The science of marginal gains in real estate

Having stumbled across an article by James Clear entitled “What would happen if you improved everything by 1%: The science of marginal gains“, and also feeling a bit inspired after attending the Real Estate Results Summit this week, I’ve combined the two thoughts and hope this creates a 1% improvement in your inspiration to succeed!

“You have to improve your results by at least 50%!”

Sounds tough doesn’t it?

“All you have to do is be 1% better at everything and all of those 1% improvements add up to a massive gain overall.”

Doesn’t sound so hard when you put it that way does it?!

The article first appeared on the Buffer blog and while I’m not going to repeat all of it, here are the relevant facts:

  • In 2010 no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France
  • Newly appointed GM Dave Brailsford came up with a simple concept/approach called  the “aggregation of marginal gains”, being a “one per cent margin for improvement in everything you do”. He believed as a cyclist if you improved everything by 1%, those gains would add up to a remarkable improvement.
  • They started by optimising the obvious: nutrition, training, tyre weight etc.
  • Then, they searched for other 1 percent improvements in areas that were overlooked by others: the quality of the pillows, massage gels, hand washing.
  • Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then his team would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time.
  • They actually won it in three.

As real estate professionals, what can you learn from Brailsford’s approach?

As James Clear states: ” It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis. Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.”

As I mentioned I was at the Real Estate Results Summit this week and one of the sessions I personally enjoyed the most was by  Tom Ferry, who talked extensively about “Closing the Gap”. I’ll preface this by saying that it doesn’t matter that I am not a real estate agent,  every time I listen to Tom I take away something that I think I can also apply to myself in some way. (Thanks Tom, and thanks to the RER team for having me!)

Tom noted that super successful people, for example Richard Branson, complete a ‘gap analysis’. Where are they are now, where they want to be, and then how do they improvements to “Close the Gap”. As it applies to Real Estate, do you need to make more calls, convert more listing appointments, what steps do you need to take to dominate your local area, and many questions you could ask to take your results from one level to the next.

Where can you make 1% improvements? Here are some of the things I noted:

  • Get up earlier. (No I’m not necessarily suggesting 5am club, this is about marginal gains in all areas!)
  • Focus your energy, make sure you’re feeling positive every time you meet someone
  • Practice your scripts 1% more
  • Practice your gratitude 1% more
  • Spend 1% more time building rapport with others
  • Drop 1% more letterboxes
  • Make 1% more phone calls
  • Improve your other customer generation activities by 1%
  • Spend 1% more time on focused social media lead generation
  • Make 1% improvements in your systems
  • Delegate 1% more
  • Research your area 1% more
  • Read 1% more
  • Write 1% more on your blog.

The message – look for everything, big things, small things and make improvements everywhere. While they might not seem like a lot at the time, they will add up over the long term.

How long does it take for the 1% improvements to impact your results?

Clear says likely not immediately, but don’t give up!

“In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse. (In other words, it won’t impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. This is why small choices (“I’ll take a burger and fries”) don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.”

The full post, “What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains ” appears on

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.