Off-Season Moves

I’m a Vikings fan. A semi-proud Vikings fan. I haven’t always been a Vikings fan, (don’t ask what team I used to root for) but it’s been many years now that I’ve known the agony of consistent defeat along with the rest of Purple Nation. In the years that I’ve been a fan, I’ve noticed a couple of growing trends that seem to deepen the longer I root for the Vikings: 1) I’ve begun to expect the same thing year after year (mediocrity), and 2) the most exciting time of the season for me has become the off-season: the player and coaching changes.  This year Minnesota added a whole new coaching staff, and many new players, including a promising young quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.

Like many Vikings fans, I was excited to hear about the hot new coach, and dying to see the new players start showing their stuff! And like many of us, by week two or three I was looking forward to next year’s draft. What is it about the off-season in the NFL that has us so interested and excited?  Hope.

In business, as in sports, if you keep doing the same things with the same tools you’re going to keep getting the same results.  And many real estate agents are either comfortable with their current results, or foolishly hope that “maybe next year” the results will be different (and generate more sales and greater income). It has always been fascinating to me when I meet agents who aren’t making what they hope to be making, and yet they have no plans to change.  They might think that “the market is slow” or “my referral list had a slow moving year” and so maybe next year the results will change.  Some of these factors may be true, but we’d never accept those excuses from our favorite teams would we?  We’d want to know what they’re doing in the off-season to correct the down year!  We aren’t happy with the performance, so it’s time for things to change!

For most agents, October-December are pretty slow times at work. You finally get to know your family again, and get to take a little well-earned downtime. But what your off-season moves are going to be? Did you have a good year? Great! How can you capitalize on that momentum next year?  Was your year slower than you wanted it to be? What are you going to do to change that next year? The principle here is a basic business principle that many of us understood when we started selling, but have long forgotten about: Working on your business and not just in your business. When’s the last time you worked on your business?

This is one of the primary differences between being a business owner (which is what you are) and an employee.  As a small business owner you often still work in your business- showing property, listing houses, writing offers, negotiating deals, taking continuing education, etc.  But when was the last time you worked on your business? Early in my real estate career I would lament this time of year- I was poor, and I had no likely paycheck in my near future. As a young man, I played a lot of pinball on my computer, and hung out with my other real estate buddies watching tv or just chatting about whatever.  I wasted a ton of time in the fall/early winter (real estate winter).  Then one year I made a decision to stop wasting my downtime, and it is a decision that changed my life.  I vowed that each real estate off-season, I would take on one new project to build and improve my business.  Throughout the prior year I would consider what I might want to do for my upcoming winter project, and then when the slow times come (and even when I’m selling a lot, I still have a lot of bonus time around now), I would work on my business.

Sometimes it was a marketing program to reach a new group of prospects, one year I wrote a 70 page Homebuyer’s Guide to use at open houses.  One year I switched to a real estate company that had better splits, and one year I went out and got my broker’s license. This year I’m working on the brokerage, and looking at adding a second location and more agents in a new market. The point is that I’ve tried to make off-season moves every year. And over time, it’s worked. I’ve been able to achieve my goals and keep my bills paid comfortably for many years.  AND the future is always looking brighter, since I’m always adding something new to keep myself interested.

What are you going to do this off-season to work on your business and not just in it?  Maybe you need to consider a new way to interact with your database?  Perhaps you need to update your database and find a way (any way) to use it! Maybe you need to revisit your staffing needs, or look hard at your real estate brokerage needs.  You might want to find a new market to begin working and build a strategy to successfully try to reach them in the coming year?  Perhaps a new website?  There are so many ways that you can build your business by working on it in the off-season, and I recommend that you consider what the right move for your business might be this year.

Oh, and not everything you do will work- remember Christian Ponder?  But the education in the effort is well worth your time as a business owner! So, are you working in your business, or on your business?