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[PULSE] Irrefutable principles of high-performance mortgage and real estate practices

Note: This is part one of a five-part series. Over the next five weeks, Todd Duncan, sales entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author, will showcase five principles for mortgage and real estate professionals to embrace for success.

What if success, massive success, all came down to one simple concept? What if I told you there is only one word you need to understand, and apply, to have all the success you’ve ever dreamed of?

Would you want to know the word? Sure, you would. Who wouldn’t? 

I’m guessing the reason you chose this business was because you saw an opportunity, felt excited and energized, and knew you could “make it,” and “make it big.” 

You might have had some ups and downs along the way. It’s a dynamic industry with ever changing markets, prices, demands, rules, ethics, compliance and challenges. And, that is a given. But high-performers know that, and they have arrived at a mindset that follows this thinking – it’s never the market that determines my success, it is how I am in that market!

Todd Duncan
Todd Duncan
Guest Author

When I was 23, newly minted with a college degree, my childhood baseball coach – who happened also to own the largest independent real estate company on the West Coast along with a mortgage company – talked me into my first career at a July 4th BBQ. No visions as a kid for this career path! Fireman, policeman, doctor, yes. But I never dreamed about selling, listing or financing property for people. I got my brokers license and started down the path.

My first mentor sat down with me shortly thereafter and he asked me, “If I could tell one word that you need to embrace that will guarantee your success, would you want to know what that word was?” I said, “Yes,” just like you did. And that one word changed everything. Principles! 

That’s it: Principles! 

He went on, “That is the only word you ever need to know to succeed.” I grabbed it and never looked back.

Early on this became the guiding force in my life and it was the difference maker that allowed me to be involved in nearly 6,000 transactions in 10 years. I ate this word up and, in that pursuit, I stumbled across the work of Harrington Emerson. He is the author of The Twelve Principles of Efficiency which he wrote in 1913.

According to him, this is how you change your game…

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” — Harrington Emerson

Over the next five weeks, I will showcase the five principles I have embraced, taught and coached thousands of mortgage and real estate professionals to embrace in order to crush it in business and life.

Principle No. 1: Everything Can Be Improved

As first glance, I can say you might be taking too long to get your results. And, if you are not measuring the things that matter most, you can’t begin to improve those things. I learned that this principle will produce three specific business results; more money, in less time, with less stress. There is no “silver bullet” to success, but one truth is you can only improve what you measure.

A real estate agent named Jim told me recently that when he finally understood this principle his business went from $8 million in sales to $40 million in sales in three years. A mortgage professional we coach went from 118 transactions to 184 transactions a year in less than 12-months and she shortened her workweek to 28-hours. 

There are two key points to this principle:

1.  If you want to make more money, you need to spend more time on what makes you money, the most money, per minute. 

According to Indeed.com, the average real estate agent in America is making $18.49 an hour and the average loan originator in America is making $37.52 an hour. 

So, the truth is, the hours you work are nowhere as important as the work you do during those hours. What makes you the most money is meeting with, connecting with, and converting prospects to customers to clients, and then keep them for life. The better you get at that, the easier, faster and more permanent those results are. That’s it. 

We measure hourly rate every two weeks with our coaching clients. It is not uncommon for them to go from $50 dollars an hour to over $500 an hour in under six months. They measure everything; how many hours with clients, showings and presentations. They look at how many hours they spend on interruptions, email and low-income tasks.

 It starts with the “x-ray” of where time is going and then, over time, how to reverse those trends by applying focus, skill mastery and delegation of the lowest income time robbers. 

There is a crazy mindset to this, bordering on obsession with all top performers, and it sounds like this, “Why take 40 years to do what I could do in 10 years? Why take a week to do what I could do in a day? Why take a day to do what I could do in an hour? Why take an hour with a client when I could do a better job and cut that in half and see twice as many people. Why talk to 10 prospects to get one deal when I could do a better job with one prospect and get 10 referrals/deals? Why show 10 properties, when I could show two to three? Why take three hours to do one open house when I can do three open houses, an hour each, and triple exposure and create a buying frenzy?” 

Are you getting this principle?

2. There is no limit to how much money you can make per hour, which is the most important metric you measure. (While producing extraordinary customer experiences.)

If everything can be improved – and it can – what is preventing you from earning in an hour what you usually make in a day? The answer is your head – and the belief that you can. Thomas Dreier said, “The life each of us lives is the life within the limits of our own thinking. To have life more abundant, we must think in limitless terms of abundance.”

Mindset is everything! Everyone has an income gap. The gap is large if the mind is small and if the skills are poor. Not so much, when belief is high. And once you move to increasing revenue “per minute”, you never want to go back. If you’re making a dollar an hour, and you embrace the first teaching point, once you are at ten dollars an hour, going back to a dollar an hour is not going to happen…unless you stop measuring and improving.

We teach that the better you get at business, the better business gets for you. What’s required? Spend the most time on the fewest things that produce the greatest revenue for your time. 

When I was 13, I went with my dad to one of his hospitals. He was a radiologist and when he showed me the x-ray room where a technician was taking x-rays, I asked him, “Dad, why don’t you take the x-rays?” He said, “Because I get paid to read them.” That impacted me and I never forgot that.

So, the prescriptive idea here is do what you get paid to do. Do as much of it as you can, efficiently and profitably. Don’t do things that fall outside of your core talent areas, or things that others can do better and less expensively than it will cost you to do it. And be vigilant and courageous because when you don’t follow this principle, you will work too hard, too long and when you are trading time for money, and you can’t get more time, the only thing that makes reasonable sense is make more money for the time you put in. 

One of our clients sent me this recently, “I have bought 101 rental properties in the last five years, live off 25% of my income, and have no debts other than my mortgages, plus I take 20 weeks of vacation per year, thanks to you.”

That’s what happens when you embrace Principle No.1: Everything can be improved.

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