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Today, on a phone call, a team of agents that was considering using our services asked me a very interesting question. They asked me what I thought the key best practices would be, should they want to go into a new Geographic Marketplace and want to dominate that farm area?
It is a great question. One I love hearing from new clients, in fact. After the 20+ years I’ve been in this game, it’s one that I could talk about for an hour or two, without even taking a breath. Of course I respect everybody’s time and in this case, I knew these Real Estate Agents didn’t sign up for a seminar. We were in a marketing meeting. So I narrowed the answer down to four key best practices. These best practices are applicable for any agent, with any size marketplace, anywhere in the Country. Here are the four things we discussed.
Carefully Select Your Farm Area
This one is super, super important. First and foremost, it’s important from a psychological perspective. Humans are funny animals. If you are happy, you do better. It’s a fact. The same holds true for the geographic farm area you choose for your Real Estate Farming. If you like your farm area, the homes in it, and the community at large, you are going to be happier. You are going to spend a lot of time there, and the more time you spend there, the happier you will be.
As I’m sure you can imagine, the happier you are, the better you will perform. It’s just human nature. People gravitate to happy, positive people. Why turn off potential sellers by giving them the impression you are not happy and not a positive person? Clearly that is time and money wasted and will only perpetuate more unhappiness.
Another thing to take into account is the turnover of the farm area. Spend some time looking at prior sales. If the turnover doesn’t come out to at least 6%, really question whether or not you want to start marketing to this farm area. While we see some agents take areas with little to no turnover, not as a way to grow their business, but simply as a “passion project” they want to do, in addition to their main farming, that is not common.
Simply put, if you are going to farm, you need “at bats”, to win those listings. If there are no listings going on the market in the neighborhood you are looking at farming, you are not going to get enough at bats to make that farming campaign a success for you. You don’t want to spend your hard earned money on a marketing campaign and not get a return on investment.
Lastly, before we move onto the next tip, I think it’s important to point out that when looking at sales stats, DO NOT worry about what agents are selling homes there. If there happens to be an agent that is dominating the area, don’t use that as a factor in your consideration of picking the area or not picking it.
The truth is that there are all kinds of Real Estate agents, just as there are all kinds of homeowners. Real Estate is a personal business. Just because an agent is doing the lion-share of the deals, DOES NOT mean that they are a great fit in the farm for the homeowners. It literally could just be that no other agent has ever tried to penetrate that area, so the homeowners simply “put up with that agent”.
Budget Is Everything
This is something I’ve written about many, many times, but it is critically important to remember. While geographic farming is a numbers game, you FOR SURE want to be sure that you start out only doing as many homes as you can afford to do, every single month, as you are building your presence and getting started in the farm.
What you definitely don’t want to do is start out to big, stick it out for a few months, then get frustrated and quit. That is a waste of your hard earned money. That is money that could have been spent elsewhere. The key is to start a little smaller than you think makes sense, and then as you pick up results, reinvest in your farm area, expanding it, little by little.
You Are Making A Big Financial Commitment, Make An Emotional Commitment As Well
You have to remember, Geographic Farming is a process. You can’t just expect to go out there and kill it right away. So just as you are planning for your farming program financially, ensuring you have enough fuel in the tank to get from the start of it, to breaking through and grabbing marketshare, you have to look at it the same way emotionally.
Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get a listing (or even a listing appointment call), the first few months. On average, it takes agents 6-8 months, in a good market, to start to make headway in a geographic farm area. Remind yourself of that as you get frustrated. Stay consistent, stay the course and reap the rewards.
Stay Relevant To Homeowners In Your Farm Area
This is a really important, yet often overlooked best practice when it comes to establishing a successful Geographic Farm Area. You can’t simply send “Let me list your home” postcards to homeowners over and over. If you do, they will ignore your messages and you are wasting your money. You need to be relevant. You need to speak to homeowner’s interests and life situations. You need to be community oriented. You need to be educational, but at the same time human. That is how you become a thought leader in your marketplace.
There are lots of ways you can do this. My favorite starting point is by working on a client persona for your marketplace. Done correctly, that can be the roadmap for what you will do throughout your campaign.