Brokers and Blank Slates


Bad habits are the bane of the broker’s existence, and any time is a good time to reassess and rid oneself of these nasty practices.

I live by the proverb that a business or broker is perfectly designed to produce the results it is generating. In other words, the results that a broker gets are directly correlated to their actions. Input equals output—and in that sense brokers are the perfect Turing system.

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The 80/20 rule (also known as “Pareto’s Principle”) posits that there is an inverse balance between cause and effect. In other words, some actions have a far greater impact on results than others and 80 percent of a broker’s results come from 20 percent of his or her actions. Understanding the actions that have a larger impact on results is important—but more important is to identify the behaviors that are a drag on performance. It is only by eliminating or limiting the drag actions that you can free up time for the critical ones.

With the 80/20 at the forefront of your mind, please imagine, for a moment that today is your first day as a broker. You just received your real estate license, completed your training period and are eager to launch your career. (However, unlike your real first day as a broker, you are able to leverage the benefit of your accumulated knowledge and experience to build your business.) In other words, your business is a tabula rasa. 

The “starting over” exercise above is one that I engage in every quarter. It allows me to streamline processes, begin new initiatives and overall to become better at what I do. It is a great exercise for both experienced and newer brokers because it reminds us that we have choices in how we conduct our business.

It is easy to become stuck in intractable, limiting patterns of behavior. In a very large sense, every day is a new beginning and a giant reset button. And today, and everyday, you push it. With that in mind, I ask you to decide which activities or practices you need to stop, start or continue doing today.  This should be a very thoughtful and intentional process. 

Asking three core questions can help you better define your focus.

1) What activities generate business? These are the activities that you need to continue doing and perhaps do more of. This category includes client-facing actions (e.g. canvassing, meetings and networking), appropriate research and preparation, reputation building (speaking engagements, networking and PR) and relationship building at your firm.

2) What activities limit your business? These are activities that you should stop doing, or at least do differently, to get better results. Limiting activities are often born from lack of focus and resolve. Seeking perfection is paradoxically at the heart of ineffective actions as diminishing returns rise.  So too much research or analysis, for example, can take up too much time and limit a broker’s ability to execute the more important tasks. In addition, a lack of systems and processes can be limiting because it requires you to constantly reinvent ways of doing things, and efficiency and proficiency come from repeated actions.

3) What activities are you not doing that would help your business? These are the activities that you should start doing immediately. Look around at the top brokers in our industry and identify the behaviors, processes, systems, materials and approaches that they use. Assessing the landscape often leads to “a-ha” moments where the light goes on.

On its face, this advice probably seems easy to implement, but it is not.  Stopping behaviors requires eliminating habits and that is difficult to do.  Perhaps it is even harder to start a new habit because it takes time for the new pattern to take hold. But if you want the good results, it first starts with the good habits.

Mark Schnurman is the chief sales officer at Eastern Consolidated.