February 4, 2020
“What’s the quickest way for me to earn money once I get my New Jersey real estate license,” asked a student at our recent Cherry Hill real estate licensing class. As I watched her ask the question, I saw three other heads nod as if they had the same thoughts. It was one of those questions that made me feel proud to be a real estate instructor at Garden State Real Estate Academy.
Many schools hire instructors who teach from a textbook having never sold a property in their lives. We teach our guests how to pass the New Jersey real estate exam AND how to “hit the ground running” once they begin their real estate careers.
Step #1: Start Before You Start.
My answer was simple—and immediate: “Build a database.”
Our instructors begin each pre-licensing course with a challenge to the aspiring REALTORS®: start building a database with the goal of having at least 100 people in it by the time you graduate from real estate school. There is no need to spend money on an expensive software system. At a minimum, spend 89 cents for a pack of 100 index cards. Better yet, use the Excel or similar program you already have on your computer. Create four simple columns:
Eighty percent of the people for that initial database are probably in your cellphone right now. It is good advice to separate your list into sub-groups such as family, friends, professional sphere of influence, and if you come from a previous vocation, perhaps your coworkers or past customers who knew you there. The benefit of segregating your lists is that you can later personalize your marketing messages. An email blast to previous home seller clients might be different from a message to buyer prospects who came to your open houses, for example.
Step # 2: Feed it!
Your database should not be static. Set a goal to feed your database by adding at least 10 people per week to it. 10 per week is fewer than two people each day—hardly a challenging goal.
Your future success in real estate is directly attributable to how many people know you are in the real estate business, and the best way to create a “top of mind” image as the real estate go-to person is through your regular communications with them.
Starting with the 100 contacts you had by school graduation day and even if you only feed your database by 10 people per week, at the end of your first year you would have 620 people in it—a number that would rise to over 1,600 by year three. If you added 2 people per day rather than 10 per week, you would have 2,284 people in your database by the end of your third year. Imagine how your phone would ring if 2,284 people automatically thought of you when they or their friends talked about buying, selling or investing in real estate!
Step # 3: See Step # 1!
I started this article by saying our instructors on the first day of every real estate licensing class challenge our new crop of Realtors®-to-be to create a database with at least 100 contacts by the time of their graduation from the class 75 study hours later. We look at the audience as we say this and see heads nodding in concurrence. Here’s the sad reality: when we ask them on graduation day how many names they each have in their database, more than 90% say they have none. Zero. Zip. They make excuses like,
“I woulda done it, but I’m having a hard time at my job right now.”
“I coulda done so if my kids had not pestered me the moment I got home from real estate school every day.”
“I shoulda done that, but I got so busy.”
It makes us feel so sad. Garden State is a real estate academy that trains superstars. Yet even before they are licensed, most agents make excuses as to why they have not done what we know will reap them rich rewards.
Don’t be a woulda-coulda-shoulda! Commit to starting your career with a database that you will feed and use to create your image that will help YOU become a consistent superstar.
David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 31 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 450 homes in South Jersey. He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 15 books. David can be reached at David@GSREacademy.com