Choose Your Lane
By John Meechan, CEO, The Gallery Residential Brokerage
April 27, 2019
There are many factors that go into a real estate professional’s formula for success, and it looks different for every agent entering the field. Personally, I knew I needed to work with a clear “headline” type of goal or I would be too scattered. That goal was to be the #1 agent in Wall Township and promote myself as such, not to win any popularity contest or boost my ego, but because I knew that the #1’s of the world are sought out, get referred more and build a stronger business.
But first, let me back it up a bit, to the motivation that drove me to make real estate work for me in the first place. While the career change ended up being a solid choice, making the jump from a steady career with a salary, benefits, and a 401k plan to a pure commission structure, with no real boss or time clock, no benefits and most importantly, no steady paycheck is not something a growing family usually sprints towards. I had the support of my wife under the condition that if I wasn’t making up for the lost salary in 18 months, I had to go out and get a “real job.” With 3 kids under 4 years old and another baby on the way, I knew my bride wasn’t messing around. Let’s just say, I wasn’t a stranger to challenges and I was unabashedly compelled to make it work.
As to my start in real estate, I was fortunate that the first place I parked my sales license was at Murphy Realty Preferred Homes and I am grateful that my time there laid the groundwork for my business style. Owner Jerry Murphy’s advice of focusing on one client fully and carefully “one file at a time “ is still in my head today. Dan Mancuso’s lessons, like “the number one skill a Realtor needs to master is the skill of prospecting“ continues to be the cornerstone of the classes I teach. And Kevin Murphy’s guidance and support as my first manager has kept me profitable and motivated. In fact, it was Kevin’s fine tuning that showed me that small, smart adjustments to my tone and responses with clients and colleagues could make or break a deal or business relationship.
With such a great foundation to build upon, I could focus on my goal of being the top agent in Wall Township. While many agents in the area looked to work on Spring Lake’s Third Avenue and sell the multi-million dollar properties there, I knew I would find greater success by selling more homes in the mid- priced range and that by driving up sales volume, instead of chasing trophy listings, I would become better-known and therefore more widely referred. I further narrowed my lane by focusing primarily on sellers. This enabled me to work close to home and in my geographical area as opposed to assisting buyers across all of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
So, I set about learning everything I could about Wall Township. How many residents lived there, how many families, how many single owners. The average sales numbers. The hottest neighborhoods and newest subdivisions. Zoning nuances, the school system, the town’s services and master plan. Every street, every business, every flaw, every benefit. I learned the inventory. I knew every house on the market. I actually told people that I specialized in listing Wall homes. And that brought me more business. 50% of my sales transactions happened in Wall. Another 30% were in the towns that border Wall and the final 20% were nearby towns. The notion of picking one town, or lane, was one of the smartest decisions I made early on.
How did I do it? I had one goal every day, seven days a week for two straight years. I wanted to meet one new homeowner in Wall Township each day, and not just to say hello. I wanted to find a way to tell them that I listed and sold homes in Wall. So I prospected every morning. I made phone calls to potential sellers. I sent postcards and spent money on print ads. I wrote handwritten letters and knocked on doors. I did 40 open houses a year, which connected me to 30% of my clients early on. Remember, I had just 18 months to succeed and I was tenacious. In 2.5 years, I earned the #1 spot as Wall Township’s top selling agent.
I have often been asked, “Would you still do the same thing today as you did 15 years ago?” My answer? “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
So how is the business different today? Today’s agents tend to be less focused, watch too much television, and while social media is an incredibly useful marketing tool for Realtors, many are overly consumed by it. Agents need to adapt more quickly to fast-moving trends. The public demands that agents be smarter and more responsive, so agents need to find the balance between education, tenacity, time management and execution.
Choosing your lane is really about realizing your personal brand, sticking to it, promoting it, and building a solid reputation around it. Some brokerages try to convince agents that the company’s reputation is what drives consumer choices. It’s a fallacy. It’s a flat out myth. Savvy agents know that their own personal brand is in fact what drives consumer choice. They level up by taking control and making smarter decisions about their business, finances, marketing and time. This removes the obstacles to success and drives agent towards a more focused business plan.