By Alex Craig
My real estate market in Michigan is clearly defined by a busy season and a slow season. During the slow season, it can be hard for real estate agents to stay motivated and find ways to generate new business.
Every year, I see fewer and fewer people coming into the office from December to February. In fact, the office is almost a ghost town due to so people taking the time off. There’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation or some time to recharge, but there are still activities agents can do to stay busy during the winter months.
Here’s my quick list of five things real estate agents can do to stay busy during the slow season and move their business forward.
1. Invest in Your Education
The slow season is a perfect time to invest in educational opportunities. From webinars to books to classes, there is no shortage of options.
It’s nearly impossible to find the time to sit down and educate yourself during the busy season. As a professional, it’s our responsibility to maintain, develop, and grow our skills and knowledge. The slow season can be great for brushing up on any changes in the industry or learning more about legal issues affecting real estate.
It’s also a great time to complete some of your state-mandated requirements for continuing education.
2. QuickBooks Time
If you have time on your hands, catch up on your QuickBooks or real estate accounting. I know this gets pushed off for many real estate agents.
If you are new to real estate and haven’t set up your accounting system, learn how to get started in QuickBooks.
Like everyone, I often struggle to get the data into my accounting software during the busy summer season. I have a clear slow down during the winter months, which allows me to catch up on my finances and books. And from a tax perspective, the slow season comes at a perfect time.
3. Create or Update Your Business Plan
Since the slow season falls around the new year, it makes it a great time to review your results from the previous year and update your business plan.
You can collect data about homes sold, average price points, conversion rates, and activity-based marketing you did. Then you can tie your results back to the action you took, allowing you to identify the most profitable and lucrative marketing activities. It’s a chance to see what you should keep, change, or discard.
- Keep: These are activities that move your business forward and you should continue them this year.
- Change: These are activities that worked to some degree, but you need to modify something about them to make them more efficient and effective. For example, might want to try a different day for open houses or leverage more virtual platforms.
- Discard: These are the activities that had little to no impact on your business over the past year. Cut these activities to use your time and resources on activities that lead to results.
4. Keep Marketing
I have two tips about marketing during the slow season. First, continue marketing. I see too many agents cut out all of their marketing during the winter months. While there are certainly fewer people looking to buy and sell during the slow season, there are still people out there, including those considering buying or selling in the spring.
Sure, you might need to cut your budget a bit in the winter months, but don’t just totally stop. For starters, in bidding channels like AdWords, Facebook, or Zillow, it’s often cheaper to target traffic and leads during these times. That’s because people stop marketing. That makes it cheaper to get to the top of Google in AdWords, for example, or easier to capture more share of voice with Zillow leads.
Second tip: Take the time to get ahead of your marketing. If your business plan includes newsletters, emails, and postcards, now can be a great time to get started on them. You can lay the groundwork for your marketing so that you can sustain your efforts through the busy season.
5. Upgrade and Convert Systems
The slow season is also the ideal time to evaluate and make any changes to your business systems. For example, it’s a great time to migrate to a new real estate CRM or even to switch brokerages.
These systems and process changes are best implemented during a slow period because it will minimize risk and diversion of resources.
As a solo real estate agent, the slow season can be demotivating. There’s also some uncertainty, which can fill agents with doubt about whether real estate is a good career choice. It may have you worried about whether you have enough funds for your living expenses, or if the spring market will pick up.
You can fight back some of these negative feelings by staying busy and working in your business. Take the time to educate yourself, get your finances in order, build a business plan, lay your marketing foundation, and change your systems for the year ahead
Alex Craig, a real estate professional with Century 21 Looking Glass in Lansing, Mich., helps homeowners sell their homes for maximum cash in their pocket by taking a data-driven approach and executing a systematic marketing plan that uses current digital marketing strategies. Craig also runs the Dolinski Group (www.dolinskigroup.com), a company focused on helping real estate agents get more from their careers and earn more without the heartache.