In Episode 78 of the Wandering But Not Lost Podcast, we’ve packaged the 4-part series on How to Be a Real Estate Business Owner so that you’d have one easy place to go to listen and reference as a refresher now and again.  Jan O’Brien walks you through the pillars of Operations, Marketing, Sales, and Referrals in this powerful series.








Operations refers to the day-to-day activities of being IN your business!

  • For real estate, it’s taking listings, showing homes, writing and negotiating offers, managing the escrow to closing, communicating with other agents, lenders, escrow and all other parties to a transaction including the buyer or seller
  • How much time are you spending IN your business?
  • Do you make time to work ON your business?

Solopreneur vs. Team

Leverage the power of a transaction coordinator or assistant

Create an Operations Manual

A Real Estate Operations Manual ……Why you need one!

  • Written procedures for the primary pillars of your business operation will provide consistency, efficiency
  • It’s a reflection of your expectations and standards for all team members
  • Create checklists, job descriptions and clear tasks for every member of your team
  • Your manual becomes your training document when onboarding new team members
  • It is a Key asset for your eventual Exit Strategy
  • You can build it as you go (don’t get overwhelmed … it is a process!)
  • Leverage your admin staff to help you create the written procedures as required
  • What are those key pillars of any business?
    • Business Plan & Goals
    • Database Management & Referrals
    • Lead Generation & Marketing
    • Client Service Pre, During and Post Sale
    • Financial Management & Operations

For Real Estate Agents, Teams and Brokers:

  • Listing System
  • Buyer Sales System
  • Recruiting & Growth Plan
  • Hiring System
  • Retention, Training, Coaching

Download and customize the tasks and then add written procedures for any tasks that take 2 or more steps in the manual template based on how you conduct business:

  • Listings (Sellers)
  • Sales (Buyers)
  • Lead Gen – Database
  • Lead Gen – Farms
  • Lead Gen – Social Media, Internet
  • Marketing Networking
  • Hire-Onboard
  • Team Admin

Here is how we recommend you get started working on this project;

  1. Work on Listing & Sales tabs first (use any checklists or procedures you already have in place)
  2. Revise and customize the tasks for both areas (essentially everything you do from A to Z when working with a buyer and seller)
  3. Use the columns to identify who is responsible for the tasks now (and who would do what for future team members and growth)
  4. Next, write the procedures for any task that requires 2 or more steps.  Use screenshots to illustrate steps if applicable.  You can also use screen capture software to record video tutorials (Snag-it, Camtasia, Screeenflow)


Use your CRM!  A great CRM is more than a contact management system!

Design and follow a perfect week






Purpose of your marketing & advertising plan
  1. Create trust through your branding
  1. Generate business through familiarity (lead generation)
 The Six Fundamentals of Marketing
  1. Content is King
    • Provide valuable and dynamic content to your target audience
    • Fulfill a need. Your content should answer some unmet need or question for your customer. It needs to be useful in some way to the customer, over and above the basic real estate service
    • Use Quality and Compelling Images and Design
    • VIDEO, VIDEO, and more VIDEO
    • Quality over Quantity
    • Be authentic – find your voice

Content Ideas to Enhance Your Marketing

    • E-Newsletters
    • Start a blog and post weekly tips, how-to’s, market updates
    • Quick tips or notes that you can upload to social media
    • E-Books or PDF downloads
    • White Papers
    • Online videos
    • Webinars
    • Podcasts
    • Presentations and slideshows
    • Flow Charts
    • Infographics
    • Checklists
  1. Budget
    Every business needs a budget and a method to track your expenses and return on investment.  Use the WBNL Real Estate Business Plan tools to forecast and track your marketing budget. A good rule of thumb is to invest 10% of your gross revenue back into your marketing budget.
  2. Consistency
    The 3-7-27 law of prospecting states it takes 3 contacts for someone to recognize your name; 7 contacts for them to associate your name with your business; and 27 contacts for them to feel comfortable doing business with you.

Use a marketing calendar or schedule to stay on track.

Keep consistent in your branding and messaging.

    • Does your branding match who you are and the value you provide?
    • Is there a consistent brand look & feel online and offline?
  1. Specialize
    To compete and win, consider being the best in the world at one thing.  What is your target market, niche or specialty? Understand the demographics and psychographics within the geographic area. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
  2. Strong Call to Action
    Always include a call to action (CTA) in all marketing materials, both online and offline.What do you want the prospect to do?
  • Call or text you
  • Email you
  • Fill out a form
  • Click through to a website or landing page
  • Go to a web address
  • Respond to a survey or question
  1. Measure, Monitor and Follow-up
  • Online – use analytics, tracking codes, tools that will help you analyze what’s working and what is not working.
  • Know your Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Make any modifications to your overall marketing plan based on tracking and results
  • Have a solid follow-up action plan for any lead or prospect


We’ve discussed Operations and Marketing so far in this series.  Today the focus is on SALES.



The Four Pillars of Lead Generation

  • Your Database
  • Social Media & Online Lead Gen
  • Farming
  • Networking

3 Types of Lead Generation

  1. Referral
  2. Direct Connection (call, email, text, social media messaging, face-to-face)
  3. Inbound (call, email, text, direct message)

Leads can be PRO-ACTIVE or RE-ACTIVE

Converting your Leads into Sales – the 6 C’s

The first step is to generate leads through your proactive prospecting (cold calls, warm calls, door-knocking) and reactive marketing– (branded signs, advertising, direct mail, farming, etc.)

Always use a Call to Action that compels a prospective customer to take some sort of an action (complete a form, request a report, etc.); this allows you to capture their contact information.


  • Make the call as soon as possible, immediate response (less than 15 minutes) increases your chances of converting a lead
  • An initial welcome email, text – try a video intro!
  • Get your leads actively engaging with you across your online and social media platforms.


  • Automated drip email, text and call campaigns
  • Specific Action Plan for follow-up
  • Setup specific property searches using MLS or your personal website
  • CTAs in the email
  • Follow-up warm calls


  • Use the visitor search profile information
  • Refine searches
  • Close for appointments


  • Client for Life email campaigns
  • Monthly Newsletter
  • Seasonal emails
  • Market condition reports
  • Birthday cards
  • Home Anniversary card

Provide An Exceptional Customer Experience

WOW your clients during the transaction!

  • Do you have an excellent Buyer & Seller Service Plan in place?
    • Series of emails/connections to share the milestones and actions needed during an escrow
      • Congratulations – you are in escrow! What’s next?
      • Home Inspection
      • Selecting Home Warranty
      • Review of Preliminary Title
      • Walkthrough, utilities setup or change
      • Closing appointment

Check out Client Giant Packages start at $349

    • Under contract gift
    • Boxes, Tape and moving supplies
    • Midway milestone surprise
    • Help with Forwarding of Address & Transferring utilities
    • Personalized GiftTurn buyers and sellers into raving advocates. Deliver an unprecedented experience during each transaction and keep you top of mind with clients for years to come. Your clients receive thoughtful, helpful, and relevant gifts and experiences all addressed from you.
  • Communicate regularly to update the status of the escrow

Getting More Client Reviews

  • Discuss the importance of review in the initial meeting
  • A reminder midway through the transaction
  • At closing let them know what to expect and how
  • Set up a campaign in your CRM with at least 5 touches to remind!

Mentioned in the segment:

Gmail Canned Responses: How to set up canned responses in 60 seconds



Today we conclude our series on how to Be a Real Estate Business Owner with how you stay connected to your past clients and your SIO.




Post-Closing Follow-up

  • Closing gift
  • Host a house warming/welcome to the neighborhood party
  • Just moved kit (personalized return of address labels, postcard announcement
  • Closing statement/letter follow-up to mail January 1
  • Introduce your Client Appreciation Program
  • Episode 31 – Best of the podcast has 4 Key Connections and Local Business Spotlight

Create Your Client Appreciation Program

Create a letter or email that introduces your program and outlines the benefits to the client. Here are two examples to get you started – just revise and customize to include the details of your program.

Dear [Client]:

Let me take just a moment of your time to introduce a complimentary service I provide for my clients.

It features regular updates and analysis of our local and national real estate market, a referral directory of local businesses and services, an annual analysis of the market value of your home, invitations to our annual client appreciation party and a whole host of other helpful information you’ll receive on a regular basis.

I am dedicated to bringing you the excellent customer service that you deserve – and nothing less!

I look forward to staying in touch and I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your Real Estate Professional.


Four Key Connections

  1. Closing Settlement Statement
  2. Home Anniversary Card Email and/or Call
  3. Birthday Card, Email and/or Call
  4. Annual Home Valuation

30-40 Connection Plan

  • Monthly Newsletter
  • Holiday Cards
  • Market/ Neighborhood Updates
  • Personal Notes
  • Pop-By’s
  • Calls/Lunches for A+ and A Clients

SendOut Cards


Ask for referrals!

  • Oh by the way … Who do you know…
  • Reward your referrals
    • Movie Tickets
    • Gift Cards
    • Car wash
    • Gas cards
  • Referral language in your email signature, letters, mailers

Cross Endorsement Program (Groupon Idea)

  • Series of cross-promotional endorsements between you and other business
  • Each endorsement must include a benefit to recipient (coupon, discount, item of value)
  • Local Business Spotlight
  • Promote in your monthly newsletter

Referral Directory

  • Send a letter to your database to see if they have a business or a service to promote
  • Follow-up with a phone call to discuss
  • Create a Directory (Hard Copy and/or Online)

Educational Seminars

  • Real Estate Portfolio/Investing
  • Home Selling & Buying Process
  • Local Market Update
  • Protecting Your Assets, Trust, Wills, Financial Planner
  • Credit Repair and Credit Scores

Quarterly Thank You mailers or In-person delivery

  • Batteries for smoke detectors
  • Gift cert for house cleaning
  • Book with a personal note
  • Gift Basket with local products

Client Appreciation Week

  • Consider implementing a week of Client Appreciation. Plan and coordinate something special either mailed, emailed, or texted every day for a week.

Client Appreciation Event Ideas

  • Holiday Party
  • Rent out a theater – weeknight
  • Fundraising events
  • Host a local event (sports, super bowl, etc.)
  • Donation in the client’s name
  • Newer restaurant, pub – co-promotion
  • Rent a Food truck
  • Host a Private Wine Tasting
  • Small dinner party at your home
  • Happy Hour event at a local venue
  • Take everyone to a baseball game
  • Early Halloween party with canned food donations
  • Summer BBQ at your office, home or local park
  • Bowling Alley party
  • Create a family fun fair with face painting, games, etc.
  • Host a blood drive
  • Host a block party for a neighborhood that you work or live in
  • Host a game night

Mentioned in the Episode (Resources & Links)



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