How many times have we heard someone say, “It slows down over Winter. I want to wait for the Spring Market.” Yes, the market is a little slower over the winter. But have you ever wondered why that is? I’m going to suggest it’s because we as REALTORS® slow it down. We take it for granted that the market will be slow, so we slow down. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, a never-ending loop.
The winter market’s going to be slow. So the REALTORS® who don’t know better slow down or even stop looking for new business. And they do it around now, the middle to the end of October. They coast their way to New Years on the backs of any deals they’ve gotten done so far this year. And that’s OK…if you want to have a nice easy, slow winter and have that continue through into the beginning of next year. If you’re OK with riding the real estate roller coaster.
But if you’re not OK with that, then there are a few things you need to do…Right Now!
What’s Your Paradigm?
First, eliminate the “winter’s slow” paradigm from your mindset. Between October and December 2014 there were 26,518 new listings and 19,406 sales across TREB. Seems pretty busy to me, considering there were a total of 92, 783 sales throughout the year. That’s 21% of all sales for the year. So it’s only as slow as you choose to be; there’s plenty of business out there for those who are willing to do the work.
Since our paradigms determine our ability to act or restrict our ability to get where we want to, if you want to be successful, you have to be willing to change the way you think about the things preventing you from achieving it; you must undergo a paradigm shift.
Get Up, Get Out and Find It
Next, be prepared to work when everyone else around you is preparing not to. Commit to continuing to prospect and filling your pipeline with quality leads. Since most transactions can take anywhere from 2 – 6 months from the date of initial contact to close, if you don’t make those contacts now, you’re putting yourself behind the curve, not just for the winter market, but also for the beginning of the year and into the spring season.
Prospecting…the first thing everyone thinks of when you say the word is cold calling and doorknocking. And that’s great, if that’s how you want to do it. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s be clear, those are only a couple of the ways we can use to find business.
There are two groups of people out there you can target when prospecting; those who don’t know you and frankly couldn’t care less about you, and the people who do know you and either have worked with you or would be willing to; your database. It’s a simple fact that getting people who already know you and are willing to work with you has to be much easier to mobilize than the other group. So the first step in really successful prospecting is making sure you keep in touch with them on a regular basis if you’re not already doing so. One thing to remember though, it’s not about getting them to actually buy or sell right now (of course it’s a bonus if they do). It’s all about getting them to refer people they know who may be thinking about a move. You want them to think of you as their real estate resource and get them mobilized.
Do I really have to?
Eliminate the “I’ll-get-to-it-later-itis”. Procrastination is a killer and waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle what some view as an unpleasant task makes it even harder to get started. Do you hate having to change the kitty litter or take the dog out for a walk or clean the bathroom or make those prospecting calls? If so, remember that no matter when you get to it, it still needs to be done. And, as my father used to tell me, “If you don’t do it now, it just gets worse later.” That task you’re putting off won’t go away and gets larger in your mind as time goes on, adding more pressure and guilt. You need to get it done and over with NOW.
Eat that frog!
Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “If the first thing you have to do each day is eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that this is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day.”
The most effective tool in combatting avoidance behaviour is to learn to “Eat That Frog”; to face up to what needs to be done and do it no matter what. It’s going to have to be done at some point and there’s no purpose in hoping someone else will do it. Brian Tracy, in his book “Eat That Frog” said, “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first”. In other words, if you have two important tasks to complete, do the biggest and hardest one first.
By completing the biggest, most distasteful task first, the rest will appear to be much smaller and easier to complete. “Hey, if I can get that one over with, I can easily do these.”
He also said, “If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” Just get it done! Don’t spend time thinking about it.
Dump the Distractions
One of the many challenges faced in following a schedule are the many intrusions that seem to pop up out of nowhere. These come in the form of various temptations, like the television shows we love, the refrigerator or the cozy warmth of our bed. There are also the interruptions, which can come from many sources: phone calls, information requests, questions from colleagues and those unexpected events that catch you unprepared. No matter the cause, they all have the effect of causing a distraction and making you lose focus on completing the important tasks. They interfere with the growth of the habits you need to develop to move you forward.
Dumping the distractions can be challenging. One of the techniques I recommend is the use of an Urgent / Important Matrix to decide whether the distraction is urgent or can be put off until later. Ask yourself if the task you’re thinking about is one that’s highly important and very urgent? If so, do it now. If not, do it later and deal with the one that’s of greater urgency and higher importance now.
A Pat on the Back / A Kick in the Butt
Now that you’ve decided to change your mindset and are ready to take action, get someone to help you and hold you accountable. And then, when you’ve taken the consistent action you need to, give yourself a pat on the back. Positive reinforcement of a constructive move makes it more likely that the positive behavior will occur again. It could be something as small as a simple affirmation. “You know, I did that really well.” It could be going out for dinner after making those calls you used to avoid making. It could be spending time with your kids when you’ve completed that task you used to hate doing. The one thing to make sure of is that the positive reinforcement occurs when it is most effective, immediately or as soon as possible after the behavior. Give yourself permission to be proud of your achievement and happy and grateful that you’ve made a step in the right direction.
However, the flip side to this is that if you haven’t taken the action or your consistency has suffered, there must also be consequences, the proverbial kick in the butt. While positive reinforcement tends to be much more effective, negative consequences also have their place in guiding people along the path they need to follow. Of course I’m not advocating anything drastic, but something that has a negative impact on the behaviour is required. When I was involved in hockey, one of the negative consequences used by the team was a fine imposed for a missed practice or for showing up late for a team meeting which had a very positive effect on encouraging players to avoid repetition of the unwanted behaviour. This is where an accountability partner will be a critical asset. It’s their job to hold your feet to the fire, to ensure you do what you need to, when you need to, as much as you need to.
So, if you want to avoid the dips and drops of the real estate roller coaster over the winter season,
- Make up your mind that you’re going to keep on working, even when everyone else isn’t,
- Focus on building your business and finding new leads by prospecting consistently,
- Avoid procrastination – Eat that Frog!
- Get an accountability partner and
- Just Do It!