Are you considering becoming an Advocate but aren’t sure where to start?

Here’s a cheat sheet on what to avoid if you are going to transition into this new career path and start your own business.

Mistake One

Not investing in establishing a professional brand.

If you look like a work in progress, you will be treated like one!

Perception is everything. The first thing we do when we talk to a new service provider is google them and if you aren’t visible on google in a professional and credible manner you will struggle to succeed, no matter how good you were at sales previously. Remember, you are who google says you are…

When leaving an existing agency that provides everything an agent needs to succeed, many new Advocates who step out on their own seriously underestimate the cost of starting a business from scratch and what’s involved.

You must create a new brand, design digital and print marketing and collateral to present yourself in a professional manner. You need to engage a copywriter, website designer, attend to SEO and advertising, set up a CRM and social and emarketing strategies.

And you need to concurrently build a profile as being credible, which takes time.

Mistake Two

Not setting up your business correctly.

While developing your brand, you will need to attend to the legal agreements, insurances, industry memberships and licensing costs.

You will need systems, detailed documented processes, a CRM system (excel won’t cut it) and to risk proof your business; all to ensure you can succeed with minimum risk and maximum return.

All of this can cost well over $100,000 and absorb enormous amounts of time, focus and energy, which takes away from money making activities that enable you to make a decent income.

Good property advocates can generate enough work to comfortably do this profession full time, when they aren’t caught up in the back end of running their business.

Mistake Three

Not managing your time well.

You will need to prospect and generate leads while also fulfilling client briefs, which can be more time consuming than you anticipate.

Becoming self-employed and running your own business is not for the faint hearted or inexperienced agent.

You will need to learn to manage your time much better, as there are aspects of advocacy that are far more time consuming than an agent would imagine.  This is not a 9-5 job. It’s longer hours than that, in fact its nights and weekends too!

For example, driving across town in heavy traffic to meet at a prospects home for a consultation, or to inspect a property to buy and then driving back again. I can assure you that the hours needed to go into being a good property advocate are no different to that of being a top selling agent, they are just allocated differently to what an agent might be accustomed too.

Mistake Four

Not grasping a whole new way of working.

Don’t underestimate that this is a whole new way of working. Its consultative, not transactional. It’s a service for people, not a product to sell, being property.

To do it justice and to succeed you will need to unlearn being a selling agent and learn how to be a vendor and/or buyers advocate.  You may balk at the idea, but it’s a very different skill set.

Selling agents often think that their database of past clients will automatically engage their service as a Buyers Advocate. Often they are mistaken.

This is a service that needs to be sold, as it isn’t bought. By that I mean that the average prospect thinks they can do what you can do, for themselves. For many prospects it takes a lot of convincing to pay thousands of dollars when they don’t really understand the value that a good buyer’s advocate will deliver. And often they only find out when it’s too late.

Many selling agents who transition to property advocacy struggle to convert prospects to clients as they are accustomed to vendors knowing they need help, so it’s is only a case of who they choose to engage.

With buyer advocacy, it’s a case of educating consumers as to why they need help (even when they have contacted you), and then still competing for the business against other advocates.

Mistake Five

Now knowing how to qualify and convert prospects to clients.

Many new property advocates don’t know how to properly qualify a prospect, which can lead to a lot of wasted timed with people who are happy to meet with you to educate themselves, but don’t want to commit to using your service.

This means that any prospecting efforts you are making will be diluted if you can’t qualify your prospective client quickly and decide the best use of your time. Focussing on what I call ‘green cherries” (not ready) versus “red cherries” (ready to go) will make all the difference to your level of success.

Seek out ongoing training and mentoring to qualify prospects, convert prospects to clients and earn additional funds via referral relationships to make your transition easier and more profitable.

Mistake 6

Thinking that you will convert a client to a purchase in 4-6 weeks.

The nature of advocacy often requires the advocate to develop a buying brief for a client, as they may not be clear on what they want or need.

It can often take two – three times more work than that of being a selling agent.  A perfect example might be working with a home buyer and missing out on 3 properties before you eventually secure a property for them, which could have taken a 12-month period.

Selling agents who think they can convert a buyer every few weeks like a vendor, will be in for a rude shock.  This isn’t a business where you can ‘churn’ clients. Its about the right property at the right price in the right location, and for a client to buy, all boxes need to be ticked.

If you don’t know how to manage client’s expectations or educate your clients about the price they need to pay for the property (without overpaying), they could end up chasing a rising market. Sometimes it will simply be bad luck on the day at auction that will require a continual reassessment of a clients brief to secure them an outcome, and all of that takes time before you are paid.

Mistake 7

Underestimating the need for community

There are far fewer Property Advocates than there are selling agents. It’s important to ensure that you make connections with other advocates, even though you may likely compete with them for business at some point.

This is highly specialised area and its good to be able to share knowledge and intel with colleagues, which can benefit each of you. It also helps to workshop the many different scenarios you will come up against and having other advocates you can refer to or split deals with is a bonus.

It will also ensure that you don’t feel so alone, if you set up your own business.

In summary

  • consider each of these potential mistakes before venturing out on your own
  • make sure you have access to mentors who can support you on your journey
  • it will take time to get established so ensure you can cashflow that timeframe until you start earning money

Miriam Sandkuhler, CEO Property Mavens and Property Mavens Franchising, Industry Thought Leader