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“The Next Time You Actually Work 40 Hours In a Week Will Be the First”

Note: This post isn’t aimed at the (IMHO) 10-20% of the real estate agent population who, day in and day out, work hard, effectively, and with massive purpose.

Dad, ‘FDB’ to some of his friends and family, said those exact words to me a few months after I’d gone from part time agent/student, to real estate full time. He wasn’t one to sugarcoat his words. Silly me, I not only protested like a stuck pig, I gave examples of how hard I’d been workin’.

22 year olds can be exceptionally clueless at times. :)

Mind you, in 90 days of hard 40 hour weeks I’d produced exactly one damning goose egg on the listing/sales board. I now know what Dad was talkin’ about, cuz a 14 year old C- student could put something on the listing/sales board after 12 hard working 40 hour weeks. It’s seriously not possible to get shut out workin’ that many rigorous hours week in and week out for a full quarter.

The trick is to be honest about how you’re defining hard, effective, work.

It’s not what you tell everyone else either. Imagine your husband/wife is in the room with you. Now how hard are ya workin’?

I’ve never understood this, even though I was guilty of it myself. Dad busted me for constantly gettin’ ready to get ready, to do something really lame, that wouldn’t produce squat anyway. Why do people get licensed only to pretend to work, then complain about how bad the market is, or the rest of the litany we’ve all heard — or uttered ourselves.

Lord knows I’ve put in my share of overtime over the years. But I’m hear to tell ya, with rare exception, those who work at doing what gets them in front of serious buyers/sellers and/or doing what gets those buyers/sellers where they wanna go, don’t hafta work wicked long hours to make an exceptionally good living. If you like working longer hours for whatever reason, good for you — and your bank account. But you can earn six figures workin’ 40 hours.

It’s like diggin’ 4′ X 6′ holes, 6′ feet deep, for sump pumps. If you’re gettin’ paid $1,000 a hole, you’ll press hard to learn just how many you can dig in 40 hours of real work. You won’t be spendin’ time cleanin’ your pick and shovel, or takin’ an hour to lay out the hole’s dimensions. You won’t spend hours upon hours searchin’ the internet and bookstore for books on how picks ‘n shovels are made.

You’d be creating holes as fast as you possibly could. You’d be figuring out ways to dig more efficiently, without wasting energy. You’d learn about what tools might work better.

All of which begs the central question.

Why are you consistently screwin’ the pooch when it comes to diggin’ all the holes you can as a real estate agent? What is it that stops you from swingin’ that pick high in the air, bringin’ it down hard, and repeating that ’till yet another hole is dug — and another $1,000 earned?

Once and for all, ask yourself: Whom do you really think you’re kidding?

After I’d flailed and stuttered my way into a corner, Dad laid down what I’ve since called the FDB Challenge. If this post even pretty much describes you, consider growin’ a pair and take the same challenge.

Get a notebook, create a spreadsheet, grab a legal pad — anything on which you can document every single hour of your 40 hour workweek. Keep this journal for the next 12 weeks. If a task takes less than an hour — note how long it took. Leave no minute unrecorded. Don’t make a big deal about it. Each entry should take a few seconds. There’s no whining in real estate. :)

The Rules

1. At least six hours a day must be spent prospecting. Not marketing — prospecting. Pick a method(s), but do it. All prospecting must include direct contact — phone, email, custom written letters, FSBOs, expireds, etc. You know the drill, so don’t pretend you don’t. :)

2. You must stand in front of a mirror repeatedly callin’ yourself a wuss if you don’t strictly adhere to rule #1.

The over/under for most agents is lasting ’till around 2ish on the first day. See, it’s not that we don’t know how/what to do, we just don’t wanna do it. So stop with the excuses, you sound like a 10 year old girl who’s skinned her knee at recess.

I Promise

I promise you’ll be a completely difference agent if you take the FDB Challenge to heart. There’s no way you won’t generate tremendous new business working 40 hours a week for a dozen weeks with this much prospecting. You’ve got nothing to lose since you’re not producing much now anyway, right? Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t let up for the entire 12 weeks. Become driven.

Here’s what happened when I took the FDB Challenge

I’m goin’ from memory here, but I remember the numbers fairly well.

90 days later I’d listed eight properties. Four were already in escrow by the 90th day. I’d put five buyer sides into escrow. Two had closed by the last day. I had numerous potential listings in the pipeline, along with many who were referring to me.

Using today’s values, (in San Diego) those 90 days would’ve fattened my bank account by roughly $120,000 or so.

I was 22 years old, and couldn’t find my ass with a map, two guides, and a GPS. Yet those 90 days of seriously hard work, almost all of it prospecting, changed by life forever. It stripped me of ever having an excuse, regardless of market conditions, for not making a decent to magnificent living. It also caused me some acute embarrassment for a few days. I almost couldn’t be in the same room with Dad, I was so ashamed of how I’d been such a pathetic, excuse making slacker.

All that vanished in an instant when he allowed one day that I might have a future in the business after all — a huge AttaBoy comin’ from him.

Are you flailing around, wondering if you’ll be in the business next year?

Is theFDB Challenge for you?

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  • 18 comments

    18 Comments so far

    1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Brown, Real Estate Feeds, Mike Bowler Sr, Real Estate Ninja, My REALTY and others. My REALTY said: “The Next Time You Actually Work 40 Hours In a Week Will Be the First”: Note: This post isn’t aimed at the (IMHO) … http://bit.ly/9wonAF [...]

    2. Greg Swann August 29th, 2010 8:21 am

      Wow. Turns out nobody wants to say, “Me, first!”

      Me, neither, not that I’m ever opposed to hard work.

      I thought this post rocked. I love the idea of making new agents prospect by leaving them no alternative. If you have no money and no marketing in place, prospecting will unearth people with an immediate need — and those are the ones who can get you paid now.

      I’m going to disappoint your dad and focus on marketing, but I prospect all the time when I’m out in the real world. I sold a $325,000 house to a lady who was volunteering at the $10 flu shot clinic at Walgreens. But just yesterday, two emails came in over the transom that resulted in two immediate appointments, one of them with a target price of $1.75 million.

      Today Cathy is showing with a couple we met through our marketing, purchase price around $350,000. I start the morning showing condos under $100,000 with a family who found us on the internet. This afternoon I’m showing with another couple who found us on the internet, home price right around $1 million. Then Phoenix Handyman Mark Deermer and I will preview rental properties under $100,000 for an investor who found us on the internet. That’s four appointments for up to $1.5 million in volume, all via the net.

      All that notwithstanding, I think this is a fabulous idea. The absolute best way to get short sale listings is pure door-knocking. I tell pre-licensing students to start warm-calling their friends and family even before they sit their butts down in their first real estate class. And there should never be anyone you talk to who doesn’t get a get a business card and brief pitch. Dave Liniger literally saved his real estate career and put himself on the path to being a demi-billionaire by prospecting strangers while he was standing on a checkout line.

      Nothing sells houses like houses, which is why I like to devote my spare time to marketing. But nothing gets business like asking for the frolicking business! so, quite literally, if you can’t prospect, you can’t sell.

    3. Jeff Brown August 29th, 2010 8:29 am

      Hey Greg — I suspected this post might produce crickets. :) A combination of consistent prospecting and professional marketing simply can’t be beat. The prospecting comes first, assuming the agent hasn’t arrived, new licensed in one pocket, and $50K in the other. :)

      You made a salient point about prospecting finding the ‘now’ people. New and/or those who’re not making it can’t wait for marketing, which is why you and I tell them to prospect their butts off.

      Thanks for shuttin’ the crickets up.

    4. Greg Swann August 29th, 2010 9:03 am

      > New and/or those who’re not making it can’t wait for marketing, which is why you and I tell them to prospect their butts off.

      This is solid gold great advice. If you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from, you have to get out there and find it.

    5. Scott Cowan August 29th, 2010 11:49 am

      But, But, But……

      I have read this post over and over and I simply want to say that I don’t know if I will be able to sit down for the next few weeks after the butt whooping I just took.

      I “thought” I was doing ok…. I “thought” I was doing enough…. then I went back and looked at my activity levels for the past week in my day planner…..What I “thought” was being busy really translated into telling myself I was busy. Nothing close to prospecting 40 hours a week. Truthfully, if I am prospecting 40 hours a month I thought I was busy.

      Now, to go and take the challenge and see for myself just what being busy and purposeful looks like.

      Thanks Jeff, Greg, Brian, Sean, Chris, and every other author here for being as brutally straightforward and truthful as you have all been. Yes, there are multiple paths to the mountain top. However, they all require the same thing. WORK.

      I am signing off and going to work. I will report back my results good and bad.

    6. Jeff Brown August 29th, 2010 12:02 pm

      Hey Scott — In your mind, put all those BHB contributors with you as you work those 40 hours. What would we be sayin’ to you at any point in your day?

      Now that’s straightforward. :)

    7. Geoff August 29th, 2010 3:53 pm

      Excellent post – and very, very true…for anyone who is really interested in keeping track of their hard working hours check out this program – http://www.5pmweb.com it even comes with a time tracker widget! By the way I am not associated with this company – just use it myself and find it great!

    8. Jeff Brown August 29th, 2010 4:10 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. How much does it cost?

    9. George Jackson August 29th, 2010 6:23 pm

      I start my 12 weeks tomorrow, August 30, 2010. Funny, I am currently about half way through reading the Seven Levels of Communication, and this is the perfect catalyst to keep me focused. George Jackson, Mega Agent Real Estate Team at RE/MAX Advantage South, Birmingham, Alabama. No excuses now, I have identified myself! Let’s Roll!

    10. Jeff Brown August 29th, 2010 6:30 pm

      George — you sound like a guy who’s never had to grow a pair. :) I’m impressed, to say the least.

      My hat’s off to you. Lookin’ forward to your updates.

    11. Teri Lussier August 29th, 2010 9:41 pm

      Just got back from dropping the baby- my “excuse”- off at college. Jamie and I listened to Jack Canfield’s Power of Focus on the 5 hr car ride home as it’s absolutely time to really focus on goals. I’m thrilled and a little scared, but just a little, to have a vast and wide open road in front of me so I’m completely there, Jeff. I have nothing to lose, everything to gain. See you in 30 days.

    12. Rodil San Mateo August 29th, 2010 11:28 pm

      Hey Jeff – It was great to finally meet you at REBarCamp Orange County last week. Enjoyed talking about investment real estate and Crossfit with you.

      You included email and targeted mail as prospecting, but I think of these as marketing methods. To me, prospecting means I’m talking to someone (on the phone, in person one on one – or better yet me addressing a group, possibly in a webinar). Does email and direct mail count as prospecting if they are sent to someone specific i.e I have their name and know they need my services, or at least I have their email address because they responded to marketing?

      Also, do you think a Mortgage Officer should spend most of his/her prospecting efforts to find clients directly (home buyers, refi candidates) or helping agents build their business? I have some proven techniques for the latter, working on some methods for the former.

    13. Jeff Brown August 30th, 2010 7:57 am

      Teri – That should be an interesting 30 days. Prospect as if I’m right there with ya. :)

    14. Jeff Brown August 30th, 2010 8:17 am

      Enjoyed meeting you too, Rodil.

      Should of been more specific when talkin’ about emails and direct mail. I meant in the specific person context. An expired listing letter, IMHO, ain’t marketing. I’m ‘talking’ to a seller who I already know wants their property sold. I’ll be able to be pretty detailed in the letter’s content, even to the extent of giving them a blow by blow explanation of why it didn’t sell. If I had their phone number, I’d follow the letter up immediately.

      Same with email. I think all of us can get into a semantics loop, as I’ll admit this may be a gray area. Compare mail/email to specific folks you already know need you, to a targeted mailing of several thousand. The former is prospecting in my view, the latter obviously marketing. For example, if you send a very solid letter to a FSBO, is that prospecting or marketing? I’m not sure how to make the distinction that says if I call them it’s prospecting, but mailing makes it marketing.

      What’s the difference between cold/warm calling and emailing the same folks cuz you simply don’t have access to their phone numbers? It’s a semantics call in my way of lookin’ at it. I differentiate between the two by asking the question: Can a ‘marketing consultant’ write this? Or will it be infinitely more effective if I do, because of what I can bring to the table? Imagine your marketing guy making cold calls for you. Not even, right? Same thing with written modes of prospecting.

      Make sense?

    15. Thesa Chambers, Principal Broker, ABR, CDPE August 31st, 2010 11:37 pm

      Jeff – I do not know where all my time goes – I know I put in more than 40 hours – but a lot of what you say is still good for those of us that do know what a tough and consistent work week is…. my prospecting could use some help – and what amazes me when I tell others to do similar to what you have outlined – they look at me like I am crazy – Unless I am taken away for showing property, listing appointments and the like – I make 10 phone calls to someone in my data base that I have not recently connected with – I write 10 personal notes to someone that has either touched me recently or I have lost touch with…. I send 20 emails – with a quick run down of the market for their area…. I used to blog on one of my blogs everyday – and need to get back to that…. it is amazing what we have done to ourselves with technology – our buyers and sellers love the internet – but they now expect great internet presence and even more personal customer service than ever before. The consumer is smarter, has done more research and knows more about you and the market than many of us know…. if you expect to get paid – you need to find the balance and give them more than they expect – they will never complain about a commission – the consumer values customer service more now than ever… and we let them down every day – your challenge – will promote that customer service – I hope many see this and change the way they do business like you did.

    16. Jeff Brown September 1st, 2010 8:01 am

      A few will change, many will nod their heads in agreement then turn back to SportsCenter, the rest will ignore it.

    17. Greg Swann September 1st, 2010 8:47 am

      > I make 10 phone calls to someone in my data base that I have not recently connected with – I write 10 personal notes to someone that has either touched me recently or I have lost touch with…. I send 20 emails – with a quick run down of the market for their area….

      I just wanted to tip my hat to you. That summary is beautiful… Bravo!

    18. [...] 6 hours or more a day I was really responding to how I felt emotionally when I read a few posts by Jeff Brown and Greg Swann over at Bloodhound Blog. So I spoke up, I climbed up on the online soapbox of the [...]