A Candle in a Dark Room

Business, Journal, Sales,  Principals,  Salespeople

When you are up to your neck in alligators, it is easy to forget that the goal was to drain the swamp.

In difficult times where we are preoccupied with concerns for ourselves, loved ones and colleagues, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate goal or objective. This week on Real Estate UNCUT, I had the privilege to speak with Daniel Argent from Urban X. Before the GFC started to impact Australian markets in 2010, Argent was selling one property a week in Brisbane. In 2011-12, when the GFC was really hitting us, his sales dropped to just one a month…and his income dropped to a quarter.

That would be a familiar story for those selling during that time and went through a similar difficult patch. If you weren’t in business then, imagine what it would be like to still have expenses geared to four times your present income. For Argent, it meant his cash in the bank dropped from $100,000 to just $5,000. He barely made it through. But as he says, “I was one of the lucky ones, as so many other agents dropped out of the real estate profession altogether.”

When the GFC ended, Argent had done a number of things to position himself for success on the other side. That experience and the things he did then are exactly what we need to do now as we stare down the barrel of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

In 2013, when the market stabilised, Argent’s business went up 250% in one year. How? Because of the work and forward planning he completed during the downturn. And Argent was generous enough to share those experiences with me as we unpacked what he did during the GFC, and what you and I can be doing right now to prepare ourselves and our businesses to come out stronger once we return to ‘business as usual.’ Argent’s strategies and goals to get through a downturn include:

  1. The 20:1:20 strategy: “No matter what else was going on in the world, I would make 20 calls every day, with the goal of booking one meeting a day. That meant 20 meetings per month knowing that if I could do that, I could get two to three listings per month just from my calls, let alone any referrals or call-ins I’d get each month. All up, my goal was to list five properties per month.”
  2. Set small, medium and large goals: “I needed to know what I was working for each day, especially on days when it was really tough. So I set clear tangible goals and looked at them every day. An example of small goals would be rewarding myself with coffee from a cafe if I completed my 20 calls. If I only did 19, I had to have instant coffee. An example of a medium goal would be if I got five listings per month, I’d take my girlfriend out to dinner. My large goal would be to buy a new watch if I hit my GCI goal for the year.”
  3. Price vs presentation: “Despite how tough the market got, I realised there were two reasons why any property wouldn’t sell – price or presentation. I knew that if I could nail the presentation, the only issue was the price. That gave me something to work on every day, and I would spend time aligning all of my vendors to the market. Some would listen, some wouldn’t, but that was why I needed to carry twice as many listings as usual.”
  4. Make a big, bold change: “In January 2011, I could see what was coming and how tough the market was going to get. I knew there was no way I could survive on only 50% of each of my commissions, so I left and started working for myself from home. I kept my costs super lean, and by working for myself, I was able to keep all of my commission. What really surprised me, was that when I left, none of my clients were bothered – they all followed me to my new business, and I remember on the very first weekend I got a listing and sale.”
  5. Brand building: “Just as a candle burns brightest in the darkest room, my sold boards stood out so much in a market where there were very few sales happening. It was actually a big deal to see a sold sticker on a sign, and everyone noticed. During the GFC, I built a brand as someone who could get results. I picked up a lot of expired listings from other agents, and I got them sold. More than ever before, sellers wanted to deal with agents who were getting results – they didn’t care where they worked, and that’s when I became so passionate about agents building their own brand. By the time the GFC ended, I was the go-to-guy and my business increased 250% in one year, and hasn’t stopped growing every year since.”

Daniel Argent is a remarkable person, agent and role model. As he said to me in one of my shows, “a candle burns brightest in the darkest room.” We are all in a dark room right now. The question I have for you is, will you be the candle?

Kevin Turner hosts Australasia’s longest running and most listened to podcast for real estate agents, business owners and property managers – Real Estate UNCUT. The segments with Daniel Argent mentioned here are available now for catch up at Real Estate PLUS