“I LOVE looking at houses and I really like people so I want to be REALTOR®!”
After over 30 years in the real estate business I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard this or something similar. So you want to be REALTOR®? I usually nod politely and suppress my thoughts because, well, it may sound discouraging to say anything and it would take a long time to explain what is wrong with that statement. The truth of the matter is that becoming a REALTOR® has more to do with running your own business than it does selling houses or liking people.
Those of you interested in becoming a licensed REALTOR® may want to ask yourself:
- Are you interested in running a business?
- Do you know what it takes to run a business?
- Do you have the cash flow to initially support yourself? (Most new businesses require an initial investment and the ability to the expenses until they become established.)
One day several years ago when I was first licensed as a new salesperson, I was sitting in on our weekly office meeting when our manager challenged us to try to balance on one leg of our chair. Of course no one could do it, so he challenged us to try two legs and then three etc. Some could balance on two or three legs, but it was short lived and there were only a few mishaps (LOL). The point being is that being a REALTOR® is like running a business and in order to be successful you need a solid foundation – similar to sitting on all 4 legs of a chair. Each leg, he explained is an integral part of running a business and if you don’t have all 4 legs you may be setting yourself up to fall flat on your face.
So you want to be REALTOR®
- The first leg of the chair: Knowledge – what you do.
Whether it’s making pies or selling houses; you have to be good at what you do. In real estate you are taught all the basics of selling houses such as:
- writing contracts
- listing presentations
- rules and regulations
- various forms etc; as you would in any other profession.
However, many people stop here. They think that because they have the knowledge and are good at something (ie: making the best pies in town) that they should start their own business – Mistake # 1. That’s just one leg, a very important one, but not enough.
2. The 2nd leg of the chair: People Skills.
You have to be good with people. Whether it’s your clients or employees or both, people have to like you or at least have some level of respect for you. Some people manage to stay in business for a while without this skill, but it can be a lot more difficult for them and often they are not as successful as they could be. Being good with people does not necessarily mean someone who’s “fun at a party”! We’re talking about “Professional People Skills” like being a good listener – as opposed to a talker. Making people feel that they are your most important client (or employee), following up and providing an above average level of service.
If you’re not a real “people person” there are books and seminars on the subject – try a classic like Dale Carnigie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.
3. The 3rd leg of the chair – Business Development.
People can’t buy something they don’t know about or aren’t attracted to. Whether you are advertising on-line or in person at an event or open house, you’re not just marketing properties for sale, you are marketing yourself as a professional who they might want to do business with.
Most new sales people start off doing a lot of marketing because they are excited to tell everyone about their new business. Then, typically within a few months the marketing drops off because they get so busy with actual clients. Not surprisingly, a while later they discover that they don’t have anything on the go and are now struggling to drum up new business.
A successful REALTOR® should always have a marketing system to attract new clients as well as keeping in touch with the ones you’ve got! (You put a lot of work into getting them in the first place, don’t let them go!)
Also, don’t forget: marketing involves your personal appearance – how you advertise yourself to the public. Do you look/dress like a professional that operates a successful business? When they see you in public are they proud to announce to their family and friends – “Hey that’s my new REALTOR® over there!”
4. The 4th leg of the chair: The Business of Running the Business.
Every business needs an infrastructure of some kind, a system in place that keeps the business going – like a smooth running machine. In some businesses it may be important things such as keeping on top of invoicing and making sure you get paid. Fortunately in real estate your broker tends to take care of this part of the business. However, you’ll still need to purchase a good computer, i-phone, various software programs etc. There has to be as system in place to keep track of things such as growth, market share, profitability and follow-up (little things like that)!
You’ll probably need some staff to operate these systems and assist you. Don’t ever underestimate the value of paying someone else to do things for you that enables you the TIME required to do what you do best – getting out there and making sales! Many years ago, my manager always said “hire out the $10/hr jobs so you can make $100/hr”. Things haven’t changed much – except now you may need to pay $20/hr in order to make +$200/hr.
Many people start out in real estate with 2 legs of the chair. Some operate for a while with only 3 but without all 4 it can be challenging, if not impossible to successfully stay in business for very long. If you have all 4 legs you are all set to run a successful business.
So you want to be a REALTOR®? Now all you need is a bit of luck – like the old saying goes “the harder I work, the luckier I get”.
If you think you’ve got this and have all four legs of the chair, contact us for a no obligation consultation to learn more about what it takes to build a successful and rewarding career in real estate!
Barbara McNicholls, RI (BC), with her 25 years of experience, has helped hundreds of people pass the exam on the first attempt. Learn how you can benefit from the weekly tutorials.