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Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

Re-posted from Giveback Homes

ReferralExchange brought out 80 employees to volunteer over the span of four days to help transform the home of a local Veteran and his wife.

Glenn is a navy veteran who fought in Vietnam, and Joanne is a retired nurse practitioner who is gearing up for her 23rd surgery, this time to replace her knee. The couple has lived in this house (that Joanne’s grandfather built) for 5 generations. Joanne grew up next door and would tell us stories of when she was a kid living on the property. From square dancing, to Christmas pageants, it all went down here for their family. The Claghorn’s are getting a new roof and a fresh paint job on the home that’s housed so many memories for them.

The volunteers helped tear off the old roof, and repair dry rot before replacing the shingles and giving the home some fresh paint. These repairs will allow Glenn and Joanne to stay in their home and solve their leaking roof problem, so they can focus on their health.

Both Fox40 and Good Day Sacramento stopped by the build site to check on the progess.

Thanks to ReferralExchange’s generous donation and army of volunteers, the Claghorn’s are ready for the rain with their new and improved roof.

Want to support impactful projects like this? Check out our builds page to donate to an affordable housing project benefiting families in need both here in the U.S. and around the world.

As a top performing agent, you don’t need to be convinced that relationships are your most important asset. Yet, creating a day-to-day strategy to develop and maintain those relationships can be a real challenge.

Zvi Band, CEO/founder of the intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Contactually, recently joined us for a webinar to share the key steps of the CAPITAL strategy for relationship building, unique ways to add value and gain intelligence, and how to effectively leverage a database as your launchpad for growing and nurturing your sphere of influence.

Relationships still rule, but much has changed. Relationships in real estate have always been important. But information and local expertise used to be a competitive advantage; today buyers and sellers have more access to information than ever before.

Technology and data has also changed the way agents and consumers communicate and do business. Additional tech tools, gadgets, and data learnings are available, yet nothing can replace the human side of the business – that’s YOU. From Contactually’s perspective, technology is helping to increase productivity and production – helping the best agents be even better.

The relationships we are building are actively decaying. Between emails, newsletters, push notifications and marketing drip campaigns, we have created a world of information overload. If you can’t remember what you had for breakfast two weeks ago, how would someone remember the details from meeting you weeks, months or years later?

If you want to stay top-of-mind or be the first person a potential client thinks of, you must have a strategic plan. Zvi explains that it’s about having a clear goal, building a process and strategy to execute your goal and then executing it repeatedly.

Key steps of the CAPITAL strategy include:

  • Consistency – one of the most important things you can practice. Consistency is all about building and maintaining a habit. Zvi shared the habit loop which includes the cue (what kicks the brain into automatic mode and tells it which habit to use), routine (your physical, mental or emotional response) and reward (the prize telling your brain “this loop is worth remembering in the future”).
  • Aggregate – many people struggle to build and maintain a database, but every professional needs to have one. Start simple with a stack of business cards or excel spreadsheet. Collect your contacts into one centralized location where your entire network can be accessed.
  • Prioritize – the people in your database matter in different ways, which is why you need to prioritize the relationships that are most important. Consider grouping your database based on the type of relationship (i.e. past clients or new leads) or tiering your database based on known level of priority (i.e. high v. low) so you can focus your time efficiently.
  • Intelligence – what do you know about the people in your database? Intelligence is about collecting and capturing useful data. Do this by writing everything down, looking for social objects (i.e., shared resources or experiences) and embracing small talk. Often remembering the smallest detail can make the biggest impact. Zvi suggests including a few points for each contact such as the state of your relationship/their business, notes and next steps from the interaction, and any personal details you remember.
  • Timely engagement – so when do you reach out? There isn’t a correct answer for how often you reach out, but what matters is that you are completing consistent points of communication. Set reminder timers that are frequent enough to stay top of mind, while keeping the number of reminders to a manageable amount.
  • Adding value – even saying hello is adding value. Every interaction should be meaningful, relevant or valuable in some way. You can deliver value by acknowledging someone with a thoughtful message, solving their problems, making connections and creating experiences.
  • Leverage – make your routine as seamless as possible. This could be programming email templates in your CRM or hiring a virtual assistant to outsource mundane, time-consuming tasks. Use automation where appropriate, so you can spend time being authentic with the people who matter most.

Apply these key steps to your marketing efforts and remember these takeaways: our relationships are our most important asset, preach to your own choir, build a strategy and execute consistently.

Watch the full webinar here and learn more at contactually.com.

As an agent, referrals you receive are a key barometer of your success, and the number of referrals you send and receive can turn a good year into a great year. Unfortunately, many agents don’t track their referral sources — nor do they actively include generating more referrals into their regular business and marketing planning.

Based on our proven track record at ReferralExchange, below are five ways to identify and grow your referral business.

1. Identify three to five friends or family members who know a lot of people. We all have friends, family members or current/past clients who seem to have a huge social network, and these individuals can be a great source of referral business for you. I was recently invited to a “shopping party” at one such friend’s house, and I always try to do some “gentle networking” at these types of events. By the end of the afternoon, I’d made several great connections to follow up with.

How to get business: If they’re a past or current client, ask for a testimonial. If they’re a friend or family member, let them know that you can help them — or their friends — with any of their real estate needs. Make sure they’re on your holiday card/email list so your real estate expertise stays top of mind.

2. Take advantage of not-so-chance encounters. People you meet seemingly at random can be a great source of business as well, but it’s important to plan for them in advance. One agent in our network commits to handing out five business cards per day. She won’t allow herself to come home until she’s handed out those business cards.

How to get business: Have your ice-breaking opening lines ready to go to initiate a conversation. At that recent shopping party, I made my connections by simply saying, “I can be casually dressed at work, but when I speak or attend conferences, I have to dress up.” This prompted people ask what I did for a living. Make sure you wear a logo-branded item when you’re out and about, so that someone can see it and ask, “Are you in real estate?” Offer them your business card if they have questions or want to keep in touch.

3. Maximize your professional, business or service contacts. These types of contacts are indispensable to our work and personal lives — and they can all significantly help your business, as they have a good read on the community and know just about everyone. When we moved to our first home in Northern California with our newborn daughter, our agent gave us a list of local pediatricians, dentists, kid-friendly restaurants, etc. That list stayed on our refrigerator for the entire year, until she sent us an updated version with her holiday card.

How to get business: Ask these contacts for coupons or discount opportunities to distribute with your listing or buyer presentations, client gifts or open houses. Regularly ask them for business, and be sure to refer back in kind. Consider placing a candy jar in their offices, and then periodically drop in to refill it and stay top of mind.

4. Get more involved with the associations, groups or organizations that you are a member of. People like to work with people like themselves, and will always try to find common ground. Garnering referral business from associations or groups that you’re a member of provides you with a “warm entry.” I once coached an agent who loved to surf, and we made that the core of his local business development efforts. He placed ads in his club’s newsletter, sponsored surf events and gave away free surf wax branded with his contact information.

How to get business: Find relevant ways to get involved that showcase your expertise. Host real estate seminars targeted to your group’s interest. For example, if you’re a member of a wine group, host a tasting alongside a seminar on the value of remodeling a kitchen. Or if there are vineyards located nearby, host a seminar on second homes/vacation properties. You can even consider making a donation to your preferred charity/organization for every closed transaction.

5. Identify three friends/family members/former colleagues who live in different cities or states. Your sphere of influence is a great source of referral business, but consider expanding it to cover outside of your market or beyond your immediate contacts. Most referral networks, mine included, provide you with a pool of colleagues and connections in different areas so that you can help anyone anywhere. We have an agent who gets referrals from friends of friends and family members simply because she let them know she’s part of a nationwide referral network and can help them find an agent no matter where they’re located

How to get business: Make sure everyone in your sphere — and expanded sphere — knows what you do. Post fun real estate stories on your social channels. If you have to send an extended family email (perhaps you’re coordinating a family reunion), be sure to do it from your work email, with your work signature. Make sure you include what your occupation is in your social profiles. And, be sure to let them know that you’re part of a nationwide network and can help them even if they aren’t local.

Making a commitment to grow your referral business doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. You simply need to look to your extended life and activities and then take action. Be sure to track any of the activities that you do so that you can determine which ones are the most effective. Start with one or two to see how they work and add more as time and resources permit.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Without a strategy, you’re just throwing something against a wall and hoping that it sticks.” –Katie Lance

Real estate is filled with lead and referral opportunities but finding the right ones that work for your business can be challenging. Social media expert Katie Lance and our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently hosted a webinar to discuss how to track your lead gen, focus your referral efforts and create content that attracts the clients you want to work with.

Follow these simple steps to identify referral sources that will help you create and sustain a business you love.

Track and manage your lead generation. It’s important to implement a CRM or system that helps track who you’ve worked with, who you want to work with, what you’re going to say to them, where that business is coming from and how you are going to connect and keep in touch with them. As an agent, you’re often working with a variety of different people at the same time – so it’s critical to stay organized and track everything.

Reflect on last year. Take a look back at 2017 and ask yourself:

  • Who was your favorite closing? Why?
  • What was your best source of business?
  • What was one “great idea” a trusted colleague had?
  • What were your total number of referrals?

Assessing your previous year of business will help you understand what worked, what didn’t and where you should focus your time. Think about what messaging and topics you talked about that had the best response and resonated with your network. Lisa advised to make a 30-day plan of active communication, take a rest and then follow-up in 60 days, and then follow-up with another touch point in 120 days if you don’t hear from them. Your most active conversations will likely be with those who you connect with in those initial 30 days. The home buying and selling process can take a while, however, so it’s important to continue to touch base for several months after the initial contact.

When marketing yourself, make sure to communicate and highlight your expertise and experience to your clients and prospects in a way that make it about them. If you specialize in single family homes in the suburbs, you could share that you’ve helped five families move into their target neighborhood.

Choose your channels wisely. Today, social media gives us endless opportunities to communicate and connect with clients and prospects. It’s important to choose your social media channels based on what your clients and future clients are using and create content that attracts who you want to work with. Katie suggested asking or surveying your database to find out their preferred platforms and what they like to see when putting together a social media strategy. With all the competing noise on social media, it’s about quality over quantity.

LinkedIn for example, is a great way to connect with new and old contacts. Katie recommended keeping an updated bio, publishing new content and giving/asking for recommendations to generate new business.

Take the referral challenge. Think about how many referrals you did in the past year, and then increase that number by 50% to set your new goal. Download and fill out our Referral Planner to help determine where you can generate that new business – i.e., through friends/family, associations, partnerships, etc. Mapping out these different, everyday contacts you interact with, will open the door for new referral business.

Create the right content. The specific type of content you create and share, will inevitably attract a specific group of people/person. Katie shared a content grid that can help you get started and brainstorm 30+ ideas of what to post – e.g., local real estate info, local & community news, personal interest, home and design.

Good content = good referrals and leads. When you put content out on a consistent basis that has your voice, opinion and personality, people start to recognize and remember you. Video is a great way to help you achieve that given most people retain 95% of the message in a video vs. 10% of what they read in a text. Additionally, people spend 5x more time with video than any other type of content on Facebook – even more reason to Facebook Live your open house tour!

Lisa emphasized how powerful storytelling, being relevant and adapting content through customizable templates can be when attracting new clients. For example, if you’re known for your “best restaurants list,” considering creating one for families with kids and one for empty nesters looking for a perfect date night spot. Don’t be afraid to repurpose content and share it everywhere.

Watch the full webinar here and download our free Referral Planner.

“A lead is simply an inquiry on a property. A referral is a lead that’s been qualified: The person giving the referral has taken time to ask specific questions that qualify that lead.” — agent quoted in the 2018 Agent-to-Agent Economy study by ReferralExchange

For newer agents entering the industry, leads are an important part of how they grow their business. However, for more established agents, referrals represent a real opportunity not just in business coming in but in creating a network where they can refer clients out. Many clients may need an agent outside their main agent’s geographic area or service parameters. When that occurs, some clients may feel they have to go it alone, however having a referral system that supports their sphere doesn’t just provide the agent with additional income, it delivers peace of mind for agents and their clients.

What does a strong referral business look like and how can this be a potential “side hustle” for agents, providing a secondary income stream?

ReferralExchange recently published its second referral report, and the data continues to show that doing more referral business just makes sense – both personally and financially. In fact, this year’s data showed that the value of referrals is increasing along with real estate prices.

The report surveyed over 1,800 top-performing agents who are members of the ReferralExchange Network. The majority of agents participating agents had over 14 years of industry experience and had done more than $5 million and/or 20 transactions in the past year.

The full report can be found here, but highlights of the report include:

Referrals can have significant impact on your bottom line.  While the amount of referral business varied due to average price point and location, over 40 % of the agents surveyed earned $10,000 – $50,000/year in referral fees.

  • 25% earn $10-$20K
  • 17% earn $20-$50K
  • 8% earn $50K+

Most agents are part of at least one referral network.  And, over half of them are members of 2 or more networks.  Over one third of them report that 20% of their inbound referrals come from these network(s).

Most of the agents don’t purchase leads, and for those who do, many don’t track the annual income that they earn from them

  • 66% purchase no leads
  • 16% purchase up to 50 leads/year
  • 16% purchase +50/year
  • 27% of agents did not know how much income they earned from their leads

Agents generally receive more referrals than they send out. Most agents who send out referrals are more concerned with a positive client experience and maintaining their reputation vs. the income they end up earning.  Research shows that sending out a greater number of referrals can definitely impact their annual revenue.

Timing is everything – Agents define “referrals” as prospects who are ready to act:  We asked what they think the difference is between a lead and a referral. Most felt that a referral is a person who’s made contact with the intent to sell or buy. Whereas referrals are considered “warm” and “vetted,” leads are described as “cold” and “unqualified.”

Take advantage of ways to increase your referral business

Many referral networks allow agents to submit referrals in addition to receiving them. By actively generating and submitting more referral business, agents can counter local lack of inventory. Ways to generate referrals include:

Expand your sphere of influence to include friends, colleagues and family members. You need to let everyone they know they can support their real estate needs – no matter where they’re located.

Always ask for both sides of the business if you have a client who is moving into/out of the area. For buyers, offer to help them find an agent wherever they’re moving from. For sellers, continue the relationship by finding an agent wherever they’re locating.

Work your local connections with local vendors such as nail/hair salons, dry cleaners, doctors, etc. Many of them know who’s moving in/out of town so let them know you can help provide connections anywhere in the country.

Take advantage of chance encounters when you’re out-and-about. People love talking about real estate and any conversation – even when you’re on vacation – can be a referral opportunity

Become the local relocation contact for small to midsize local companies or organizations who might not have an in-house relocation contractor. You can provide this service for employees moving into – and out of – your area.

Improve the ROI on your marketing and advertising efforts by monetizing every lead – even those outside or your preferred price point or property type.  Consider referring out those leads. While you won’t earn a full commission, a referral can provide you with additional marketing funds.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

The IRS allows IRAs and 401(k)s to purchase investment real estate, but most people don’t know where to start or how to do so.

Clay Malcolm from New Direction IRA – a self-directed IRA service, recently joined us for a webinar to share how to generate more commissions from your existing client base via IRA investment. As a real estate expert, you can also use this IRS rule to invest your own SEP IRA or Solo 401(k).

Two benefits of self-directed IRAs benefits for you and your business. The first benefit is to be aware that by putting your real estate expertise to work within your own traditional/ROTH IRA, SEP IRA, SOLO 401(k), or HSA, you may be able to retire with more savings and/or sooner. Secondly, by working with IRAs, you are opening up a new source of business. As a real estate professional, this knowledge base can allow you to create more business out of the same relationships you already have. Your existing clients and contacts may have IRA money that is sitting on the sidelines, and you can help them put that to work.

Tax-deferred/free plans eligible for self-direction. Traditional IRA, ROTH IRA and HSA (Health Savings Accounts) are the three individual plans that can be used for a real estate investment — although they all have different contribution and distribution rules and different tax advantages.

Employer plans. Simplified Employee Pension (SEP IRA), Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE IRA) and a 401(k) Plan, as long as the plan document allows for it, can also be used. If you’re self-employed, a SEP IRA or individual 401(k) may be a good option as it gives you a higher annual contribution limit than individual plans.

Due diligence lies with the account holder. The IRS does not endorse or approve investments (nor does the IRA provider). It’s important to remember that the due diligence of these investments lies with the account holder (you or your client) and their team.

While these types of accounts can invest in real estate, they cannot invest in life insurance or collectibles – i.e., any work of art, rug or antique, alcoholic beverage, stamp or coin, or any other tangible personal property specified by the IRS for purposes of this subsection. Possible assets include precious metals, public or private entities, lending and real estate. One of the key set of rules that the IRS does engage in is the self-dealing concept. A personal benefit derived from your plan that does not come to you as a distribution is not permitted.

Prohibited transactions include selling something you own to or buying from IRA, personal use of plan assets, use or assets by fiduciary or providing services for IRA.

Real estate investment choices are varied:

  • Single family and multi-unit homes, apartments, condominiums and commercial property
  • Improved or unimproved land, mortgages, lease/options, foreign property investments, trust deeds and leveraged and un-leveraged property
  • Fix and hold, fix and flip or redevelop, hold for appreciation, short sales and foreclosures

Setting up an account takes just three easy steps. You can download an application online, fund your account and acquire assets so you are ready to make your first purchase. You can fund your account by doing a transfer, distribution/rollover, former employer 401 (k) rollover or annual IRA contribution. Those procedures are not taxed or penalized.

Whichever IRA provider you or your client use, it’s important to select an IRA provider who understands these types of investments, since they’re a bit different from the standard IRA. In addition, make sure they offer free educational and technological, ongoing support services. You want to have an expert in your corner to make sure that you never end up in a bad situation.

Watch the full webinar here and learn more at newdirectionira.com.

By Lisa Fettner 
I recently spent three weeks on the conference circuit reconnecting with old colleagues, making new friends and meeting potential business partners. All this networking got me thinking about “my squad” — the people in my life on whom I rely both personally and professionally for support and advice.

To borrow from Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Squad members can change over time, especially if you move on to new industries or roles, but it’s important to have the following people around if you want to maximize your growth and impact on your chosen career in real estate — or any other industry.

Mentors: A mentor is usually someone who has been in the business longer than you and who you can turn to for objective professional advice. Whether it’s calling/emailing them to ask a quick question or a more detailed involved discussion about strategy, you absolutely must have at least one. Seeking out and finding a mentor can sometimes be challenging, and often the best ones turn out to be ex-bosses or teachers. The key is to find people in your industry who can give you unbiased coaching and support. You can also have multiple mentors to help with different areas of your life. For example, in addition to my role at ReferralExchange, I also lead a nonprofit that gives away free prom dresses and accessories to northern California teens. I have mentors who help me in both of these areas.

Professional Peers: Unlike mentors, these are people/colleagues who are at a similar place in their careers as you are. Use these folks to trade advice, brainstorm, socialize and network with. You can find peers at your current and former companies, or groups/organizations. Your peers are probably the most fluid of your squad members as you shift to a new job or industry — but they are the folks with whom you will interact most frequently.

Trusted Advisors: Trusted advisors are different from mentors or peers because they have a specific skill or talent that you rely on and are often paid members of your inner circle. They can be your tech guru, PR team, strategist, etc. — subject matter experts who help you and your company be successful.

Future Members: You should always be on the lookout for new members of your squad. As people cycle in and out of careers and companies, you need a squad that adapts and grows as you do. Your current members can be your best resource for new additions, but be open to meeting new people with different points of views.

Unequivocal Cheerleaders: Sometimes you just need a pep talk, sound advice or a shoulder to lean on. Your cheerleaders are the core of your squad — those people you can turn to when times are tough or when you want to celebrate major accomplishments. No matter what, they have your back.

Former Squad Members: The reality is that people change and sometimes grow apart. Just as you may need to let someone go from your business, you may need to do the same for your squad. They are your support group, but if you’re not getting support, it’s important to bring in someone new.

While you might already have many of your squad members in your life, don’t wait for new ones to come to you. It’s important to network and put yourself out there. Offer to speak, help out at industry-related events or host a “meet and greet” lunch where every invitee brings someone the other attendees don’t know. If you’re attending a conference, find out who else is speaking/ attending and send them a meeting request in advance to connect. Try to identify different events or activities to attend where you’ll meet new people beyond your usual crowd. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step outside your industry.

And finally, when you are at an event, force yourself to sit next to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself to at least one new person per event. Almost everyone attending that event knows they need to do so as well, and they might even be relieved if you make the first move!

Once you find your squad, don’t forget to nurture it. Keeping in touch and saying “thank you” periodically can go a long way. Consider paying it forward as well by mentoring the next generation of up-and-comers at your work or in your industry, or become a squad member for another friend or colleague. Doing so will not only supercharge your career — it will make your life richer and more impactful as well.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Wondering Where We’re Headed Next?

We really enjoy traveling to different industry events across the country. It gives us a chance to meet new people, see old friends and connect with the amazing agents in our network – and 2018 is shaping up to be a great year.

If you’re attending any of these conferences, drop us a line at marketing@referralexchange.com. We’d love to connect!

February: RE/MAX R4 – Las Vegas, NV 

June: CAR Woman Up! – Pasadena, CA 

July: Inman Connect – San Francisco, CA 

August: Florida Assoc. Realtors – Orlando, FL 

August: RE/MAX Broker – Washington, D.C. 

October: NAGLREP – Palm Springs, CA 

October: California Assoc. Realtors – Long Beach, CA 

October: Luxury Connect – Beverly Hills, CA 

November: NAR Annual – Boston, MA

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Photo by Jake Givens on Unsplash

Written by Lisa Fettner 

Several months ago, I realized that I was living my life in a faded beauty shot.  Everything I looked at had a warm glow around it, and everything was slightly blurry. Bright sunlight washed everything out and, at night, everything was just black.

Long story short, I had a rare kind of cataracts, but because of the type of contacts I’d worn for 30 years, I had to wait a minimum of three months to have them fixed. The reality is, at one point or another, it’s inevitable that we will experience an event that makes everyday life and work more difficult.

As I reflect back on the experience of living life with marginal vision, there are some valuable lessons from the experience that I think we can all apply to our life and work.

Asking for help is a good thing. We live in a world where being independent is an asset, and many of us feel guilty if we need support. I had to ask for help much more frequently. Whether it was having my coworkers do all of the product demos during NAR, or needing my marketing manager to help design a presentation — asking for help was hard. But I realized that my friends, colleagues, and family members loved helping; it made them feel good and appreciated.

Don’t be afraid to hire experts. Furthermore, technology has made it very easy for us to run our businesses and our lives, and we often feel inadequate if we can’t figure out how to do something successfully. You don’t have to be able to do everything. That’s what experts are for, and it’s often money well spent. I couldn’t create our holiday video on my own this year, so I had our designer do it. The results were much better than I could have done — even if I had been able to see properly.

Listening intently is key to a successful interaction. Since it was hard for me to see visual cues or presentations, I had to listen much harder during a conversation or meeting. I found myself speaking less and listening more to ensure I truly understood what was going on. This hyper-focus helped me identify issues and concerns I probably would have missed had I been simply watching a presentation.

It pays to slow down. Everything takes longer when you can’t see well. I had to plan much further in advance. Extra time was needed to be built into every project since I needed “extra eyes” — and I had to be incredibly prepared for any presentations I gave or panels I moderated because I couldn’t read my notes or see a teleprompter. Being proactive vs. reactive helped projects run much more smoothly and yielded better results. Definitely a lesson to apply in all of my work.

Be truly grateful.  I just recently had my first surgery, and even with one bad eye, my eyesight is better than it’s ever been, which is amazing. I’m truly grateful to live in a time when technology and medical advances make it possible for me to have my vision restored with a 30-minute operation. And while I noticed how dirty my kitchen was after the surgery, it was wonderful to be able to “see” my family and friends again – and to read a computer screen without a 175% magnification.

Time passes. When the doctor told me that I’d have to wait several months to get the surgery, it seemed like forever. How would I get through conference season or be productive at work for that long? I took it day-by-day and week-by-week, and told myself that eventually my hazy world would be a distant memory.

No matter what we do, we’re going to experience challenges in our life and career. The important thing to remember is, sometimes you have to adapt and lean on your “squad” — and that’s a good thing. I’m almost at the end of my journey — time did pass and I did survive — and I’m a better person, manager, and colleague for my experience.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

It’s officially 2018, which means you are busier than ever — chasing new goals, catching up from the holidays, and trying not to break that workout resolution you made.

There’s only one you and only so many hours in a day, so here are a few ways you can save your precious time this year.

Hire a virtual assistant. As an agent, you should be focusing your time on doing what you do best — meeting with clients, showing homes, prospecting, and writing contracts. If you need help with smaller, mundane tasks, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) might be the right move. Here are few tasks that virtual assistants can tackle for you:

  • Data entry (e.g., MLS information)
  • Organizing databases
  • Calendar management
  • Buyer/seller research
  • Contact list organization
  • Email marketing/social media scheduling

In addition, hiring a VA is more affordable than adding actual “live” head count since you don’t need to pay for office space, training, or a salary that a full- or part-time employee requires. Start by checking out virtual assistant websites such as Upwork and Zirtual.

Use a freelance writer, designer, or videographer. If 2018 is the year you’re finally going to start a blog or step up your social media game, hiring a freelance writer or designer could make all the difference. Freelance writers can draft content for your blog, social media posts, listings, and marketing materials. If you’re not a design or video pro, a freelance designer and videographer can help design graphics for social media/marketing materials, and create videos for your listings or client testimonials. Freelancers as opposed to full-time employees are more affordable, have more flexibility, greater experience with different jobs, and work independently.

Automate your content and follow-up. Gone are the days of waiting until a specific time of the day to send out a tweet or email. If you’re not doing so already, a few things you can automate include managing/scheduling social media posts (check out Buffer and SproutSocial), newsletters/email drip campaigns (we use MailChimp), lead follow-up via text and live chat customer service on your website. Check out a full list in this Inman article. Start by evaluating which of these activities you spend the most time on and start from there. Pro tip: have your virtual assistant schedule it all. You obviously don’t have to automate everything, but setting up and scheduling a few things in advance on a weekly or monthly basis can free up a lot of your time.

Learn to say no. If you are a newer agent, this may be harder to do, but once you have a steady flow of business, you need to learn when to say no to a new listing or buyer. If it doesn’t feel right, or the client is out of your wheel house of business, consider referring them to an agent who specializes in what they need and has the time. It’s a win-win because you’re still able to assist the client, collect a referral fee and focus your time on other things — and sometimes saying “no” gives you the chance to say “yes” to something bigger and better.

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