Getting to The Top: Finding The APEX of Success

The REALTORS® Land Institute recently presented the 2017 APEX Awards Program, sponsored by the internationally recognized magazine The Land Report, to identify and recognize the nation’s top producing land real estate agents. Over $1 Billion in property sales were recorded by RLI’s top 50 agents in 2017. That’s an amazing accomplishment to say the least, and this success again demonstrates the knowledge, work ethic, and power of the collective brokers within the RLI organization. Clearly, RLI partnerships are a force to be reckoned with.

At this year’s APEX Awards Ceremony, Michael Murphy and I of M4 Ranch Group were honored to be recognized with four APEX Awards, including a tie for 2017 APEX Top National Producer, a tie for 2017 APEX Broker of the Year Recreational Land Sales, both as a 2017 APEX Top Twenty Producer, and both as part of the 2017 APEX Producers Club. First, I want to pass on my deepest appreciation for the blessings our clients, our company, and our team experienced in 2017. We had “one of those years” that all of us in RLI work diligently to produce.

In 2017, the M4 Ranch Group Team was able to close over 95,000 deeded acres in 35 transactions. You, the top professionals in this industry, clearly know that just does not happen every year. You also know it has a much better chance of happening when you build the right platform, establish the right avenues for success, and most importantly, associate your company with the right performers in the industry.

We at M4 Ranch Group have worked tirelessly to do just that, working daily towards building a platform that couples time-proven tools with the newest technologies. We are both challenged and excited with learning new technology as well as with refining the ancient art of human relations. Being successful in this business is a never-ending quest for knowledge from understanding the details of an ALTA survey, easements, and water rights to understanding the history of a property and the biology of its wildlife.

M4 Ranch Group has been fortunate to capitalize on the neverending opportunities for education through our RLI Colorado Chapter. In our RLI Chapter, we focus on the needs of the industry, the needs of our chapter as a group, and the everchanging needs we as professionals face daily to better ourselves and our companies.

Each of us in the industry knows that “we only eat what we kill.” This industry makes no payment for a second place finish. If the transaction does not close, we don’t get paid. Our success at M4 Ranch Group in 2017 is without fail directly tied to the strength, intelligence, and the never-quit attitude of Team.

While Michael and I were recognized by RLI for the fantastic success in 2017, that success would not have happened without the back up of our partner, Michelle Murphy, as well as the rest of our amazing team. If there is one path to success, it is to build on peoples’ strengths within your organization and allow them to flourish in their niches.

We are all faced with what seems to be insurmountable challenges in the industry, including marketing, meeting our clients’ needs, and budgeting so that we get the most bang for our buck. Marketing alone presents an almost-bewildering array of decisions, from a virtually limitless list of print opportunities to working every technological angle to develop the highest web rating for listed properties, from full page banner ads and web listings to drone tours, from multi-page brochures to 3-D property imaging, from the highest standards in mapping to the local chambers of commerce. It seems no one person or firm has the perfect answer here. I do know that those who rise above never quit, and they never take the easy path. Nevertheless, many of these top firms are very humble in their success. If not, they only have to wait for a down year to regroup with humility!

It is easy to get tied up with statistics: where did we get the most results, what drove the most traffic, tracking web hits, social media clicks, direct leads, direct mail, etc. We can be consumed with questions. “Are we in the right market?” “Did we spend those dollars wisely?” “Will this work?” However, in the midst of our continuous data gathering at M4, we have recognized that the single biggest avenue for success has been relationships. In particular, we can attribute success after success directly to the personal relationships built within our RLI Chapter.

Without these friendships, partnerships, and working relationships, M4 Ranch Group would not have seen the success we experienced in 2017.The bottom line is that the RLI Colorado Chapter is, simply put, something special. The Chapter is built on the philosophy of “A Rising Tide Raises All Ships.” If you don’t have the answer you do have someone to call within this group who does. The level of integrity is extremely high. You just flat out can trust those you work with, something not said often in many industries, and sometimes even less in ours.

Building on the past outstanding years of effort from National RLI we are entering into a new era. With the appointment of Aubrie Kobernus, CEO, and the drive and tenacity she and her team bring to the table, this organization is rising at a rocket rate. The rest of National RLI and the nation’s chapters are working daily to build that same level of integrity into everything from the ALC Designation and LANDU Education Program to the National Land Conference. RLI continues to work to help each of us better understand the strengths of those we work with, better understand the knowledge base of our partners, and better understand how they can share that knowledge base to help us all succeed.

Knowing the professionals in our industry is a major key to success. That’s one of RLI’s main benefits. We at M4 Ranch Group are honored to work with each of you, we are honored to call many of you friends, but most of all, we are thankful.

This article originally appeared in the 2018 Summer Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

About the author: Dan Murphy has experience running restaurants, a guest resort, owning and operating a respected outfitting business in Colorado for twenty years, and as a current owner of M4 Ranch Group, a division of Team Murphy Realty, LLC. His company specializes in ranch and recreation properties in Southwestern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

Choosing (And Using) The Right Client Relationship Manager (CRM) Software

Picture this: It’s Friday afternoon, 3:00pm. You are scheduling your next week’s business activities, setting priorities, and putting a plan in place. You’ve had a pretty successful week – got a contract on a large listing, met a new prospect who is likely a buyer for a couple of projects, went to a successful networking event, and called 25 new prospects on big land tracts. You’re feeling good. But as you begin to plan, you look down and see business cards scattered on your desk, a wrinkled legal pad with half-legible notes, and a desk calendar sprinkled with coffee stains. You breathe a deep sigh and wish that you were better organized.

Does this sound like you? Perhaps it’s not as bad as all that. However, I think we can all admit that we have been there. Things get busy and we run our business with pen, paper, and our own brains. But in the long run, all 3 of those things will fail you. There should be (and is) a much better way.

Client Relationship Manager (CRM) software is the extra brain that every successful business operator needs to keep their business at peak efficiency. A CRM is far more than a list of clients. Used properly, a CRM is your contact database, your personal assistant, your calendar planner, and your goldmine of information. It will remind you to follow up with a new client, call a prospect you should’ve heard from by now, or get in touch with a past client at regular intervals. We’ve all got way too much flying around in our heads to remember it all. Handing off a lot of that responsibility to a CRM is a great way to free up brain space and time in order to focus on the most important aspects of your business.

Many of you are already using a CRM at peak efficiency. Great! Stop reading now and go make it rain. But many of you are not using one well, or worse, not using one at all. I submit that in today’s market with all of the available technology, speed of information, and industry competition, it is more important than ever to be the person most engaged with every prospect you want to do business with. Your CRM will keep you honest and consistent with that engagement.

I’d like to offer three tips for choosing a CRM as well as three tips for using one – and using it well.

CHOOSING A CRM

Tip 1: Keep it simple.

Many CRMs have intricate functionality and can perform high-level categorization and analysis on your contacts, prospects, and pipeline. These features are great. But make sure you will actually use them before you select a CRM that does so much. You might get bogged down in all the functionality and lose sight of the goal.

Remember that the CRM is supposed to serve you. Not the other way around.

Tip 2: Don’t break the bank… at least at first.

Do you want to spend thousands of dollars on a CRM? There are many available. Do you want to get one for free? A few of those exist as well. If you’ve never used a CRM before, start with a free one (Zoho and Insightly are free for 1 or 2 users). You might not get every bell and whistle but as discussed above, you don’t need them. Once you are accustomed to using a CRM effectively you can always upgrade. And you’ll be far better prepared to select among alternatives since you will have some likes and dislikes from your free experience.

Tip 3: FORCE yourself to use it.

When first starting out with a CRM, you will be tempted to use all of your old methods as a crutch. As you encounter frustrations and growing pains, you will tend to shy away from the CRM – only using it when it’s convenient. This is no good. Select a system, spend a few days playing around with and getting used to it, then COMMIT. If you encounter issues, use the help function. Or use Google. Figure it out as you go along and deal with the pain up front. You want to get that machine good and oiled up so that it’s smooth sailing once you’re past the indoctrination period.

USING A CRM

Tip 1: Do it right from the beginning… or at least from right now.

If you’re just getting started or only have a couple of years in the business, make this a high priority for yourself. Properly creating, growing, and maintaining a quality database can be tedious, but it’s far more tedious to get 10 years down the road and try to do it all at once. Maybe you’ve been in the business for many years and use a spreadsheet, a notepad, or even a Rolodex (anyone??). All of that should be converted into a digital CRM. YES, it will take time. YES, it will be painful. But the benefits you will reap when it is complete far outweigh the work of getting it done.

Tip 2: Once you figured out the basics, try a new function or capability.

Once you have pushed through the transition, you should be pretty comfortable with the functionality – at least the basics. When you’re feeling foggy, learn something different about the software and find a new way it can help you. You may discover that it can tell you something interesting about your business operations. What’s your average time from listing to closing? How often do you really call that important client? How many new calls do you make on a weekly or monthly basis? By exploring different functions you will more deeply understand your contacts, your process, and your overall business.

Tip 3: Change to a different software after 3-5 years.

OK, this may sound crazy but I really do believe it is beneficial. As technology continues to develop, newer, better, and less expensive options will always be available. If you shop around every few years you may find a product with functions you’ve always wished your current CRM had. Furthermore, moving to a new system will force you to look at your information and clean it up. It’s kind of like moving into a new house.  You might finally decide to throw away that box of stuffed animals you’ve had since you were six. By cleaning up your database once in a while, you will keep it streamlined and relevant – making it more useful in your business.

A well-maintained and properly utilized CRM can make a struggling business good and a good business great. With very little effort, anyone can introduce a much higher level of structure to their business, keeping the pipeline full and the clients happy.

About the author: Caleb McDow is a land specialist and vice president with Crosby & Associates, Inc. in Winter Haven, FL, with a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) and is a licensed private pilot and drone operator. McDow joined the institute in 2014 as a Military Transition Program (MTP) member.  He serves on the Institute’s Future Leaders Committee and regularly blogs on real estate issues. Caleb McDow can be reached at 352-665-6648 or caleb@crosbydirt.com

 

land brokerage crm

Driving Efficiencies with CRM in the Land Brokerage Industry

When we decided to focus our customer relationship management (CRM) consulting practice in the commercial real estate sector some 13 years ago, we were excited about the opportunity that was before us in that there were very few, if any, true CRM offerings in the space. Since then, the market for commercial real estate solutions has matured and now the broker who specializes in office, retail, industrial, and multi-family properties has a list of products from which to choose coming in all different pricing levels and feature sets.

As we took a look more closely at some segments WITHIN the commercial real estate space, we saw an opportunity to refine our focus in the land brokerage community. While there are similarities between land brokerage and general commercial real estate brokerage, we found there are enough differences to substantiate an application specific to the land brokerage community.

In talking to land brokers from all across the country, they’ve found themselves having to “make due” with solutions that were either designed for residential brokerage or overbuying a solution that was engineered more for office, retail and industrial leasing and investment sales.

The land brokerage community has grown into a “not so small” group of professionals and the data that each of these brokers possess and track continues to grow. With that being the trend, tracking all of this information with crude tools like spreadsheets and notepads is started to cause some pain points and limiting the growth potential of many brokerage firms across the country.

If you are in the land brokerage business, you are most likely tracking contacts, companies, phone calls, emails, property listings and the deals you are pursuing with each at the very minimum. Where and how you track them differs wildly but make no mistake, you are tracking this data; or should be.  For some, you are tracking it on sticky notes around your desk or on notepads or Excel spreadsheets. While convenient and super easy to capture this information using those manual methods, your ability to “leverage” that data in the future is negated.  You essentially get “one time” use out of that data. Imagine another broker who captured all of that information in a centralized cloud based system that allowed them to quickly search for that data for repeated use where ever they may be, whether it be out in a field on their mobile device, behind their desk and computer or at a client site on their computer.  For those who work in groups and have a need to share information across your brokerage, imagine the benefit of such a shared system where you can turn your data into true business intelligence.

No longer do you have to work for your data, the data starts to work for you.

Simply follow up tasks that we all know we need to track and monitor but don’t because of the manual effort to do so can be automated.  Here are two simple examples for you to consider:

Prospecting / Business Development – you are a disciplined broker and know that for future growth, you always need to be prospecting and working on new business relationships.  Putting your networking hat on, you start to establish relationships with new contacts in your local marketplace, the interest level of which varies greatly.  Some may want to do business with you right away where others may need more nurturing over the course of time.  Engaging with those that are ready to do business now is the easy part.  What are you doing to stay in touch with those that are not ready to engage with you today (which by the way is the vast majority of your prospects).  Without a systematic method for following up with these prospects, the hard truth is that many of them fall through the cracks and never turn into business.  There now exists a solution that can help you with this and the good news is, it has been tailored for your industry and your brokerage.

New Listing Checklist – you get a new property listing which kicks off a series of tasks that you need to complete to start driving demand to the new listing; ordering signs, creating a new listing site, creating an email to send out to brokers or investors, creating the target broker and buyer list, etc. Using manual methods to track these tasks, you either enter them into your calendar one at a time at best.  Considering the “static” and repeatable nature of these tasks, there is an automation opportunity whereby when a new listing is entered into your CRM system, these tasks could automatically be assigned and scheduled and the progress of those tasks can be managed and viewed to make sure nothing “falls through the cracks”.

These are just a couple examples of how technology can be used to truly leverage the data you already possess allowing you to perform at an efficiency level that could only be dreamed of in the past.

Wes Snow AscendixAbout the Author: Wes Snow is co-founder and President of Ascendix Technologies based in Dallas, Texas with international offices located in Kharkiv, Ukraine.  Ascendix has been enjoyed a successful 22 year existence in the CRM space and is the author of real estate based solutions AscenidxRE and AscendixRE Land.  In addition to productivity tools for the Salesforce.com platform like Ascendix Search, Ascendix also provides professional services/consulting for various CRM implementations across the globe.

Time Out-Sourced

As a broker, what activities do you enjoy doing the most? Is it meetings? Researching property? Cold calling? <–(FAT CHANCE). Beyond enjoying, what activities tend to get you the most business or make you the most money? I’m sure we have many activities that we enjoy doing far more than others. I have many of them. For example, I absolutely hate collecting all of the minute information related to a new listing. Tax info, parcel numbers, future land use, water, sewer, etc. It is certainly important for me to know all of that information. But the process of collecting it is time-consuming and tedious. On the other hand, what I enjoy more than anything is riding property with a client. Not only does it teach me the finer points of the land itself, but it fosters the client relationship in a unique way. This also takes time. You can’t be in a hurry when getting to know your client. For me, it’s one of the most important things to focus on for current and future business. When considering the resources that you put towards your business everyday time is both the most demanded and the most precious. It is your most valuable and least available resource.

This is not the first time I have written about protecting your time. Visit What is Your Time Worth? Part 1 & Part 2 for some background. For this article, I will focus more specifically on saving time when doing one of the most important things in the business: PROSPECTING.

I’ve learned a lot about prospecting over the years. I’ve utilized many resources and heard from or read many different experienced brokers on the topic. A website and blog authored by Bo Barron was particularly helpful in my early days of brokerage. Most recently, I heard Michael Bull, CCIM, speak at the REALTORS® Land Institute National Land Conference. Michael led an incredible session on broker success strategies and gave me one of the best tips I’ve ever heard about prospecting in commercial real estate: “Prospecting is not part of the business. It IS the business.” With this idea as the backdrop behind spending your time wisely, let’s look at how to maximize your available time for true, focused prospecting.

Here’s a quick real world look at the aim and process of my prospecting system. I look primarily for high-quality farmland. If I can find willing and reasonable sellers who own irrigated farmland, I can usually sell it pretty quickly. Below is a rough breakdown of my process. When I first started, I did all of this myself.

Step 1. Find high-quality properties located in certain agricultural areas

  • Search aerial imagery visually
  • Look for crop circles, irrigation

Step 2. Match likely properties from imagery with tax parcel info

  • Find property on tax assessor website
  • Collect owner’s name and address

Step 3. Search public information websites to find phone numbers for owner

  • Google owners name
  • White Pages, Intellus, etc.

Step 4. Enter information into Client Relationship Management (CRM) database

  • Click, type, copy/paste, repeat
  • Ensure accuracy, categorize new prospect
  • Log task for follow up call to prospect

Step 5. Prepare form letter to mail

  • Enter address info on form letter, fold, and insert
  • Address envelope, lick stamp

Step 6. Follow up call

  • Pick up phone, dial number
  • Talk
  • Sell
  • Make money

That’s a lot of steps. And all of that work took time. Time, time, time! And on the days I had meetings or other obligations, I got further and further behind.  I felt like I was always playing catch up with my property research and other administrative tasks – and the phone calls often left undone. Then came the MOMENTOUS day I discovered the world of Virtual Assistants (VAs).

VAs are real people who will undertake just about any task that can be completed with the use of a computer and phone. They work remotely from anywhere in the world. They can’t pickup your dry cleaning or drive you to an appointment. But when it comes to administrative and electronic tasks, they are some of the best in the business. With a little training and direction, they will amaze you with their ability to complete tasks quickly with great attention to detail. A quick Google search of “Virtual Assistant” provides many different clearinghouses to choose from or you can hire a freelancing VA directly. Hourly rates vary depending on experience and skill level, as well as whether they are US-based or overseas. However, you can get solid virtual support for between $8-$20/hour. It may take some trial and error to find a good fit, however, once you get comfortable with the process you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

The one thing I will admit is that it was difficult at first to hand things off. I had a certain way I wanted tasks done and was hesitant to just let someone else do it for me. Yet before long my VA was churning out info and products for me faster than I could keep up with the important things. So now, my process looks like this:

Step 1. Open CRM and see all the wonderful work my VA has done for me.

  • Properties researched
  • Owners name, address, and phone number, already in database
  • Tasks for follow-up calls already entered
  • Letters ready to print

Step 2. Give letters to in-house assistant to collate, address envelopes, and mail

Step 3. Same as Step 7 above

The process that once took me about 30 minutes per prospect/property now takes about 30 seconds. I skip straight to the most important step of getting on the phone with people to build relationships and get busy listing and selling property.

I will also note that the combination of a VA with an in-house Executive Assistant (EA) or Administrative Assistant (AA) is an incredibly valuable combination. Whatever the EA can’t do because it requires a physical presence (such as mailing letters) the EA or AA can do. My preference is to map out the vision and set expectations for the in-house assistant and then let them use their own skills while leveraging the VA as necessary to get the job done. My focus is on the output, and I do my best not to get too involved in the process.

As with anything you introduce into your business, all of this takes time: setup, training, direction, etc. And of course, none of this is free. A certain cost is associated with outsourcing of all kinds. You will need to make a determination on what is an appropriate level of outsourcing and cost for yourself and your business. However, in the long run, the time saved and the additional revenue generated is more than worth the time spent up front. As a suggestion, if you’re new to Virtual Assistants, start small. Outsource some non-time critical tasks on a pay-as-you-go basis, assess the results, and gradually increase. You will likely have to make yourself uncomfortable (like I did) with letting go of certain things, but once you reap the benefits, I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Ultimately, the buck stops with you. As a licensed real estate agent you have both a capability and a skill set that you cannot outsource. There are very specific things about your job that only you can do. Yet there are hundreds and thousands of other things that someone else can do for you at a fraction of the cost of your time. I encourage you to really asses yourself and your business to see where you can leverage other people and divert your most precious resource to the most important of tasks.

To learn more about this topic, check out McDow’s companion podcast below:

This post is part of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here.

About the author: Caleb McDow, ALC, is a land specialist and vice president for Crosby & Associates in Winter Haven, FL. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE), the CCIM Designation, and is a licensed private pilot and drone operator. McDow joined RLI in 2014 as a Military Transition Program (MTP) member. He is an active member of RLI, serving on the 2017-2018 RLI Board of Directors and as Chair of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee. He also regularly shares his expertise on real estate issues for various industry blogs.

Effectively Networking for New Land Professionals

Networking always has and always will be a vital component to any successful real estate professional’s career. Being new to the industry can be especially daunting considering the number of real estate professionals entering the business.  To put it simply, the best piece of advice I can share is “you must be seen to be known.” In order to establish yourself in the marketplace and be successful, you need to be seen “out and about” by your existing and prospective clients at local and regional functions.  Here is an outline of several ways you can effectively network to grow and sustain your real estate business:

  1. Network with Industry Leaders Face-to-Face
    Get to know the top industry leaders and let them know you are in the business. By industry leaders I mean Brokers and Agents (within your company as well as your competitors), Appraisers, Lenders, etc. which have been in the land business for some time and are thought of as the “go-to guys.” It may be tough to get much of their time considering their busy schedules, however, try offering to take them to lunch or stopping by their office for a quick chat when you’re in the area. Be sure to have something to offer them, for example, if you stop in to see a broker you could take information on a new listing or ask them about specific buyer needs that you may have. I am always surprised how much more I learn by stopping by someone’s office and talking for 10-15 minutes in person vs. calling, texting or emailing them to check in. Always be willing to sit back and listen when they start talking, you will be surprised how much you learn.
  2. Start Using Social Media Networking
    Social media has become a huge part of the land brokerage business. It is a great way to network with buyers, sellers, and industry leaders as well as market your clients’ properties. I recommend creating a “business page” along with your personal social media pages. The business page will allow you to promote your business in a professional manner that can be easily reached by the public. A tactic I’ve found to be successful is periodically sharing items from your business page to your personal page. This will send traffic over to your business page often resulting in very credible leads. You will also find that once you’ve established yourself in the business, many of your clients will become actual friends and will likely become “friends” with you on your personal social media pages. This is a great way to stay in touch with your clients. By simply “liking” their post or wishing them a “happy birthday” you will stay on their mind and when they need a land professional they will be more likely to think of you.
  3. Attend Conferences and Industry Events
    Conferences are one of my favorite ways to network. Generally, at these conferences there are great speakers and trade shows, along with some of the best of the best in the industry. I highly recommend attending the National Land Conference by the REALTORS® Land Institute which is typically held in the Spring of each year. This premier event is attended by the foremost leaders of the land industry and is a great venue to gain expertise from the best industry speakers and teachers available. In addition, Conservation, Agricultural, and Forestry conferences are held throughout the Nation each year and provide great networking opportunities. There are also local and state chapters such as The National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and Safari Club International that host events.  All of these can be very beneficial in getting to know like-minded individuals with an interest in buying or selling land.
  4. Network in Your Local Community
    There is no replacement for being involved in your local community. If you take care of and help the people at home, they will take care of you. There are great networking opportunities in most local areas including: Sponsoring Charity Events, Participating in Church Events, Sponsoring Youth Sports teams, etc. You should make it a point to be present at many local community events such as trade shows, community cook-offs, historical society events, etc. Along with volunteering and sponsoring these events it is also a great idea to be involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. Many of the people you see and meet at these events will eventually have a need for a land professional or perhaps know someone who needs a land professional. When this happens, you want them to always think of you.

This post is part of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here.

About the author: Calvin Perryman, ALC, is an Associate Broker and Appraiser with Great Southern Land. Calvin is an active member of RLI, serving on the 2018 Future Leaders Committee and as the 2018 President of the RLI Alabama Chapter. He graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Business and Economics in May of 2011. Shortly after graduating from Auburn he obtained his real estate license and has been in the real estate business since 2011.

Ready. Aim. Fire! Strategic Planning for Your Land Real Estate Business

This article was originally featured in the 2018 Winter Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Last January, I hosted a group of clients for a duck hunt on the Texas coast. Huge groups of redheads flock together during the late season, and when they commit to the decoys, the hunter who takes careful aim can fill his bag with drakes in a hurry! One of my companions, however, was not having a productive hunt. Opportunities were abundant, and he was shooting aggressively, but his shots rarely connected. When he did hit a duck, he was just as surprised as we were! But, more often we heard the words, “%$#@, I should have aimed better!” He failed to follow the proven “ready, aim, fire” model.

Unfortunately, this sounds too much like how many real estate agents approach the land business. Abundant opportunities, lucrative commissions, and time spent outdoors tend to attract these folks to the land business. But many operate their businesses in a reactive fashion, simply taking what the market gives them. While they may feel busy, their business is unpredictable and it leads to the high percentage of agents who fail to make it past five years in this business. Strategic planning for your land sales business boils down to a few simple steps: set clear, written goals (ready), identify the specific activities to get you there (aim), then execute the plan (fire). Top agents who do take time to strategically plan have a more predictable business and, consequently, they operate with more clarity. Core business and operational decisions become much easier with a predictable business. Hiring, debt, expansion, marketing, and scheduling are much easier if you can confidently predict the results you will likely achieve.

As you plan your business empire, you should start by considering where your leads will come from. Use a simple spreadsheet or one of the many software programs available online to track your lead sources by percentage and volume. By identifying your core sources of business, you can confidently plan your activities, make better marketing decisions and bring in the proper leverage to maximize the potential of these lead sources. Additionally, this will force you to calculate the cost of these leads, which will come in handy when doing your pro forma. Knowing the sources of your business is the first step to clear planning.

Now, let’s look at three basic components of a productive and clear business plan. Remember, this is a plan for you to follow, not a 50-page textbook that requires a Ph.D. to interpret! The idea of a business plan is to clearly lay out the specific steps and activities required to reach your goals, and to project profitability once you reach them. The three basic components we will look at are: the Financial Model, or pro forma, the Organizational Model (who does what), and a one-page plan with written goals and the clear steps to accomplish them.

Top business people know their numbers and track them closely. The Financial Model or pro forma is where you write down how much income you would like to net, and calculate all the costs associated with getting to that number. According to the Millionaire Real Estate Agent model, start with your desired net income, then back into the total sales required to support this goal.

For example, if I want to net $300,000 in annual income (before taxes), I would write down $300,000 + $87,600 (29.2% cost of sales) + $87,600 (29.2% operating expenses) to get my total required gross commission income (GCI) = $475,200. Now I know how much revenue I will need to bring in to support my income goal and I can calculate how I will get there. To do this, divide $475,200 (GCI) by your average commission rate to get the necessary total sales volume. In this example, I would need to close $15,840,000 in sales volume to reach my goal. Next, I will need to know my average sales price to calculate the number of transactions needed to reach my goal. My average sale has been tracking around $2,000,000. $15,840,000 divided by $2,000,000 tells me I need to close 7.9, or 8 transactions at my average commission rate to reach my goal. Now, I simply plug in the percentage of listings I expect to close (65%) from the appointments I expect to win (70%) to get the number of listing appointments I will need to set. In this example, I would need to go on 18 listing appointments in order to predictably win 12 so that I could expect to close 8 property transactions. If they average $2,000,000 and I earn my average commission rate that will determine my GCI. After expenses and cost of sales, I will reach my income goal of $300,000. *see chart on page 4 of the Millionaire Real Estate Agent Business Plan

The success of any sales business boils down to the right amount of quality leads. The Financial Model showed me how many leads I need to generate to reach my financial goal; now I can build a plan to get there. We have found a simple, single-page business plan to be the most effective way to do this. The COB and CEO of the largest real estate company in the world can fit theirs on a single page, so we can too! The single-page business plan requires extreme clarity on the goal and the specific things that must happen in order to accomplish the goal. In his book The ONE Thing, Gary Keller asks the question, “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This clarity allows you to line up your dominoes and start with the most important task first. Focus on the big rocks, the things that only you can do, and break them down into action items.

We start with a written five-year goal, a written one-year goal, three top priorities that absolutely must happen to ensure the one-year goal is met, and five strategies to accomplish each priority. We creatively refer to this exercise as the 1-3-5 goals sheet. Going back to my example from the Financial Model, I would write my one year goal of $300,000 net income and roughly $16,000,000 in sales volume. My five-year goal is a stretch goal, but for the purposes of this exercise it won’t matter unless I hit my one-year goal. Next, I need clarity on what the three things are that must happen to support my goal. These are my top three priorities, and I write them down as well. First, I know I will need $24,600,000 in listing inventory (12 listing agreements at a $2,000,000 average) to predictably close $16,000,000 (65%). Then I break down my five strategies to get there. Secondly, I know I will have to nail lead generation, and third, I will need a solid marketing plan. Each of these gets the same five detailed strategies. If I have clarity on these big rocks, I can dig into each of them and hold the activity (and the person attached to it) accountable for producing the results.

Now that I have completed my Financial Model and I have clarity on the core things that must happen to support it, my final step is the Organizational Model. This is where I bring in leverage and assign who does what in the business. I cannot do everything, and in fact I shouldn’t. There are things I do poorly, like administrative work and bookkeeping. There are others who do those very well, and by delegating to them, I am released to do the things I do well – like lead generation and interacting with clients. Leverage is freedom for business owners. It allows you to scale by staying in your strength zone and working on the business, rather than in the business. Leverage could be defined as strategically removing yourself from every aspect of your business based on your skill set and the value of your time. For most real estate agents and business owners, the logical first hire is an executive assistant, followed by a buyer agent and maybe a second assistant. Draw a simple org chart with clarity on who does what and who they report to. As your business grows, you add future hires under them and build a job description or “missing person’s report” for these future hires. Hiring for the future with a big goal in mind changes the way you hire and lead people. Success through people is one of the hardest things for most entrepreneurs to master, but for most, it is the single largest factor in their ceiling of achievement.

If you own or operate multiple businesses like I do, then simply do these steps for each business and combine the results. With multiple businesses, you would also consider shared resources, shared employees, and weigh any direct ancillary benefits of one business to another. For example, a farm management company and a land sales company might complement each other quite well by maximizing the client opportunity and sharing administrative expenses.

Lastly, you will likely not nail this on the first or even the hundredth try! So inspect what you expect, monitor your progress regularly with good accountability, and make adjustments as you go. What you focus on expands. Have a predictable written plan and focus on the detailed activities that will produce the results you desire.

Go get ‘em!

 About the Author: Kasey Mock is the Director of KW LAND division at Keller Williams Realty International. Mock is a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute now serving his second year on their Future Leaders Committee. Make sure to check out his break out session diving further into this topic at the 2018 National Land Conference in Nashville, TN, in March.

Teaming Up To Transform Your Real Estate Business

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – unkown

What is the best way to achieve the highest level of success in your land brokerage career? The answer to that question varies greatly depending on your definition of success. Many brokers would like to see an increase in income earned, number of transactions closed, quality agents hired or retained, or any combination of other metrics used to define success. There are many definitions of success that do not have their own column in your firm’s P&L sheet, such as: spending more time with family, creating a steady stream of income, or dominating your local market. Figuring out the best way to achieve those goals is a real challenge for real estate salespeople.

“If you want to succeed, buckle down and work harder. You need to make more calls, set more appointments, and spend more time in front of decision makers.” This is good advice, but at a certain point in your career it becomes unproductive to pour yourself into more of the same. You can reach a plateau where spending more hours at work does not yield the desired results. In economic terms, this concept is called “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”

In 2013, my co-worker, Robert King, ALC, and I candidly discussed our goals for the year and how our numbers were tracking to date. Robert shared how his goal for the coming year was to increase the size of his average transaction to raise his total commissions earned. At the time, Robert was closing forty land transactions per year and was one of the top producers for Southeastern Land Group. The next year, he and Randall Upchurch teamed up and formulated a plan to increase their business and target a market segment that was largely under-served in Alabama. They focused on marketing and selling poultry farms across the state.

Poultry is the leading agricultural product in our state, and both Robert and Randall had previous experience with poultry operations and real estate brokerage. In 2014, they formed PoultrySouth to focus on marketing poultry farms. It took only two years for Robert to not only increase his commissions, but he was also able to more than double them as a result of teaming up with Randall. This is a perfect example of how two REALTORS® Land Institute members can partner to totally transform their business.

Randall is grateful the partnership has worked so well and, as he recounts their success, he does not take it for granted. “By working together the past three years, Robert and I have helped our clients close twenty-five poultry farms for a total of about fifty-five million dollars in sales. We currently have six pending farm deals, and are working on others.” Robert explains the upside of their partnership this way, “The benefit of two minds working through the issues of real estate transactions is a multiplying effect, not merely additive.” King continues, “Having slightly different perspectives focused on the same goal is a win-win for agents and clients. Additionally, we have seen the unexpected benefit of being able to multiply our effective handling of listings. Randall and I could probably only manage twenty-five or thirty listings apiece. Together we are able to handle one-hundred or more listings, while providing good service to our clients.”

The financial success of the partnership at PoultrySouth has opened doors for Robert and Randall to add cattle to their personal herds and each have purchased additional acreage for their family farms. The benefits from their business have overflowed into achieving goals for their families and farms. They are the perfect example of how real estate teams are supposed to function.

How do we achieve the positive outcomes we desire in our careers? One way is to align yourself with like-minded people. The power that comes from working together to achieve a common goal cannot be overstated. Fletcher Majors, an ALC from Alabama, has done a great job fostering an atmosphere of cooperation at Great Southern Land, both internally and with outside agents. In early 2015, Fletcher and three of his agents worked tirelessly to help one of their clients sell 6,477 acres in forty-five different tracts to thirteen different buyers in a single bid sale. Calvin Perryman, an ALC who works with Fletcher, explains why they believe in the team approach, saying “We often use a teamwork approach on special projects as well as everyday listings and appraisals. We believe having multiple opinions and ideas along with additional boots on the ground helps us better serve our clients.”

Each winter, nature demonstrates the power of teamwork when we see the V-shaped formations of geese as they fly south from Canada to warmer climates. The flock is able to survive by travelling great distances with maximum efficiency because of the cooperation of all the individuals. Each member of the flock benefits from the cooperative efforts of the group. This collaborative effort only works because each individual is clear on the objective, their responsibility, and they expend the effort to achieve the desired result.

There are many ingredients to creating a great team, but there are three essential elements that this article seeks to address. In order to form a great partnership, you must ACT like a team.

Agreement- “Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” This question was posed by Amos, a shepherd turned prophet, that lived about 750 B.C. This question is still relevant millennia later. For a partnership to be effective, the partners must hold a common vision and agree on implementation of their strategy. The objectives must be clear so that everyone knows what they are working toward and how they will achieve the desired result.

Communication- Operation without communication leads to frustration. Sharing frequent updates, addressing problems jointly, and asking accountability questions helps ensure that the partnership stays on track. No member of the team should blindly assume that everyone has the most recent information or is acting on it. There will be hiccups in every partnership, but as a mentor often told me, “Communication covers a multitude of sins.” Receiving information makes people feel important and in the loop, so, be sure to share all that is appropriate with your teammate to increase the chances of mutual success.

Trust- The single most important ingredient to a well-functioning team is trust. Working with people that you know unquestionably have your best interest at heart frees you to focus on the challenge before you, and not on defending yourself from the people around you. Trust is very difficult to manufacture or bestow, and is generally built gradually and methodically through shared experiences. Trust breeds loyalty. Loyalty begets a willingness to work hard and take risks together. Working hard and taking calculated risks together is the formula most successful entrepreneurs use to achieve their goals.

RLI’s 2016 ALC-to-ALC Networking Award was recently presented to three ALCs from Hertz Real Estate Services in Iowa. ALCs Kirk Weih, Troy Louwagle, and Kyle Hansen teamed up to close a $12,263,100 transaction on 998 acres. This size and type of transaction requires that teammates have a lot of trust. Kyle’s advice for creating this type of success is, “Remember why you are working with another broker. It isn’t because they provide the highest referral or pay the best commission; it is because they can provide the best service to you and your client. We are in business to provide the best product and experience possible. To do that, you need to work with the best brokers possible. That’s why I like to work with Accredited Land Consultants and agents that I trust. That is what our clients deserve.”

A quick search in the “Book” category on Amazon.com for “Team” returns about 310,000 entries. With that much written on the topic, the best this article can hope to do is highlight a few essentials to creating positive teamwork for land brokers. There are dozens of free resources on teamwork available at the National Association of REALTORS® website. We face a challenge when we take a competitive vocation and ask individual agents to work together; however, good brokers know this is the formula for long term success.

“Our industry is unique in that it helps to have salespeople that are fiercely competitive, and yet be able to work well as a team. In many land brokerage companies, the agents are independent contractors and not traditional employees. In that type of relationship, you mandate only what is necessary and encourage your group as much as you can,” says Dave Milton, ALC and President of Southeastern Land Group. Dave adds, “For agents to succeed in this business, brokers have to do all you can to create an atmosphere of trust that leads to a strong team. The best way to help new agents launch their career is for them to team up with someone more experienced. Hiring the right kind of people is the best way to ensure buy-in from existing employees and protect the continuity of your team.”

A wise writer of antiquity once observed, “Two are better than one for they get a good return for their labor.” My hope is that by hearing other brokers involved with RLI share stories about the success they have had by teaming up, that you will find new ways to foster teamwork in your land brokerage business. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Here’s wishing you all the best as you “Go together!”

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Jonathan Goode, ALCAbout the author: Jonathan Goode, ALC, is an active member of the REALTORS® Land Institute. He is a Co-owner of Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. He is passionate about helping people buy and sell land.

Public Relations: The Land Real Estate Professional’s Ultimate Weapon

Public Relations has become the most fundamental tool for shaping public opinion, investment markets, company reputations and business outcomes. As a land professional, your career is tied to a commodity with many stakeholders and many opinions on how land is to be managed and regulated. Far from being a “nice to have,” PR defines success—and failure—in today’s world.

Land professionals and Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) have a right-down-to-the-soil impact on the physical and economic well-being of America. In a high-risk world, land—particularly commodity-producing acreage—offers roots of stability and a solid base for expansion. Land professionals, including brokers, agents, appraisers and auctioneers, together comprise the infrastructure upon which land is profitably conserved, exchanged and utilized.

Public Relations Gets You Known

But who really knows these things about land professionals?

By survey, one of the biggest hurdles a land professional faces is trying to explain what they do, what their knowledge and skills are, and how to care for the land and livestock on that land—free range, antibiotics vs. organic, and so forth. Ninety-eight percent of the general public has no knowledge of agriculture. This is a strong indication that effective public relations is not in play. The objective of PR is to make your business well-known and highly regarded so that you don’t have to repeatedly explain yourself.

If what you do, your purpose and the benefits you provide as a land professional are not clear to your public, some other perception will take its place—one that usually favors a competing interest.

Public Relations is About Reaching Minds: It Manages Emotions and Directs Attention

Public opinion regarding land management, its resources and the concept of stakeholder (the general public) over shareholder (the owners) is being shaped today by social media. And that social media, uncontrolled, has the liability of amplifying emotions over logic, presenting inaccurate data as fact, and omitting balanced points of view. It is a runaway horse, and only the art and science of public relations can manage.

Strong new community realities, such as sustainability; natural resources stake holding; environmental impact management; the control of interrelated natural systems such as navigable waters (Waters of the U.S. or WOTUS) and wildlife habitats—along with many other concerns—have created tension with private ownership. All of these factors influence legislation and can negatively affect land prices. Look carefully at any new legislation that affects land profits or limits sales—or any successful repeal of legislation—and you will usually find a publicity campaign that preceded it.

PR is often confused with activities that are more properly parts of branding, promotion and marketing, or it is thought to be only a plan to put out press releases now and then. While it has high synergy with these activities—even making them more effective—PR has its own precise scope.

It takes only a quick look at the news today to see that we live in highly opinionated times. People with strongly held beliefs and agendas often seek out only the news and information that support their viewpoints, and will disregard conflicting reports. Imagine, for example, trying to sell a fervent Republican on a Democratic candidate—the facts would be flying back and forth, but neither side would be listening to the other. Impasse! PR would need to step in, find the real issues people care about, and either makes a bipartisan solution well known, push a workable compromise, or show one side (or the other) to be the best solution.

PR—not money—is how the world turns today. It’s PR first that determines how the money will be spent.

As simple as it should be, the buying and selling of land will face increasingly complex challenges in the immediate future as more organized groups and government agencies seek to exert influence on how land is managed, transferred and used. Each will be passionate about their position.

Public Relations Creates Agreement

PR is the art and science of creating agreement and cooperation. It achieves this by framing the real issues involved in such a way that both sides might better work together.

Take, for example, the Clean Water Rule. Its stated purpose is to ensure that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand. A visit to the EPA website shows the scope of the rule. But the comments on the regulations.gov website range from fear that individual farms will be decimated to fears that a government conspiracy aims to take over control of farming.

PR exposes the real issues in a strategic fashion in order to gain agreement, and in so doing, a solution often appears that everyone can get behind. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of reframing an issue to eliminate unproductive bias or false data. We want a clean flow of water. We also want viable farms and sustainable lands. Workable resolutions bring about mutual understanding and progress.

Public Relations is Proactive

A recent seminar by Hertz Farm Management, Inc., revealed that most farmers are over sixty-five years of age, and that forty-two percent of them plan to retire within the next five years. Many of them have yet to identify a successor. The number of farmers under the age of thirty-five is dwindling. These factors could change the characteristic of the farm market within this decade—more farms for sale by auction. A land professional who proactively prepares to take on a leadership position will be able to take advantage of shifts in the marketplace—but to do so, requires a PR strategy. Many prospective buyers are investors. They may run their own numbers and valuations, but they look for brokers with strong local savvy—someone who can connect the dots for them and has easily referenced credibility. Keeping yourself in the news, leading thought with insightful articles, and making public your good works are invaluable.

PR releases are written specifically to change perceptions, create strong affinities, forward strategies and form profitable perceptions. They are not fluff pieces full of bragging. Some common errors that show up too often, wasting valuable time and money, include:

  • Written by a committee. You’ve heard that a camel is actually a horse designed by a committee. Don’t let anything you publish sound like it came from a group. No one will read it, and no media will pick it up. Writing has to connect on a one-to-one basis. PR releases with strong points of view and a persuasive story/argument directed at the right public are pure gold.
  • Deliver a relevant message. It is the whole point, really. However, incredibly, it is often missing or overshadowed by less important details. Every PR campaign has, as its purpose, to deliver a specific message and make it stick in the minds of the public. A message is really what the reader comes away thinking, once he or she has read the release.
  • Keep it lean. Factually, you have about 1/125th of a second to grab attention, and from there, every word has to count. Short and sweet communications get read. They stand out from the ocean of verbosity online.
  • It’s not about you. Bad releases often come off as too self-serving and are rarely newsworthy. How great you are is not news, how you can serve your public is.
  • Not written for humans. Releases and web content cranked out to attract the eyes of keyword searchers with sentences built for search engine optimization don’t engage anyone, and make the reader think the writer doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.

Public Relations is Causative—It Gets Results

As a land professional, public relations technology really is your ultimate weapon. You are dealing with the most basic commodity on earth—Earth—and you are living in a time of unprecedented attention on how we manage our natural resources. Your efficient use of PR can help you get out ahead of non-optimum legislation before it happens; influence those who might otherwise oppose you; secure your business leadership; and create a stable future. These benefit everyone.

This article originally appeared in the 2016 Winter Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Karla Jo Helms, Public RelationsAbout the author: Karla Jo Helms, is the CEO and visionary behind JoTo PR. She has patterned her agency on a combination of her hard-won Public Relations experience, uncompromising high standards and exacting nationwide market research. Karla hosted two breakout sessions and a round table discussion at the 2016 National Land Conference.

Be An Intentional Real Estate Networker

It happens to all of us!  We attend a conference and we are pumped to network — fully armed with a new box of business cards, excited about the all the like-minded business leaders we are about to meet.  We meet energetic people who are passionate about land transactions, and start to collect brilliant ideas – and business cards – to bring home like souvenirs.  Let’s be real, we are so blown away by the talented associates we meet along the way, we think that there is no way that we will forget that face and the incredible value they provided during the brief interactions.  When we get home, the face, value and promised follow-up morphs into a big stack of ambiguity.

land real estate professionals networking at the 2015 national land conferenceWe know that our biggest strengths are often our biggest weaknesses and too many outstanding connections is a problem I am happy to tackle!  I am taking steps to be more intentional about my networking and more importantly, my follow-up. Join me in my quest to be an intentional networker!

Have a Networking Mission and Goal
Is your mission to build your referral business or to attract talent? Be focused about this mission and then set a goal to achieve this mission. Networking is lead generation and you are already a pro. Determine how many people you want to meet and track this number each day. What we focus on expands!

Identify and Leverage a System
Before heading to any networking event, create your system for follow-up. If a connection is a brief encounter that involves a business card, write a quick note on the back of the card so that you have context for any follow-up or notes that should be added to your database. Leverage an assistant or technology to track your follow-up. Using Evernote or assigning yourself Outlook Tasks are great ways to ensure you do what you say you will do when you return home.

Digitize Your Business Card Collection
The dreaded stack of business cards does not have to be a dread.  Technology is your leverage! Check out these tips from PC World on how to digitize business cards. Transfer these contacts to your phone AND your database.

Use Your Database
Your database is not just for clients, it’s for your network too. Add a tag or bucket for RLI Referrals for all of your new connections. Create a monthly touch campaign for your fellow RLI members from afar that includes fun tips about your city, a recap of key takeaways from your last RLI Chapter training or updates about your business. You will be front of mind when one of your contacts has a client interested in your area.

land real estate professionals networking at the 2016 national land conferenceWork Your Calendar
If it’s not on our calendar, it doesn’t exist. This goes for networking too! Before attending any networking event, make a list of the people you want to meet. This could be an actual name or it could be that you wish to connect with someone from a certain state. Leverage the RLI Membership Portal to collect contact information. Then, reach out to these associates ahead of time to schedule a coffee break to connect one on one. Don’t forget, conference events are perfect for meeting new people.

Be Social
Keep in touch and stay front of mind by connecting with your new contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social channels. A “like,” retweet or comment will keep you in the networking game — even from afar. More importantly, engage with your connections through all the benefits being a member of RLI offers you.

There will always be a new opportunity to implement these best practices to help with more intentional networking.  Stay connected!

About the author: Holly Priestner, Director of Talent Acquisition at Keller Williams, has never met a stranger, literally. Her enthusiasm for people and their stories enables her to connect people to resources that can make both their professional and personal dreams come true. This is advantageous when recruiting top talent to KWRI, with recruits quickly recognizing that their goals matter to Holly and that she cares about their happiness and success. Attend Holly’s webinar Elevate Your Elevator Pitch hosted by the REALTORS® Land Institute on March 8.

Recruiting and Developing Our Most Valuable Asset

This piece originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2016 Terra Firma magazine.

You know it isn’t very difficult for an agent to shine in the real estate profession.  In some cases all they have to do is return a phone call or follow through on something they promised.  I think it is pretty sad that the bar is set that low….

whitetail2You can have a beautiful building and offices, state of the art website and office equipment and you can spend a fortune on PR, social media and marketing.  However, at the end of the day, if your company is not represented by professional real estate agents you are hurting your business, your brand and the real estate profession as a whole.

Make no mistake, when a real estate agent, regardless of who he or she is licensed with, represents himself in less than a professional manner due to his or her poor work ethic, lack of skill or dishonesty, every single one of us in the real estate profession pays the price.

One very common real estate business model is to hire as many agents as possible, offer them a large split and let them beat it out.  Meanwhile, whether those agents know what they are doing or not, they may acquire a listing or two simply because a friend or family member feels obligated to list with them.  This approach is strongly why over seventy percent of the real estate agents will quit this profession within two years.  I feel this business model is extremely unfair to the agents; unfair to the public; and catastrophically harmful to the image of our industry.

Forget the representation of your company for the moment and consider the amount of money that exchanges hands along with legalities, complexities and the consequences associated with the sale and purchase of land.  I believe our objective as brokers and leaders should be to hire the best people and support them through training, marketing and structure.  In essence, we pour everything we can into them to ensure they are successful and in turn we will be successful because our relationship will be bilaterally equitable.

Recruiting

Our primary recruiting resources are online companies like, Monster, Indeed and Zip Recruiter to name a few. We target the nearest major metropolitans to the areas we wish to populate. These companies cast pretty large nets in that they often have sub-chapters/boards and communities that extend their radius. Our collateral resources include: our own career page on our website; social media; LinkedIn careers; The Outdoorwire; outdoorindustryjobs.com; AGcareers.com and AgHires.com to name a few.

What we do not do at Whitetail Properties is try to recruit/steal-away other broker’s agents. When you consider that we work in an industry where we work together through co-brokers and referrals, trying to recruit agents away from other brokers does not feel anymore ethical to me than calling another broker’s client. If agents from other companies call us, we are more than happy to talk to them; however, we will never call them first.

The prospective agent’s initial phone interview is with our HR executive (we provide her with the qualifying criteria).  If the prospective agent makes the cut, HR then sets up a second phone interview with our three-person interview panel. We then rate the candidate on a scale of one through ten on a ten-line score sheet.  If the candidate makes the second cut, we then setup an in person interview.  If the candidate gives a good personal interview we sign them up for the next orientation after they’ve obtained their real estate license.  It’s important that they attend orientation before we allow them to represent our company and our brand.

Basic Foundation

There are a lot of real estate companies that will hire anyone who has a pulse and the ability to acquire a real estate license.  I believe that this, along with a lack of training, is why many people stereotype real estate agents as a bunch of incompetent crooks.

We have four basic cornerstones when considering a new agent:  First and foremost, the prospective agent has to be an honorable person; the prospective agent has to be passionate about land and every aspect of land; the prospective agent has to have a strong work ethic; and the prospective agent has to be professional.

We can teach real estate, but in my opinion by the time human beings reach adulthood we can’t make them love land or teach them to be honorable!

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Financially Stable
  • Ability to work full time
  • Self-motivated
  • Accountable
  • Trainable

Developing Superstars

whitetailOrientation

We are accountable for and to our agents.  For this reason, we do not allow our agents to represent our company until they have attended orientation.  At Whitetail Properties’ three-day orientation, our goal is to give our agents everything they need to start their career on a successful path.

Weekly Webinars

Our weekly webinars provide our agents with solid career building knowledge. The topics cover everything from utilizing your sphere of influence to recognizing a property’s highest and best use.  Training is not something that you do once in a while.  Training has to be scheduled and repeated on a regular basis.  The key is to keep it fresh, informative, relative, productive and entertaining.

Maintaining Pro-active Contact

It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled calls with agents in order to review, mentor and coach them.  You see, the agents who contact their brokers for assistance are generally the ones working deals.  However, the agents who typically need help the most are the ones we don’t hear from because they are not working anything so it’s very important that we reach out to them and explore what they are doing and how we can help them

Support

Every member of our staff is employed for the sole purpose of helping our agents become successful and continue to grow their businesses.  In addition to the office and administrative staff, the following employees are at our agents disposal: we employ our own graphic designer, marketing director, advertising team, creative director, production department, IT department, compliance officer, accounting department, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer as well as team leaders and brokers.  Of course we did not start off with such an extensive staff.  We realized early on that in order to grow our business and our agents’ businesses, we had to develop a formula where we employed key staff members for every X number of agents.

Experience

The most important thing we teach our agents is that our client’s experience is the single most important part of their jobs. None of us will sell every tract of land we list, but when our ultimate goal is not necessarily to sell the listing but rather to provide our clients with the ultimate land buying or selling experience, we will sell more land.  In addition, we will receive more referrals and elevate the image of our company and of the industry.

There are too many real estate companies who feel making the sale is more important than working in their client’s best interest; more important than building a relationship; more important than being a professional and even more important than being honest.  This has to change.

Our Most Valuable Asset

Our agents are unquestionably our most valuable assets.  However, we can’t just wind them up and turn them loose. Through explanation and repetition we have to instill our company’s core values in our agents.  Our company’s ideology is the foundation from which we’ve grown our business.  Without a solid foundation based on integrity you are not developing or nourishing your most valuable assets.

As I mentioned before, we have to provide a consistent training program.  We have to take every opportunity to mentor and guide our agents and we have to teach our staff how to best assist our agents to ensure their success.  Along with this, we don’t allow agents to simply “hang their licenses” with us.  If we teach, train and mentor our licensees they become our most valuable assets.  However, if we do not teach, train and mentor an agent, that agent becomes our biggest liability!

We take our obligation to our agents; to our clients; to the public; to the States where we are licensed; and to all of our fellow brokers and agents in the industry very seriously.   Although as brokers we are held responsible and accountable for every one of our agents, there is no possible way that we can be present every single time our agents interact with buyers, sellers, customers or clients.  However, we can pour into our agents on a regular basis to ensure they conduct themselves, knowledgably, honestly, professionally and responsibly.  After all, they are our most valuable assets.

perez-danAbout the author: Dan Perez, RLI Member, is the CEO, Chief Broker, and one of the Founding Owners of Whitetail Properties Real Estate as well as the host of the ever-popular Whitetail Properties television show. Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialists.