No—I don’t mean farming the fields to reap the food. Well, yes I do—in a different context. In real estate sales, ‘farming’ means contacting people in a specific market (can be a geographical area), forming a business relationship with them over time, and making that area/target market your specialty. Through time, people get to know and trust you, and will turn to you for their real estate needs.
Recently, an office with whom I consult invited a master real estate ‘farmer’ who farms a specific geographic area to share with us his secrets to great success. Steve Hicks, agent with Windermere Wall Street in downtown Seattle, has enjoyed an exceptional market share in Queen Anne, a very upscale, historically-significant area of Seattle, Washington.
So, guess what? When people in Queen Anne are thinking buying or selling, who do you think they think of? Yes—Steve Hicks. How would you like to have that name recognition? How would you like to go to a listing presentation with respect for your expertise already built in? Steve has established that.
Here are 3 big principles Steve shared with the group, mainly seasoned, successful agents on the Eastside of Puget Sound.
1. Recognition, Trust, and Business Doesn’t Come from a “Once Is Enough” Approach
One of the big lessons Steve left with the group was that, to be successful, you must focus your efforts. Why? Because people buy and sell real estate with people they know and trust. They buy and sell real estate with those they believe have expertise in the area. That trust and respect doesn’t happen in a ‘once is enough’ approach. Today, agents in the great Puget Sound can roam far and wide to list and sell homes. What they don’t realize, though, is that they are not establishing a recognition for excellence, expertise, and trustworthiness.
Big lesson: What does this mean to you if you’re a small business owner, a salesperson in another field, or a recruiter?
That our goal is to establish a trusting relationship over a period of time, building a reputation for trustworthiness and excellence. Too many times, we launch our businesses thinking we’re something special, something different—and we expect success in a nano-second.
Stop and reflect: What are you doing to create a reputation that’s spotless, that’s trustworthy, and that’s there for the long run?
2. Contact, Capture, and Follow-up is Key to Relationship-Building
Steve didn’t become the ‘master farmer’ overnight. He built his business through constant reflection, taking risks, and trying new things. Most importantly, he built his business by first knocking on doors to establish that relationship. At the same time, he captured each person’s name and contact information, first, by writing it down, and then establishing a database and contact management system. Then, he dutifully followed up. Sounds simple, but, how many salespeople contact—and then don’t capture? Or, they capture, and don’t follow up. Steve says there are 22,000+ agents in his multiple listing service. He knows he must out contact, capture, and follow up to stand out.
Big lesson: No matter if you’re in real estate or in another field, if you want to build a business, immediately establish a method to contact, capture, and follow up.
Stop and reflect: Are you a service business, like a dentist, window washer, or car detailer? Do you have a list of all your clients in a database? Do you contact them regularly? If not, you’re leaving thousands of easy dollars on the table!
3. Consistency is Key
Too often, we think, since we’re trustworthy, since we’re nice people, since we work hard, people will recognize that and instantly work with us. Wrong. It takes dozens of contacts or time to establish a trusting business relationship. Steve has a marketing plan that includes a monthly newsletter. This newsletter includes information about homes for sale and homes that have sold. It is short and concise. Steve writes his own newsletter, but advises agents to start with as company-or other resource written newsletter. Why? The most important consideration is to be consistent.
Big lesson: No matter what your business is, you need a consistent marketing plan to ‘touch’ your would-be and present/past clients at least monthly. With 22,000+ real estate agents in the area, your potential/present client is easily ‘swayed’ to someone else if you’re not relentlessly consistent.
Stop and reflect: Do you have a marketing plan? Are you consistent? How many easy sales are you missing because you are treating your business like a ‘once is enough’?
My personal thanks to Steve Hicks for sharing his expertise with others in our industry to improve our client service. Starting with my years as a piano performer and teacher, I learned that the very best in any profession have several common traits. One of them is that they generously share their knowledge with no fear that someone will ‘steal’ their ideas. Second is that they are constantly challenging themselves to get better. Steve Hicks reflects both of these exceptional success qualities.
In my next blog, I’ll share more of Steve’s great success principles and what they mean to any business owner.