Kevin is the Founder of Marker Real Estate, an innovative firm with a transparent, inclusive, client-focused strategy.
If you grew up in the 1990s as I did, you might be familiar with a video game called Cruis’n USA, an auto racing game with multiple checkpoints. I once heard someone compare Cruis’n USA to running a business.
In the game, each checkpoint has a time limit. If you don’t reach a checkpoint before the timer hits zero, the game ends, and you’re out of the race. Business is similar. There are checkpoints (business goals and objectives), and you have to reach them in time. But how do you navigate your way through multiple checkpoints as easily and quickly as possible?
Here’s how to put more of your work on cruise control so you can fly through your checkpoints faster than ever before.
1. Choose one CRM and use it religiously.
Choose one customer relationship management platform (CRM), investigate its features and customize it until you’re comfortable using it. Don’t worry about using all the features because it can be overwhelming. I focus on notes and task reminders.
There are lots of CRM options on the market. A good one will provide you with information from prospecting calls and assist with communications (e.g., auto texting, email drip campaigns, video messaging and follow-up scheduling). Also look for a platform with access to clear dashboards and analytics. Having a full line of sight on your past activity, current efforts and future activity is a must.
2. Automate communications with potential leads.
There’s a limit to what a single person can do, so if software can take over some of the repetitive, time-consuming work, let it. For example, every online inquiry we receive results in an automated text, email and live phone call.
We also recently started testing a brand new software that uses artificial intelligence (mainly text and Facebook messenger) to communicate with prospects. In our case, we use it to answer buyer and seller questions like “What’s your price range?” and “What’s your time frame for buying?” The messages come from my account, so the client experience is seamless and it feels like they are talking to an experienced agent.
3. Create a lead generation system.
The turnover rate in my industry is extremely high. I support my own agents and head off frustration and failure by providing them with quality leads.
Whatever your industry, if you’re in sales, generating leads is essential. If you have employees, generating leads for your sales team is also crucial. The challenge is to constantly generate quality leads with the lowest possible investment. Thinking outside the box is the best place to start.
4. Make your first admin hire.
For office tasks that can’t or shouldn’t be automated, an administrative assistant will pay dividends. This person can process paperwork and manage HR-related tasks. With these jobs covered, you’ll have more time to step away or give your attention to dollar-producing activities. Also, a good administrator doesn’t just fill out forms. They also keep a finger on the pulse of the business, offer advice and alert you to problems.
Of course, some of us have a problem “letting go.” A good way to overcome this problem is by writing down all your tasks every hour for a week. Separate the tasks into two groups. Add all the tasks you want to keep to Group A. Everything else goes into Group B. Group B tasks will become the basis of your job description for an admin assistant. Depending on your workplace setup, also consider hiring a virtual assistant. They may be just as helpful as hiring someone to work onsite.
5. Stay nimble and stay lean.
Managing a business is like a carnival act: It’s spinning plates while juggling chainsaws. You have to constantly stay on your toes and quickly move your attention and resources around. You also have to remain flexible and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities should they arise. Keep overhead low. For office space, use a small satellite office that is cost-effective. Also, rather than signing expensive long-term leases, make short-term arrangements. If consumer behavior dictates the need to “cut bait” at a given location, you’ll avoid being saddled with the expense of a space you no longer need.
6. Take yourself out of production.
This step takes the most courage by far, and if you’re a control freak like myself, it may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But if you want to succeed, you need to give yourself the option of stepping out of production. If your business relies upon you doing all the deals, you won’t have time to automate and build an empire.
7. Stay hungry.
Once you’re out of production, have leads flowing in and systems in place, it’s easy to get complacent. Things might seem good now, but you need to stay hungry. Costs might suddenly increase. Essential people on your team might quit. The market might shift. Stay alert and keep yourself sharp. Always be ready to jump back into the trenches if you feel the heat coming around the corner.