The rural land business in 2012 has been a pleasant surprise based on reports from land agents I have spoken to. Our company, AlaLandCo, is experiencing our highest sales volume since 2007, in what is touted as the worst real estate market in 75 years. The rural real estate rebound has been modest by many experienced land agents’ standards, but we are certainly grateful for the uptick. Personally I attribute my increased sales this year to one thing.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for my benefit; it is to serve as a reminder to follow this advice in the future. Maybe it will be a good reminder for you too.
So what am I babbling about? Have you ever heard of Nick Saban? He coaches a little football team down here in Alabama. (I am not “for” Alabama, I am from Alabama; I pull for the other team in the state.) However I am quick to acknowledge greatness when I see it. The reason Coach Saban’s team is a perennial contender for the national championship is that he is focused; unbelievably focused. He is always on message with his team, staff, and fans. He has a system- a system that focuses on actions and not outcomes. He believes in doing the little things perfectly, and eventually if you do the right things in the right way enough times you will get the desired outcome.
The aim of this article is to remind us to do the right things in the land business that produce the desired results. The first book I bought in 2008, after getting my license, was Gary Keller’s “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent”. I devoured his book to shape my plan for earning my million annually. What I found in the book seemed cumbersome and overwhelming. Keller presents a detailed system for achieving success in real estate, but it was too much for me. My takeaway from his book was to plan weekly for number of calls, showings, offers, and contracts. I had goals: clear, written, measurable goals. I didn’t always hit my numbers, but I had a plan.
When the bottom fell out later that year and in subsequent years I put away the weekly planning time, which was uncharacteristic for me. But 2012, has seen a resurgence in my personal goal-setting. I’ve kept it really simple this year, just one clear goal: get quality hooks in the water. The goal is quality properties listed at fair prices, and as many of them as I can get. Fortunately I have been able to secure listings on some great timberland tracts, some quality recreational tracts at good prices, and a few other desirable small tracts that caught a lot of attention. By having lots of good hooks in the water, I’ve closed more deals this year. I reasoned I can’t control how many buyers come my way, except by having something good to offer them. If you offer enough good properties buyers will come to you.
My colleague, Robert King, does a great job of working his systems too. He has had a good year, along with several other agents in our company. The common thread is that we have stated goals, and we have shared those with each other. There is something about accountability that helps motivate us. “Now that I’ve said it aloud, I better do it!” Honestly we are not setting the world on fire. I don’t want to give the impression that we are selling every tract we list. But we are doing well and getting better, while many in our profession are going the other way. Most of the successful land brokers across the country have systems that they have worked for years. Their success is not luck, it is the result of disciplined effort.
My bookshelf displays texts from Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Stephen Covey, John Maxwell, Dale Carnegie, Dave Ramsey, and others who offer insights into business success. One common thread is that each author advocates having a system and utilizing it. In college a mentor told me, “Plan your work, and work your plan.” That is a good strategy. In the land business you cannot simply take a “pocket listing” and post it to your mediocre company website and hope to achieve success in this market. You have to do the little things that generate the outcomes you desire. I have been pleased with results this year because I have made focused efforts. Without a strategy it is easy to feel helpless and at the mercy of the market. So at your next outing with other agents where the majority of people are lamenting the “down market” and ailing economy, find someone that has a good system that is generating positive outcomes and compare notes.
Hope is not a strategy… Take control of your business by planning your work and working your plan. We can be victims of our circumstances or we can work to create positive outcomes. Land professionals we have a choice and the ability to enhance our business. Let’s be proactive in doing the little things that add up to success. Create Positive Outcomes for your clients and yourself.
I would invite other land professionals to please share in the comment section below some goals or insights that have helped you be successful in 2012. We would all benefit from hearing your tips and will be encouraged to be the best we can where we are.