How to Get Started (Or Restart) A Career In Real Estate or Lending - Joe Stumpf's By Referral Only

How to Get Started (Or Restart) A Career In Real Estate or Lending

I’ve been coaching and guiding real estate agents for now 35 years, and I’m often asked, “What do you do when you first get started in the business? How much has it changed over the last 30 years?”
My answer…it’s changed quite a bit.

Technology, and what we have access to has changed drastically. We have access to purchase leads from Zillow, from different lead generation sources, our access to email marketing, our access to social media has changed the landscape quite a bit, but what remains constant is our business are three very distinct units.
There’s the before unit, the during unit, and the after unit.

In this article:

The Before Unit

Think of the before unit as all of your marketing, advertising, and promotions to attract people who don’t know you. So when you’re working with for sale by owners and expired listings, your door knocking, your cold calling you’re in the before unit of your business.

The During Unit

In the during unit of your business that’s everything that happens from the moment you start a transaction to the time the transaction closes. It’s the experience people go through.

The After Unit

The after unit is everything that occurs with your sphere of influence, which includes all of your friends, your family members, all the people who have done business with you in the past. All your business connections within the community.
So where do you put your time and attention?

Building Your Tribe

Start with the end in mind. Your goal should be to have a tribe of 150 people. The top agents that I coach today are so successful because they have that solid 150 people, and each one of those 150 is referring one or more people a year to them. This is all very possible if that’s your intention from the very beginning. Now, sometimes that takes three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine years to build, but the goal is to build a business that is consistent and predictable and becomes more profitable over time. You don’t want to be starting every year over from ground zero. You’re building a business, right? A business that becomes easier over time, and the way that it becomes easier over time is you start to focus on tribe building.

Your tribe is divided into two groups. You have your top 120 and then your top 30, and what you’ll usually find is from your 30 people they represent 80% of your business. It’s the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principle. We want to look at what do we do with the 120 people and what do we do with the 30 people. They get treated a little differently.

Who is Worthy of Your Money

With the 120 people, we put money into them. We send a monthly newsletter. We send a daily email. We engage with them on social media. We invite them to big events. We have referral reminder postcards. We send out a letter from the heart. We do quarterly phone calls, and several other things to really pay attention to these 120 people in a meaningful, intelligent, articulate way.

Who is Worthy of Your Time

With the top 30 people, we put time and money into them, and when I say time these 30 people are the people we have meals with. We can have breakfasts with them or lunches with them. We do private events. For example, one of the people I’m coaching right now she loves Brene Brown. Brene just came out with a new video series that’s on Netflix. She’s just crazy about the message that Brene Brown shares, and so she invites 12 of her top 30 to come over to her house for a private event to share in that experience, and then they talk about what they’ve learned from that experience.

Now, there are thousands of different things that you could do with your top 30, but you’re putting your time into them. Why put your time into them? Because they give you the biggest return on the investment of time. Your top 30 are usually business connections. It’s not unlike a lot of the people we coach at By Referral Only. Out of their top 30, 15 or 18 of them are small business owners in the community. Some of them have never even bought a house from them, or sold a house, or done a loan from them, but they’re big advocates for the real estate agent or the lender because the agent or lender is such a big advocate for them. Another great idea for your top 30 is to create a private Facebook page. One of my top agents, Todd Welch, has his inner circle page for his top 33 where he does special things just for these top referrers.

Time To Water Your Garden

If you are thinking to yourself. “Yes, that’s what I’m moving towards. That’s what I’m aiming for right now.” I want you to spend time in the before unit. You need to garden. You need to select a target market, compel the people to call you. A great way to do this and do it well is with the By Referral Only Getting More Listings program. You’ve got to prospect. You’ve got to use strategies specifically made for For Sale By Owners. You’ve got to use strategies for expired listings. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to create cash flow in your business so you can start to build a tribe.

I love it when I get to meet a new agent or somebody who’s restarting, I really want to see what their vision is. Are they just getting into the business to do a couple of transactions, or are they getting into the business to actually build a business? That’s what a business looks like when you really go into it intentionally and with a plan from the very start.

If you want more, need help, want to get to building your goal business faster, then check out what By Referral Only has to offer. We meet you where you’re at and provide the done-for-you systems and coaching you need to get you where you want to be.


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