productive day.
Make small, incremental changes
Don’t attempt a full overhaul of your schedule or business, that’s going to halt your progress. Make one small change a day and monitor what is working or not over time to help you decide which new habits to keep and which aren’t effective for you.
Have a business plan
One of the biggest time-wasters is not knowing exactly where you’re going. Even if you’re a single agent, you need to have a business plan: How many houses are you going to sell this year? How many contracts do you need to write to do that? How many clients do you need in order to write that many contracts? How many people do you need to connect with to get that many clients? What prospecting and marketing efforts do you need to make in order to connect with new people?
Knowing these metrics will give you a well-lit path to walk and you can break that down into the actions and efforts you need to take each day and week. If you’re staring at your yearly goal with no smaller plan, you will inevitably waste time on the wrong actions to get there and likely miss the goal at the end of the year.
Do Not Disturb
Whether it’s a sign on your door, a timer, or a setting on your phone, setting aside time for uninterrupted work is going to add hours back to your week. It’s easy to look up at the end of the day and realize that the entire day has gone by without you completing the things you needed. Being very intentional with your work time is going to make a big difference for you and leave you feeling fulfilled instead of drained at the end of the day. On average, it takes over twenty minutes for someone to get back into their workflow after being interrupted. Multiply that by several times per day and you’ve got a lot of lost time on your hands. This is a great way to practice holding the boundaries firm that we talked about earlier: it can wait an hour until you’re done with this important work, I promise.
Prioritize the work that is going to yield you the most results
What are the activities you do that truly move the needle forward for your business? For most of us, it’s prospecting for new clients and following up with existing contacts. Schedule this non-negotiable time into your day and honor it every single day you can. One day missed is no big deal, but finding yourself “busy” will easily lead to weeks or even months with no prospecting if you don’t set the time aside to create new business.
Audit your time and make the necessary changes
If you have a mobile device, you will have some type of tracker to educate you on where you are spending your time online. If you’re looking for more time, you can likely find it in the social media section of your phone. Take the five hours you spent on Instagram yesterday and try to knock it down to just one. You’ll still get your fix, and you’ll have FOUR hours back in your day to do the things that you actually need to do.
Utilize cloud storage and digital resources
Don’t get me wrong, I love a paper notebook. It’s satisfying to write in and to turn those pages, but if I’m at a showing and someone calls needing a file that I’ve left on my desk across town that’s a BIG time waster. Organize your files into a digital storage system that you can access from anywhere. Utilize a single digital calendar instead of the hand-written one you’re always struggling to keep updated. The things you use often or are necessary for your transactions should be just a click away to save time AND deals!
Model your behavior after someone who is achieving the level of success you are striving for
Find someone who seems to be nailing their work and ask if you can talk to them about how they structure their day, manage their time, and handle multiple transactions successfully. Ask them about their habits and processes around these and adopt what they are proving to be as successful time and business management strategies.
Organize your email
Do you have hundreds or thousands of emails sitting in your inbox? Disorganized communication leads to loss of time and potentially losing crucial information to hold a transaction together for your clients. Use tags, filters, and folders to put things into the right places. Unsubscribe from the emails you never read. Turn off notifications that are redundant and leave on only the most important ones.
Keep your meetings on topic and short
We’ve all seen the look of our clients or agents’ eyes glazing over. The meeting has gone on too long and we’ve lost their attention. After an hour, our ability to retain information and connect in a meaningful way decreases significantly. Keep your meetings on topic with an agenda, and share with those you are meeting with what time the meeting begins and ends and honor it. Having a plan will make these more effective in a shorter amount of time.
Utilize all of your CRM’s tools and automate everything you can
Whether it is Follow Up Boss or another CRM, you’re going to have tons of tools at your disposal to organize your work. Put everything into your CRM having to do with that client or transaction so it’s easy to find. Sync your calendar and your email so you don’t have to look in multiple places. Automate everything you can ahead of time so that you don’t have reminders popping up for birthdays and house-a-versaries. Get to know all of the tools that they offer as they are designed to save you time and effort to accomplish more.
Ditch the multitasking
Yes, you can walk your dog and talk on the phone at the same time, but prospecting while you answer emails and check social media? Not a good idea. Focus on one item at a time and turn off your distractions. If I was checking my email or Slack messages while writing this for you, it would take me all day! I’ve set a timer, turned off everything aside from this and my gif search and I’m going to knock this out and whatever else I can before that buzzer rings. Giving something your undivided attention will not only improve the quality of your work, but your clients and potential clients will be able to feel that you are giving them your all, which makes you more desirable to work with.
Use your calendar for everything
By putting everything on your calendar, you are making micro-commitments. I commit to prospecting at this time on these days. I commit to meeting this client at this time. I commit to going to my daughter’s soccer game.
This will help you block off the non-negotiables, see where you have redundancies, and can save time, and overall work more efficiently because you have a plan for your day. I share my work calendar with my personal one so that I can see everything in one place, which is also a time saver.
Schedule time for self-care and rest
You’re never going to have it all done. You’re never going to be finished. At some point during the day, you’re going to need to call it and go enjoy yourself – enjoy your life! If you are running yourself ragged for days and weeks on end your entire productivity level is going to drop and, soon enough, you won’t be able to help anyone because you’ll be so burnt out. Take care of yourself first, it’s not selfish, and leave some reserves in the tank every day. You’re still doing great work, you’re still taking fantastic care of your clients, you are just ensuring that you can continue to care for them longer because you’re putting yourself first.
Adults, on average, gain one to two pounds per year as they age. This means if you’re a runner, or insert your particular flavor of exercise there, that in order to maintain your weight year over year, you will need to increase the time and intensity with which you run – and that’s to maintain the same weight as the year before. By the same principle, you would need to do significantly more yearly to lose weight.
The same effort-to-outcome equation applies to us in the current real estate market: The efforts and activities that found you success over the last few years are not going to yield you the same results if performed now.
But Kris, I can’t POSSIBLY work harder. I’m already pushing it to my limit!
If you are already truly giving your business 40 hours a week then you’re right, you don’t need to put in more hours, you need to take an honest inventory of the work that you’re doing to ensure that you aren’t unknowingly behaving as though you are still in the previous market conditions.
We are creatures of habit and the groove you got into and found success with a year or two ago is likely not yielding you the same results. So let’s pop the hood and look at how we are spending our time and make the changes necessary to get some real traction.
Self-Check: Are you putting in the work where it counts, or are you waiting for something to fall into your lap?
If real estate is your full-time career, are you truly putting in 40 hours a week?
- If the answer to this is no, then get to bed earlier and add the hours you need to! If you’re treating this like a hobby, it will pay you like one.
- If you are hitting the office full-time, are you working the entire time you’re there…or are you playing office? Perform the money-making activities and ditch the rest! If you were your own boss, would you be considering yourself for a promotion or would you need to be fired? Don’t be your own worst employee!
Is there an activity you’re still doing that isn’t gaining you results?
- Just because you started doing something a few years ago doesn’t mean that you have to continue to do it forever. Perhaps it’s second nature now and you can kick the reminder or chart to save yourself some time. Perhaps it worked during a super hot market and it’s not being fruitful now.
- It’s okay to stop doing things that don’t serve you anymore. The market is different, you are more experienced and have more information. Drop the things that aren’t gaining you more clients, exposure, and transactions, and replace them with more fruitful activities.
Do you have time set aside every day to prospect for new clients?
- Put this on your calendar every. single. day. and honor the time. Schedule around it wherever possible. If you miss a day or two here or there, that’s fine – it happens! But don’t let it slip to a week or worse, a month. The work you do now will pay you 90-120 days from now so it can become easy to fall out of the habit of prospecting when you don’t see immediate results.
- Every single top producer I know prospects every single day that they can. If they miss a day, they hop right back on the next and don’t let it get to day three.
- If this is a challenge for you, figure out how to make it easier. Do you need it on your calendar with reminders set? Do you need an accountability buddy to hold you to it? Can you turn it into a game with rewards? Make the time for this and you’ll be thanking yourself in short order.
How are you staying in front of existing contacts and clients?
- Kill the call to check in, call to show them your value, and give them something they can use or think about each and every time you reach out. If you’re struggling with what to say or share with them, that means you should increase the amount of research you’re doing about the market to give you material and ideas!
- Stay in front of them so you are top-of-mind. This is crucial to connecting with more clients and increasing your number of transactions. If someone says they are a year out, that means you need to be reaching out for updates and sending them information at least once a week – in addition to their home search. Life situations change so quickly, the last thing you want to hear after a month of silence is that they got that promotion and went under contract with someone else because your follow-up wasn’t frequent enough.
- Are your buyers still pre-approved? Interest rates are on the rise and that pre-approval your buyers received 90 days ago may not mean the same thing for them as it did when they first received it. Their price point or other search criteria may have changed. Discussing changing interest rates and encouraging getting RE-approved is a fantastic reason to reach out to buyer clients who are on the fence.
Are you the expert you say you are on your market and its current conditions?
- Hustling alone will not set you apart from other agents within the market. You need to be informed so that you can be an information broker. There is a ton of misinformation and seemingly scary news floating out there, position yourself as a beacon of truth, accuracy, and helpful information to your community.
- Read, subscribe to newsletters, watch videos, attend trainings that are offered to you, and listen to podcasts to the point where you can confidently educate someone on what it takes to get a home under contract and close it in your current market.
- Be ready to answer the question: “How’s the real estate market?” at social gatherings with a really strong answer.
- Know how to share this information about your market during a conversation without having to look it up:
- Current inventory levels
- Average days on market
- Current interest rates and how it affects buying power
- Highlight the most recent market reports
- Make educating your community, customers, and clients a priority.
Review the above items and make whatever changes are necessary to streamline your work and gain better results from your efforts. This market is demanding more from us, but if you perform your work with more intention and focus, it doesn’t have to mean more hours.
You can do it, I know you can!
Learn the Follow Up Boss lingo with this Glossary of Terms.
Note: Click on any of the links to learn more!
Action Plans – Action Plans automatically do a series of actions with your lead. They’re most commonly used to help engage new leads by sending an initial text or a series of drip emails. They can also do things like create a Task, add a Tag, or even change the lead’s Stage.
Background – A place for your most important notes or updates. Examples: Looking for a 3 BR; Pre-qual for 300k; On vacation until October, etc.
Batch Email – You can send an email to a group of people within Follow Up Boss. Great for newsletters, market updates, or open houses!
Calling – With certain Follow Up Boss plans, you can dial right from the Follow Up Boss website or app. Calls are automatically tracked and can optionally be recorded. Ideal for ISAs and high-volume agents.
Collaborators – Need to share access to your lead with another team member? Add them as a collaborator.
Company Number – A.K.A. your Texting number. Texts you send through FUB will come from your Company Number. It’s a local number, and we’ll smart-route calls and texts to it back to the right agent automatically!
Connected Email – You can find your Connected Email here. When you connect your email, you can send and receive emails with your leads from your regular inbox or in Follow Up Boss, and we’ll automatically sync all your email communication.
Email Templates – Save time by making an Email Template for emails you send regularly. Use merge fields to instantly personalize the template. You can also share templates with your team; great for on-brand messaging!
Groups – Use groups to automatically distribute leads among agents in a round-robin or with first to claim.
Inbox – Inbox shows you all calls, texts, and emails from any contact in Follow Up Boss. This focused inbox excludes marketing emails, bills, and spam, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
Inbox Lead Processing – When you connect your email, Follow Up Boss can automatically pick up your new leads from hundreds of lead providers!
Integrations – You can extend the functionality of Follow Up Boss by connecting it to other systems you use. Examples: Lead Providers, IDX, Email Marketing, etc.
Lead Flow – The Lead Flow screen allows you to automate who gets each lead that is brought into Follow Up Boss and which action plan is automatically started. Choose exactly where your leads should go and the messaging they’ll get!
Lead Profile – The hub for all your lead’s information.
Log Calls – Easily remember your last phone conversation by logging your call notes in Follow Up Boss. You can log calls on your computer, iPhone, or Android.
Mass Actions – You can quickly mass update Tags, Source, Stage, and Assigned Agent using Mass Actions on the People screen!
Quick Text/Call – Need to make a call right away? Quickly call or text from any screen using the Quick Call or Quick Text buttons.
Shared Inbox – Shared Inboxes are additional company phone numbers that can be used for receiving calls and texts as a team. Great for marketing materials and signs because calls can be broadcast to the entire team!
Sharing Emails – Need a team member to see your communication with a lead? Sharing emails allows everyone working with the lead to see all emails with that lead. Great for team collaboration, hand-offs from an ISA, and looping in your transaction coordinator.
Smart Lists – Smart Lists are a saved set of filters on the People Screen. Perfect for quickly filtering down your database to see your highest-priority leads.
Source – Source tells you where a lead came from so you can see which lead sources are providing the best ROI. Examples: Referrals, Open Houses, Realtor.com, etc.
Stages – Stages are perfect for tracking your relationship with a contact.
Tags – Tags allow you a flexible way to group your contacts. Unlike Stages, a contact may have multiple tags. Example tags: Buyer, Seller, Christmas Party, Newsletter, or Preferred Zip Code or Neighborhood.
Text Templates – Save time by making a Text Template for texts you send regularly. Use merge fields to instantly personalize the template. You can also share templates with your team; great for on-brand messaging!
Texting – Easily text straight from your computer or Follow Up Boss app! These texts are tracked alongside your calls and emails so you’ll have all communication in one place. You will see replies in your Inbox and as a notification on your app!
Users/Roles – Follow Up Boss accounts have five different roles: Owner, Admin, Agent, Lender, and ISA/Account Team Leader (only available for Platform accounts). Each role has its own set of permissions.