The Parachute Principle-How To THRIVE In This Business

Starting a new real estate career can be tough. When I started my real estate career, I had no business in my first six months. Zero. No leads. I felt like I was flailing around and the best advice my managing broker could give me was to cold call (that was a big NO for me). It wasn’t until I began to establish campaigns and processes that my business began to take off.  
After a successful career as a top producer, I became the managing broker of a brokerage in Bellingham which I took from the #9 position in the market to #1 in only 18 months. I did this by working with the brokers in my office to refine their campaigns and processes. 
In that office were seasoned agents, new agents, and top producers. Most of the top producers wanted to continue to do things on their own, but once I got the new and seasoned agents ramping up their businesses in a big way, the top producers also decided they could learn a thing or two. 
Once I saw how successful agents could be using my formula, even the new agents with very little experience, I knew it needed a name. I called it The Parachute Principle; named because I knew I could parachute into any city or town and be able to have a fully-functioning real estate business up and running in a matter of weeks if I just followed the formula.
If I were to parachute into a new area, here are the steps I would follow to set up my real estate business once I had chosen the best brokerage for my needs (which is a whole separate topic!):
1. Learn the Market 
My first order of business would be to learn how the market naturally ebbs and flows on an annual basis. I would learn what statistics my MLS provided and how to access these, specifically looking for median sales prices per month and by year, active listings (supply), pending listings (demand), and solds. I would look at both the data and graphs, printing these out and marking them up as necessary for me to understand the information. 
If you don’t know how to do this now, contact your MLS. Chances are there are videos, tutorials, or even a class that you can take to master this data. Once you can master the data, you can begin to look for opportunities for potential buyers and sellers, which is key to conversion. 
2. Learn the Product 
I would tour every listing that came on the market and begin to flex my pricing muscle by trying to determine what the sold price might be based on what I learned about the market in step 1. I would also visit open houses to get a sense of buyer activity. 
3. Learn Neighborhoods 
Although the MLS may have the area broken down into neighborhoods already, the goal is to do some digging into how buyers actually buy. I would first meet with my managing broker or mentor (if a mentor is available and a good fit for your style, tapping into this knowledge is invaluable). My goal would be to learn about each neighborhood in terms of average price point, styles and age of homes, appreciation rates over the last 1, 3, 5, and 10 years, and amenities. In fact, I would create a spreadsheet that kept track of these.
4. Develop a Brand
Can you imagine a restaurant without a sign, Nike without the swish logo, or Coca Cola without their signature red? Of course not! They are critical components of their businesses. If I were starting a real estate business, I would make a strong investment immediately to develop a brand because I know I would need a way to visually differentiate from other real estate agents, especially when it came to developing my campaigns to generate leads. My brand would clearly showcase my points of difference and leave a memorable impression. 
5. Start Two Campaigns
Since I wouldn’t know anyone in this new city, I wouldn’t have much of a database to rely on for friends and family business. To generate business, I would choose a target market without much competition and create a campaign to target that audience. In fact, I would create two campaigns for two target markets. 
The first campaign would be to find people with the greatest likelihood of selling such as expired listings, for sale by owners, or another category of people who have indicated they were committed to selling in recent history. I would devote one hour a week to creating and implementing a campaign for that first audience. That campaign may include a series of letters, a brochure outlining my selling services, or other compelling information sent to a group of 40 or so over the course of a few weeks. After that campaign ended, I would find another group of 40 or so. This type of campaign is called a faucet and I can turn it on and off as I need business. 
Then I would develop a campaign for a farm area or possibly a niche market. In Step #3, I learned a lot about the different neighborhoods and my research would reveal one of those neighborhoods which I would name and claim as my farm area. I would determine a number of homes to mail to on a monthly basis based on my budget, assuming I wouldn’t have any bites in a year. If I only had $100 a month to spend, I would target about 75 people and let my budget determine my mailing number, knowing I can grow from there once I started to get business. My campaign would consist of a quarterly report that would include neighborhood sold properties, market stats, a summary of my take on the market, what the next quarter may look like, and a strong call-to action. The other eight months of the year would include neighborhood sold properties and a quick look at the market. This type of campaign is called ongoing and once I started the farm, I would plan on continuing for as long as I was in business. 
My campaigns would not include generic information supplied by a third party—I wouldn’t waste my money on generic postcards and information, generated by a third party, that don’t leave much of an impression. 
6. Get in Front of People
There are three great ways to do this: Open houses, floor time, and volunteering. But not all opportunities are created equal, so I would make sure that any open houses I did were priced right and in areas that were well-trafficked, would make sure floor time actually yielded business (if your office even offers that), and volunteer opportunities allowed me to connect with other people. I realize that I may not have the most prime opportunities right away, but I would be careful to use my time wisely. 
7. Define Processes
Every week for at least an hour, I would work on developing processes for: onboarding a new buyer, pending to close for a buyer, onboarding a new seller, putting a listing on the market, pending to close for a seller, open house process, potential client follow-up process, and a great post-closing process. If I had a mentor or a managing broker to help with these, I would certainly tap into that valuable resource. 
8. Go to Sales Meetings and Get into the Office
Remember at the beginning when I said that I would make sure I choose a brokerage that was a great fit for me? One of the parameters for my “perfect fit” brokerage is one with regular live sales meetings and the opportunity to work in the office. I find that a lot of agents hide out at home and don’t take advantage of the energy in their office, but as an agent, I thrived off that energy and worked well around others. Because I know that about myself, I would spend regular time in my office. 
The key for ongoing success is to continue taking action as outlined and following all the processes and campaigns I developed. Everything in my business either worked off a checklist or a calendar. The most important part to keep from getting distracted from my plan by what another agent is doing or what another company is offering. 
You can apply the Parachute Principle to your business if you are a new agent or even a seasoned agent who feels that their business has gotten unwieldly and needs to simplify and refocus. Keep the actions simple. Celebrate your wins and progress, and trust that you are on your way to a thriving real estate business.

Articles, News and Legal Hotline Q & A's found on the Washington REALTORS® website are intended for Washington REALTOR® members only. None of the information contained herein constitutes legal counsel. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the contributors. Legal Q & A's are written by the Legal Hotline Lawyer. Always check with your managing or designated broker to comply with your brokerage's practices. If you are a WR member with real estate legal questions, email to contact the Legal Hotline Lawyer. If you have questions about reprint rights, RE Magazine or WR app content, please contact Cara McNeil at (360) 943-3100 x 126 or email