All real estate professionals have dreamt of the same ideal: that someday, somewhere, there will be a perfect market—a real estate Lake Wobegon where things carry on pretty much as they always have, where all the leads are strong, all the houses are good-looking, and all the prices are above average.
We like to indulge this fantasy because the reality is that real estate can often feel unstable. Whether the market is rising or falling, we don’t quite feel like we have the foundation on which to build a sturdy business. “How can I make a reliable business plan when the terrain might change at any time?” we ask.
Here’s a secret: The market is never going to be what you want it to be. Ever. You’ll never control it. So making it part of your business plan is foolish. It’s better by far to build upon what you can control.
- Track your data.
The best foundation for a stable business is information. If you don’t have data to drive your decisions, you just have hunches. So become a tracker! Track everything: incoming leads, conversion rates, average transaction times, you name it. The more information you have about your operation, whether you are an independent solo agent or a brokerage of hundreds, the more accurate a picture you will have about the health and profitability of your business—including (and perhaps especially) where there are gaps.
If I asked you your number of transactions and resulting GCI from last month, you’d probably have a specific answer. And from that you’d be able to calculate a rough average income per transaction. But what if I asked you how many leads you generated? Where those leads came from? How much it cost to acquire them? How many of them converted? Knowing information like this is just as important as knowing GCI, because it indicates how sustainable your business actually is, totally independent of the market.
- Measure yourself.
Effective tracking provides you with hard data you can use to measure your progress toward goals. But meeting financial benchmarks and expansion milestones is only one metric of success. I firmly believe that every truly successful business has an established set of core values that guide their thinking and behavior. If you don’t have core values for your business, thoughtfully create some. And if you do, thoughtfully consider how well you are living up to them. Core values complement the analytical side of your business and are a measuring stick for determining your organization’s full worth.
- Persist, persist, persist.
When conditions around us change beyond our control, one thing we can always manage is our commitment to our commitments. As a business owner, you have commitments to yourself, your clients and any people who work for you or are supported by you. Having the gumption to follow through on those commitments—even when the market tries to intervene—is another mark of success.
And this “sticktoitiveness” doesn’t simply mean buckling down and working harder. It might mean thinking creatively about what your business looks like, expanding or contracting your operations as necessary. If you’ve got a goal to be a seven-figure business in three years but it doesn’t seem like the market is cooperating, figure out what you need to change in order to meet that commitment and do it!
I don’t want to downplay the difficulties of challenging market conditions, but by focusing on the things we can control, we are better able to build businesses that can weather any storm.
Verl Workman is the founder and CEO of Workman Success Systems, a real estate consulting company that specializes in performance coaching and building highly effective teams. Get free access to some of the very same tools and resources he has used to create success in his clients’ businesses.