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Building Your Real Estate Business…for Life

lego men

This week, I spoke at the industry event Best Conference Ever. It was organized by Lee Adkins, David Lightburn, and Maura Neill.

Building something like this didn't happen overnight—they put in a lot of work. It wasn't just the logistics of pulling all of the pieces together to put on a show, but also the years of relationship-building it took to gather this group of speakers, sponsors, and attendees.

Success takes time. And a lot of hard work.

Mozart had his music, Einstein had the theory of relativity, and Madame Curie had chemistry. Steve Jobs had Apple. And Tiger Woods had golf until…well, you know how that story ends. The point is, none of these people who live on as legends came to their success by happening upon it. It took the early hours, while others slept; the late hours, while others partied; and even those middle hours, when, instead of taking a long lunch, those who wanted to build something new chose to dig in—even when it was hard. Especially when it was hard. 

They put in long hours of hard work...and eventually, it paid off.

Agents and brokers are no different. When we focus on the long term and build relationships one by one, day after day...it pays off.

In Africa, they have an expression I like to think of when meeting new people: The bird makes its nest one stick at a time. This is the mindset we need when we're building a real estate business for life.

Why we're here

I’d guess every single one of us who attended Best Conference Ever wants the same things. We didn’t choose real estate as our life’s work because we want to become good marketers or social networking gurus. We're not doing this so we can spend weekends hauling signs to corners or baking cookies for open houses.

We're here because we want to build something that matters.

We chose real estate so we could feel good about the work we’re putting into the world. We want to see progress and have predictability in our income. We want to make enough money so we can have the time to spend with the people and passions that matter most to us. We want to see families get the keys to their first place. We want to see houses turn into homes, and communities thrive because we took the time to dig in when the hours were long and the pay was uncertain. We want to play an important role in society.

I tend to glaze over a bit when our industry focuses solely on the subjects of "tech" or "lead generation" or "social media” at events like these, because those are means and not ends. These do not describe your passion, your reason for being in this industry. Instead, building a business that fuels our lives, surrounding ourselves with coworkers we would call friends, being in an environment that challenges us but also lets us see the reward—this is why we are here. We are here to learn because we want tomorrow to be better.

We want to be better.

A tale of two agents

I’m going to share a story that may inspire you to slow down and think about building your business for how life really works.

The story is about two agents. They grew up in the same small town and when they graduated high school, they moved, separately, to a new “big city.” After college, both in their early 20s, they started their careers the same year, each in a city that was new to them.

The first year, they sold about 20 homes each, which is great considering they used a combination of open houses and knocking on doors.

Year two was a bit different.

Agent #1 become fascinated with marketing, lead generation, and technology. This was the mid-90s, when the Internet was getting exciting. His business took off.

Agent #2 just kept doing what he was doing—knocking on doors and serving his community.

Agent #1 became an accomplished marketer. He was one of the first agents to have a searchable online database. He became a tech consultant for a real estate coach and a national franchise.

Agent #2 continued to plug away at the basics. To this day, he still has an AOL email address, has never bought an Internet lead, and has no clue what social media is.

Around the 10 year mark, the two were both closing 80-100 transactions annually per year. Then the recession hit.

Agent #1 tripled his marketing budget. It didn’t matter that his production dropped by 70% in a matter of weeks. He soon found himself selling so few houses that he had time to contemplate the meaning of life, and where he went wrong.But Agent #2 didn’t skip a beat. He had put in those long hours. He knew his community. He continued to do no fewer than 60 transactions a year (as a single agent)—the same number since his 4th year in real estate.

Agent #2 is still practicing today. He’s a successful agent in Phoenix.

Agent #1 was me.

It is a humbling experience to spend a full decade of your life on something, only to realize you’ve been doing it wrong all along.

In life, we fail, we learn, and we adapt.

So, here I am. One thing I learned is that there are two types of agents:

  • The type with the approach, habits, and infrastructure to build a business
  • The type with the approach, habits, and infrastructure to own a ‘sales job’ their entire career

I was firmly in the second camp until I had the time to consider what I was really doing. 

It doesn’t matter how much money we’re making, or how refined our marketing campaigns are—our goal should be to build a sustainable and predictable business, so we can be successful and enjoy all the rewards that come with predictability.

Our goal should be to build a business for life.

At Realvolve, our passion is to help you fulfill your “end” of building a business that has value, is scalable, and can one day be passed along. These are accomplished with relationships and a smart process. That’s what a true CRM platform should do. So that's what Realvolve does

That’s all I have.

Thank you. Go slow and build to last.

Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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