The right questions to ask yourself

There's endless options when selecting the right brokerage for your career, no matter how new or experienced you are. Do you go with the tried-and-true big names? Or try a smaller firm?

The right office depends on a number of factors, from where you are in your career, to your manager, to your personality type. 

Wondering how you can tell what company is right for you, and what factors you should be considering? There’s pros and cons of working at any brokerage, but as someone who has successfully made the switch from one type of firm to another - and is happy about it - here’s a few things I’ve learned. 

Particularly when you’re just starting out, there will be late-night, last-minute questions that you need answers to, and a supportive manager can make all the difference. 

My advice: Ask to speak to someone on the team who’s new enough to have perspective, but seasoned enough to have experience. Was the training they received relevant? Are they getting the support and guidance they need?

Some offices call themselves progressive because they use templates for some of the basics to get you started. While these can be a good start, you’re likely not the only person using these templates, and it hardly sets you apart in a competitive industry. Not to mention, they can be impersonal and outdated.

My advice: Ask for samples of the materials. Are they high-end, and useful to you? Or irrelevant, and poorly designed? (For further reading, see my post on hiring a professional marketer, and how this can help give your materials a boost.)

What’s the brokerage’s stance on an informed client? There’s varying opinions on how much information we share with clients, and how much info we should be sharing. Does the brokerage share the same philosophy as you, or will you constantly be at odds over sharing too much or too little with your clients?

My advice: If you believe the real estate market should be more transparent and your office doesn’t share those beliefs, you could find yourself in a tough position. Ask questions during the interview process, and don’t be afraid to mention your own beliefs to ensure alignment.

Real estate can be lonely and isolating, and it’s easy to get caught up in your own head. Being part of an office environment and culture that promotes socialization and idea sharing can make all the difference.

My advice: Look for cues during your office visits, and get a sense of what the social environment is like. Maybe ask to take someone out for a coffee to ask more questions. Does the office do a weekly or monthly get-togethers? Is there a competitive vibe? If you have questions, is there a reliable network of agents you can talk to?

Even experienced agents need great brokers. There’s always new situations and questions, and you’ll want to work for someone you feel comfortable turning to for advice.

My advice: Ask for a one-on-one with your potential manager and try to spend time with them before joining. Are they easy to talk to? Explain a difficult situation you had with an offer or agent in the past, and ask how they would have guided you: what’s their conflict resolution manner? Ask around - do they have a good industry reputation? Can you trust them? Your manager isn’t just interviewing you - you’re interviewing them. 

I can’t pick the right brokerage for you, but I can ask you the right questions to think about as someone who’s successfully made various transitions. If you’re ready for a change, give me a call.

5 tips to inspire confidence

While your clients might not be mind readers (although, that would really help with an offer price...), chances are, they’ll feel rushed or uneasy with the process if you're not organized. 

When things are busy, there are lots of details to remember, and if you’re feeling rushed, every worry and anxious thought gets passed on to your client, no matter how many ‘Most Likely to Win an Emmy’ awards you won in high school. 

I get it - real estate is stressful, and it's easy to get details mixed up. But if you want to ensure a consistent client experience, following my simple advice will go a long way. 

Here’s my simple list of the most important things you can do to give your clients confidence in your abilities:

  1. Leave your baggage at the door

Worried about a family member’s health, an impending credit card payment, or your babysitter cancelling last-minute? That’s not your client’s problem. As hard as it is, do your best to leave your personal baggage outside of your work hours. If that’s not possible, see if someone can cover for you, or if you can reschedule a showing.

  1. Don’t take it personally

Issues with another agent? Don’t let your clients see you rattled. Interpersonal relationships - good and bad - are easy to pick up on, and it can be awkward for them to feel in the middle of a bad situation.

  1. Take ten

Before any client meeting, schedule in ten minutes beforehand to review your notes. Seriously - book it in your calendar! You’ll feel more prepared, and won’t be scrambling to find info while they’re waiting for you.

  1. Work that database

We’ve talked about it before - create a good database and use it! Those notes to check in on that I mentioned above? That includes your database, to check in on client info!

  1. Relax, and enjoy yourself

You probably got into real estate because you love people, and you love making the sale. Don’t forget those great feelings, even if you’re in a slump! You’re helping people find new homes and enter different stages of their lives, and that’s a huge honour to be part of. Enjoy yourself, and help your customers navigate what can be a stressful experience.

For help feeling confident and organized, read my other blog entries, or give me a call and we can work together on some systems personalized for you.

Automation: not just for robots

Find yourself stuck with what seems like endless small tasks for your clients? My friend, it's time to automate those small jobs!

The best way to do it? Spend the time (or have a professional do it for you), and set up a process that takes all those repetitive little tasks, and has them happen automatically. It's like magic, but you know, real. 

There’s lots of little things we get sucked into every day, so I’ve outlined a few categories and examples to look into when automating your tasks.

Email communication

Administrative tasks

Whether the above list seems overwhelming, or you’re hungry for more ways to save you time during your day, give me a call and let's evaluate how to make your business run more smoothly.

Things have changed

No one’s inbox is immune - email is definitely the preferred communication for work, and we’re all getting hundreds of emails a week. How do you make yours stand out?

While I can’t ensure your email will get replied to in a reasonable timeframe (I’m no magician), I can help you create professional, effective emails that should help you break through the clutter.

Read on for five basic pieces of advice that will help you navigate the email world efficiently.

  1. Ensure you’re using the right email address

This doesn’t just mean avoid using the numbers 420 and 69. Think about when you say your email address out loud - what’s easier to remember, jen@dumitrescu.com, or jen.dumitrescu.sales.agent@jendumitrescu.com? Taking it a step further, do you have an uncommon, or tough to spell name? Are you .com, .ca, or something totally different that people may get wrong? It’s worth making sure your email address is clear, easy to understand, and avoids opportunities for people to type it incorrectly.

  1. Lead with a great subject line

Subject lines are key. Without a great one, why should people even bother opening your email? Think about asking a question, using numbers (like, oh, I don’t know, ‘5 pieces of email advice’), or using other tried-and-true copy tactics to write a strong subject line that has your readers hooked before they’ve even read the first sentence.

  1. Personalization is king

This is easy if you’re sending emails to just one person. You should spend your first paragraph or sentence relating something directly to them so they know this isn’t just a form email (even if it is). But what if you’re sending a mass email or newsletter - how do you personalize it in that case? Try using a program that allows for variable text when necessary, like entering in a client’s name, or their neighbourhood. They’ll still know it may be going out across the city, but the psychology behind it works.

  1. Keep it simple

No one has time to waste on long, boring emails. Say what you need to say as quickly (but politely) as possible - and then hit send.

  1. Include a strong call to action

This is perhaps the most important point. If your reader gets to the end of their email, and doesn’t know what you want them to do, you’ve just wasted their time - and yours. Ensure that within the first few lines it’s clear what you’re looking for, and reiterate again at the end of your email - don’t leave room for questions.

There you have it - five easy tips for improving the quality of your communication, without a lot of effort. Looking for more advice on how to effectively communicate with your clients and coworkers? Give me a call - or maybe, shoot me an email.

It doesn’t have to

It's a classic scenario - you've got important plans you made weeks ago, when a client wants a last-minute showing. 

You: 

a) Cancel all your plans immediately and book the showing. This could be it!
b) Tell them you'll book something for next week, and risk losing the sale. 
c) Wait... there's another option?

You’re not alone if you find it tough to navigate your personal and work life balance. There are thousands of articles out there on how cell phones, social media, and competitive job markets have led to a lifestyle of always working. But trust me - creating some personal time doesn’t mean you have to risk losing your sales, and it’s critical when you run your own business. 

Figure out how you like to work. If you’re a person that loves the thrill and excitement of closing that sale no matter what - at the risk of always being available to your clients - that's great. However, that work style may not work for everyone, and may not be sustainable in the long run. If you prefer having set hours that you respond to messages and clients, that's great too. You might find it easier to manage your personal life, but there could be implications from a client perspective as well. A lot of it will come from managing expectations and the communication you have with your clients. Be true to you: if you know you’re the kind of person that needs alone time - having a working model of "always on call" might not be for you.

In the long run, experts say time off to recharge is critical to your long term success. And as hard as it is, when you’re self-employed and feel like you should always be connected, remember: it’s okay to take some personal time.

Put in time now, gain it back later

I know, I know - it'll only take a second to send that client info over. And then, just three minutes, maximum, to confirm the showings for tomorrow. 

But hey - we both know you'll be at your laptop for another three hours - not three minutes. The fact is, there's just always one more thing that can suck you in. So - how do you fight the compulsion and deal with all those small tasks that take just one more minute?

Well, I’ll tell you - and you might not like it.

It’s all about putting in the work now, to save you time later. It might seem like it’s more work, but trust me, streamlining and prepping your tasks is going to save you hours down the road. 

Here’s a few of the biggest timesucks you can find yourself with, and how to correct them:

Still feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry - after all, that’s what I’m here for. Book a quick intro call with me, and find out how you can streamline all your tasks with just one move: hiring me to do it for you.

Or at least plan to read this

I get it - creating long, complicated plans for work can be boring, time-consuming, and way too overwhelming. Isn’t it more productive to actually do the work?

The importance of a great plan can't be overstated. It helps you stay on course, eliminate the stuff you don’t need to be doing, and gives you a guide to look back on so if you happen to veer off course, you know how to get centered again.

Every great business should have four plans:

1. Business plan

Your business plan is your north star. It should guide all your major business decisions, and be a point of reference you check in on throughout the year. It should include important benchmarks, and answer questions like:

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it should be flexible enough to adapt to uncertain circumstances. The important thing is to refer to it and update it constantly - you control the plan; it doesn’t control you.

2. Marketing plan

Wondering how a marketing plan is different from your business plan? Think of your marketing plan like the image you present to the world, while your business plan is more around the structure and how you’ll make your income. Your marketing plan should include your social media and online presence goals, how you expect to grow your business, and how much is an appropriate amount to spend. Many great agents may partner with an external agency or contractor to help develop this plan, and it can be wise to get some professional help.

3. Personal time plan

This is an especially important one if you run your own show. When you take a day off, or head on vacation (remember - vacations are critical to your success!), your business doesn’t stop. How will you manage incoming emails, phone calls, and any social media accounts you’re managing? Don’t let your business go dormant while you’re enjoying cocktails on a beach or skiing black diamonds - plan ahead, and come back to an organized (and still running) business.

4. Financial plan

Probably the plan everyone’s the most worried about, but potentially the most important. No matter how junior or senior you are, trust me - you need a financial plan. What happens if the market surges and you have to bring on someone new to help with all your listings? Or - knock on wood - things take a dive, and you have less business for an extended period of time? The businesses that are able to take advantage of markets, and stay afloat through difficult times are the ones who have a strong financial plan. 

Whether you’re starting from scratch, or just want a second opinion on your hard work, why not set up a call? In fact - let’s plan on it.

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