What is standing in the way of your success? Do you want more clients? More referrals? Do you want to build better relationships with those in your field? What’s holding you back? When I ask real estate professionals these questions, the answer I almost always come to find is … you.
Most of us have goals we’d like to accomplish, but many times, our own perceptions, inaction and quest for perfection gets in our way. Additionally, we don’t set up systems for success and try to treat each customer’s needs as they come in fits and starts. To overcome these self-induced challenges, I implement in my team a two-pronged approach to get them moving from intention to action, setting up processes that are applied to each and every one of their customers. Not only will this approach lead to a more successful business, the lessons learned can be applied to almost every aspect of your life.
Foundation for sustainable success
The first step in achieving your goals is to set up systems that set expectations for your customers, automate regular communications, and encourage referrals. Think of your business as a franchise where you could bring someone else in from the outside, train them on your system, and have them be just as successful as you. So many professionals fall into the trap of getting caught up in the day-to-day details, which leads to burnout and hampers creativity and energy that could be spent on growth. Here are the basics you need to systemize and streamline your processes to allow yourself more time be a better real estate professional and build your business:
►Maximize opportunity: Customers have many options when shopping for mortgage products and you have to be ahead of the curve. Utilize profile sheets and gather the information necessary to best guide your client. Create a personal connection; e-mail loan proposals to every customer, mail personal notes 100 percent of the time to your referring party and new customer, and add them to drip campaigns and schedule follow ups. Be organized and use your calendar to remind you to call your customers back–if you don’t schedule it, you’ll likely forget it.
►Manage your pipeline: Starting at the beginning of the transaction, set expectations that you can meet or exceed (under promise, over deliver). Most customers understand that obtaining a loan can be difficult, and are looking for a loan officer to be open and upfront with them about potential hurdles. Create a calendar for your files when your clients go into escrow and hold yourself accountable to communicating during important milestones in the transaction, such as contingency removal, appraisal due, loan approval, target signing day, and funding. Fight the urge to hide your head in the sand when the news isn’t perfect–communicating is completely within your control while the rest of the transaction often isn’t.
►Work your database: If you do a great job of obtaining customers and communicating with them throughout the process, you’ll likely have no problem receiving referrals–that is, if you ask for them! It all starts with the initial thank you after closing. A hand written note is always appreciated, and be sure to send along business cards that they can give to potential clients. Then, include them in your ongoing communications processes. It could look something like this:
►Mailed a thank you note after the transaction
►Add to newsletter drip and e-mail monthly
►Add on social media and post updates weekly (this will keep you keyed into big life events that may warrant a new mortgage product, such as marriage, retirement, new baby, etc.)
►Follow up call 45 days after funding, and semi-annual phone call
►Send physical mail quarterly (post card, flier, etc.)
►Don’t forget to thank your real estate agents and ask them for referrals
Goals, goals, goals
Now comes the fun part! By now you’re treating your business like a franchise, you have systems in place to ensure consistent communication with your customers, and you have a good referral flow coming through. In order to take your business to the next level, it’s time to take a hard look at your goal setting process and how you may be sabotaging your own efforts.
It starts with a plan
What are your intentions, goals, or vision? If you have these in place, do you have a roadmap to get there? And how do you measure your success or progress? Many people don’t even bother making goals for many reasons: it’s too scary, they feel they won’t achieve them, or they feel they don’t have the time. But goal setting in a vital exercise in creating the life you want by taking the time to really know what you want and why.
Start with your values: What do you value in life? What motivates you? For most of us, we create goals that aren’t specific, are too much of a stretch, or are solely driven by competition. These goals set you up for failure. Take the time to really think about your values and write them down. I like to use a grid that lists them into categories: business, financial, health/personal, and family.
Now, how do these values play into each category? Within each category, I create short- and long-term goals for each item and have a list of three activities associated with those goals that I will take within three months and one year. This allows you to break your goals into smaller, achievable action items and keep you motivated and on course.
Ready, set, goal!
Now that you’ve detailed your goals, it’s time to start acting on them. Set deadlines with calendar reminders, find an accountability partner that you can meet with periodically to check in on your progress, or create a visual associated with your goals and post it in places that you’ll consistently see (phone backgrounds/lock screens are a great place for this). Surround yourself with reminders of your goals so they stay top of mind. And recognize yourself when you achieve milestones! By celebrating completed activities or even attempts to complete them, you’ll get a sense of fulfillment that will keep you motivated.
Stop getting in your way
There are many excuses why people fail to reach their goals, and most times it comes down to themselves. We can be our own worst enemy, giving ourselves every reason to abandon our goals when it doesn’t go our way. Here are the biggest barriers that people create that inhibit them from reaching their goals:
►You seek perfection: Are you waiting for things to be just right before you act? Are you an all or nothing person? The truth is that there’s never a perfect time or circumstance for most events in life. Perfection is not necessary for success. No one is really going to notice or care that everything is perfect, so it’s better to aim for imperfection than unfeasible perfection.
►You’re paralyzed by fear: Many people live their lives in fear of the “what ifs.” We can imagine negative situations in our minds so vividly, it’s almost like they’re real. However, these thoughts are not real; they’re hallucinations of our own creation. They usually lead to inaction, which can cause not only more worry, but often potentially negative situations to escalate. To stop this negative cycle, start testing out your biggest fears. Let’s say you’re afraid to give a customer bad news. What’s the worst possible outcome you can think of? What’s the best? What’s the likely outcome? Now, write these down. Then push yourself–face your fear, call your customer, and deliver the bad news. What happened? Most likely it will fall somewhere in between the best and likely outcome–nowhere near our imagined worst-case scenario we created in our thoughts. In addition, try doing something uncomfortable or that you fear every day. Whether it be waking up early to go to the gym or starting a conversation with someone that intimidates you–pushing yourself to fight off your hesitations will condition you to take on life’s challenges and can potentially lead to opportunities you never dreamed of.
►Don’t beat yourself up. Many times, we dwell on our mistakes and run a cycle of negative commentary in our minds. Have compassion for yourself and the mistakes you made. We are quick to compare ourselves to others and judge ourselves as failures – but one universal truth we neglect to remember is that everyone makes mistakes and everyone fails from time to time. Learn from your mistakes and move one without knocking yourself around in the process.
You have all the tools you need to create the business you want. By treating your business like a franchise and setting up systems for success, you’ll foster happy customers and a solid referral flow. Once that’s in order, take the time to find your values, create your goals, and eliminate the barriers you create that prevent you from being successful. You are in control of your success – now you just have to go out and get it!
Kelly Resendez is senior vice president of business and sales development for Paramount Equity, assisting with mortgage originator recruitment and training. She studied economics at California State University Sacramento, and is currently completing her degree in psychology at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She may be reached by phone at (916) 290-9999.