Author Archive Doug

April 25 Sales Meeting Minutes

Office Announcements and Dates to Remember:

  • Awards of Excellence were handed out for first quarter, as well, anniversary letters were handed out- Congratulations everyone!!
  • Social night – this Thursday at Riley’s Pub then Axe Club at 8:00 – please let the front desk know if you are attending
  • May 3rd Enriched Academy – please sign up for this information session at the front desk
  • RVC lunch and learn Tuesday May 9 – draw for Vacation Certificate!!
  • Dragon Boat – who’s coming??!!  June 10th
  • Open House Blitz – running May 6 and 7 – see Online Office for details
  • PKAR Past President’s night – May 17 5:30 at Evinrude Centre
  • Real Satisfied Training – May 23rd and 25th webinars
  • 50th Wedding Anniversary party for John Wood – May 28th at St. Joseph’s at Fleming from 2 to 4


Ontario measures to cool market

Key strategies:

  • Foreign Buyers Tax – Non Residence Speculation Tax – NRST – 15% on the price of home in the Greater Golden Horseshoe purchased by non-resident foreign buyers
  • Vacancy Tax – for Toronto and possibly other Municipalities – this has been done in Camden, UK at 50% and resulted in 1/3 of vacant properties being injected into rental market.
  • Rental Housing – expanding rent control to all private rental units; standardizing language in rental leases and other changes to Residential Tenancies Act; multi res apartments to be charged property taxes similar to residential properties; a $125 million program to encourage new rental apartment buildings; own-use evictions – trying to reduce this
  • Focus on ways to tackle paper flipping
  • Multiple representation rules being reviewed to ensure consumer is protected
  • Working on identifying surplus land to create affordable housing units
  • Creating a Housing Supply Team to identify obstacles to development and work with developers and municipalities to address them
  • Educating consumers on their rights in real estate transactions
  • Providing flexibility to Municipalities to use property taxes to fuel development
  • Overhauling standards for elevator repair
  • Updated growth plan for Municipalities that addresses density and an appropriate range of uses

Post by Vanessa Oake Hogan

Career Cafe – Saturday March 25, 2017!

I’d like to personally invite you to our C21® Career Open House event on Saturday March 25, 2017 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am, at 387 George Street South, Peterborough.

You’ll hear firsthand from our REALTORS® about what an interesting career in real estate looks like, and:

– How to get a real estate license
– How to be a successful REALTOR
– About CENTURY 21 and its’ global reach
– The unrivaled support of the brand

We look forward to meeting you. Please RSVP by 6 pm on Friday March 24th to

Are You Using the Top 5 Online Tactics?

We all know that a strong online presence is important to staying relevant in today’s real estate marketplace. More than 90% of buyers and sellers are looking for information online up to 18 months before they ever contact a REALTOR®.

So how are you ensuring that your online efforts are working?

Landing Pages and Asking for Connections

Does your website have a clear purpose? Or is it simply an online business card with some listings on it? It should have real value for your visitors and it should also be a vehicle to capture information about those visitors. After all, your goal is to serve more clients and customers at a very high level.

Blogging and Community

Does your site have blogging capability? You would be absolutely shocked at the number of real estate sites that don’t! Of those that do, my guess is that fully 95% or more have no new blog content. Rather, they have a few canned posts that were provided by someone outside the profession and that have no real value for readers.

Your site must include a blog that generates feedback (this is the community part) and gives visitors a reason to come back. Remember, they might be looking online for 18 months before you ever even hear from them.

Social Media

Are you making sure that you’re using social media correctly and effectively? Your site should include links to your social media, but more importantly, your social media should be directing traffic back to your site. Be personal in your social media efforts – it’s called ‘social’ for a reason, so stop posting all business all the time. For the love of all that is holy, please stop posting listings all day long! We get it, you’re busy. But what’s in it for me? Why would I want to deal with you if I can’t connect with you on a personal level?

Mobile Compatibility

Is your site mobile compatible? This is still the fastest growing segment of the online population and more than 25% of online traffic is (or will be shortly) mobile.

Visually Pleasing

Your site must have a visually pleasing feel. Be sure to use relevant images that you have the right to use! Not sure where to find free and legitimate images to use? Here you go: Creative Commons Search You’re welcome.

Take some time to ensure that you’re making the most of your online efforts. It truly is time well spent.

Take care, and thanks for reading!


PS – want to know how Century 21® makes it easier than ever to achieve your online real estate goals? Drop me a line: email or give me a call: 705-743-4447 and we can discuss how we can take your business to the next level.


*Note: the image at the top of this post was found using the Creative Commons Search Engine link I talked about.

Original article: 5 Online Assets That Are Worth Your Time 

Century 21 United Kick-Off Meeting 2017

We held our 2017 Annual Kick-Off Meeting on Tuesday January 10th at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club.

Here are the topics we discussed:

Our Vision Statement

We believe that our support staff, sales consultants, clients and customers collectively – our business partners, deserve to be empowered. Through an innovative and supportive culture, we seek win-win outcomes in all that we do.

Our Slogan

Your life.

Your business.

Let’s Rock It!

Community Involvement Plans:

Every year our brokerage works very hard to give back to this amazing community that we are grateful to be a part of. These are the events we are involved with for 2017.

  • Friday February 17th – Rotary Carl Oake Swimathon
  • Saturday June 10th – Dragon Boat Races
  • June through summer – Century 21 Lakers Sponsorship
  • November – December – Salvation Army Toy Drive

2017 Initiatives

Our management team, which consists of two non-selling managers – Doug Lytle and Constantine Isslamow, as well as our Administrator Sharie Henning and the owners Carl Oake and Vanessa Oake Hogan have been working very hard on our plans for 2017.  We shared some of our initiatives with our business partners.

Growth through recruitment

We want to grow our team and build on our presence in Peterborough and the surrounding communities.

Training and development

Our goal is to provide our business partners with everything they require to succeed in our industry.  From basics such as presentation skills and tools to e-signatures, social media training and individual coaching we will have you covered.

Realtor Rating System

This exciting initiative will be launched in February.  Realtor ratings are changing the competitive landscape of our industry. We are proud to be on the leading edge as the first real estate company in Canada to be launching a formal review system for their agents.

Team 21 Initiative

To me, our most exciting initiative for 2017 is Team 21.  Team 21 is a comprehensive marketing and prospecting plan for our agents.  Full service marketing of your listings and a prospecting plan that touches your data base 35 times per year. All of this done for you.  It is like having your own assistant handling the bulk of your administrative duties and freeing you up to get out from behind your desk and get out there and sell!!

Service Awards

Some of our business partners have been hanging around here for long time!  Here are some highlights.

Dave Carter – 35 years

Barb Jinkerson – 30 years

Anna Lisa Ferreri – 30 years

Rudy Solomon – 20 years

New to the company in the last 12 months

Brandon Timmins

Karl Schmitke

Kim Letto

Chrissy Watkins – admin

Laurie Bence

Frank Maulson

Michelle McColl

Nicole Van Stone

Devon Starr (license pending as of today)

Thanks to everyone that was able to make it out on a stormy winter morning.  Excited for 2017!!


Your life.  Your business.  Let’s Rock It!

Switching Brokerages: Is it really about the splits?

A recent article in REM ( titled: ‘In search of a great real estate brokerage’, Don Kittick, FRI, interviewed several top brokerage managers and team leaders to see what the consensus is around what makes a brokerage a great place to work.

In essence, he found that there are a few key metrics that make a brokerage a great base from which to build your business:

·         Objective, knowledgeable, responsive management

·         Strong brokerage leadership

·         Strong, inclusive and supportive culture

·         Strong training, mentoring and coaching programs

·         Varied support services

·         Financial viability of the brokerage

·         Strong marketing and branding, and community involvement

·         A good agent/manager ratio

·         A good average productivity per agent

·         Lead generation

·         Reasonable commission splits, fees and expenses

Notice that splits, fees and expenses are last on the list? I don’t think that’s an accident.

‘A fallacy exists that higher commissions should be your ultimate goal, but agent productivity statistics repeatedly reveal that this is not case. If you receive 100 per cent of the commission, you have to ask yourself what kind of support and services you can expect from the brokerage. The answer should be obvious: you get what you pay for, but this is fine for some.’

Ask 100 sales reps why they’d choose a brokerage and most of them would speak highly of the splits and fees.

‘It’s a business decision,’ they’ll say.

Ask 100 sales reps why they left their last brokerage and most of them would probably say they left because of the manager, a personality conflict or a lack of support. While I can’t, at the moment, quantify this scientifically, after hundreds of interviews over several years of speaking with sales reps and brokers during my own recruiting conversations, I can tell you that this is true from an anecdotal perspective.

People leave their managers; they use splits and fees as an excuse in an attempt to ‘keep it professional’. Let’s face it, most of us don’t want to be seen as petty or mean, so we try to couch our decisions in business terms to maintain the illusion of professionalism.

Do I think sales reps and brokers are unprofessional? Far from it! But we don’t want to make our decisions seem personal so we use the ‘facts’ as justification for making what is genuinely a personal choice.

If you’re thinking of making a move, be sure you ask the manager if their company embodies each of the above items. If they can’t, you might not be looking in the right place. And if your current company doesn’t, well….give me a call.

Things I Wish My Broker Had Told Me…

I don’t think I’m really all that unique. Like a lot of people who entered the real estate profession in the mid ‘90s, I had to stumble through a lot before finding my way. Training protocols certainly weren’t what they have become today and the hiring process was far less transparent. Don’t get me wrong, no one misled me in any way… they just didn’t volunteer too much in the way of expectations or insight into what the business really was.

I’ve often lamented with my peers about what I wish I’d been told before I started. As a result, when I’m interviewing prospective new sales people, I make it a point to paint the full picture – warts and all.

I did a little thinking and came up with about 22 things that I wish my broker had told me before I started in real estate. What would you have added to this list?

The actual cost of running my real estate practice.

When I first met with my broker, I had zero notion of what it meant to be a real estate professional, let alone the huge costs that go along with it. Something the public isn’t often made aware of are the ongoing costs associated with simply maintaining a real estate license. Things like: license fees, insurance, advertising and marketing, ongoing education, association fees, franchise fees, travel, communication, technology expenses, accounting, legal fees, tax filing (HST and income taxes), memberships in three levels of organized real estate, convention expenses, etc. Honestly, if I’d been told about all of these, I may have considered a different career path. That doesn’t mean I regret the choices I’ve made, but I do wish I’d known what I was getting into.

The need to keep my pipeline full – constantly be prospecting.

New entrants to the real estate business often have no idea of the need for constant prospecting and the ever-present gnawing hunger that comes with not knowing where your next deal will come from. I’m going out on a limb and saying that most new licensees will be shocked at how much time it really takes, during your first three years in particular, to build a reliable and profitable database.

Expect that not every other agent out there will be your friend.

As much as we need each other and we really do work to keep excellent relationships with our colleagues and competitors, human nature is still a thing. We simply cannot get along with everyone. Not only that, as you’ll find in every industry and profession, there are those that really don’t care to get along with everyone. There are those that simply couldn’t care less whether they build long term positive relationships. The dirty little secret is that there are some real jerks out there, so watch the shop talk in private conversations and in meetings. You never know when it’ll come back to haunt you. Please don’t misunderstand me; the vast majority of real estate professionals are wonderful people who would give you the shirt off of their backs if you needed it. Just be sure you can trust the person across the table before you spill your guts.

There could be a significant time lag before I get paid.

Rather than fill my head with ‘what-ifs’ and ‘sky-is-the-limit’ ideas, I wish I’d been told that it takes time to start earning any significant money in real estate. Sure, tell me the good stuff and show me how a properly funded and motivated sales rep can earn big bucks, just be sure to relate the realities too.

Let’s look at the typical life cycle of a residential transaction. I’m going to ignore the current market conditions, which are anomalous, to say the least. In a balanced market, it would normally take about 30-60 days to find a suitable home for a buyer client. I know I’ve done it faster, and sometimes it took far longer, but this is a good baseline. So 30-60 days to find and negotiate a firm transaction, then, generally speaking, another 30-60 days to close the transaction. Then, cheques have to be cut, couriered, processed, and a final paycheque cut for me, the REALTOR®. Total time about 60-130 days. So, to recap, you get your license, the stars align, you find a buyer immediately, you negotiate a great deal and then wait to get paid in, at best, 75 days but more likely 4-6 months after you start! Yes, that’s right, you can expect to work for 4-6 months without earning dime one. In fact, the opposite is happening, you’re SPENDING money that whole time! I really wish someone had told me about that! By the way – it took me about 3 months to get my first listing, a duplex that never did sell, and another two months for my first deal. That first deal earned me a whopping gross commission of $630! Show me the money 🙂

Listen, there are exceptions to this rule, I’ve hired a few over the past few years and they are amazing, but they are just that; exceptional.

You need a thick skin and you need to learn to expect rejection. A lot of it.

This is a business built on rejection. Really. If you can’t learn to love rejection, or at least to live comfortably with rejection as your constant companion, then this might not be for you. Nobody told me how horrible I’d feel when family members and close family friends would say no to me. It hurts. Nobody told me that 90-99% of people I approached would not want to talk to me. The lesson is that you can’t take it personally, the timing simply isn’t right for those people. Ken Clark was a fantastic, old-school (in a good way) Realtor that worked at our company back in the ‘90s. He taught me the invaluable phrase, ‘Next.’ Ken’s perspective was that a ‘no’ meant one less person he had to talk to get to the next ‘Yes’. Learn to enjoy hearing, ‘no’, and you’re on your way to success.

Say it with me, “Next!”

You need to develop discipline – also known as clear priorities.

Goal setting; the bane of the modern business world. Everybody knows that they should be doing it, but a surprisingly small number of people actually write down clear goals, also known as priorities. These can, and should, include: personal and financial expectations. When I started out, I made the poor assumption that I just needed to put in the time and my dreams would come to fruition.

Ah, naiveté.

What I wish I’d been told was that, without a clear sense of direction, your life will happen by accident. Dreams are not goals until they’ve been written down and had time constraints placed upon them.

You only have three jobs. Generate leads. Convert leads. Get contracts signed. Everything else is secondary.

There are SO many different things you can do on a daily basis. There is, and always will be, another shiny new gadget or social media tool every few seconds that can suck up your time and keep you from the things that really matter to the growth of your business. Knowing that you have three core mandates: generating leads, converting those leads, and getting contracts signed, keeps you focused. Now, don’t misunderstand me – this kind of pure simplification of what we do is extreme and doesn’t address the essence of what we do which is provide premium services to  our clients, but at the end of the day, the business of real estate really is this simple. Keep these three tasks top of mind and every time you have an opportunity to take on another activity ask yourself if it fits one of these three. If not, then perhaps you should reconsider going forward with it.

Time management is important for your survival and your sanity. Your time will often be wasted unless you get very good at qualifying prospects (and even then, you can’t avoid it all).

This one is a bit of a misnomer: time management. I’m of the belief that you can’t really manage time; it’s going to pass with your ‘management’ of it. All you can really do is control your priorities and, most importantly, the tasks you choose to take on. To that end, I’d rather use the term task management. This is true for every task you do, and in particular, qualifying your prospects. Anyone can lead generate. Really, it’s difficult and can be time consuming, but it’s simple. Talk to enough people and some of them will tell you that they are actively considering buying or selling real estate in the near future. What you then need to do is become an excellent questioner of their motivation. Are they truly sincere in their wish to make a move? Now, or next year? Have they been pre-approved for financing? Etc., etc. You know the drill (I hope). If you jump at every opportunity without first making sure it’s genuine, no amount of time management or task management will help you.

I’ve often said that real estate will eat you up and spit you out if you let it. Don’t make the mistake of treating every lead as gold.

You need to develop multiple sources of business.

When I started, I was told to call every one that I knew and talk to them about the fact that I was in the real estate business and that I’d appreciate their referrals. I was also told that I should go do some open houses. Maybe throw an ad in the paper. That’s about it. I guess the rest was supposed to just happen for me. If someone had told me that I needed to pursue multiple sources of business, I may have succeeded much sooner. So, what do I mean by multiple sources? Why not do a bunch of different lead generation tasks concurrently? Open houses, door knocking, sphere of influence marketing, floor time or duty time, networking, volunteering, and on and on and on. If you think about it, the only real limit is your time availability to develop lead generation systems and your task prioritization skills.

Niche – you can’t be all things to all people.

Now hang on, this sounds like a contradiction of the last point, but stay with me. One of my favourite things to tell new agents is that they should go small to go big. What does that mean? It means you can either compete in a large segment of the market just like everyone else, or you can dominate a very small sub-market if you choose. Over the years I’ve met some fantastic niche players! I once dealt with a guy out of the Lindsay, Ontario area that did nothing but trade in golf courses. When I was taking my pre-licensing courses there was a dentist also taking the courses. Her goal was to broker dental practices once she was licensed – she had absolutely no interest in selling houses. Brilliant!

So what are you passionate about? How can you use that passion to find like minded people that have a real estate need? Do you have specialized knowledge of the gasoline business? Maybe you know what it takes to find the best locations for gas stations and could parlay that knowledge into a business of finding and brokering nothing but service stations. Do you have a specific interest in working with senior citizens? There are a number of specialized education programs to help you dominate the seniors’ markets.

At the end of the day, we all like to work with people who have similar tastes, interests, and values as ourselves. What better way to find meaningful business than to find people that mirror your own style and work with them?

Here’s the secret sauce: You probably have more than one interest, or can at least recognize more than one niche that is either underserved or unidentified. My advice and something I wish I’d been told earlier in my career – find a niche, fill it, dominate it, and then find another and repeat the process. Then do it again. And again. Counter-intuitively, you can develop multiple sources of income from multiple small niches.

Building relationships with your fellow agents will be far more important than you think.

You’ll need to work with these people, hopefully, over and over. The issue we face in this profession is not unique to us, but it was a rapid change that had a profound effect on Realtors – technology, specifically the internet. In real estate it put multiple high-res photos online making a trip to see the place ‘unnecessary’, at least in the eyes of over-worked Realtors.

A long time ago, in a real estate business far, far away, we actually went out and toured properties as a group. I know, weird right? Our local MLS® held weekly tours and competitors and colleagues came together to talk about new listings, active buyers, and to view new listings. We got to know each other. We went for coffee and had a meal together from time to time. The same problem happened with offer presentations; it got too easy to just fax or email the offer to the other party and wait for a response. Not surprisingly, we grew apart. Now it’s perfectly normal to go to an association function and hear whispers of, “I have no idea who most of these people are.”

Shame on us.

Get out and preview properties when you can. Actually present your offers in person! Don’t say you’re too busy either; if you really feel you don’t have the time, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. What is my job really, and who do I work for?
  2. How messed up are my priorities if I can’t make time to become an expert on behalf of my clients?

We need each other.

You will absolutely need to treat your support staff well

The unsung heroes of the real estate office are our staff. Without these people, we couldn’t provide the high level of service that our clients expect. They answer your calls, they set your appointments, they input your listings, they handle irate calls for you, they help with your database management, they may even be typing your offers for you. Remember however, that you are not the only rep in the office and your business is no more important than any other member of the team. You will be helped in a fair and timely fashion – just like everybody else – provided you treat the staff with respect. Yell, threaten, or berate them at your peril. It’s pretty easy to drop your set of duties to the bottom of the pile.

And if I hear this kind of thing happening in my office you can bet your fanny you’ll be called into my office for a ‘conversation.’

You need to make time for yourself and your family – FIRST!

Rule #1 of scheduling: Family time and personal time FIRST. Business building activities come second.

I can hear the business owners and managers of decades past turning over in their graves! Traditionally, if you wanted to get ahead, you put family aside and did everything you could to churn as many deals as possible. And guess what, it worked to some degree. You can sell a lot of property if you neglect yourself and your family. But how many people lie on their deathbed and regret not working enough? Most care workers will tell you that their patients will confide in them that they wish they’d spent more time with their kids, their spouses, doing community work, exercising, etc. So make these things a priority now. Don’t wait for a retirement that may never come.

My central moto is: You’re in business to live, you don’t live to be in business.

Here’s the upshot: if you make your family and yourself priorities, you’ll actually find yourself to be more productive and happier.  They’ll have their mom or dad around more, and you’ll maintain your sanity, stay energized and be more focused. Will you be forced to make tough decisions around your work? Yes, but it will make you examine your activities and keep you on the tasks that have the highest chance of success.

Motivation doesn’t come from the outside. You must be self-motivated.

This is a tough one. No one feels motivated every day. It takes effort, sometimes, to get out of bed and go to work. Especially in a profession where you have to give so much of yourself before you know if you’ll be paid.

There are tons of motivational videos, podcasts, books, posters, self-affirmations, and more that you can access to try to keep yourself motivated. At the end of the day though, those are external and you’ll need to find your own internal motivation. I wish I’d been told about this, but honestly, I think this is so misunderstood that it is still often missed today.

You need to find your reason for doing what you do and constantly remind yourself about it. If that reason doesn’t keep you going, it probably isn’t a big enough reason. Find something that almost scares you with its immensity and you’ll be close.

Keep your courses up to date. RECO has no sense of humour on this and your clients will thank you.

Want to keep your license? Yeah, me too. Then get your courses done on time. Enough said.

Follow up is your friend. 80% of the money you make in this profession is in the follow up.

Ok, the 80% number is one that was quoted to me and I can’t find the source, but it sounds just about right. Lead generation is pretty simple. It can be hard at times, but really, it’s not that complicated. The hard part is the follow up.

The most common reason to avoid follow up? “I don’t want to be a bother!” Pardon? Presumably, the folks that you’re trying to follow up with have already expressed an interest in buying or selling a property, so how is following up with them in any way equated with bothering them?

Well, I think I know the answer to this one now.

You’re probably avoiding follow up because you don’t really know how to do it well and you’re afraid of looking foolish. Be honest, is this your concern too? Come on, it’s just us, you can tell me…

Listen, the answer lies in leading with service. I think the best kind of service in this instance is providing information and guidance, and more importantly your interpretation of that information, in a timely and impactful way. Look for ways to share data and the meaning behind that data on a regular basis and you’re on your way to doing great follow up. Be the expert they deserve! Of course, occasionally you’ll need to re-qualify the prospect and verify that they still have a need for your services and to gauge ongoing motivation on their part, but that’s part of good follow up and fantastic service.

One of the worst feelings you’ll experience in real estate is getting an excited call on a Monday morning from your would-be client exclaiming that they, “found the perfect house at an open house and the attending agent told them they could do an offer with them and they got it at a price that they’re happy with and, the closing date is just like we discussed, and, and, isn’t that wonderful??”

Trust me, if it hasn’t happened yet, it will…unless you adopt the attitude that consistent and powerful follow up is an integral part of great service.

Business planning is vital. If you don’t have a map, how can you reach a new destination?

By the same token, don’t be immobilized by planning. Business planning is an exercise that illuminates your shortcomings while at the same time helps you create the conditions under which you can thrive. See this earlier article: about the importance of Business Plans.

Tax planning is important! Avoid late payments and penalties!

“So, newly minted sales person, you’re an independent contractor. You know what that means? Write-offs! Great news at tax time!” …wait, what’s a ‘write-off’? Well, my manager was correct, as a business operator, I do have the opportunity to use legitimate business expenses to offset revenue generated and pay less tax as a result. Here’s the issue though – most people who enter the real estate business have no idea what this means, or if they think they do, they’re usually wrong. I was. I got into a bunch of cash trouble in the beginning because I didn’t understand the need for careful tax planning.

Here’s what my manager should have told me: “Hire a professional tax planner. They know the laws, regulations, and speak the language of Canada Revenue. Sure, you can try to do it yourself for free…but remember, as in most things, you get what you pay for.”

Negotiating skills are more important than you think.

This is where great real estate sales people stand out from the rest. The ability to negotiate on behalf of your clients is where you really earn your commission. Anybody can put up a good looking sign, a decent website, and create ads that make the phone ring. It takes a professional negotiator to really get the best deal for their clients.

Spend time learning the art and science of negotiating every day. Yes every day. Forever.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee

Consistent skill improvement is paramount.

In the same way as you need to work on your negotiating skills, you also need to be working on your other skills on a regular basis. We use the terms, ‘scripts’ and ‘objection handlers’, among others, freely when we train sales people. I’ve never really been a fan of these words, even though I use them myself in my own training sessions for new and experienced reps alike. They smack of deception or sneakiness and that’s just not who I want to be or how I want our sales team to be perceived. The underlying principles, when used for good and not evil, however, are fundamental to success in this profession. Just knowing what to say at the appropriate time will get you so much further than simply ‘winging it’. The look of wonder on a new rep’s face when we role-play scenarios is marvelous to behold. Learn what to say, how to say it, and when. This isn’t deception; it is crafted language, usually in the form of probing questions, that often helps a client come to a decision faster and more clearly than if left to their own devices.

Other skills you’ll need to work on: copywriting, marketing, accounting, building systems knowledge, municipal building codes, real estate law, mortgages, appraisal, property management, investment analysis, and on, and on.

At the risk of using too many quotes by famous people, Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Technology (in particular, new and as-yet unseen technology) will be invaluable, frustrating, and unavoidable.

The learning curve is steep and never ending. In my time in the business, we’ve seen the fall of fax machines (honestly, if it weren’t for real estate’s stubbornness, these things would have died out completely 35 years ago!), alpha-numeric pagers, pay phones, MLS® books, rotary phones, type writers, and more. I’ve also seen the rise of the internet and websites, online lead generation, smart phones and apps, HD digital photography, cheap aerial video, easy access to up-to-date satellite imagery, more complicated documentation – remember the paperless society we were promised….yeah, not so much (though we are moving in the right direction again with digital signatures). Thinking about it now, we wonder how we did business without some of these tools, but at the time, they were disruptive to the industry and therefore sometimes scary.

We decried websites and the democratization of information as the death knell of our business, but that didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite has been true – the process of buying and selling has become more in-depth and surrounded by more obstacles than before. Our expertise has never been more beneficial than it is now. Our roles have changed along with technology and turned us into consultants. Sure we still sell, but the process is much more client centric now and focuses on outcomes for the consumer far more than it did 20 years ago.

Being able to adapt to technology changes and innovations should be strengths, not stumbling blocks. The sooner we understand this and embrace changes, the sooner we get to use these new tools for our client’s benefit which in turn means more business for the savvy and adaptable agent.

Who knows what the next 20 years will bring?

Building a business referral network can save a ton of deals!

You will have difficult deals. It goes without saying that occasionally problems crop up that need additional professionals to assist you in making sure your clients’ needs are met. Get to know well drillers and inspectors, septic pumping and installation experts, plumbers, electricians, lawyers, accountants, building inspectors, roofers, flooring experts, deck builders, property maintenance companies, appraisers, painters, etc. Offer your help to them in any way you can and when you need a favour in return, you might be better positioned to ask. In my experience, the agents that have the best networks have the best success rates. Become a connector and everyone wins!

I’m sure there more things that would have been nice to know when I started on this journey called real estate; these are just the most important in my experience.

Still think real estate is for you? Great! Give me a call.

10 Things You Don’t Want To Hear About Business Plans

Story time. Yay!

Around 1998, I was working with a partner selling commercial real estate in the Peterborough region. Actually, he’d taken me under his wing and one day introduced me as his partner.

I owe that man everything.

The market was very slowly crawling out of the recession created by the real estate crash of 1990. Yes still. And you know what? We were incredibly busy. I say busy rather than truly successful because we had very little direction in our business. We had about 25 listings at the time and a stable of prospects that numbered in the dozens. But…

We were reactive every day. We were at the beck and call of anyone with a property need. Whether that person would actually lead to increased income or not, we made it a point to be there thinking that great service meant jumping when a potential client said, “Jump.” We jumped from project to project and threw ourselves into them all. We spent far too much time away from our families and took far too little time off. Our stress levels were at ridiculous levels and we felt like we were adrift.

Then, one day, we decided to spend some time out of the office and actually do some planning.

I really should have known better – I have a diploma from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Entrepreneurship and we were taught the importance of business planning. In fact our culminating project was the development of a full business plan. But when I got my real estate license, all of that training somehow went out the window in favour of all the cool things I could do as a real estate rep.

We made some tough choices that day and the results were miraculous. (Stay tuned for the rest of the story…)

Here are 10 Things You Don’t Want To Hear About Business Plans

  1. They take time to create

You aren’t going to like this, but I think you really need to set aside at least a full day to properly build out a one year real estate business plan. I know, I know, you’re ‘too busy’. Suck it up, buttercup. You NEED to do this EVERY year. This one day of pain will make the rest of your year so much better!

  1. This will be really hard

This will not be easy. How hard will it be? Well, let’s put it on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is relaxing in a hammock on a beach in Fiji and 10 is giving birth to a 10 pound behemoth of a baby. This will be about a 12. Granted, there won’t be any (well, not much) physical pain, but trust me, you’re going to find this to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your business.

  1. They force you to look at your personal life and finances

Do you really have a good picture of your personal finances? I hope so. But you would not be considered unusual if you really didn’t know what your debt load is and if you didn’t really know what your monthly expenses truly are. The process of building a business plan forces you to acknowledge what your real expenses are, and that’s a good thing! It means, that at the end of the process you’ll know exactly how much you need to earn to both meet your monthly expenses and to meet your long term income goals.

  1. They force you to be critical of your business

In the same vein, when you really look at your business holistically, you’ll start to see some activities that you’ve been undertaking that really aren’t adding to your bottom line. It’s classic 80/20 time! You know what I mean, 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. You’re probably spending an inordinate amount of time, as much as 80% of it, on activities that add nothing to your bottom line. Getting clear on your priorities via your business plan shines a light on these poor choices and force you to take a proactive stance moving forward.

  1. You need to take some time to decide what you really want

Don’t expect to be able to articulate exactly what you want as soon as you sit down. Spend some time imagining what it is you want out of your business. When you have a clear picture of your goal, designing a plan to get there becomes far simpler. Don’t forget, you’re in business to live, not the other way ‘round.

  1. You’ll have to do some math

No magic here. If you’re like a lot of sales people, you are a master of the personal relationship, a marketing marvel, and an expert on explaining everything about the buying and selling process. But…you likely aren’t a math whiz. Don’t worry though, spreadsheets are your friend! If your company doesn’t have readymade tools for you to use in this regard, drop me a line. I’m sure I can dig something up for you.

  1. You’ll have to finish it

I’m pretty good at starting projects, and not so good at finishing them. I like the process of coming up with ideas, getting them started, seeing some growth and nurturing the expectation that goes along with that process, but, if I’m honest, I don’t really care if projects get finished. That’s not my forte. Well, that’s not really true, I’m just not good at seeing them through. Now, I recognize the need to finish projects, so I do my best to work through them and I’m not afraid to delegate tasks in order to see things completed. But I recognize my shortcomings and make allowances for them. You will too. Be prepared to push through and actually finish your business plan; it won’t do you any good to get part way to the finish line – to win, you need to cross the line and feel the ribbon of success! …was that metaphor too weird?

  1. It doesn’t end once you’ve written the plan

Once you have a plan, you’ll need to put your ideas and plans into practice. Planning and deciding on your goals isn’t enough. You need to implement your plans and processes or else this entire exercise will have been wasted.

  1. You’ll need to schedule reviews

Implementation isn’t enough either! You need to stop and reflect every so often to make sure you’re on track. Be prepared to make adjustments to your new plan as you go along. Set aside time every week and every quarter to review your results as they relate to your business plan. Don’t be afraid of these changes, they don’t mean you wasted your time in the planning stage. View them as an opportunity to fine tune your business. You’re lucky in this respect – if you were running a multi-million dollar company, it’d be really hard to make changes quickly and that can cost you your business – meanwhile, you’re probably just a sole sales rep and the ability to make changes on the fly makes you agile and adaptable. Your clients will thank you for this ability.

  1. It’ll force you to have more direction

Ever wake up in the morning and wonder what you’re going to do that day? Ever wonder if you’re doing the tasks that are truly necessary? Sure you have; we all have at some point. The act of creating a business plan and then working that plan forces direction on your business. No longer will you wonder what it is you ‘should’ be doing – you’ll already know – it’s written right there in your plan!

  1. Bonus: You will have more free time, more money, and more satisfaction!

You made it! You have a completed plan and you’ve scheduled time for periodic reviews and adjustments to your plan. I know, it was a TON of work, but you did it. Congratulations! Now you get to reap the rewards of your efforts. With a clear plan of action and clear goals, you’ll know what to work on and, more importantly, what NOT to work on. You’ll have more free time, more vacation time, you’ll make more money, and your stress level will drop dramatically.

Trust me, this process works. Remember my story about taking some time out of the office to do some serious planning back in 1998?

Here’s what happened:

  • We stopped working for everyone else and started working for ourselves. In fact, we fired a bunch of ‘clients’ and sent their keys back to them. Life is too short to deal with jerks.
  • We decided who our ideal client was and actively pursued people that fit our model.
  • We started taking more time off. Six weeks a year. Each.
  • Our families appreciated seeing us more often and we couldn’t believe we had been spending so much time working before.
  • Our stress levels dropped dramatically.
  • Most importantly, our incomes DOUBLED that year.
  • We went through the same process the next year and our incomes DOUBLED AGAIN.

I truly have been in your shoes. This stuff works folks.

Not sure where or how to get started? Give me a call and I’d be more than happy to help 🙂

Things That Won't Happen When You Get Rejected

Let’s be honest. Rejection can suck.

From the person who said ‘No,’ when you asked them to dance at your 7th grade school dance, to the university that said your marks just weren’t high enough, to the dozens of job interviewers who said, ‘You just don’t have enough experience…’, I think we can all agree being turned down really stinks. That dropping feeling in your stomach, the flush of embarrassment, the cold sweat that hits you, not to mention the even more devastating feelings of failure and even resentment. Just thinking about it makes me feel….icky.

Marty McFly in Back to the Future: “What if I send in the tape and they don’t like it? I mean, what if they say I’m no good? What if they say, “Get outta here, kid. You got no future”? I mean, I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection. Jesus, I’m starting to sound like my old man!”

It turns out, though, that rejection can be a fantastic tool to use in your favour. Hear me out; this is a tough one for a lot of us – in particular for real estate sales people. We hear rejection A LOT. This is such a competitive business that you’re bound to hear a ton of rejections. They already know a REALTOR®, their sister works with a competitor, their second cousin is married to a Realtor (maybe, they can’t really remember, but they’ll let you know…honest). When you think about it, real estate isn’t something members of the general public think about every day. After all, most people only move every ten years or so. When you think about it, most people simply won’t be interested in working with you because of a ton of factors, 99.9% of which have nothing to do with you or your service offering.

Let me say that again: Rejection in real estate almost never has anything to do with you, the Realtor. It’s a matter of timing. At the very best, 1 in 10 people is thinking of making a move. Of those, many already have good relationships with other professional Realtors. So really, what are the odds of you finding the one that might be interested in working with you on the first try? Pretty slim, right?

‘No’ is your friend! ‘No’ means you’re getting closer to a ‘Yes’. Embrace the ‘No’! A ‘no’ is not a rejection of you, the person. Don’t take it personally, because it really isn’t about you – it’s about them. In fact, I’d make the argument that your fear of rejection is actually selfish.

Yeah, I said it. You’re being selfish. You’re assuming that rejection is either a personal attack on you, or your profession.

Let’s say you’re having a friend over for the afternoon. You get thirsty and think, ‘I could go for a cup of tea, I wonder if my friend would like one too?’ If they don’t want a cup of tea when you offer it to them, you don’t throw your hands up and give up on being a good friend. You don’t assume that you must have done something wrong or that you’re no longer likable. No, you shrug it off and next time you’re making tea, what do you do? You offer your friend a cup of tea.

The timing was wrong; they simply didn’t want a cup of tea right then. The rejection of the cup of tea was about them, not you. It’s the same with real estate, granted the stakes are a little higher than a cup of tea, but you get the point.

So, what WON’T happen when you get rejected in real estate?

  1. You won’t die. Silly? Maybe, but I know some sales people that would rather die than prospect and be rejected.
  2. You won’t fail as a professional. A simple rejection of your service offering is not an indication that you will never succeed. In fact, learn to see every rejection as a stepping stone to the eventual ‘Yes’.
  3. You won’t starve. Again, every rejection is one step closer to a positive response. Hear enough rejection and the positives will also accumulate – meaning more listings, more committed buyers, and more closed transactions.
  4. You won’t get into fist fights. This has actually been given to me as an excuse to not prospect! Somehow, some sales people have this belief that if they ‘bother’ people by calling on them, knocking on their door, or other contact method, that the recipient of the communication might actually physically attack them! I’m telling you honestly, I have knocked on hundreds of doors, introduced myself to hundreds of strangers at networking events and otherwise just put myself out there to meet new people and not once, in over 20 years, has anyone ever threatened me, let alone actually attacked me. It just doesn’t happen.
  5. You won’t get fired. If one of our sales reps tells me a story about prospecting and getting rejected on a regular basis, not only will I not ask them to leave, I’ll applaud their efforts. I won’t think less of you for being rejected, quite the opposite!

So get over yourself and learn to love hearing ‘No!’ It really is one of the greatest lessons you’ll learn about a career in real estate. Tragically, it’s often never learned and many a sales person with fantastic potential has left the business because they never accepted this secret truth and never gave themselves the chance to succeed.

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