While some real estate agents are waiting out the pandemic before getting back to business, others are working even harder and actually thriving. That’s what Glenn McQueenie discovered when, in the midst of the lockdown, he began calling some of his 550 associates who are part of Keller Williams Referred and Referred Urban in Toronto and Keller Williams Lifestyle Realty in London and Windsor, Ont.
McQueenie, who is the CEO and operating principal, found that 20 per cent of agents were waiting out the pandemic before resuming business, 60 per cent had no idea what to do, while another 20 per cent were “doubling down.”
This latter group, he says, was working twice as hard, calling twice as many people, and booking twice as many appointments. “I started seeing they were racing ahead…”
And some were getting creative and coming up with innovative ideas. One distributed 100 pizza kits. “People don’t forget that,” says McQueenie. Another, he says, started doing Zoom bingo for clients. “They had 200 people come to it and they gave away prizes and their business took off, and they didn’t do it for business.”
But McQueenie was concerned about the larger group who were unsure what to do or had decided to wait until COVID-19 had subsided. “I started thinking this is a problem now. How do I get our agents out of fear and into action?”
He believed it was a mindset issue and that a few key strategies were needed to help them get back on track. His solutions are contained in a new book, his third geared to real estate agents.
Launched in mid-June, Shutdown Slingshot: Eight Winning Mindsets Real Estate Agents Need to Double-Down Over the Next 100 Days (Author Academy Elite), lays out steps agents can take to thrive in their business during the pandemic. The book has been nominated for a 2020 Author Academy Award for literary merit and publishing excellence in the business category.
“My book says, ‘get out and talk to clients, just show up as an amazing human being, (ask) how can I help?’” He believes connecting in this way can turn into new business later on.
The 67-page book has eight chapters and, says McQueenie, “is designed to be read in one hour.” He believes by keeping it short and succinct it’s more likely to be read.
There are graphs that show what those who “lie down” (unproductive method) are doing versus what those who “double down” (work harder) are doing and offers action steps at the end of each chapter with tips to succeed.
“There has never been a better time in my 31 years in the industry for you to have the opportunity to build market share,” McQueenie says.
His advice comes from experience. A year after getting into real estate in 1989, the market crashed. “Prices and volume dropped and most of the existing agents could not adapt,” he says.
“I kept working and lead generating and testing new approaches. Within three years I became the No. 1 agent out of 230 salespeople.” Meanwhile, he says, many top agents and brokerages refused to change and offices that were in the top 20 brokerages in Toronto went under.
“I thought if I write this book now, it’s a once-in-a-career opportunity to gain market share…if they could change, they can race ahead of their competition. This is like 30 years ago.”
One of the key messages in the book is to “digitize everything you do and act virtually.”
“In the first chapter, called Digitizer, I give the contrast of the worst mindset, for them it’s ‘I don’t get the digital thing, I want to go back to the way it was before’ and the opposite mindset of that is when you think, ‘oh, if I can digitize and make this faster, simpler and easier for the consumer, I can win the game,’” McQueenie says.
“For example, we started teaching agents to get comfortable on Zoom. We switched to virtual listing presentations and virtual buying…and now virtual open houses. The old game had open houses on Saturday from 2 to 4 but that wasn’t always convenient, now you can do it on Tuesday at 7 p.m. People can now do it from the comfort of their own chair and have face time with the agent.” After being sent a 3D tour, they can ask their agent to show them the basement or open a cupboard. The agent no longer has to drive to the home to show it.
Other chapters cover the importance of continuous learning – whether it’s how to use lighting to look your best on Zoom meetings or being aware of current inventory levels, sales and ask ratios, and what’s happening in the market on a daily basis.
McQueenie also suggests finding a niche market and identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to being a game changer. “The game changer means dominating one single target market,” he writes. “The easiest market to dominate is the one that comes most naturally to you, an area you already have experience in.” Did you come from another industry before real estate and if so, what skills did you bring with you?
To deal with the shift in the market, McQueenie says agents need to get back to basics – lead generation, booking appointments, lead conversion, taking listing/buying contracts, negotiating offers and getting the transaction to closing.
Many chapters stress the importance of various aspects of technology. This includes virtual buyer/seller consultations; virtual showings with homes virtually staged; all paperwork digitized and signed electronically; virtual home inspections; virtual appraisals; virtual financing; and lawyers closing transactions without ever meeting clients face-to-face.
“Never let a good pandemic go to waste,” he says. “In every crisis there’s an opportunity. You can shut down or double down.”
Not surprisingly, McQueenie has been anything but idle during the pandemic. He’s offering training and Zoom seminars – one of them, based on his new book, was a fundraiser that brought in $20,000 for the Nova Scotia shooting victims. He’s also voicing an audio version of his book, which should be out in August and he’s planning group and private coaching based on the eight mindsets.
“It’s a new game and the person who’s adapted the quickest will succeed,” says McQueenie. “Agents need to see this as a time for growth and opportunity.”
The book is available through Amazon, on Kindle and soon on Shopify.