September 7, 2009

What Realtors Can Learn from College Football

Are You Ready to "Tackle" Your Way to the Top?

Thankfully, the college football season kicked off this past week. As a huge sports fan, this just may be my favorite time of year. Between college football, professional football (kicking off this week), baseball pennant races, the PGA and NASCAR playoffs and hockey training camps, the Fall is a great time to be a sports fan. It's also a great time to be a Realtor.

In the same tradition of my November 2008 blog post about What Realtor's Can Learn from Black Friday, let's take a look at What Realtors Can Learn from College Football:

Proper Expectations are Created During the Recruiting Process

When you became a Realtor, what were your expectations? My guess is no one gets started hoping to be "just average." Maybe you didn't necessarily want to be the superstar but you certainly wanted to be on a great team and have a chance to earn playing time.

College programs look for players with the right skills, work ethic and personalities that they can combine with the players they already have and the systems they run to continue to work towards a championship season. It also helps to understand a team's "system" so they can make sure the players that are recruited will fit in nicely. They promise to train, coach, provide maximum exposure to the best tools available and welcome you to their school and family of alumni, fans and supporters.

Real estate brokers should be doing the same thing, especially in today's ever-changing landscape. If you're with a full service company like Coldwell Banker, you probably met with a Branch Manager or Recruiting Coordinator who discussed how the company can help you get to where you want to be with substantial training, coaching, maximum Internet exposure and national branding.

Training Camp - Turning "Role Play" into "Game Play"

I have never heard of many players who look forward to the grueling days of pre-season training camp. Sure, they are excited to be back with their teammates, back on campus (their "home away from home") and just weeks away from starting another season. In August, everyone starts with an equal chance of hoisting the National Championship trophy at the end of the season. But unless they love pain, they're never looking forward to two-a-day practices, wind sprints and coaches in their faces for three weeks.

It is clearly evident once the season kicks off that the players (and teams) who give 100% effort in this phase of their season will earn the biggest payoff once the games begin. As the old saying "practice the way you play" infers, the more you can put yourself in "game situations," the more prepared you'll be.

Does your company offer a thorough training program? Do you take advantage of training opportunities such as scripting sessions, skill building workshops and on-line educational opportunities? Do you have a written business plan showing how your "season" is going to play out? Are you "lifting weights" by practicing scripts, learning about contractual changes and studying market inventory so when you're in a game situation, you'll react accordingly?

Just like most football players don't like the sweat equity required in August, they know it will help them in the trenches of a close battle with a equally prepared conference foe late in the season.

Will you be ready when face-to-face with a Seller who has a tough objection? Will you be confident when a co-op agent send you a counter offer and tells you you're in "multiple offers"? Will your training help you "act" like a skilled professional instead of "react" like a Rookie when it counts?

Preseason Rankings Matter...But That's Why They Play the Games

Do you ever wonder how people who are part of those pre-season rankings determine who gets their votes? Do they base it on the number of players returning each season? Do they look at the schedules of each team and try to determine the number of wins and losses each team will have? Do they vote for their favorites or perhaps their alma mater?

It certainly helps to start the season towards the top of the rankings because if you do what you're supposed to do (i.e. win games), you'll be at the top when the season ends. If you lose however, you'll need to climb back over people...sometimes with victory and sometimes with a little pizazz and P.R. for good measure.

Much of a team's pre-season rankings can be attributed to their reputation. Can the media (or those voting) count on you handle the pressures of a big game or will they assume you'll choke in a pressure situation? Many people didn't think BYU could beat Oklahoma during opening week but a untimely injury to Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford and a determined effort by Max Hall and his underdog BYU Cougars led to the first big upset of this season.

What does your personal marketing say about you? Will people have a preconceived belief about you before they meet you? Are you playing for one of the "big names" in town or will you need to have a few "upsets" to start becoming known as a challenger?

One thing is for sure - people love an underdog, so don't worry about your pre-season rankings. A skilled, confident and determined agent can deliver a quality presentation to any Buyer or Seller with the proper preparation. Just don't get caught reading your own press clippings and start believing how good you are. All it takes is one slip up to dramatically affect a season. Treat each client as if they are the only "game" on your schedule and deliver the services you know you can with enthusiasm, energy and service.

League championships and individual awards can't be won in week one but that can be lost. Titles aren't given out during the season just like commission checks won't be earned during a deal, so always be prepared for fourth quarter comebacks and pre-closing obstacles. Until the clock strikes zero or the HUD-1 statement has been signed, remember that the ball is still in play.

Your Schedule Plays a Big Role in Your Success

It's been said by many "experts" that Florida's schedule this season sets up well for the Gators to return to the National Championship game at the end of the season. As a Florida alum (Class of 1991) I am very proud and excited for our chances but will certainly reserve getting too excited until they arrive in Pasadena in January 2010.

In many cases, these schedules are determined years in advance, usually before any of the current players were even a candidate for recruitment. College players don't get to choose who they will play but once that first ball is kicked off in early September, play the games they must.

No questions asked, no excuses about "not being ready," and certainly a team would never just not show up.

A Realtor will be much more likely to succeed when they prepare and follow a consistent schedule. There are basically two sets of activities that should be on most Realtor's schedules: Business Development and Business Support.

What area do you think most agents spend their time on? That's support. Where do you think they should be spending most of their time, effort and energy? You got development.

You see, business support activities will never tell you "no!" Business support activities are easier and usually don't involve any self-esteem impacting events. But it won't take the business-saavy agent long to realize that without business development, there will be no "business" to support.

In addition to the weekly business meetings that will keep you updated with your office, company and industry, a schedule should involve prospecting activities (lead generation calls, follow up visits to FSBO's and Expired listings), listing appointments and buyer counseling sessions, showings and closings. It will also require time for coaching, training, script practice, follow up, inspections and computer research.

Just like a balanced team will need to practice offense, defense and special teams, a good Realtor should be sure to include personal activities into his or her schedule including things like church, children's activities and appointments.

Avoid the Big Injury

Just like Oklahoma will need to proceed without their Heisman Trophy winning QB Sam Bradford for an undetermined portion of their schedule, making sure you stay in "playing condition" throughout the season will be a huge key.

Be sure to find some time in your schedule for physical exercise, maintain a healthy diet and listen to your body. Until you've been in this business for a while, you never realize how exhausting the role of a Realtor can be. Don't succumb to the fast paced, fast food filled world of real estate. One sure way to avoid exhaustion is to drink plenty of fluids.

Buy In to What the Coaches Say...and Don't Believe What the Media Might Say

In football and in real estate, your coaches/managers are looking out for your best interests. Magazines, reporters and web sites are looking to sell papers or gain subscribers and readers.

Good coaches and managers will help hold you accountable to the activities needed to achieve the levels of success you desire or expect (see above). They will strive to show you how your actions can positively affect your future.

The media will usually provide detailed accounts of what wasn't done and who was negatively affected.

Only you can choose who you will listen to.

Play with Emotion...Play to Win

No matter how loud the crowd cheers or no matter how good the band sounds playing the fight song, the success of a team will be determined by how well it executes once the whistle blows. Don't winning teams play with passion and enthusiasm? Don't winning teams execute each and every play as if it determines the outcome of the game? Don't winning teams have leaders who step up and challenge their teammates, encouraging them to give it all they've got?

The same philosophy applies to Realtors. No mater how shiny your name tag, what type of car you drive or who designed your suit, it still boils down to how well you know how to deal with people. Are you excited to help people achieve their goals? Are you confident in your ability to help people solve their real estate problems? Do you believe you are the best person for the job?
It's Game Time
So there you have it...a few things that Realtors can learn from college football. As the cool temperatures of Fall arrive and people break out their college sweatshirts to cheer their schools on, think about the "big game" you're facing in your real estate career right now. We're just a few ticks away from the 4th quarter - where games are often won or lost. Will you be ready to execute when your number is called?

Good luck to you and your team as you move through the season.