By Arizona REALTOR® Shane Cook, ABR, CIPS, GRI

There are many different ways to invest in becoming a “Real Producer.” I decided in 2012 to become a lifelong, dedicated Professional REALTOR®: Serving my clients by being the most knowledgeable REALTOR® I can possibly be and through service to my industry starting at the local level, the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors (SEVRAR).

What started as a one-man shop with little-to-no volume, is now growing into a small, productive team. I choose to lead through example; serving clients and industry by staying educated on the most up-to-date issues and changes going on in our industry.

So, where do I invest my time and money in my desire to achieve those things?

  1. High-quality designations and continuing education
  2. Serving my local and state associations
  3. Building and serving relationships with clients, friends, and family
  4. Building and serving relationships with a supporting cast of service providers (Business Ambassadors)
  5. CRM for tracking, systematization, and accountability

If the direction of dedicating yourself to professionalism is appealing to you, there are many benefits. I identified the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation as the highest quality program to participate in, and I was not disappointed. I wish this was the licensing class! Not only did I expand and fine tune my skill set, I have developed some of the most rewarding relationships around our state by traveling to these classes. There are even regular scholarships, and SEVRAR puts on classes that are covered by your membership, as other associations may do as well.

Another very high-quality designation that I was introduced to by Janet Kane at SEVRAR is the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS). Again, these classes have helped me develop an even greater ability to serve people with all kinds of cultural and behavioral differences both for their personal homes and investment purposes. It is a great idea to strive to stay on top of these skills and to stay up to date with other education as well: like broker classes, foreclosure classes, property management classes, commercial real estate classes and many other options.

As mentioned, I was introduced to the CIPS program through my service in our local association. My service to our local and state associations have opened doors with multiple referral relationships, kept me up to date on information regarding all the current real estate and lending issues, and introduced me to an incredible cast of supporting relationships.

The investment of my time in these efforts pays back in many ways both expected and unexpected. Many of the items that the associations get involved with are community oriented and therefore fit in naturally to building relationships with others in your community.

I spend the majority of my time and money investing in the relationships with clients, friends, and family.

These investments generate the highest return in my experience. We stay in touch with our clients with client parties, holiday gifts, monthly newsletters highlighting our business ambassador relationship, monthly e-newsletter, personally written cards for life events, house warming parties and more. We work to regularly involve friends, family, and business ambassadors in these events, and to coordinate with events or projects that are important to our clients.

We reach out to our clients with phone calls, thank you cards, and personal text/video messages whenever we get referrals from them or from their referrals. We also promote our ability to help out with all kinds of things they run into every day. Our business ambassadors also allow us to “solve” all kinds of problems for our clients; from simple repairs or services, to complete remodels and additions.

Naturally, that leads us to our business ambassadors and how we invest time and money with them. I host a monthly breakfast with my closest business ambassadors in order to incubate relationships among them as well. Sometimes I cover costs and sometimes someone else does. It takes the time to organize and get started, but it provides incredible value to your relationships when you can be their go-to person for everything real estate related. That is creating value that gets recognized and appreciated.

It is also very important to do as much as you can to support the efforts of your business ambassadors in their community and client based events as well. This attitude of the complete service provider to both your clients and your business ambassadors pays off in financial and emotional stability.

All of this, or any other investment of time and energy, is a waste if you do not have a plan and a system for tracking, systematization, and ACCOUNTABILITY: a high-quality CRM. Rate or grade all of the contacts in your database. Track every contact you have with your database of clients, friends, and business ambassadors.

If you do that action or send that communication more than a few times, systematize, document, and integrate into your CRM. Measure, report on and be accountable to your plan through the data in your CRM by looking at the reports regularly. DON’T MISS THAT! Measure, report on, and be ACCOUNTABLE to your plan!

Dedication to being a Professional REALTOR® by serving my clients through being the most knowledgeable REALTOR® I can possibly be — and through service to my industry, clients and supporting cast, has been incredibly rewarding emotionally, professionally, and financially.

Service without the expectation of a return to my clients and my industry have proven invaluable to my continued growth and success. So, when you are considering where to invest your time and money, I suggest you invest in yourself through high-level education and service to our industry. Your plan will develop and change over time.

To reiterate: Have a plan, system for tracking, systematization, and ACCOUNTABILITY. Doing so prepares you best to serve your clients; many times before you even meet and pays you back in ways you never imagined.

This article first appeared in the May 2017 edition of SouthEast Valley Real Producers magazine.
Reprinted with permission.