real estate

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Current & Past Clients Relationships

While online lead generation is all the rage, we all know that there is plenty of revenue to be earned from our relationships. We are, after all, a relationship business and our ability to leverage and grow our existing relationships. Here are 5 ways to make the most of these relationships:

Understand their holistic needs

This is all about offering a value-based strategy with your clients. When you understand the holistic needs of your clients, you go beyond just the symptoms of their problems and get to the root issue at hand. This allows you to demonstrate huge value in that you understand their needs better than any other agent and are best suited to deliver for them in an impactful way.

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Check in along the way.

Many agents make the mistake of simply plugging clients into a tried and true method of doing business. While this isn’t completely off-base, consumers change and so does the nature of our business. You have to establish yourself as constantly evolving and constantly responsive to your client’s needs by checking in with them as they navigate the process with you. Aim to please, but more importantly - aim to evolve by asking “how could I be better tomorrow?”

Retarget them on social media.

This is one of the most underutilized methods for staying in touch because retargeting is often misunderstood or not understood at all! By retargeting your consumers on Facebook or Instagram, you’re able to continue to grab their attention with information that is directly relevant to them. This is an extremely cost-effective way to mass market highly relevant content. If retargeting is not something you fully grasp, partner with someone who does so you can utilize it in your business.

Keep in touch.

Talk about missed opportunities! Keeping in touch is one of the lowest cost solutions to growing your business. Too often we think “I don’t know what to say” or “they don’t want to hear from me” and if all your talking about is real estate, you’re probably right. But think about how you feel when an old friend calls or sends and unexpected gift or note. It gives a sense of surprise and delight and that’s exactly what you want to deliver to your past clients.

Fully understand their journey with you.

You can’t expect to solve someone’s problems when you don’t understand their experience. Taking the time to fully understand what your prospects and clients are going through is essential to building out a truly memorable user experience. Focus on asking questions that will help reveal how you can enhance your processes and better connect with your clients then implementing solutions designed to address those problems.


3 Tips to Better Convert Online Leads

Online leads are all the rage in real estate these days and while we believe in this method of lead gen, we always advise clients to only invest in online leads if you have a process to convert these leads. The money of a lead is always in the conversion, so the focus should be on higher quality, not higher quantity.

Here are 3 tips to better convert these prospects:

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Be Quick to Communicate

With 98% of homebuyers starting their search online and another 54% of homebuyers finding their home online - we can no longer dispute the stats. The buyers are there but the biggest factor in converting online prospects is you speed to lead. How quickly you respond can not only drastically increase the likelihood of converting that lead, but it can demonstrate true value to the consumer about how much you value their business.

Bonus Tip: Ensure your leads route to a specific phone number and/or email address to up your responsiveness. Also try developing pre-written responses to reach out when you’re unavailable and buy you some time.

Be Smart About The Information You Provide

Consumers can access more information than ever online without ever contacting an agent. If you deliver everything on the first communication or worse, voicemail - you’re all but assuring that they have no reason to contact you back or discuss further. Answer questions, but remember to provide some reason for future communications.

Bonus Tip: Ask probing questions about what they might be interested and promise to deliver that. That will set the expectation that they will continue to be hearing from you.

Consistent, Valuable Communication

The key to online lead conversion is not all that different from converting any prospect. You must continue to communicate with them ultimately building a strong relationship through demonstrated value. This value is not a science. You must be willing to ask the right questions and deliver personalized content that matches their needs. It is not all about houses, but rather solving the problems they face.

Are Your Beliefs Messing With Your Mindset?

Your mind is a powerful thing, you know. The stories we tell ourselves and the things we believe about ourselves can be our biggest hurdle to the success we dream of. Often we do everything in our power to try to control the things outside our control that we completely ignore the things we can control. We simply make up our mind that those things are out of our control too.

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You see, I know this because I had made up my mind that these things were out of my control at one point too. And when I shifted that mindset to being able to harness the power of my thoughts for good - everything changed. Doors opened, relationships improved, I was a happier, healthier, better version of me. In fact, so much of what I’d been chasing was right there in front of me.

Deep-seeded beliefs are what compromise a “fixed mindset” and a fixed mindset is often what impedes our growth and skill development. For instance, if you believe “I’m just not that good with numbers” chances are that you will never improve because you’re accepting your place as you are. You’re fixing your circumstances rather than committing to growth. Now if you instead said “I wish I was better with numbers” your brain will automatically go into growth mode and crave expansion of your skill set. Really, think about what deep-seeded beliefs you have that might be holding you back. What are they?

  • “I’m not a natural athlete…”

  • “My body just isn’t built that way…”

  • “I haven’t been in the business for that long…”

  • “It’s hard for me to find the time…”

  • “I’ve got a sweet tooth.”

It doesn’t really matter what the belief is, what matters is how your mind reacts to these beliefs. If you’re able to prompt action with your beliefs - a lot can change. As the saying goes - “the first step is always the hardest…” Now, you just need to take it.

Weekly Planning That Makes A Difference

One of the most requested topics we hear about from you all is time management. This is something that we almost universally struggle with because our brains are focused on survival (expelling the least amount of energy possible) while our ambition is focused on success. The two competing forces often lead to the frustrating feeling of not enough hours in a day.

When I first began my study of time management, I focused heavily on daily planning. Winning the day by waking up early and making the most of the morning hours and staying efficient through regimented habits. What really made the biggest difference is when I added an element of weekly planning. For me, I tackle weekly planning on Sunday afternoons/evenings. It serves to wind down my weekend and allow me to hit the ground running on Monday morning.

Just imagine how much more productive you could be if you kicked off Monday morning by getting straight to work on tasks you know you needed to accomplish instead of making a list of those tasks! But weekly planning is a bit different than daily planning because it takes the big picture into account.

Step One: Define Your Goals

Proper planning starts by defining what your goals are. Often times, we make ambiguous goals and struggle to make plans to accomplish them because the goals are so loosely defined that a plan is next to impossible. Instead, focus on your top 3 goals. Don’t limit yourself just to business either. What are your goals for your personal life too?

Step Two: What Impacts Your Goals

The next step requires you to complete a sort of objective analysis of what is happening in your life. You need to be really honest with yourself and define - what things have a big impact on these goals? These could be activities, habits, or even plans. Most importantly, they have to have an impact on your level of success. Take care to be honest about both positively and negatively impacting things. Remember, your success is in your hands but we understand that there are always outside influences at play.

Step Three: Time Block For Your Goals

The difference between planning and calendar management is a key distinction to understand. Planning is about strategically reviewing your actions and your schedule to see how you can give yourself the best chances of success. Calendar management is simply a supply/demand exercise. Yet, together - the two are one of the most beneficial ways to develop great habits. During both Step One & Two, you’re able to objectively review the actions you need to take. You have no excuse of time constraints and don’t even need to answer the question “when?” until now. The final piece of the planning puzzle gets you to not only say what you need to commit to do, but when you will commit to do it. It establishes personal accountability, which can be a powerful factor in getting things done.

Whether you’re just getting started with planning or this is a practice you have long held, these tips can help you quickly become a better planner. You’ll begin to see things objectively and really benefit from only a few minutes each week and each day seeing the impact almost immediately.

Happy planning!



How to Stop Avoiding Things

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There is no greater place to start that right now, wherever you are. So often, we spend a huge amount of time justifying why we shouldn’t give something a try when we could spend that time in action making a difference. But avoiding is a natural human reaction to discomfort. Our brains go into survival mode and work to expel the least amount of energy and stress. If you’re feeling stuck, these helpful tips can help you start doing and stop avoiding.

Figure out the next step. The first step is often the most difficult. Chances are that if you’re avoiding something - you’re doing so with good reason (i.e., because it is uncomfortable, difficult, new, etc.). But once you take that first step, you can build off the momentum it will inevitably create. Marathon runners train for months before they run a race - starting with smaller, easier runs and building up to be able to handle a full race. Any task you’re avoiding for should be the same. Start small and build in increments.

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Start when you have the most energy. Most people are the most energetic in the mornings. Let me clarify…you don’t have to leap out of bed with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning to be energetic. I’m talking about brain energy. Your mind is freshest in the morning before the world has distracted you and pulled you in a million different directions. When you find a task undesirable, go ahead and get it on your scheduled for the first thing on Monday morning. Work to time block time needed to make a dent and go ahead and get it done. You will likely even enjoy the added bonus of having an even more productive day the rest of the day building of your early productivity.

Treat Yo’self!  I routinely reward the small wins in my day/life. This is how I keep showing up for the difficult tasks and build strong habits. Too often, we think of rewards as high-dollar rewards. Instead, focus on small rewards. Did you get an hour of prospecting done? Reward yourself with lunch with a friend. Crushed your week? Schedule a date night!

Seek and keep accountability. The months following hiring our Project Manager, my business thrived. I hear the same from our clients once they start working with us. It isn’t any big secret that causes this. In fact, it is simple accountability. As humans, there is one thing that we like less than an unpleasant or uncomfortable action, and that is letting other down. When you not only fail to do what you said you would do, but you also have to tell someone you didn’t do it - it just plain sucks. Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how it gets done. It matters that it gets done. You don’t need a coach or a trainer to help with this. Set up accountability practices in your daily life and you will drastically impact your likelihood of getting things done! Just watch.

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Stay curious. Sometimes we put things off for a good reason but sometimes - we just put things off. Did you ever wonder why kids learn so much so quickly? Because they are constantly curious. They’re constantly asking questions and learning new information. Steve Jobs once said “Curiosity is the fuel that makes people think at a tangent and come up with new ideas, in an attempt to work differently and come up with better results.” This point has always resonated with me. If you stay curious, you’ll continue to refine and improve on your processes and more importantly, yourself.




 

How to Delegate Like a Champ

Delegating is one of the most important keys to scaling your success but time and time again - it is something that professionals share as a struggle. I get it. Really, I do. When I began scaling my business, delegating was difficult for me too. It helped to think of delegation as part of the process of eliminating things from my daily task list.

Letting control go of the things that have helped build your business can undoubtedly be uncomfortable and even stressful, but here are a few tips we have for easing the process.

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Establish firm priorities. During the delegation process, it is important to keep your eye on what is most important. What are the things that you must continue to do? What can someone do almost as well as you? Understand that when you delegate something, it may not be done exactly the way you have always done it - but it is freeing your time up to handle the more important things that only you can handle. At the end of the day, the result is more important than the process when it comes to delegation.

Play to your team’s strengths. Delegating is about winning back your time to focus on more pressing matters, which means that delegation is not just a professional undertaking, but a personal one too. If you have specific tasks you need to delegate, hire for those roles. But often where delegation goes off track is that we start with the task versus the person. Focus on what the people in your life do well, enjoy, and are capable of then see where you can leverage those strengths.

Take the time to train. Delegating is the first step in a larger process to remove these tasks from your daily agenda. The biggest mistake I see people make is skipping delegation and moving straight to elimination. They are not the same thing. Delegating is an active process that you as the delgater still must be involved in both through training and follow up. Elimination (the goal) is not concerning yourself with the task at all. It is not enough to take the time to train once and move on. Training may take a few times of you explaining the process, letting them attempt the process, and over time - letting go of the process. Don’t skip the training!

Trust, but verify. Many times, people become reluctant to delegate as a result of previous negative experiences. When delegating, you must be willing to trust the ability of the person taking on the new tasks. Without this trust, you defeat the purpose of delegation in the first place (which is how so many fail at delegating) because you actually spend double the time on the tasks as you originally did - first through trying to delegating then by handling the task yourself anyway. Resist this urge! One great way to build your trust for the person taking on these tasks is to trust their ability and their work while ensure you’re available for questions, yet verifying that the tasks were done to your satisfaction. A few times of verifying their stellar work will build your trust that they are not only capable, but exceeding expectations. Or, verifying that they aren’t capable will save you time of keeping someone tasked with work they cannot handle.

It’s a journey, not a destination. As I have said so many times, delegation is a process. It will require you to be involved in training, support, verification, and so much more. Be patient with yourself and with those you task with the work. They are learning and it can be helpful to remember how you felt when you were first learning these tasks. If you devote the proper level of attention to delegation, you will undoubtedly begin to see the success you were hoping for!


Shake It Up A Little

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Routine can be a powerful asset when it comes to building not only great habits but momentum. When we talk about what sets you apart from the pack - it is all about consistency and routine helps establish consistency. But just like I spoke about a few months ago - sometimes routines can cause us to simply mark things off our list and we lose the impact of the actions themselves, plateauing or even declining.

When this happens, it can be beneficial to shake things up a bit. Interrupting your routine allows life to not get stale and keep you in the mode of wanting to stay consistent. By mixing it up and challenging yourself in new ways you can freshen your entire experience and even re-energize your passion!

The other thing shaking things up can do is offer new perspectives or opportunities. For example, my daughter would live off pizza, mac n’ cheese, or hot dogs if we allowed her. She resists trying new foods and loves to stay in her comfort zone. More recently, we have started cooking from HelloFresh and it has forced her from her normal routine. What has happened has been a much more enjoyable dinner time for everyone in the family because we’re cooking together, eating different meals - healthier meals, and she is discovering things that she actually likes but would never select off a menu herself. I mean, my child now loves Pesto Chicken! Who would’ve thought?

The same logic applies for professionals. When we stick to our same routine of prospecting in the same way, working out in the same routine, or even a routine with our loved ones - things get stale. Sure, they become predictable, but they also get boring and basic human nature is to avoid boring. And what happens once avoidance begins? Inconsistency rears its’ ugly head and we begin losing effectiveness.

This week, look at your routines. What feels like it is just same old, same old? What isn’t producing results? What doesn’t get you excited? Don’t abandon the practices all together, but tweak them. Add in a new set of weight training to your work out, try a different form of prospecting, or plan a spontaneous date night. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Creating A Culture of High Performers

High performance is difficult to attain, but even harder to maintain. In a world where performance is a metric for success - people are reaching new heights, but can they sustain this level of performance? We think with strong leadership and the right environment and focus - high performance is sustainable. Here’s how:

Lead By Example

Someone once told me that an organization’s culture is only as strong as the weakest link. Within our organizations, everyone has the responsibility of upholding the values and core components of the culture. And if performance is one of them - you as the leader have to be bought in. I often tell my clients “I’m not asking you to do anything I’m unwilling to do myself” and that’s true. I believe in order to expect things from others, I must model that behavior. The same goes for leadership. You have to embody the things you want to see from your team in order to expect their best work. Chances are, you will.

Up Your Training Game

Many of our clients come to us looking to solve their training problems. A big focus of ours is implementing more experiential training, which is where agents take a more active role in the training rather than reading from a book or listening to a lecture. Creating simulations or real-life scenarios is a proven tactic for helping people retain that training and is even linked to them remembering to apply that training when the situation presents itself in real life.

Focus on Building Confidence and Production Will Follow

A lot of people miss the mark when they focus on just building production immediately. To us, that has always been a short-term solution. If you want people to succeed long term, and more importantly, sustain that success - they have to build confidence. This means that you have to get comfortable asking why something happened and what you could have done better. When you start focusing on how you can build your skills, it will translate into confidence and ultimately, into production.

Build Strengths, Acknowledge Weaknesses

We spend a ton of time chasing perfection and as we know - it is all in vain. No matter how much we time or money we invest in ourselves, we’ll never be perfect. Now, while I don’t think that means we should stop trying, I do think it means we should leverage what we’re great at and simply acknowledge what we struggle with. For example, if you’re great at networking events but awful at online lead follow up - don’t just hemorrhage money on Zillow or Realtor.com hoping to finally convert. Double-down on what you’re great at and focus on that.

Maintaining An Attitude of Gratitude

Picture this: the dogs are barking, kids forgot their homework, you ran out of coffee, your deal is crumbling, and it’s only 7 am. When life gets in the way, it is not only challenging - but some days it is downright hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude has a number of scientifically proven benefits such as higher self-esteem, enhanced empathy, better sleeping habits, and even better social connections. With evidence of the benefits of gratitude, why do we still struggle to maintain that feeling?

Last year, I began a practice of living my attitude of gratitude. Not just acknowledging my feelings, but also making the point of assigning gold stars of sorts to the people in my life who I feel grateful for and the things in my life that I feel most blessed about. As soon as I made gratitude a practice versus an intention - everything shifted. I found myself able to have better interactions with my family after a stressful day; I was able to shrug off the small stuff (admittedly not all of it, but hey, I’m a work in progress); and I even found myself having more energy.

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The practice began with my utilizing the 5 Minute Journal each morning and evening as the journal teaches. Starting my day with gratitude and getting into the mindset that “I’m going to have a great day” begins my day with the positivity that I need to accomplish the big tasks and “swallow the frog”. Then, after the stress of the day happens, I’m forced to pull out the great things that happened - potentially shifting my mindset to a positive place highlighting the great things that happened instead of letting setbacks burn into my mind. The other aspect I love is that it also forces you to end the day in a growth mindset - focusing on how you can improve or do things differently.

The 5 Minute Journal has drastically impacted my attitude of gratitude and I hope it can do the same for you. I get no kickbacks or kudos when you buy it, I simply endorse it as a life-changing practice. If you have a goal to show more gratitude in 2019, I strongly recommend purchasing your copy today.

Top Tips to Crush Your Content in 2019

We are big believers that content marketing is hands-down the best low-cost, high-leverage strategy for providing value to prospects and generating business. Not to mention, it is so versatile - offering a strategy for agents from a variety of scenarios. Still, the key to great content isn’t only the ideas, it is the execution, which must be thoughtful and relevant to your audience.

As with any marketing strategy, the success is in the consistency and our favorite way to stay consistent is to utilize a content calendar to help pre-plan your content while still leaving space for timely content pieces that can supplement your plan.

When the secret is in the consistent daily actions - we want to make it easier for you to implement. So, we’re sharing our content calendar template (the same one we use here), here are a few helpful tips to executing your plan well.

1. Identify the topics your audience cares about

Different audiences want to hear about different topics and in order to execute a content marketing strategy effectively, you have to consider this when crafting your content. Who are you speaking to? What are the things they care about? What mediums do they utilize? Remember, your content can strike out if you’re just posting it blindly.

2. What frequency can you sustain?

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Sure, posting multiple times per day sounds great and yes, the effectiveness is proven. But if you can’t consistently keep to your content calendar, you might as well not take the time to complete one. Instead, focus on what you can sustain (even when you’re busy). What resources and systems can you implement to leverage when your schedule is more packed?

3. Engagement is essential.

Okay, so you have the best topics, you’ve implemented a schedule and system so that you can regularly post - but oh no! You’re not there to engage with your audience when you post! Tisk, tisk! The point of posting is to engage your audience and utilize low-cost marketing tactics to gain a larger reach and more effective conversations. If you are scheduling posts and not able to respond to comments or interact with your audience, you’re missing the point.

4. Be flexible to time-sensitive content.

While we love the convenience and increased opportunity for consistency that prior planning offers, there are also bound to be timely posts that can really generate a lot of traffic and engagement. Don’t miss those opportunities. Consider supplementing your content calendar or even rearranging it to allow for timely content. We believe that sustainable content calendars are split roughly 50/50 or maybe even a 60/40 pre-planned content/timely content ratio.

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5. Research but give credit!

Many people fail with effective content strategies because they think it all has to be their content. That just simply is not the case. There are so many resources in our local communities that it makes perfect sense to cross-post content to your audience. That said, be sure you are crediting your sources. Taking credit for something you didn’t create just plain isn’t cool.

We know that creating content is tough, but an effective content marketing strategy can make a huge difference in your business. Let 2019 be the year that you build your content strategy and become a true community resource.

What's Your Metric?

In my line of work, the last quarter of the year means one thing…business planning. Most of my clients are hard at work charting out their plans for 2019 and we’re by their side to help. One of the biggest parts of business planning isn’t just about the plans for the future, but the metrics with which you will measure your success.

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Each day, my kids go to school and I am able to track their progress and behavior through a fun app the school began utilizing this year. I absolutely adore the features this app provides. Because I’m more aware of what they’re doing each day, I’m able to have more substantive conversations with them each night. Gone are the days of “how was your day at school?” with the humdrum “Good!” Now I’m able to ask, “What were you doing when you got a point for setting a good example?” or “I’m really proud of you for being a shining star today” and yes, even “We really need to focus on making better choices tomorrow.” The simplicity of the metrics in this app make it easy for me to track their progress, but they’re also the metrics I want to evaluate their progress by. Are they being good people? Are they helping others? Are they setting good examples? Sure, I want them to excel in reading and math too, but I stand by the fact that I’ve used none of my chemistry knowledge in my adult life.

This got me thinking, who really defines our metrics? In real estate, so much of our success is inherently tied to production. Brokerages award them, other agents measure themselves against your production, and it even is leveraged to help you win more business. And while production is undoubtedly important - to me, so are so many other metrics. Have we lost sight of those metrics during our chase for more?

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Most adults struggle to find the hours in the day to complete their to-do lists. We go to sleep with our minds still abuzz with our tasks for the next day and even struggle to sleep through the night because we’re constantly thinking about what lies ahead. Sure, technology is partially to blame, but so are we. I think this is all a result of us falling off track from the real metrics that matter in life. The news, work, our lives - it can all feel a little heavy sometimes, but each time it does; I encourage you to revisit your metrics and even go back to the metrics of your childhood to measure up.

Are you proud of who you are or who you are becoming?

Did you try your best today?

How did you help someone today?

Are you happy?

What did you do to be better today?



Trust The Process

In real estate, we talk a lot about trust. After all, trust is the foundation of any great relationship - even the agent-client relationship. But while trust is the goal, trust is not instant and it certainly cannot be taken for granted. Working with a new client isn't all that different from dating. When you first start working with someone new, there is that constant - "how much is too much?" thought that runs through your mind. And just like every real estate training teaches you, you have to earn your client's trust to really be able to deliver excellent service. But, before a client can trust you, they must like you, respect you, and feel the value you bring to their situation. How does that happen? Well, there are a few ways. 

Getting Your Clients To Like You - It seems like an easy enough idea to get your clients to like you, but this is actually slightly more complicated because it involves saying "no" more than it involves saying "yes." They key to getting people to like you is associating with clients who genuinely like the authentic version of you. The reason why so many agents struggle with this is that they are working to develop any client instead of doubling down on the clients that like their working style, understand their value, and truly want to work with them. The key to getting clients to like you is working with client you like first. The rest will fall into place. 

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Respect You - Liking someone and respecting them are two entirely different concepts. Respect, much like trust is earned through reliable, consistent actions. Sure, a certain level of basic respect is assumed; however, you need your clients to not only respect you as a person, but as a professional and that includes respecting the boundaries that you set for yourself. 

Know Your Value - There is a lot of talk about value and knowing your worth, but I am constantly amazed at the number of agents who feel entitled to defend their commission, but have no substantive reason why they are worth it. To earn your commission, you need to not only be able to articulate your value, but to prove it day in and day out. And the funny thing about value is that it looks different for every consumer, every stage of the process, and every perspective. Taking the time to understand your clients' needs beyond just bedrooms and bathrooms is essential to providing great value. 

While these three areas are an easy place to start, great service is more than establishing a good start. Great service is defined in the moments where no one is looking. Great service reflects great character because it shows your desire to do the right thing because you know it is right, not because of some reward at the end of the rainbow. 

Set the Standard

One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is that I am able to decide who I want to work with. My clients make up a hard-working, committed group of individuals and teams who believe in doing the work. It makes my work so much more rewarding and satisfying. What if I told you that you have the same luxury? You can choose who you work with, too. And more importantly, you can decide how you are treated in this business. 

In real estate, this is admittedly easier said than done. It is difficult to resist the urge to "jump" when the client/prospect says so, or to be responsive at all hours because our livelihood is constantly at stake. The question looms in our minds of..."if we set the boundary for ourselves, will another agent be able to swoop in and capture my clients?" It is certainly a risk and I wholeheartedly acknowledge that; however, I don't believe that it is as big of a risk as we have convinced ourselves. 

Our businesses and our lives are a product of the expectations that we have set for ourselves and for others. You are responsible for teaching people how you want to be treated and they are responsible for how they choose to interact with you as a result. If you find yourself with no downtime or feeling frazzled, you have likely let people control your boundaries instead of controlling them yourself. In a business where time is at a premium, you have to have the willpower to control how you allocate it. Just remember, every time you say "no" it opens the opportunity for a whole lot of "yes."

What Guides You?

They say that character is defined by what you do when no one is looking. And when it comes to great service - I believe the same rule follows. It is easy to go above and beyond when you know the client/prospect is looking or to roll out the red carpet for the pat on the back, but real service is defined by the things we do when no one is looking.  

In real estate, it is easy to get attached to the outcome of a deal and align our service with the outcome. But what happens when you align your service with your values is something so much more impressive. You live each moment in the actions because you wholeheartedly believe in them. When we are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience, we often miss out on ways that we can maintain the experience as well.

Certainly, I am not a fan of the status quo. It pretty much goes against everything I stand for, but the status quo also represents an expectation of a smooth process. Often when we're trying to go above and beyond, we unintentionally disrupt that. This is what happens when we're solely focused on outcomes. We do things with a result in mind and if we don't achieve that result, the entire process is in vain. However, when we focus on the individual actions. When we live in the moments of the transaction, we're able to surprise, delight, and deliver in a way that surpasses the client's wildest expectations. The only question is - are you in it for the outcome or are you in it for the action?

Controlling For X

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One of the most common questions I get is "what is the one thing I implement that will help me succeed?" Talk about a broad question, huh? It doesn't matter where I am or who I am talking to, it is almost a guarantee that someone will ask me the question. Some people may see it as agents looking for a quick fix or a magic solution, but I see it differently. I realize that the journey to success is long and winding and often we're just looking for signs that we're on the right path - even if that path differs from someone else's. 

You are probably wondering what my answer is, aren't you? And the funny thing about it is the answer applies universally regardless of the situation. Why? Because there is one looming reason that people fail...something I call The X Factor. This is that thing (or things) that fall outside your control, but impact your work. It is unpredictable and more likely than not, it has the ability to throw a wrench in your plans. When the X Factor rears it's ugly head, we tend to crumble and lose touch with all of the things that got us to where we are. So, what is the answer to my question? You have to control for X. 

I get it, it is much easier said than done. How do you even go about controlling for something you don't know anyway? Sometimes the X Factor is time while other times it is emotions. Still other times it is the other side of a negotiation. The thing that high achievers all share is this ability to control for X. Sure, you won't be able to predict everything, but much of what we do is highly predictable. By allowing the predictable to become regimented making it even more predictable you will generate time to deal with the unpredictable events. Controlling for X also requires that we overcome a looming fear of worst case scenario playing it out in our heads so that we can prepare for the possibilities. Chances are that this simple act of preparation very well may eliminate the worst case scenario all together allowing for a much smoother experience to begin with. 

You see, controlling for X doesn't mean eliminating X. There will always be unpredictable events that impact our success and our lives. But how you choose to respond to those actions and prepare for the possibilities is what will set you apart. 

What Do You Bring To The Table?

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Years ago I attended a conference featuring a chat between Brad Inman and Dave Liniger, co-founder of Re/Max. As most conversations with Brad Inman are, there were some hard-hitting questions that gnawed at the meat of issues we face in the real estate industry. And, from my half-tuned in ears, I heard a statement that I've carried with me ever since: "You don't want to bring a fork to a potluck. You have to bring something people want to dig into." Truth be told, I can't recall what the exact question was that prompted Mr. Liniger's response, but it was referencing the value of the agent in the transaction. 

Often times we get caught up in the idea of someone questioning our worth and proposing discounting our commission or the idea of a portal "stealing" our business (which is a topic for another day), but the reality of the situation is that whatever comes and goes in our industry, so long as we are bringing something to the table that people want to dig into, we're assuring our spot at the table. We spend so much time focused on the potential threats to our business that we're ignoring the one variable that we can control: our own value. 

One of the biggest things I work with agents on is how to articulate their value proposition, and moreover, how to deliver on that value proposition each day so that no one questions your pitch. The key to bringing value is to always ask yourself "what would help them in this moment?" Sometimes that is more properties, sometimes it is a realistic talk about expectations and commitments, while still other times, it it merely helping them navigate a stressful decision. As agents, our role isn't clearly defined - no matter who tells you otherwise. Our role is what we choose to make it. I hope you make it worth it. 

Stay In Your Lane

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the effect competition, or more accurately - perceived competition. As any good business owner knows, you have to be aware of your competition, but there is a fine line between awareness and obsession. When I work with clients, we focus heavily on the things we can control and really there is only one thing in our lives that we have complete control over and that is ourselves. Not only can we not control the actions of our competition but it has an extremely negative impact on our performance when it pushes us to be reactive instead of proactive. It can shift our plans even causing our actions to misalign with our vision. And what if you're being reactive to something you merely perceive as competition and it isn't actually a blip on the radar? An obsession with your perceived competition is not only completely counterproductive, it is downright harmful to your business. When we're constantly looking at others, how can we impact ourselves?

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Going down the rabbit hole of comparing ourselves to the accomplishments of others is a losing battle. Not because we are not accomplished, but because eventually - the likelihood of you finding someone, somewhere that is more accomplished than you is pretty high. And here's the thing...there is nothing wrong with that. Further, where do you stop comparing yourself to others? Do you only compare career success or do you also begin to look at personal achievements? See? Rabbit hole. The problem with focusing on others isn't only that it is a losing battle, it is that it causes you to focus less on yourself and what differentiates you. That is your competitive superpower - focus on what differentiates you from the competition.

It is proven that high performers outpace their competition by focusing inward on refining their own skill set, developing their value, and implementing their plans to deliver that value to consumers. In a world of a lot of the same, I think we'd all be better served to spend a lot less time worrying about what we perceive as competition and more about our own goals. 

Two Words That Can Change Someone's Day

In the age of the iPhone, we're awful at delayed gratification. If you can't figure out how to tie a bowtie or cook that recipe - Google is at your fingertips with the answer, or at least the guidance. Our emails are constantly alerting us to pause our lives and respond. If we can pull ourselves away from our emails, our Twitter & Facebook notifications pull us right back in. Not to mention, with the divisiveness that our country we are often left exhausted and discouraged that we're all human and we all have hearts. 

I still believe that. Despite the hate and turmoil that is going on, I believe that we're all human, and that a thank you goes a long way in reminding each other of that. I'm not alone either. Last week, at our monthly Karma Keg event at Vita Vite in downtown Raleigh, I had the pleasure of meeting Mimi Shankin, a local professional who is inspired by the idea of gratitude. Discouraged by the political rhetoric that she saw cluttering her social media feeds, Mimi decided to do something about it. She is offering Free Thank Yous and shared this with us at our Karma Keg. 

Mimi showed up to the event with a purse full of ready-made thank you cards that were all blank inside. She had a variety of designs and a variety of cards by photography, Teresa Stephens. All of her envelopes were pre-stamped and she didn't care who you decided to write to, she just wanted you to express gratitude. Her hope was that she could begin to unite people as humans - to understand that we're all different and that we all have the right to (and often do) believe whatever we choose, but we're still human and that we should be thankful for all of the blessings that we have in each of our lives. Mimi impacted me more than she probably knows. The desire to unite us as people first runs deep within my veins. It is something that I was taught from a very early age, and something that I work very hard to instill in my step-kids. After thinking for a while about who I would write my thank you note to, I decided to write it to my parents. After all, they were the ones who taught me the original importance of giving thanks. 

Life goes by fast. There are a million things that can distract us at any given moment, but when we stop for a moment, most of us are overwhelmed by one important feeling - gratitude. Taking the time to show the people in your life how important they are to you, to say thank you, and to take a moment to show that others matter - these things are what make me proud of humanity. These are the very same things that can drive you to lead an extremely successful business. This week, I want you to stop for a few minutes and take some time to write some handwritten thank you notes. If you're really ambitious, start the habit and take the time more often than just this week. I think you will be encouraged when you watch your business take off because you said two little words. 

Thank you. 

Creating Your Community

More and more, I find myself looking outside of the real estate industry for inspiration. So, this week, as we tackled the concept of branding on one of our training "B-Line" calls here at Bamboo Realty, I couldn't help but reference my latest obsession - my new Peloton bike. Those of you that follow me on social media may have noticed this new obsession; however, what you likely haven't seen, unless you're a Peloton rider yourself, is the power of the Peloton community. After just a week with my bike, the power of their community has vastly changed how I ride and my drive to keep going. 

Of course, it's all in the name though! "Peloton" is a word used to describe the main group of riders in a race. Riders group together to enhance their performance - so riders in a peloton work together, conserve energy and perform better because of one another. Hm, sounds a lot like a community to me. One might begin to wonder how a spin bike with technology for at-home on-demand rides actually enhances performance or creates community, but I tell you - this company has mastered it.

Founded in 2012 as a kickstarter, Peloton was created by people who "loved cycling but had a hard time finding a workout that consistently fit their schedules." The mere idea of this had me hooked long before I was a rider. You see, I was sold on the problem they were facing and their way of solving it. I too loved working out, but for me - life had gotten in the way. Peloton works to utilize technology to deliver an engaging experience that truly can act as a replacement for an in-person class, because it delivers the same level of experience. By bringing classes on-demand to your home, they're able to solve one of the big reasons why many of us stop working out - because we simply can't find the time. 

But, without community, motivation is easily lost. Communities not only keep us engaged, they keep us accountable. Many adults who continue to work out regularly have gym memberships merely because they need to go somewhere to actually work out. Personal trainers have made a career out of not just expert advice, but providing accountability. (Yes, real estate coaches have too). This isn't a bad thing. It's just honest. Wherever there is a void in the market, there is a business opportunity. Peloton nailed that opportunity. 

When you create a community, your brand becomes powered by it. You aren't constantly looking for new ways to tell your story - your community begins to tell your story. Communities are created through satisfied consumers who believe that your work matters. This isn't just a past client that thinks you did a good job for them. That's great, but that is a singular story. Communities are a collection of stories - a collection of paths crossing in a way that ties the individuals together through a common bond. Community is created by people who know you would care just as much about anyone you worked for, because you care just as deeply about each of your consumers. Community is created by people who care deeply about one another. By people who believe in one another. By people who want others to succeed just as much as they want themselves to succeed. Community is created by people. So, regardless of busy schedules or any other distractions, don't look past the people who you are building your community with. Each one of them has a story that is now part of your brand. Each one of them will now tell their version of your brand story. Becoming part of one another's stories is magical. It is deeply personal. Relish that opportunity. Don't waste it. 

Just last week, the Official Peloton Rider Page on Facebook hit 25,000 members and to commemorate the moment, they put out this great video from folks throughout the company to say thank you. Want to see how companies nail creating community? Click the image below to see the video

I realize that there is a big difference between Peloton and real estate, but then I wonder - is there really? Don't we all have the opportunity to create a community around a common bond? I think so. 

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