As a busy agent, it’s easy to get so caught up working in your business — answering emails, writing offers, hosting open houses — that you don’t have the time to work on your business. But if you want to increase your production volume, you need to step back, take a look at the whole picture, and develop a focused strategy.
We caught up with three experts who help agents do exactly that. As business managers at Side, Sunny Magner, Ryan Murdoch and Mitch Stever work one-on-one with some of the nation’s top producers to streamline and grow their businesses.
Part strategic consultant, part success coach, these business managers help their agent partners create customized business plans to achieve 50% year-over-year growth on average. Success stories include House Real Estate (the #1 team in Sacramento, who grew from $65M in 2018 to $125M so far in 2021), District Homes (grew from $85M in 2019 to $170M so far in 2021), and Real Estate Experts (grew from $148M in 2018 to $745M so far in 2021).
We asked these business managers to share with us some of the strategies they rely on when helping top producers grow their businesses. Here’s what they had to say:
Prioritize your business plan — and never stop refining it
For predictable growth, you need a business plan that outlines your primary goals and the steps you’re taking to reach them. This document is the foundation of your business, so it needs to be specifically customized to your unique circumstances.
“I like to start with the why,” said Magner, describing her process of working with agents on customized business plans. “What goals are you working towards? When you set clear goals, it allows you to stay focused on objectives that are productive and actionable as opposed to the hypothetical.”
And it’s not just rookies that can benefit from a business plan. Veteran agents have just as much to gain from writing out and regularly revisiting their goals, particularly when they’re focused on growth.
“Sometimes people hear ‘let’s put together your business plan’ and think they need to start from scratch,” said Murdoch. “But I like to throw gasoline on what’s working, as opposed to building a whole new fire. I want to magnify the ways you already have success.”
Too often, agents throw together a business plan that winds up in the bottom of a drawer after a few months, never to be referenced again. But that defeats the purpose.
“Your business plan is a map that you can refer back to,” said Stever. “It’s a living, breathing document that’s meant to be revisited. It helps keep you accountable on the path you designed for yourself.”
Take back your time with thoughtful automation
Your business plan helps you identify what tasks you should focus on to hit your growth goals. Once you have your plan in place, you have to find time in your day to actually complete those tasks.
“Once you have your roadmap, we look at the activities you need to do every day and find ways to automate them,” said Stever. Examples include setting your CRM to automatically follow up with prospects who visited an open house so you don’t have to reach out to each one individually, or identifying high-frequency, low-value tasks that can be easily outsourced. “The overall goal is to give you more time, but also to make you more productive.”
Contrary to what some might think, automating a business task isn’t about blindly throwing tech at the problem. It’s about protecting your ability to focus on core business activities by finding ways to cut down on the repeatable, peripheral tasks that take up your day-to-day. You’re better positioned for growth when you have the space to zero in on what you do best.
“Automation is a hot topic right now,” Magner said. “I think of automation as how we address the pain points of your business. We bring in technology or we delegate to solve those pain points.”
Murdoch spotlighted repeatability as the cornerstone of automation: “If it’s not systematized, it doesn’t really exist. You can do one thing really well but if you only do it once, it’s a one-hit-wonder. You need strong systems in place in order to grow sustainably.”
Focus on fit when it comes to recruiting
Many agents see recruiting new team members as key to growing their business. This can be a highly effective growth strategy — so long as you prioritize culture fit.
“I always encourage my partners to have culture-based interviews,” Stever told us. “It’s not just about finding someone who’s licensed. It’s about understanding your exact need and finding the person best suited to deliver.”
Magner advises her partners to develop their own unique value propositions to use when recruiting. “You need to understand what you have to offer before you bring anyone on,” she explained. “That will help you identify the type of team member you want to add and be upfront about what opportunity awaits them.”
For Murdoch, everything maps back to the business plan. “If you’re looking to make an exit in five to ten years and would like to give someone your book of business, you need to recruit with that in mind. Or if you’re looking to mentor and train someone who will treat your clients the way you do, that’s a different tactic.”
Seek out a supportive community
For lasting, long-term growth, make a point to surround yourself with experts you can learn from and who are invested in your success. The form that support takes can vary: You might find it through a coach, your broker or team leader, a mastermind group, or by fellow agents at your brokerage.
At Side, each partner agent is supported not only by their individual business manager, but by the community as a whole. Because Side only partners with a limited number of the very best agents, each partner brings a wealth of knowledge to the community — and agents are eager to collaborate through peer accountability groups and community events.
“For such a competitive industry, I see so much sharing take place between agents,” said Murdoch. “I see top performers hand over their entire playbook to another agent and say, ‘Run with it, and if you find tactics that are better than what I have here, let me know!’”
Remember that collaboration and innovation go hand in hand. If you’re pushing to increase your production volume, getting the support you need from your community will be a key part of your growth.