Moving On Up: Your FAQs on Scaling a Business, Answered!

There are many strategies for growing your business — but how do you know which is right for you? Chicago REALTORS® share their insights on the questions we most frequently get on how to scale your business.

“How do you grow your business if you don’t have a big network?”

“Do an absolutely amazing job for your clients. If they’re happy, they will refer you and your network will grow. Having a large network is not a substitute for doing the hard work and providing the best service.”

“The best way to scale is to bring people in and develop them. I started with leasing agents and turned them into real estate brokers. Leasing is a nice introduction into real estate, and if they were successful with our leasing program, we pay for them to get their broker’s license. That’s how I’ve built  a team.”

“How do you scale up without spending money you haven’t made yet?”

“Prospect two hours a day, leaving voicemails, sending emails and contacting people on a consistent basis. You should be reaching out at least seven times a year to one person.”

“Keep in mind that a lot of the best lead generation activities don’t cost money. Holding open houses, talking to your database and [hosting] other face-to-face activities are free. For hiring personnel, keep in mind you are not paying their whole salary upfront. Plan in 90-day increments. Think: do you have enough money to afford that person for 90 days? If you have enough for 90 days, you can afford it.”

“How do you grow your business organically and ahead of trends?”

“By having your own vision and finding a niche that you focus on. Don’t follow the crowd; find your unique niche and make yourself known for that craft. So, when someone thinks of that [niche], they think of you.”

“REALTORS® forget that even in an age of technology, online leads and social media, the best business model is and always will be based on great customer service. Our slogan is ‘People First.’”

“Being myself, which includes [having] an upfront and honest personality, helps me earn trust for future business. To build your business volume, you have to interact with different groups of people. Listen and observe daily, tour properties regularly and speak with other real estate professionals.”

“At what point do you know you’re ready to hire an assistant or additional personnel?”

“If you are consistently setting aside time every day for prospecting and lead generation and successfully bringing in business, then it’s time to hire an assistant to help service your clients. Paperwork can be a REALTOR®’s weakness and not high on our priority list, so having an assistant to manage the process is invaluable. As soon as you can devote 30% of your income to an assistant, you are ready to hire one.”

“I tried to put my head down and power through the workload. I worked for the short-term. I worked for the short-term, but I wasn’t able to effectively and regularly execute my daily outreach with people, so that was when I knew I needed help. I was caught up in managing my files and current projects instead of managing and feeding my pipeline. Staying in flow with people and connecting authentically is what leads to new and increasing business. I hired someone to allow me to keep that dedicated time in order to keep growing.”

“If you’re working past 8:00 PM, you should be hiring someone.”

“How do you ensure you are giving all your clients proper attention?”

“Planning, planning and more planning of my day and of the process, and ensuring my clients are educated so they know and feel as comfortable as possible. This helps make sure each client feels cared for and helps me balance my schedule.”

“Some tasks are time-sensitive and you need to give someone or something 100% in that second. Some can be handled in two hours. Some can get pushed to the next day. I think the best thing is to confirm receipt and acknowledge you will be in touch by XXX. It’s a juggling act but it gets easier as you go. Also, many things are not urgent or life-shattering; sitting with issues or replies can be helpful and more thoughtful, versus an impulse response to check it off your list. I try to keep things calm for everyone.”

“What is the best way to market and advertise your business to gain potential leads?”

“I am very grateful that my business shifted to mostly referral and people already in my database fairly early on. That’s where I continue to focus my efforts: staying connected with the people in my sphere. Quite a bit of my advertising and marketing budget is directed within my sphere.

“My focus for marketing is to always think of ways to provide value: a new recipe (I love to cook), easy design tips, market trends or ways to relax and recharge.

“Lastly, it’s important to have a consistent theme or ‘voice’ to your marketing, which should be authentic to who you are.”

“Stay in front of your sphere, so you’re top of mind when they hear of someone looking for a REALTOR®. I send regular mailings, stay present on social media and have some billboard advertising around the city. This is all part of the overall plan to build my brand so that I’m always the first referral for someone in my network.”

“Is it better to add personnel and then go after business, or go after business and then add personnel?”

“About six years ago, I was nervous to hire & pay a full-time admin, but I knew I needed help. Working in the field all day and behind the computer all night wasn’t productive or healthy. Hiring an admin was the best decision I have ever made. Delegating specific responsibilities, including my email management and communication with lenders, attorneys, clients and brokers, has allowed me to focus on being in the field, touring properties, marketing and working directly with my clients. Decide where your strengths are, and hire for your weaknesses.”

“My experience has been to go after the business first, and then add personnel once we hit certain benchmarks. I pride myself on learning and experiencing every part of the process, from the bottom to the top. It’s the only way to be a great REALTOR®. You need to know the entire business to be able to lead and train others. You have to experience the rejections, failures and cancellations, and then learn from those experiences in order to provide a quality product and train your team to provide that same product.”

“Being new, what is the best way to spend your time?”

“I started in 2013, and I hustled at open houses. I sat two a day, on both weekend days. I added everyone with a pulse to my database. I also watched top brokers online and learned what I did and did not want to become. I navigated the MLS for fun. I worked on creating templates for everything, which I’ve tweaked over time, but they’ve provided me with a strong structure.”

“Do something every day. Write a card, text an update to a few friends, write a newsletter update to tell your sphere what you are doing. Little things equal progress, so plant the seeds and then follow-up.

For more tips on scaling your business, check out our recent Top Producer panel.