CAN AN ACCOUNTANT PREDICT your success in real estate? We can come close, says John Knight, who has studied the business management practices of top agents over a number of years.
WHEN WE launched our business late last year our team of accountants looked to stretch the boundaries. We wanted to move out of our comfort zone and take a giant leap towards reaching our potential.
We acknowledged that we needed to look different from our competitors, run faster than our competitors and deliver something the market had yet to see. That is also true for real estate agents just getting started in their careers, or those needing a bit of kick along.
With more than 20 years as an accountant and more than half of that period advising the real estate industry, I often do a test with myself to see whether, at the first meeting, I can guess if an agent will go the distance and rise to the super league of success.
What is that je ne sais quoi of a good sales agent, property manager or business owner that separates them from the pack? Interestingly, the traits of successful individuals within the real estate industry are no different to those of a successful business in the industry. Everyone is a business, so think like one now.
What are the proven essentials that transpose nicely across a successful real estate business to a successful sales agent or property manager?
They start with taking a long-term view. Even if you have fallen into the industry for one reason or another, as an individual you need to invest in your systems, processes and procedures right from the start in exactly the same way a business would. You are the business, so from technology systems to back office processes, procedures need to be in place to ensure everything is systemised with one consistent way of doing things.
You should also have rhythm – not just the ‘Red Foo’ kind, but the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual rhythm of self-monitoring. Monitoring and managing activity on a regular, consistent basis is critical, because your budget is built from the ground up based on these activities.
Once systems are in place there are the more ethereal prerequisites, like starting with ‘your eyes open wide’. Businesses and individuals who have their eyes wide open see problems before they arise and opportunities before everyone else around them.
Get leverage by using others: in an industry where how much you earn is only limited by the number of hours in the day, great businesses and successful individuals get leverage by utilising others to complement their own skills, or introducing technology to make the most of their time.
Great agents have a mentor and are often one themselves too, whether they know it or not. If there are those who look up to you, then use those skills to coach and develop talent and provide focus, direction and guidance. This in turn can revitalise your own enthusiasm and remind you that you can always do better. Being a mentor and using a mentor is win-win. Those who are getting coaching are curious, hungry and humble. Those who don’t can languish and ramble rather than progress.
Another vital tip comes from our pre-school books, much like the Grasshopper and the Ants: provide for rainy days. Successful businesses and individuals never presume it will always be rosy. They provide for the rainy days by putting cash aside, or at least leaving some room to move within your life and finances.
Waste infuriates me; it infuriates top shelf real estate agents too. Waste in real estate businesses can come in so many forms, from the marketing collateral that is out of date to those landlords who will not spend money on repairs, or vendors with unrealistic price expectations.
Although many will not agree, one sure sign of a great real estate business is the recovery of advertising from vendors upfront – likewise for individuals within the industry. I’ve seen it transform businesses and individuals from mediocre to great.
Another sure-fire way for success is to know clearly your own strengths and weaknesses. This way, like a business, you can take advantage of the opportunities and eliminate the threats. Your SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is your friend: use it to strive for success.
If your strengths are the same as everyone else’s, find a new point of differentiation. Be different, be remarkable, be remembered. If you are not yet reaching your potential, irrespective of whether you are a sales agent, property manager or principal, focus on profit, not just sales, and you will go a long way to improving your headspace for success.