Joined: Jan 2018
Whether you're building out a new farm or expanding on an
existing one, here's quick a guide that may help your team
choose the right markets to grow into and some tips on
managing the expanding operation...
Working your farm is difficult-enough, but coordinating other
team members to assure that there are no costly gaps or
overlaps? That changes the game. It's fair to say that all the
members of your team are (or should be) on the same page and
want to make sure that everything runs smoothly across the
board for everyone. However, if that's not the case... if you
have someone that's working against the team's goals, then
consider tackling that before entering a new market or
expanding your farm's specialties. Here's an article on
finding the perfect team member (based on skill set,
Farming by Focus
Knowing what you have to work with is key. Not all farms are
equal (or at least equally-addressed). While we typically view
farms as geographic regions, often split by neighborhood
boundaries, many agents will nevertheless begin to specialize
in niches that may not be so easily defined on a map. These
niche markets might be organized by static factors like type
of construction or dynamic factors like a seller demographic,
price range and so on. If you're just now setting up your farm
or if you're branching out services within an existing farm,
here are some things you'll want to factor in...
Area demographics: You may have an idea of what the
residents in the area are looking for in a home or from their
agent, but keep in mind that things change. Right now, there's
a shift in homeownership and a lot of traditional areas are
getting a Millennial makeover as homes have slowly transferred
from one generation to the next. It's best not to assume that
historic areas will maintain market interest decades after
their neighborhood's glory years. Only you will know, so be
sure to stay on top of housing trends in your farm and those
nearby. Check out this simple generational guide to homebuyers
(it includes some target marketing tips for each).
Home type turnover: Just as the ownership demographic has
changed, so too has the market itself. This goes without
saying, but the regional market trends are going to tell you a
lot about what people are really looking for (as in what
they're actually buying). You may be getting a lot of
inquiries about downtown condos, but if the numbers are
showing that said buyers ultimately go for single-family
homes, then it might not be a smart move to only focus your
specialization on condos. Take a look at this easy infographic
guide (it includes features you can highlight based on a
Know your locale: More and more, people are looking for area
culture and activities that will enhance their lifestyles.
While you don't want to water down your operations, becoming
the go-to person or team for certain regional highlights can
set you apart from your peers. If anything, it's a great way
to market your brand to cold-call leads and to maintain your
brand's value with leads you're still cultivating. Know which
restaurants are blowing up on social media this week? Are you
the hookup for the inside scoop on businesses hiring C-Level
executives in the area? Productize that skill.
Know your competition: It's a good idea to do your research on
the movers and shakers int he area. You'll want to know who
the direct mail kings and queens are, who has the best
newsletter in town and who is dominating the door-to-door
salesmanship on your turf. Of course, these things ebb and
flow depending upon the other teams' strategies and
capabilities, but in general, if they are still working the
area and if they have a history of owning one market approach,
it's reasonably safe to assume they're going to be launching
another round again. So take a look at their approach. Ask
around if you have to. It's best to find a gap in those doing
direct mailers, email newsletters, door-knocking, etc. and to
make your new mark there.
What Type of Farm is Yours?
To get a feel for each of these, you can use census data, MLS
data or even a thorough Google search. Whether your farm falls
under one of the above categories or not, you should know what
it is that your territory is most-cleary definable by. Working
off of the obvious metaphor, it wouldn't make sense for a crop
farmer to invest in dairy equipment or to train farm-hands on
tasks that aren't relevant to the primary focus of the farm.
So you'll need to know what you're working with before you can
begin to coordinate the teams.
That said, it's recommended that you identify a primary focus
and a secondary focus. A primary focus might be a larger
target such as beachfront properties and a secondary focus
might be more specific such as vacation rental investments.
This isn't to say that you can't or shouldn't maintain other
specialties (you certainly don't want to lose out on any
opportunities), but having primary and secondary goals will
help the team focus in on an area that can be more easily
defined by geography and something more skill-specific like
contracts and regional policies.
Is Your Team is Up to it?
Once you have your farm's definitions (what you're going to be
known for... at least mostly), then you'll be ready to look
over your crew. Most likely, you've defined your farm by the
team you have and that's okay. As long as the two are in sync
and you have a strong sense of purpose, then you're on the
right track! How do you know if your team is up for the niche
market you've spotted?
They're excited: If the market focus is something
they're passionate about on a personal level, you won't spend
as much time driving their motivation. If environmental
concerns are important to your team, then go green. Specialize
in LEAD certification and energy-saving home technologies.
Watch as your team's career becomes their personal mission.
It's familiar to them: If the market is something they've had
a good amount of experience (and success) within the past,
then there'll be less of a learning and ramp-up. Working the
beachfront properties niche... maybe they have a beachfront
home of their own and have already had years of dealing with
beach-related management hassles - a value-added consultation
skill that your clients would value in itself.
It's personal to them: If they had an active roll in defining
your farm, then you'll likely have deeper buy-in. The last
thing people on a team want is to feel like the focus has
shifted away without their feedback - especially if its away
from a more comfortable zone. If they've personally helped
with the process, there should be less resistance. This is why
it'll be important to spend some time etching out your farm's
boundaries and definitions.
Divide and Conquer
The last tip highlights an important point about leadership in
your team. While we won't get too far into that here, the
team's dynamics will be an important consideration when it
comes to dividing tasks. Whether your team is a
master/apprentice setup or more of a clearly-defined and
evenly-split partnership, certain tasks are naturally going to
become mundane or at very least routine. To keep your clients
from experiencing "routine" service, we suggest mixing it up a
bit... rotate the task/roles here and there. It will also give
you skill redundancy (should one of your members fall ill or
end up leaving the fold). Communication will be key to making
The obvious step is to find the areas of specialty and assign
those agents to their matching capabilities, but if you're
looking to challenge your team and reinvigorate their passion
with a new market to conquer, consider laying out the tasks on
scraps of paper on the table (yes, paper). Then challenge them
to pick up a task they've always wanted to master - great for
newbies and returning agents. You might just find their true,
hidden talents. If you're cautious about expending resources
on unknowns, then here's a great article that might help you
identify skillsets your team already has - ones you can
leverage to dominate this new market from the start.
Be Patient and Do Your Research
Establishing or growing your farm is an important decision and
like buying or selling a home, you'll do better with more
information and feedback from your family (aka your team
and/or peers). You'll likely have to do this while maintaining
your bread and butter clients and services, so take it one
step at a time. Research your market, then research your
competition. Explore the overlap and any possible gaps in
marketing that you could make your team's specialty. Discuss
the pros and cons with your team and gauge their interest and
commitment. Plan to spend a few months or at least a few weeks
Over time, you'll get the ins and outs of expanding your farm.
You may be burned by some element of the process and this too
can make you stronger (as long as you always get back up and
keep pressing forward). If neither you nor your team is ready
to expand, then place your notes into a folder and come back
to it another day. Despite what some say, inaction can truly
be the wisest of actions.
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