This is the way we’ve always done real estate farming
Farming is an age old way to build your real estate business. It can be a good thing because it builds community as well as your business, but if not done organically, it can be creepy. The traditional way focuses on promoting yourself as the agent. It typically includes activities that shine the light on yourself and your achievements. It seems braggy and narcissistic to me. The old fashioned way might look like this:
1. Choose an area where you want to sell houses and become the “neighborhood expert”.
2.Practice your script so you will know what to say.
3. Knock on everyones’ doors and introduce yourself.if the person doesn’t like what you have to sell, you are supposed to be armed with ways to turn the conversation back around. You have to be ready to handle their objections.You have to show how much of an expert you are and highlight what is so great and different about you, and let the potential future client know that you are in real estate and would really appreciate any referrals.
Ummmmm….knock on a complete stranger’s door to brag about myself and beg for business? I can’t think of anything more terrifying and creepy than this.
No, thank you.
It’s About People
Real estate is a people business. We are in the business of people. We need to build relationships and earn trust before we can expect someone to entrust us with what is probably the largest investment they will ever make. There are so many ways to build relationships, and if done properly and for the right reasons, farming can be a great way to connect with the community.
Create an organic farm. This is where the focus is on the people and the community that you are there to serve. Aim to become a member of the community and focus on what you can do to help them and make connections. Live your life and and run your business by being led by something greater than the money, this will keep you motivated, genuine and sustainable. The money will follow.
Begin by Identifying Where you want to Farm
Think about where you live or work, do you already have a connection to a community? Is there another place that you wish was your community or a community with great potential and need. Think about your daily activities and the neighborhood you find yourself in often. Your target community could be centered around your children’s activities or where you volunteer, it could be the blocks surrounding your favorite coffee shop or encircling the park where you go to sit and think.
If you think about your farm as a place to make connections and get involved rather than a pot of gold, you will be led by something greater than the money. Your intentions will be genuine and sustainable. The folks in your farm will feel it. The connections you make will be deep and the business will follow.
Logistics of choosing a farm
Since the goal of farming is to establish genuine relationships and to become a part of the community, the plan is to choose an area that you can touch at least once a month. Forever.
Choose a manageable number of houses. Try to aim for around 250, give or take. Get yourself organized. Find a map of the area with the plots laid out rather than a list of addresses so it is easier to keep track of. Your city’s website may have the data. Then simply print out the map and draw a colored line around your farm and make 12 copies
To set up your farm for success, plan an entire year’s worth of activities. Block out time to plan the year so you are prepared. The challenge to follow through is not having a plan. By taking the time now to plan for the year, you will solve any objections you have and any temptation to quit.
Brainstorm ways to touch your farm
Brainstorming is one of my favorite ways to problem solve. We get in a group (I also adapted this system to use solo when I need to come up with solutions on my own) and state the problem. Then, whoever has an idea shouts it out and the scribe writes it down. We keep the process going until we run out of ideas. It is vital that in this dumping phases, we do not stop to analyze. There is no judgement, no matter how silly or inappropriate the idea may be. The point in this phase is to feed off of each other’s ideas to spark the creativity and let the ideas flow.
In my office we had a brainstorming session and we all sat around and shouted out ideas of ways to reach out and touch our farms. We came up with a long list of some amazing (and not so amazing) ideas. We taped sheets of art paper on the walls grabbed a sharpie and some wine and let the ideas flow.
Once we had gotten all of our ideas out, we take a short break and then come back and do the analyzing phase. This is when we ask questions and have further discussion as we examine the ideas we came up with.
The group would then choose the best solution or solutions to solve the problem. In this case, the farming activity yielded some really great ideas. Since each agent has his or her own farm, the group did not have to choose the answer. Rather, each agent can choose activities from the list to implement in their own farm. We simply left the list hanging on the wall so people can go to it for inspiration. At some point we will probably type it up and store it online, but for now, we love having it on the wall in our face every day.
Organizing your work
A good way to keep your farming activities organized is to get a three ring binder.
- Make 12 dividers for the months of the year. No need to wait for January. Just start where you are. Insert a copy of your farm map in each section.
2. Decide on an activity for each month and write out a plan of action. Include not only details for executing the plan but your call to action. For example, if you are doing a block clean up, you might include:
*The date you plan to do it
*How you will invite neighbors
*Supplies you will need
*A two minute elevator pitch to let people know who you are and why you are there
*Call to Action, eg, sign up for my email list and receive my newsletter with money saving tips, neighborhood events, market updates, or simple DIY maintenance tips for homeowners.
3. Keep all your notes in the folder and mark off each house on the map as you touch them (hand out invitation, mail a letter, etc.)
4. Keep a section in the back for notes. You may come up with new ideas for next year.
5. Stay six months ahead. If it isn’t on your calendar, it won’t happen!
CTA – Call to Action
Building community and making connections is great and good for your soul, but without a CTA, farming is a hobby, not a business. A CTA is a way for you to capture email addresses of people who are interested in your message. By delivering something of value, you will capture an audience and build a network of followers. It may be on social media, in person or through an email list. The goal is to build your email list so that you control it and can reach out to your network at any time. By offering something of value, like a newsletter or insider information about the neighborhood, you will connect with people who are truly interested in you and what you have to offer.
It’s a Journey, not a Destination
Farming takes patience and perseverance. You are planting seeds, just like a real farmer. And seeds take time to grow. Make sure you commit to at least a year and do not expect to see results before then. The time will pass whether you do it or not, so start now.
Plan on touching each household in your farm at least once a month. The goal is to make connections and get involved in the community. Be led by that rather than by closing deals. Real estate is a people business. We are in the business of people. Make connections first and the business will follow.
What Can you Bring to the Table?
What can you do to get involved in your community? Go back to your brainstorming list and pull ideas, like a block cleanup or block party. There isn’t a better way to get to know the community than to go out and help clean a neighborhood Maybe plant flowers or repair something or get rid of an eyesore. I once joined in cleaning of a vacant lot full of tires and trash. It was grueling and filthy, but I helped make a difference and met some great people that I am in touch with today.
What ideas do you have for events? Get inspiration and support by sharing them in our Facebook group.