How to Clarify Priorities & Prevent Financial Fallout
- You can take actions to temporarily reduce your operational overhead by 50% or more.
- When the shut-down is over, pent-up listings will begin to hit all at once, and it’s critical that you’re in a position to capture them.
- Ramp up communications, send a message of service and leadership, and prioritize revenue-generating activities.
Cool Heads Prevail
We find ourselves now in the grips of what so many Hollywood films in the “Medical Disaster” genre would have us think should be brimming with panic and civil unrest. It really is refreshing (maybe surprising) to see most of humanity handling the Coronavirus pandemic in a reasonably level-headed, productive manner.
Governments, the healthcare sectors, people, and businesses are coming together – not perfectly, and with a range of opinions – but nevertheless coming together to fight a common enemy. As a result, with every passing day, we see hope: more treatment options, lower projected fatality rates, and even recovery in some pockets of the world.
It can be hard to see the forest for the trees, but we must.
Mirroring a calm-and-collected approach to our business and (personal finances too) is key. As we are seeing now, the best way to tackle a mess is to get organized!
Not only does this include taking a general inventory of what is needed and what can wait – in terms of budget – but also a recalibration of marketing and lead generation strategies.
Real Estate Agent Budget Triage
As nearly everyone in Real Estate is affected by the Coronavirus, it’s time we clarify, organize and ultimately strengthen our money-making and money-saving engines. Making them hale, hardy, and adaptive to a new normal.
The idea here is to temporarily get your overhead down as low as possible and find ways get more productivity out of your time and people. Once you have more capital freed up, you can prioritize actions and expenses that keep you top of mind with prospects. When the shut-down is over, pent-up listings will begin to hit all at once, and it’s critical that you’re in a position to capture them.
Make Two Lists
Start by making two lists: personal and business.
Categorize all your non-income-generating expenses (we’ll get to income-producing ones next, like prospecting and marketing). Go through every single recurring item and label what is needed and what is not.
There are some unavoidable items you just have to pay for every month – like your CRM, housing, medication, food, and loans. Look at those items and ask: What can be reduced? Can I order less carry-out? Can I move to a lower-cost CRM?
Many other things can come off the list, like two out of your three different streaming services, water cooler deliveries (while no one’s at the water cooler), and those millions of nifty software tools that provide little tangible value. Ask questions like: Do we need the premium scheduling widget, or can we get by on the free version? Is this something I’ll need over the next month or two?
Finally, look at your “must keep” items and determine if it’s possible to defer payment or ask for a discount. For example:
- Many banks are offering mortgage forbearances without any impact to your credit score
- Student loans can be deferred interest-free
- Your CRM provider, internet service, or phone company may offer a temporary discount, free month, or allow you to skip a payment or two and make them up over time, when this blows over
- Most utility companies are working out deals to reduce or defer payments
Now it’s time to get creative. Think of the many ways you could be putting your employees to better use. Task them with combined forms of work they may not have normally covered before. During this time, you’re going to want to ramp up your communications within the market tenfold, and they can be a big help:
- Show them how to use Mailchimp or any other communication tools you have
- Have them hit the phones and call each and every past client, just to say Hi and check in (you’ll want to call all your active clients yourself)
- Ask them to write hand-written notes to every person in your database; or if you can afford to the postage, to chunks of your farm
- Have them post regular messages on Facebook
- Task them to put together local resource lists to share (such as virtual museum tours, easy recipes, local businesses offering special deals/assistance, etc)
- Show them how to clean up your database
- Get them to participate in any community service/charitable projects you’re working on to help people affected by Coronavirus
Your administrative employees can help you a lot right now, and if you take all the measures we suggest here, you’ll be able to pay them. You may need to reduce hours or temporarily suspend bonuses, but your staff will understand and appreciate that you’re holding onto them. Don’t be tempted to lay off employees because of the pumped-up overtime the US Government is paying; although your employees might earn more money on unemployment compared to working for you, you don’t want to lose your best people or create a dis-incentive for them to return to work. As we’re sure you’re aware, through the Paycheck Protection Program, you may be eligible for a forgivable loan to pay their salaries.
Marketing for Downstream Revenue
This exercise is simply a matter of going through all of your marketing in a very detailed fashion. All lead generation efforts should be examined with microscopic scrutiny, with a fine-toothed comb. Any marketing that doesn’t position you as a resource, provide guidance, or build brand awareness and trust isn’t going to do you any good right now, and will be a drag on your budget. When times improve, you can pick up those channels again.
It’s easy to keep in mind what results you want from your marketing: listings, listings, and more listings! The same is true now, although those listings are coming downstream, meaning your approach and message needs to be adjusted. Right now, focus on marketing that accomplishes these critical goals:
- Reaching as many homeowners in your farm as possible
- Providing assistance, resources, advice, and ideas to homeowners
- Capturing contact information from your farm
- Nurturing all your contacts on a weekly basis: phone, email, and hand-written letters
Use these goals as a barometer when taking a hard look at what marketing and lead generation efforts are necessary right now. Always keep your decided target market and audience – your potential clients and customers – in the forefront of your strategy. Who are you, specifically, trying to reach? For example, the Facebook ads designed to capture buyer leads may not be a viable strategy, whereas expertizing content to homeowners is a great way to position yourself for summertime listings.
Determine and always utilize the most effective preferred communication channels to connect with the right prospects, with the right message. Anything promotional that doesn’t factor in the current strain and stress homeowners feel should be cut out completely.
When you move to extricate what is not serving your marketing goal of connecting with, serving, and capturing the contact info of future prospects, don’t falter from your decisions. Keep in mind that many service providers are letting agents out of contracts or cutting deals, due to the Coronavirus.
Hone in on the channels that can help you connect with, assist, and nurture your prospects. Now is the time to ramp up communications, during the temporarily uncertainty everyone is experiencing. Send more emails. Post more online. Advertise webinars, resources, and a free phone consultation in your publication, if you mail one regularly.
A buoyant (yet realistic) outlook is how your business will survive, and then thrive. You’ll need to work twice as hard and send a ton more touchpoints for those few opportunities available now, but the effort will pay off in spades after the Coronavirus is controlled.
In Conclusion – a new NanoBot Virus is on the loose!
Just Kidding! But an important reminder: don’t take yourself too seriously. Be a beacon of positivity, lightheartedness, and hope for those around you. That doesn’t mean trivializing or making light of the hardships faced by so many – it just means doing your part to make those hardships a little less hard. Like the wine store using a dog to bring orders to people’s cars, or the late-night talk show aired from a living room with unruly kids, or the thousands of horrible and hysterical dance tutorials on Facebook. The more you can cut through the heaviness and make your prospects smile, the better!
Is a 12-page Real Estate Publication the right fit for you?
Depending on your situation and budget, a 12-page custom paper may be the perfect vehicle to position you as a local leader, at the center of this crisis. It includes hyper-local information, custom-written articles, and local features that can also be used online. In each edition, we place several Calls to Action so you can capture – and begin nurturing – future listings.