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30 December 2013

12 Steps for Growing your Real Estate Brokerage

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Like most businesses in the real estate industry, brokerages must grow at a rate in sync with or even ahead of the communities they serve in order to prosper and profit.

In today’s market, it’s prudent to take advantage and expand now while real estate values are still on the rebound.

Here are twelve steps I’ve encountered in my real estate career that have helped keep brokerages alive and well:

1) Embrace Calculated Risks: If you want to grow your business, you must be prepared to take calculated risks. Growth is change, after all. Change always entails risk. If you have a brokerage, you’ve already accepted risk. If this makes you nervous, think about the larger risk of stagnation.

2) Study Up: Doing your homework will help you be confident in taking those calculated risks. Subscribe to top real estate social media channels, news feeds and email newsletters from groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce. Pay attention to the hyperlocal, local and national industry news and statistics, with an eye out for profitable business opportunities.

3) Incentivize Your People: I knew a broker who hung a wall-sized map in his office. In blue, he highlighted municipalities where he commonly sold homes. In green, he highlighted where he wanted to expand. In red, he circled neighborhoods where his agents rarely ventured. If someone sold a house in a red zone, he bought lunch for the office. It was sandwiches, nothing fancy. But his agents worked hard to be the one everyone thanked for lunch.

4) Conduct Routine SWOT Analysis: Periodically analyze your brokerage’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, or SWOT. Can you leverage your strengths to take advantage of opportunities? Are your weaknesses leaving you vulnerable to threats?

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5) Strengthen Your Brand Presence: How recognizable is your brand in the markets in where it operates? Is your logo working or is it ripe for a refresh or total redesign? What is your target audience doing in their free time? If they are at their kids’ soccer game, why not consider sponsoring the team or even the whole league?

6) Drop the Hard Sell: We need to behave like advisors, not salespeople. It’s our job to represent our clients, not coerce them into spending money. They’ve come to you because they’ve likely decided it’s time to make a move. Help them reach a decision.

7) Clients Come First: Of course you should ask your clients lots of questions, but first try being quiet, listening and letting them talk about what they want and are willing to pay. Don’t rush them, but always call or email back quickly with useful information.

8) Research & Plan Your Marketing: Research and determine the most successful ways to improve sales and brand reputation. Measure against benchmarks when recruiting agents, spending on advertising, or testing new ad platforms, focusing on new geographic areas, investing in new technologies or other strategic tactics.

9) Keep on Top of Cash Flow: Understand your budget and set realistic forecasts of your future revenues and liabilities. Your cash flow is like the dashboard of your business. It tells you how fast you’re spending money and whether you can do so responsibly at your current pace.

10) Delegate: Leaders need lieutenants. If you grow, you’ll need someone to help you oversee your expanded business. Pick an agent in your office with the respect of his or her colleagues. Make them a senior associate, grant them responsibility and compensate them accordingly.

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11)  Be Advised: Seek out an objective business person (i.e., perhaps someone outside of real estate) with a strong track record, who is willing to commit at least one hour per month to counsel you. As your business grows in different directions you’ll want to talk to others, and you might even consider forming an advisory board of experts in different areas such as tax, legal, banking, marketing and technology.

12) Fail Forward: Learn from your mistakes. If your marketing plan isn’t bearing fruit or your new ad campaign doesn’t improve your brand recognition, move on. Identify why it didn’t work and factor the answer into the next solution. Don’t be complacent. Be a problem solver, every day.

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