This is a great question! I think a great first step would be to confirm that the job of a Real Estate Broker is something you want to do. I would contact local brokers in your area to see if there are any shadowing or intern-like positions available for you to learn more about the work and the lifestyle. Moreover, look into the certifications required for your state. These vary state to state, but I know in my home state of Virginia, I would be able to get a Salesperson license with significantly fewer hurdles than getting a Broker license. As a result, I would be able to do a lot of Real Estate related work, be more appealing to the brokers I would reach out to for shadowing or part-time job opportunities, and learn a lot.
Another important thing would be to read up on the matter and check out the literature written by different brokers. This could help determine if you are more interested in Residential or Commercial Real Estate. It might also be a great idea to start reading Real Estate related magazines and news sources (e.g. The Real Deal) to further confirm your interest in the field. Perhaps you might discover that you do not want to be a broker but want to be involved in some other aspect of Real Estate.
Beyond that, Real Estate is a field that is a great combination of creativity, soft skills (communication, time management, etc.) and technical skills (e.g. math). I would definitely work on developing those relevant skills if I were you.
You might be working with five clients at one time, but if you are unable to give your undivided attention to each person, you can kiss your profit (and future recommendation) goodbye. With the advent of caller ID, answering the phone and collecting potential client information is easier than ever. Of course, there will be times when you are truly unable to get to your phone on time; but when possible, respond to a call from a current customer. Chances are, they have a simple problem that has a simple solution. Take five minutes to help them out and you’ll become a hero. You would be surprised at how valuable availability is to the average small business — consider the alternative.
It is equally important to ask every client about their preferred method of communication. Do they like texts, emails, or old school phone calls? Whatever the answer is, be sure to interact with them on that medium. Clients will notice when you take the time personalize their experience and remember the “little things.”
2. Set Goals
Did you know that 83 percent of the population doesn’t set goals? Additionally, of the people who do set goals, only three percent have those goals written down somewhere. However, if you do take the time to physically write down your goals, you will be 79 percent more likely to achieve them. With a statistic like that, there is no reason you shouldn’t add goal setting to your daily business to-do’s.
Goal setting is important for all real estate entrepreneurs who want to succeed, as goals give you a way to track and measure progress. How can you tell if your business is improving if you don’t know how you hold up to the competition? Setting goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound is a sure-fire way to lock in success.
3. Have a Marketing Plan in Place
If you are able to set up a marketing campaign and subsequently automate its process, you’ll be way ahead of the game. The key to success in automated marketing is trifold: you must hit all your bases and personalize every customer experience, all without reinventing the wheel every time you launch a new campaign. Use new technology along with old-school marketing methods to reach a broad customer base, and be sure to define your target audiences. Once you find a strategy that works for you, you can duplicate the process across multiple mediums. The content on your piece of direct mail may seamlessly transition into a social media post, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, and always look for ways to improve efficiency.
4. Become an Expert in Your Market
Since information about anything and everything is so readily available online, homebuyers are less inclined to enlist the services of agents and investors. Who needs a realtor when you can read Trulia or Redfin’s blogs and get all your answers for free? When it comes down to it, the one thing an agent can offer to customers that the internet can’t is experience. If you present yourself as the expert in your market — a thought leader, if you will — homebuyers will have no choice but to work with you. Staying up to date on the latest news in your industry is the best way to get ahead.
5. Build Relationships
As a real estate agent, you will have a jam-packed schedule at all times. Still, that’s no excuse for forgoing to build customer relationships. In fact, you need to go the extra mile every time and with every transaction. Late nights and grueling hours should become the norm, not the exception, at least for a little while. Nobody every said it would be easy to realize a higher level of success. It shouldn’t matter if you are selling a home for $200,000 or $20 million, your attitude should be the same with every client.
The best way to build and maintain customer relationships is by listening to each and every client’s individual needs. Agents who focus too much of their time worrying about their own financial gains are unable to discern what their client really wants. Keep in mind that a real estate agent is less of a salesman and more of a guide — a mentor or counselor who helps people through one of the most exciting (and usually overwhelming) experiences of their lives.
6. Ramp Up Your Social Media Efforts
A big aspect of staying up to date on current trends and technologies is being present on social media. Even if you don’t consider yourself technologically savvy, here are four platforms you should join:
Facebook: Facebook is the mecca for all things social media. Not only does it claim over two-billion users, it is also a great platform for advertising. Whether you want to show off a newly listed property on your newsfeed or broadcast your services through a paid ad campaign, Facebook is there to make your marketing dreams come true.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is one of the best places to network with professionals in your industry. The constantly updated newsfeed is also a great place to discover new friends and ask questions.
Instagram: If you are looking to reach a younger audience (perhaps first-time homebuyer aged), Instagram is for you. Tap into your more creative side and create a profile that is visually appealing by uploading interior and exterior shots from your open houses.
Twitter: Keep your clients (and potential clients) up to date on your life in real time with Twitter. Whether you are answering relevant questions asked by your followers or describing your personal journey, you’d be surprised with how much you can say in just 140 characters.
7. Implement Small Business Systems: This is the tip that ties everything together. By utilizing the above strategies, you are, in effect, implementing small business systems. The most successful small businesses are structured; they follow strict processes, they have well defined strategies, they have action plans derived from clearly established goals, and most importantly, they focus on customer needs. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just be sure to consistently test your new processes so you can stick with what works and ditch what doesn’t.
Linda Francis, CTAL-TM, CTFL-AT
If you are totally new to real estate, keep in mind that your schedule must be extremely flexible and expect to work evenings and weekends (when most other people are not working). A good friend of mine is an agent and she frequently gets calls from people asking to see houses with little or no notice.
In addition to Anant's response, I would suggest working on negotiation skills and be willing to go the extra mile (making phone calls to confirm appointments, checking make sure everything is ready prior to sitting down at settlement, etc).
Best wishes in your endeavors.
Linda recommends the following next steps: