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An Agent's Dirty Dozen of "Do Nots" - Part 2

November 05 2012

This is the last of a pair of articles on what NOT to do in your real estate career. Read Part One here.

dohWe continue with the landmines you can avoid to save you time, energy, exasperation, and possibly your career.

7. Forgetting they are always "on." It is unfortunate the number of times I have met licensees who are dressed shabbily, act rowdy, or have a mouth that a mother would have washed out with soap. The public is always watching. Being rude in a movie theatre, loudly telling a lewd joke at the front desk, or zipping in to pick up a form at the office with hair matted down from a recent gardening expedition is not something that can be taken back once it is witnessed, overheard or seen.

  • Recommendation: This is a simple fix. It is recognizing that you must remain professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means in your dress whenever in the public eye and on your online profiles. It is much better living up to your great reputation than working had to overcome a bad one.

8. Failing to mentor each other. This is a trend that is beginning to disturb me. New licensees coming into the business have the eagerness of puppies. With praise and support, they can become the most loyal advocate that ever existed. I've seen several examples where the "old guard" only associates with those who have earned their stripes, and leave the new people out in the cold. Even when asked directly for help, I've overheard some alarming comments, "I had to do this myself, so you will too!" When did we forget what it felt like to be new? Just a small bit of guidance can go a long way!

  • Recommendation: The new superstars of real estate are entering the business every day. They bring with them a new point of view and can provide you with a wealth of information as it relates to the current consumer mindset. Make a point to introduce yourself thoroughly to every new member of your team and office. Meet them well and offer assistance that is relevant to your needs, whenever you can. Your strong welcome will be remembered for years and the good feelings will only enhance your negotiations with them on future contracts.

9. Inappropriate use of social media. With the number of social networks growing each day, just trying to pick the one that best fits a licensee's personality seems to be daunting. However, many who are online seem to think that their comments, all night partying, crude jokes, are only something their closest friends see. Their profiles may bring unexpected consequences in this age where information is king and YouTube rules!

  • Recommendation: Create a personal page that is only for close family members and friends – restrict access to anyone else. Create a professional profile on the media site where you conduct your business interactions and invite everyone, as determined by your marketing plan. The information online will always be there--you can't even guarantee that that bad photo won't show up somewhere else years from now because someone downloaded it.

    Caution is the name of the game. Consider subscribing to reputation management software such as, Google Alerts, etc.

10. Financially unprepared. This speaks volumes. Emotionally, new licensees are prepared for no business for the first three months, but for six months? Really? One agent is living on $1,500 per month with two kids. How is that possible? Underfunded and anxious is not a good combination when trying to start and maintain a thriving business.

  • Recommendation: Brokers should spend a greater amount of time truly outlining the costs of building and maintaining a real estate business. Be specific and provide company averages in terms of income to the recruit. Have them speak with some of the newer sales associates for a broader perspective. Teach them the value of prospecting and be honest in letting them know the amount of or lack of referrals that may be coming their way when they first start. Honesty is the best approach in helping new licensees enter prepared and in control.

11. Unorganized and cluttered. You know the old adage, just look in the car to know if it's a real estate licensee's car; they practically live in their car! Pay attention to the first impression when people walk into your office--a baby car seat filled with letters and paperwork, table smothered in files, pictures pinned everywhere of family, friends, events and wish lists--these all contribute to the clutter.

  • Recommendation: When people hire real estate licensees, they are looking for an expert facilitator. The question is what does your desk area say about you to a perfect stranger? Volumes. Prepare filing systems that are color coded for easy access, file paperwork when you touch it, digitize as much as you can by scanning and storing documents on your computer. Take a moment every day to evaluate your work space and make sure it reflects a hard working, organized professional. Consider reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. If you are unable to de-clutter on your own, learn from consultants who do this for a living. Your clients are looking to you to be an expert facilitator and that means having the skills to organize others as well as yourself.

12. Lack of a personal brand that stands out in traditional and social media. What do you stand for? What type of client is the best fit for you? Do your clothes, equipment, and office space reflect the type of business that identifies you as a consummate professional in the business? When the public thinks of you, does it go beyond the term REALTOR®? As you can see, there are lots of questions and without a brand, it will be very difficult to answer even the simplest of these. Without a brand, it is almost impossible to be "seen" by the public.

  • Recommendation: Personal branding is a supplement to the company brand. Where your company has paid thousands of dollars to help the public see the company as a thriving business in the community, your role is to stand out among the licensees in the company itself. The easiest way to do this is to create a general look and slogan that complements the company brand.

    There should be several marketing specialists in your area who create a branded look for a living. But you first need to know what you stand for, how you are perceived by the public and what your vision is for the future of your business. Read marketing books, have your past customers complete testimonial forms and see the words they are using. This should give you some insight into your look.

    Once you have determined "your look," it goes on everything and everywhere. When you live and breathe your brand, your purpose and your identify, others will take notice and that begins the process of standing out in a crowd.

This article has been about the fundamentals of business that remain constant even when confronted with change like technology advances. Slow down up front to thoroughly plan your career, your look, your philosophies and your goals.

Once the foundation is laid and your structure in place, then you can speed up to enjoy the rush of a thriving, exciting business venture. It's about paying attention to the details that will help ensure a positive experience.

Karel Murray--author, humorist and business trainer--speaks nationally and internationally. She is the author of "Hitting Our Stride: Women, Work and What Matters", "Straight Talk – Getting Off the Curb", co-author of "Extreme Excellence" and publishes a monthly online newsletter, Think Forward®, The Profitability Blueprint Series: Career Building Concepts for the Real Estate Licensee, and numerous articles in local, regional, and national publications. You can access her web site at