Are you paying yourself enough?

If you work for yourself, like many do in the real estate industry, it’s important to know the true value of your time. Driving to and from appointments, working on contracts, attending CE classes, and networking, among other activities, can take a toll on your day. Before you spread yourself too thin, you’ll want to understand just what you’re giving up when you commit to one more thing.

Take a look at the Time Value Calculator or take this quiz at Clearer Thinking.

When you understand the value of each hour of your day, you’ll be in a better position to schedule your tasks and to decide what you want to outsource and what you can tackle on your own. For certain responsibilities, you may find it more financially viable to hire outside help for a lower rate than your own time is worth.

Say that your free time is worth around $20 per hour: If hiring an employee will cost you about $12 and save you an hour compared to doing the work yourself,  then it might be the right call. If it’s going to cost you closer to $20, you should probably reconsider. You can use your new knowledge to help you figure out:

  • Whether you should order in or cook
  • Whether you should hire someone to organize your office
  • Whether to hire someone to manage your social media accounts
  • Whether time spent on the phone with customer service to save $X is worth it
  • Whether or not it’s time to move on from a stalling client

The calculators linked above are meant to act as guides, not gospel truth. You will also want to factor in your personal budget, your own enjoyment of certain tasks, and more. Regardless, knowing your value is always a good thing.

What bugs customers most about “Sales People”

It’s no surprise that consumers aren’t comfortable around salespeople. But could your sales tactics be hurting your chances of winning your next client? Here are just a few things that could be causing your leads to run the other way.  

1. Not Really Listening

Professionals in any kind of sales industry have a reputation for pushing for a sale so hard that their customer’s needs are ignored. Time is precious to all of us and a customer that doesn’t feel important to you won’t waste their time. Whether your lead is telling you they aren’t ready yet to buy or sell, or your current client wants to take a break from house hunting, make sure you’re listening well and acting accordingly.

2. Not Following Through On Your Promises

It’s not enough to speak confidently – your actions need to be able to back up your pitch. Take a thorough assessment of how you’re marketing yourself online and in the materials you send out. Are you truly an expert in the areas you claim? Does your branding match the “real” you? Nothing will shake a potential client’s trust more than making an appointment with the “you” they found online and showing up to meet someone completely different. Furthermore, keep their trust by doing what you say you’ll do. When you say, “I’ll be in touch by the end of the day,” keep that promise!

3. Not Being Honest

Though you may be tempted to slip in a little white lie every once in a while to keep a client interested, this is the absolute worst thing you can do. Not only is it unethical, but it can only hurt your client retention and referral rates. Be honest and upfront about important details, especially as you get close the transaction itself and need to be dealing with deadlines, paperwork, and other parties.        

Want a better response to your blog? It all starts with better content.

We are living in a magical time. In a world full of platforms to showcase your knowledge and skill, you no longer have to wait for someone to recognize your expertise – you can declare it!

You may have heard it a million times, but writing a blog is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors and establish yourself as an expert in your field. But when it comes right down to it, blogging takes time – our most valuable luxury. The idea of adding one more thing to your daily tasks is almost impossible to think about.  However, with a small time investment and a good roadmap to getting there, creating good content isn’t so impossible.

Get A Good Title

It would be nice if we could make people click on blog posts and read great content, but we have to draw them in with a strong headline. One of these 5 starters may help:

  1. Make A List: 10 Questions To Ask Your Real Estate Agent
  2. How to: How To Style Your Home On A Budget
  3. Question: What Does A New President Mean For The Housing Market?
  4. Controversy: You’ll Never Believe What’s Inside This House
  5. Numbers: This Step Will Increase Your Home’s Value By 5%

Focus On Your Intro

When you’ve got great content to share, it might be hard to think of a way to get started. You don’t want to jump too quickly into information. It will create a dry blog. Instead, use an opening sentence that builds curiosity. Ask a question of your audience, challenge an idea, or be a little silly to keep them reading. With blogs, like any form of social media, the tone should be light and conversational, not journalistic and stuffy.

Write Your Outline, Then Fill In Content

Once you know what you’re going to write about, jot down a simple outline to get your thoughts organized. This makes sure that you don’t leave out important information or get carried off on a tangent. Once your outline is solid, start filling in your ideas. Search engines grade posts on their readability, among other factors. Keep sentences short and break the content into small paragraphs. Your total word count should be around 400-600 words.

Link Where You Can

Your blog also grabs more attention from search engines when it links to sites with similar information. If you’re citing a source, add the link to the original material. The more connection your post seems to have with other relevant sites, the higher you’ll appear in search results.

Add Some Visuals

Pictures break up the content for your reader, but they also add weight to your search engine results, especially if the picture file names relate to the information in your blog. For example, if you’ve written a blog titled “5 Problems You Shouldn’t Overlook When House Hunting” and including a picture of a home, double check the file title and make sure you change it if necessary. A picture of a home titled “new-home.jpg” will get a lot more mileage than “image00159.jpg.”

Writing A Great Blog

Publish And Promote

Congratulations, your blog is looking good! But wait! How will anyone know it’s there? Make sure you share your content to social media to help drive visitors to your website. You can also send the link out in your next email blast, forward it to a client who may have asked about the information you’ve posted, or share it in a variety of other ways. The point is, if people don’t know it’s there, they may not go looking for it on their own.

January 17 is Get To Know Your Customers Day

In the real estate industry, understanding your client is probably the most important key to doing your job well. So, this January 17, on “Get To Know Your Customers” Day, we have a few things to keep in mind as you get to know your clients better.

  1. Hold An Event – A social mixer with a few former clients will help you get to know your client-base in a unique way. Attendees won’t be guarded as they relax and have a good time, and they’re more inclined to create a social bond with you. This will help you create a more friendly relationship rather than one based on a business transaction.
  2. Do Some Research – In the era of social media, so much of our information is online and available for all. Without digging too deep, run a social media search on a client to learn more about them and their hobbies. This information could help spark some conversation ideas and give you insight on who you’re working with.
  3. Create a Customer Profile File – A spreadsheet with need-to-know info could be a lifesaver for your business. Create a file that lists names, birthdays, hobbies, favorite sports teams, and more. Don’t forget to include favorite Starbucks drink order! You can collect all of this information with a quick and easy survey, then use the data to remind you to send a quick note when their team wins the Super Bowl, a birthday greeting, or a link to a fun class or event you think they’d enjoy.
  4. Pay Attention! – Your clients are dropping clues all day long about who they are and what they like. At the end of a meeting, give yourself 5 extra minutes to jot down some things they may have said. Did they mention their pets? Did they talk about their children’s hobbies? Holding on to these small pieces of information and finding a way to acknowledge them later will highlight your thoughtfulness and dedication.
  5. Follow Up – Your client may be happily living in their new home, but don’t forget to follow up! Check in from time to time to catch up! Remember to be sincere in your approach. If a former client can tell that you’re only looking for a referral or a repeat customer, they’ll run for the hills! Make it friendly and personable. Don’t mention business unless they do first.

Is It Time To Cut Down On Social Media?

Don’t be crazy – having a strong presence on social media is crucial to your business. It’s free marketing and advertising, after all. Not to mention that more and more, people are looking online for help in almost every industry.

However, your social media accounts could also be hurting your chances of securing that next client. Too often, our ambitions can exceed reality. By signing up for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and more, you may be hoping for increased visibility. However, with the demands of your schedule, posting regularly may not be a possibility and you can come across as inactive, indifferent, and inconsistent to anyone who comes across your account.

Missing Out On Business

Many businesses and entrepreneurs sign up for every social media platform because they’re afraid of missing out on business. If you put all of your energy into Instagram, who are you ignoring on Twitter? The truth is, if you can get a handle on your demographics, you’ll see where the real attention is coming from.

Instead: Use the traffic analysis on your website or through Google Analytics, to find out where your traffic is coming from. Look to your existing social media accounts and see where you’re getting the most attention. Take the time you’re wasting on platforms that get little results to increase your presence where things are already working for you.

Autoposting

Many platforms have a feature that allows you to autopost from one to another. For example, when you write a post on your Facebook page, it automatically generates a link to your Twitter account. While this may seem like a great idea initially, this practice actually leads to a 70% decrease in interaction. Most social media platforms favor native content, which means your autopost are going to get less attention in a newsfeed. Add to that the less-than-ideal formatting that the automated service provides, and your post isn’t visually appealing either.

Instead: If you have multiple accounts, craft messages separately and in a style unique to the platforms you use. 

Involvement

If you’re low on time, you won’t be able to interact well on each platform. Success on social media requires personal connection and conversation. If you’ve overdone it and can’t take part in the conversation, your followers will be able to tell.

Instead: Cut down to one account (or two) that you can manage well, and get involved! “Talk” to other users, comment on posts, and create a real presence.

Ready for growth? Add these 5 people to your social circle!

Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. What this boils down to, of course, is that we are greatly influenced by those closest to us. These people affect the way we think, our self-esteem, the decisions we make. If you’re ready to grow, here are five people you need in your professional circle, according to career coach Richard Leider.

#1 – Committed Listener

If you have a decision (big or small)  to make about your career, do you have a friend or colleague who you know will always listen? Knowing that you have someone you can turn to that will talk out a problem or debate a decision is a huge source of comfort – we all need a sounding board. Talking is a great way to process your problems and get some outside perspective. Keep this person on speed dial!

#2 – Catalyst

Hitting a rut in your professional life is common. And that’s where catalyst friends do their best work. Even if you don’t consider yourself or your career very creative, connecting with someone who likes to think outside of the box will help you do the same. Next time you hit a slump, take your catalyst out for a drink and share your woes. Chances are, their wheels will start turning and they will have plenty of ideas about how to get your groove back.

#3 – Connector

Connectors bring about change by bringing together people. They’re natural hubs of connectivity. We all know a connector – because they seem to know everyone! If you’re ready to grow your business, your connector will be your best resource. Connectors are easily able to recognize your strengths and the strengths of others who will complement your skills.

#4 – Task Master

Unconditional support is a wonderful thing, but there comes a time where a cold hard dose of reality is the best medicine. A colleague who will look at the facts and tell you what you need to hear is a necessity in every professional life. You should always have someone in your life who you can trust to tell you the truth–no matter what. They will be able to play devil’s advocate and help you see things in a new light. Next time you are lacking motivation or can’t figure out why your marketing plan isn’t working, ask your most critical friend for advice and they will set you straight.

#5 – Mentor

Even the most successful people can learn from others. Foster a relationship with someone you really admire – someone who has experience that you lack. Find someone you can trust to impart their wisdom on you. Just be sure to return the favor to someone in the future!

The best boards contain a diverse group of people, each of whom plays a different role: a committed listener, who holds up the mirror; a catalyst, who helps you get outside your comfort zone; a connector, who plugs you into other resources, people, and learning opportunities; a task master or trainer, who holds you accountable for doing what you say you’re going to do; and a mentor, who helps you keep your eye on the long view and the big picture.

January’s Business Plan

Wow – 2019 came so quickly! But isn’t there something beautiful about the gift of a fresh, new year? The possibilities seem endless. If you’re like most, you probably have goals you plan to reach this year, and a good idea of how to achieve them.  This is a perfect time to take advantage of the momentum you’ve built up in your time off and watch that positivity bring growth to your business!

Set Those Goals!

If you haven’t done so already, write out your goals for the coming year – it’s not too late! What would you like to accomplish? Was 2018 a big success for your business, or is there still some room for growth? Be ambitious – shoot for the stars! – but it’s a good idea to also be realistic when you’re setting your goals. Setting expectations that are just out of reach may challenge you, or it may intimidate you and cause you to jump ship before the month is over! Know what works for you and plan your year accordingly.

Make The Commitment

After you’ve set some goals, put pen to paper to create an action plan of how your work each month of the year will help you reach success. It’s one thing to make a goal, but quite another to build the roadmap that will help you get there. For many, carving out time to spend on your own business can be the most difficult task. Set aside some dedicated time to work on your OWN business, and stick to that plan as you would an appointment with a client. Your business deserves your attention, too!

Resolutions and Reminders

This is a great time to reach out to clients and remind them of important dates in the New Year. Home maintenance schedules, Texas Homestead Exemptions, and organizational tips are all great ways to stay connected and prove your value.

Looking Ahead

Get your Valentine’s ready! Whether you’re treating your contacts to a pop-by for Valentine’s Day, or celebrating some lesser known February holidays (National Send A Card To A Friend Day is February 7 and National Love Your Pet Day is February 20 – see more unique days at National Day Calendar), now is definitely the time to prepare.

Social Media Challenge

Try a Photo-A-Day Challenge for your January Social Media efforts. You can track your own New Year’s Resolution progress, give followers a glimpse into the life of a real estate agent, or show something a little more personal. The idea of the challenge is to give followers a chance to see the “real” you. Photos have a high rate of engagement across all social media platforms, so there’s even one more benefit!