December 26, 2008

Adding Up Your Scores

Time To Turn In the Scores

Okay, so you completed the Self Assessment and now you're wondering where you go from here, huh? Well, let's dissect the results and see what they might say about you and your real estate business.

As you look at your scores, you'll notice they are bunched - some at the high end (7-10) that we'll refer to as your "strengths" and others down at the other end of the spectrum (1-4). We'll call these your "weaknesses." If you're like most people you also have a few of the lines where you weren't exactly high or low so you gave yourself a 5 or 6?

Well, as you saw from the self assessment, there were some questions about your business sense (goal setting and planning), your prospecting skills and systems, time management, follow through and technical skills. So as you look at your cluster of scores, you can probably identify areas where you are strong and areas where you score low.

Now the question becomes - do you focus on your areas of strength or try to elevate your areas of weakness?

I have always been a proponent of focusing on your strengths because I felt if you could continue to stay strong in those areas, your weaknesses would have no choice but to improve. The more I study and read about the subject, the more strongly I feel that you must focus on your strengths.

Long Drives, Three Putts and Your Success

Let me tell you a story about my days as a golf professional...

I used to work as a golf professional at a private club outside of Cleveland. After the members would play a round, they would venture into the pro shop to post their scores prior to heading to the locker room, lunch room or bar. Inevitably, one of the players would ask me if I had time for a lesson.

"I'm tired of getting beat by these guys," they would say, in despair over a lost $10 Nassau to their buddies.

"No problem," I'd respond, eager to have an opportunity to help someone with their game. "Let's meet at the putting green after you have lunch. Shall we say thirty minutes?"

And then I would hear it - the ego-filled excuses of why we needed to meet at the driving range instead of the putting green.

"These guys are out-hitting me..."
"I need to be able to hit the ball farther..."
"I want to learn how to control my driver better..."

They figured that if they could only learn to hit a longer ball that their score would drastically be affected. My response was always something along the lines of "how many three-putts did you have in your round today?"

For those of you who golf, you know that if a golfer has four or five "three-putt greens" in his round, his score will be those same four or five strokes higher than the golfer who two-putts every hole. So by improving one's short game, we could more drastically affect his score than by adding a few extra yards on to a tee shot.

In fact, the average golfer will only hit a driver on 14 holes each round (typical courses have 4 par three holes, usually requiring a tee shot with an iron) but he or she will use the putter on every hole. By strengthening one's short game, a golfer will have more opportunities to reduce scores, thereby saving strokes and this case...winning a few more bets.

Drive For Show and Putt For Dough?

How does this relate to real estate? Well, learning how to hit a long drive is sort of like the real estate agent who spends much of his time creating pretty fact sheets or surfing new listings on the MLS. It may look pretty and you're sure to impress the fellow agents in the work room but it's not necessarily going to help you get to a closing. A good putter is like someone who prospects effectively, has great time management skills and delivers results time and again.

Hopefully that analogy will help you determine how to leverage your strengths and weaknesses on the real estate course. In the next post, we'll take a look at how learning to harness your strengths and manage around your weaknesses just might be your "ace in the hole."

December 15, 2008

It's Time for a Self-Assessment

As we wrap up 2008, it’s a good time to self-analyze your results over the past twelve months and see how you are running your business. The following self-assessment is part of my signature class - The Realtor's Toolbox - that I created in 2005 and have delivered to numerous audiences, including several Coldwell Banker International Business Conferences. The assessment and the class focus on "tools, tips and techniques to build your real estate business."

Read each statement below and give yourself a score between 1 and 10. A 10 means the statement applies to you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A 1 means the statement might as well be in another language. Grade yourself as honestly as you can. Only you can determine what areas you will need to improve to become a better Realtor.

1. I have specific written goals (both short term and long term) for the things I want to accomplish

2. I have a regularly scheduled time to prospect for new business

3. I know my personal statistics and have a system in place to track them
(e.g. avg. sales price, avg. days on market, source of business, etc.)

4. I have systems in place to track where my business comes from so I can evaluate the effectiveness of my marketing methods

5. I have established a marketing budget and stick to it

6. I have a personal website or blog promoting myself and my business (not counting your local company site)

7. I hold open houses (Give yourself a 10 if you hold an open house every week; a 1 if you don't hold open houses)

8. I increase my chances for success with my open houses by advertising on the web, preparing personalized information packets and following up with all visitors.

9. I feel I am an expert on my primary market (e.g. inventory available, market values, builders, schools, neighborhoods, etc.)

10. I have a mailing list or sphere of influence of at least 250 names

11. I feel confident with my current level of technology

12. I plan to take classes in 2009 to increase my understanding of technology

13. I currently use some form of technology for my data base management (Top Producer, Outlook, Palm Pilot, etc.)

14. Rate your level of knowledge with your area’s MLS system

15. I check my email a minimum of four times a day and feel comfortable returning email to clients and potential clients

16. Rate yourself on your negotiating skills – that includes your ability to get full-fee commissions and listings priced right from the beginning

17. I feel comfortable with my telephone techniques – both incoming and outgoing

18. When using the telephone, I know how to “close for the appointment”

19. I manage my time wisely and efficiently

20. I always prioritize my tasks so my time is spent focusing on the most profitable activities.

21. I always prepare a “to do list” for daily activities

22. I am on time for all appointments, meetings and events

23. I have a system(s) in place for follow up with clients, past clients and prospects

24. I do my best to take time for personal and family enjoyment

25. I look forward to my job on a daily basis and am excited about my potential to achieve my goals in 2009.

Once you've added up your score (max.possible is 250), begin to analyze where your strengths and weaknesses are. We'll cover where to go next in our next post.

Until then, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun!

December 9, 2008

Hindsight is 20/20?

If you're working with Buyers who are "hemming and hawing" about a decision you might want to send them this story from last week's New York Times.

December 6, 2008

A "Note of Thanks" Affects the Writer and Reader

As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of personal notes. These can be thank you notes, birthday wishes, anniversary greetings or just because notes.

I was recently made aware of a really cool website from the folks at Xerox that allows visitors to send a free "greeting card" to a member of the United States militray currently serving somewhere in the world. It's called "Let's Say Thanks."

If you want to take a few minutes to feel really good about yourself and make someone else feel good too, visit this site and send a card of your own. Then send the link along to someone else so our men and women serving the country get a little piece of home for the holidays.