It's a beautiful sunny day, and you decide that it would be perfect to venture out and do some farming. But, you have never done this before and you fear that you'll be wasting your time. After all, everyone knows that farming is a hit or miss thing and doesn't work most of the time. Why, to hear it told, thousands of agents are out in their fields farming their little fingers to the bone with little to show for it.
What's a hungry agent to do? Oh, I just love dispelling myths, and farming has some really entrenched ones. First, let's address the one about all those agents out there who believe that farming is a waste of time. As a seasoned Realtor, manager and trainer, I know this for sure. What most agents are calling farming is lip service to the art.
The best way to prove this is to give Agent X some territory to farm, then watch Agent Y, who thinks it's his/her farm, buck like a mule. The scenario might go something like this:
- Agent: “You can't give him that farm area. It's mine.”
- Broker: “Well how often have you mailed to or personally visited the area this year?”
- Agent: “I did three mailings.”
- Broker: “Did you do any follow-up calls or visits to those mailings?”
- Agent: “I made a couple of calls.”
- Broker: “Did you know that there were five listings in that farm in the past two months that went to other companies?”
- Agent: “Yes, but that's not my fault. The other agent who got those listing is also working that farm.”
Sound familiar? Real estate farming is scientific and has rules just like agricultural farming has rules. In agricultural farming one must access the land, fertilize appropriately to ensure the soil quality is right, sow the seed, water and nurture during the growing period and then harvest the crop at the appropriate time.
Let's look at the parallels with real estate farming:
- Access the land. Often when people say farming is not worth it, it is because they have not done their preliminary homework to determine the viability of the farm being cultivated. That means you need to farm an area that is worth your time. How do you find that out? Make sure that you have at least 500 names in your farm area or areas combined, and that the turnover rate in those areas is equal to 7% over the past three years. (To find this out, research your MLS records.) If it is less than 7%, you will not get the return on your dollar and time invested.
- Sow the seed. That means contacting that farm 12 times a year, faithfully. Not 11 or 9 or anything less than 12! Twelve is the minimum number of times you must sow. That sowing may be a newsletter mailing one month, just listed/just solds the next, etc. The key is variety and consistency.
- Nurture the garden, harvest the crop. If you are to eat, you must water, give plant food and spray for bugs. Then you can harvest your crop. In real estate, that takes the form of contacting the farm personally at least quarterly. If you miss a quarter, your crop will be measly and other agents will beat you to the great plums. Doing it three times is farming light. That's not going to cut it.
When I was a manager, I would never allow anyone to call a farm area theirs unless they strictly adhered to these rules. It would be a tragedy to lose the market share and to deprive another agent of the opportunity of benefiting from a job done well and right.
Okay, farmers, get out your databases, postcards, newsletters and imaginations and get farming. The weather is beautiful, the time is ripe for planting the fall harvest, and wouldn't it be great to have all that holiday cash just when you need it the most!