In an effort to get a pulse on the industry and learn more about the tools available to help real estate agents grow their businesses, I sat down with Robert (Bob) Burns, Real Estate Coach, Trainer and Consultant with Leader’s Edge Training, to discuss the resources they offer for real estate professionals.
While there’s no shortage of training available in the marketplace for agents, I quickly learned that for those real estate agents who want to take their career to the next level there is a vacuum in the real estate training space that few - besides Leader’s Edge - are addressing.
In our discussion, Bob shared the fact that “there’s a whole other side of this conversation [i.e. agent training] that’s not talked about nearly enough, and that’s management...the management side of the real estate business. There’s little to no training available.”
Why is this important?
As an agent, maybe you’re thinking that’s no big deal...I’m great at selling, how hard can it be to manage a brokerage?
Ask anyone who’s done it though, and you’ll quickly realize that it’s a lot tougher. For example, how do you know if your commission plan is truly competitive in the marketplace?
Or if you have the right financial reports with the key information you need to manage the brokerage well? Are things slipping through the cracks, or are you on top of every little thing that needs done?
Maybe you were in management before you got into real estate. That’s great, but were you managing employees or independent contractors?
It’s different, you know...the dynamics are definitely not the same.
For example, if you were a sales manager in the retail industry the methods and processes you used to manage employees will not be the same as the ones you need as the manager of a brokerage firm.
“It becomes not about telling people what to do and having, you know, all of that discipline and structure,” said Bob, “it really is an exercise in leadership in generating followership, and building relationships and trust so that these independent contractors that are like, herding cats, will actually follow you to where you want to bring your organization. And that’s a whole other skillset for most people to develop.
“So I love working with managers to help them with their leadership skills, to build followership and also with the nuts and bolts of actually managing their service delivery, their financials, their process...all the stuff that’s required as kind of foundational to their business so they can do the fun leadership stuff and getting people to follow them and recruit agents to their firm and retain them so they stay and help their agents build their business.”
Interested in learning what makes him tick, I asked Bob about how he got into the business.
“I have basically only ever worked in the real estate business. I came out of college with an education background that I didn't want to use. I found out that education wasn't for me and I went in an interview with a local real estate company in South Minneapolis - Coldwell Banker Burnett.
“They walked me through the process to get licensed. I became licensed and started my career as a 20 year old kid trying to live in an apartment, trying to help people with their most valuable asset - their home - so I had to learn fast.
“What I love the most about it [real estate] is that your output is pretty much in proportion to the input. In other words, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The harder you work, the more you earn and the better you do.”
[PULL QUOTE HERE] “It’s really a meritocracy, and I love that about real estate.”
“Anyone with the right drive, and the right work ethic can come into real estate and make a respectable living for themselves and their family.”
But what should real estate agents expect from the training offered by Leader’s Edge Training?
There are four components to the training; learning, practice, implementation and accountability.
“With adult learners,” said Bob, “especially in a professional environment, we’ll tend not to just learn something for the sake of learning...it needs to be applicable.”
Agents who enroll in the training offered by Leader’s Edge will not only learn something new, they’ll have the opportunity to learn in a very specific way that will help them really retain what they learn.
They’ll learn through implementation and practice, in an environment where it’s safe to practice the skill before the stakes get high.
Also, agents will experience accountability.
Unlike other training programs there’s no “here’s what you need to know, go do it and have a nice day,” agents receive true accountability that will help them implement what they’ve learned in a practical way.
Their coach will question them...“did you do what you said you would? How did it go? What worked? What didn’t work?”, etc.
Bob noted that continuing education for most agents is thought of as “more of a passive, ‘getting my hours in’ type of learning.” Highlighting what makes him different, he notes that, “The training that I provide is more about making a behavioral change in your business, so you can run a more successful practice.”
If you’re an agent who wants to “create change and growth in your business, that leads to making more money and helping more people,” you’re just the kind of agent who would benefit from Leader’s Edge Training.
“The core program that I deliver with Leader’s Edge Training is a “six week, one day a week in-person course,” said Bob. “It’s an advanced course in real estate; everything you need to know and then some to run a successful business. We do before and after measurements; we’re very big on measurement.
“The average participant increases their business 217% versus what they were doing before they took the class,” continued Bob.
“The other component to it, is that while they’re with me during that six week period of high accountability, high motivation - and this really positive environment - the average participant in the class that I deliver will close six transactions that can be traced back to the activities they did with me in the course. It’s very, very measurable.”
In addition to the training, Leader’s Edge offers agents two other resources that can help them grow their business; an app and a podcast.
“The ‘Agent Success’ app that we developed allows you to put in your business goals as a real estate agent,” said Bob. “And it breaks those goals down into quarterly, monthly and weekly activities that you need to complete on a regular basis to reach those goals.
“So if you want to make a certain amount of money in real estate, you put in those goals; you put in how many weeks a year you want to work, and then every day when you wake up the app tells you exactly what to do, how many calls you need to make, how many mailers you need to do, how many doors you need to knock on, how many social media posts you need to make...it spells it all out for you.
“And you can keep track of your activities as you do them, much like a fitness app such as My Fitness Pal or Fitbit or whatever...you can track your activities. And it will kind of assign you points based on the activities that you've done. And if you do those activities, you'll reach your goals and the app help you get to where you want to go.
“It's available in the iTunes Store and in the Android Google Play Store. We've opened it up to everybody; it's not just Leader’s Edge clients...we want to contribute to the growth of the real estate industry as a whole.
“We've made it available for free to all real estate professionals... they can go out and download it and start using it today.”
Without question, in my experience most real estate professionals love to help others achieve success. One such way they can do that is by sharing their knowledge through podcasts.
Bob’s podcast is called “How They Won” and is available on a number of platforms.
“Every week I interview top real estate professionals, mostly real estate agents,” said Bob, “but also people connected to the real estate industry...and they share the secrets of their success.
“The interviews are typically around 30 minutes, and while some episodes have gone as long as 60 minutes I try to keep it 30 to 40 minutes so you can listen as you walk around your commute or on the treadmill or the elliptical at the gym.
“There’s been a tremendous response...real estate agents like to learn from each other.
“And the other thing about about “How They Won”... as I was doing my market research, I noted that there are a handful of real estate podcasts that are out there.
“I'm a big podcast fan...I love podcasts...but the real estate podcasts that are out there, in general, with the exception of a very, very small few, from a quality and organization standpoint, I just find very difficult to listen to.
“So my goal with “How They Won” was to launch something that was of a very high, professional, listenable quality,” continued Bob, “and that was organized and succinct in a way that listeners could actually implement in a short period of time.
“For their time investment, I wanted them to be able to actually implement some of the things that they learned in the podcast.”
At the time of this writing we’re facing a moratorium on physical gatherings, so I asked Bob how he was adapting to the changes brought by the Coronavirus epidemic.
“What I’m doing right now, is a lot of what’s called mindset and motivational work. It’s very hard in this environment for people to do the right things; to hold themselves to a certain standard. They lose track of the discipline of running their business. You’re not going to close as many real estate transactions in this kind of environment.
“So the focus has shifted from a lot of action-based tasks (e.g. make these contacts, knock on these doors, or send out this mailer,) to more of a ‘where are you’, ‘where’s your head at today’. As a real estate agent what are you thinking about? How can we implement some structure in your day so that when we do wake up to a sunrise in the first day of a post COVID-19 real estate market you’re ready...you won’t miss a beat when the light turns green again.”
Taking the cue, I asked a question that I’m sure is on a lot of peoples’ minds; especially those of us in the real estate industry.
“What do you think the real estate industry as a whole is going to look like...at least for the United States after we get the ‘all clear’ so to speak?”
“It's really hard to say,” said Bob. “I think it comes down to some basic economic factors. The biggest driver historically of real estate, contrary to what almost every written article wants you to believe, is not interest rates.
“Interest rates are not the biggest driver of the real estate market...it’s employment.
“Just like, you know, the old adage in real estate is ‘location, location, location’... the economics of this industry is ‘employment, employment employment’.
“So depending on how quickly we can get home buyers and home sellers back to work is going to shape whether this is a V shaped recovery or a U shaped recovery.
“For example, if you want to buy a house, typically you're going to need a mortgage to buy it. Mortgage Lenders aren't going to lend you money if you don't have a job.
“So these four levels that we're seeing in these layoffs; if we're able to kind of sustain those small, medium and large businesses through however long this is, whether it's weeks or months, if we're able to keep those businesses open and they're able to bring their workforce back to work, then I think this whole thing will have a very little impact on the real estate business as a whole.
“It'll be a setback, but we have a whole bunch of built-up demand happening behind this dam. And when we're back open for business, all of that pent-up demand is going to be satisfied. And we're going to see a fast and full recovery.
“If on the other hand, we're not able to keep these small, medium, large businesses to the point where they're able to bring their workforce back in, and these unemployment claims that we're seeing are permanent rather than temporary, I think it's going to be a much slower recovery as new businesses have to become established to take the place of businesses that didn't survive.
“And those business have to grow organically, and eventually get back to the point where they can have a payroll where we did pre COVID-19, then I think you're looking at a much more protracted recovery or a much, much longer recovery if that happens.”
So what should agents be doing now, as we’re in a state of flux?
Unfortunately, we’re in uncharted territory right now, but one things that is vital for every agent to consider is to take the time to work on their mindset.
Social distancing, and in some cases, stay-at-home orders can wreak havoc on your mindset if you let it.
Pay attention to what you read, and what you listen to. Take care of yourself, your family, and your business and when possible, take advantage of this time to expand your knowledge so that you can hit the ground running when the time is right.