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5 lessons from 15 years in business

By Dan Argent
30 June 2021 | 1 minute read
Dan Argent

Experience teaches the best lessons. You can do all the training you want but, in truth, the School of Real Life delivers messages that stick.

Today, I want to share the five big lessons I’ve learnt after 15 years as a business owner and, now, start-up founder.

1. You’re a media company first, and a real estate agent second

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Too many agents mistakenly believe their mission is marketing real estate, but this really isn’t the case. What you are marketing first and foremost is your business, not property.

Sure – sales create commissions, but if you have no listings, you generate no revenue.

You need to define your niche (location, property type and/or price point), and then do all in your power to ensure everyone in your market knows who you are and what you do.

Every day and at every opportunity, you must market yourself. Dominate the space and attract as much attention as possible. Make your audience aware of your successes.

The goal is to ensure every potential seller in your target field immediately thinks of you when they decide to list. Being “top of mind” is crucial because when they’re ready to sell, you want them calling you first.

Advertise, market and promote you and your business first, and the listings will follow.

2. Think long-term rather than short-term

People consistently overestimate what they can achieve in a day, and underestimate what they can achieve in a year.

The solution to this quandary is relatively simple. Set long-term goals, understand the steps to reach them, select an approach that works and follow the path.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be trying new things, but change should propel you forward, not sideways.

A great example is agents who keep switching from franchise to franchise. They’re convinced each new employer will make their dreams come true. Unfortunately, they’ll eventually be in their same old rut, helping someone else profit off their hard work.

Instead, determine what works for you in terms of business and sales — and then get on with it. You should make tweaks here and pivots there. But so long as you stick with it and keep the long view in sight, you’ll get there in the end.

Bit by bit, through good planning and consistent application of your process, you’ll end up establishing your own brand as the go-to in your chosen field.

3. Don’t be a control freak

I constantly meet agents who’re striving to become top-performing, high-GCI writers but fail for one simple reason… they can’t seem to delegate.

There’s only so many hours in a day, and make no mistake, at some point you will max out the GCI you can generate solo — or burn out and quit the industry.

You need to “let go to grow”. Stop tackling every task yourself and start building a support crew.

Delegate all non-essential work to your associate, such as attending photoshoots, valuations, building inspections, pre-settlement inspections etc. They can also look after your “just listed” calls, letterbox drops, responding to REA enquiries and managing your database.

Next, outsource your admin. Sleepless nights spent worrying about invoices and dealing with contracts are not helping you list and sell real estate. If you don’t have an administrator or a support platform, then it’s all up to you — and your business will never get bigger than your dwindling capacity to work.

Give away those pedestrian tasks so you’re free to do what generates income — listing and selling, attracting new clients and servicing your vendors.

4. Get excited about data

Few things feel as mundane as gathering contacts and storing them in your personal (not collective office) CRM, but there is so much long-term gold in that data. You should relish every name, number and email address.

If you keep the contact details of every person you meet, and continue to nurture those relationships, I guarantee that one day you’ll never need to make another cold call.

After 15 years selling real estate and cultivating relationships, I could make $1 million in GCI before getting out of bed. I would get calls every week from people wanting to sell. All I had to do was process the listing, or rather, let my support staff do it. Contacts allowed me to quickly build an exceptional business that employed 10 agents and had over 300 properties under management.

5. Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life

Real estate is a “six to seven day per week” gig, with very little downtime. Just never forget it’s a job, not a hobby. We are in this game to earn an income.

Why squander those hard-won dollars on leased cars and a rented apartment? You might look the part, but you’re doing nothing about building long-term financial security.

My advice: learn to live on half of what you earn and invest the rest in growth assets like property and shares. Before you realise it, you’ll have an enviable wealth base providing choice and freedom.

Also, build your own rent roll. As agents, it’s our only asset in a real estate business that can be sold when you’re ready to hang up your boots. It also provides a substantial income, making you far less reliant on every single commission cheque.

The other move, and one of the most important, is to break free of the franchise office and establish your own business. Cutting out the middleman and keeping more of your commission delivers increased investment options. This means achieving financial freedom both sooner and larger than you can possibly imagine. Believe me, your future self will thank you for it!

Dan Argent is the founder and CEO of UrbanX.

5 lessons from 15 years in business
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