For solo agents, hitting a ceiling is a question of when, not if. Eventually, you simply can’t do more yourself to build your business, and that’s when it’s time to double down on one of the Three Ls of The Millionaire Real Estate Agent – leverage.
“When we’re looking for leverage, we’re looking to buy back time, and we’re looking to grow,” says Jason Moon, a KW agent in Walnut Creek, California. A longtime solo agent, Moon began adding members to a team last year, in part to make it home for storytime with his two young sons.
Halfway across the country in the greater Kansas City area, KW agent Kaleena Schumacher reached a similar realization. “By the time you say that you need help, it’s already too late,” she says, encouraging other solo agents to bring leverage into their lives sooner than later.
After all, once you begin to add leverage to your business, you can better protect your life worth living and give better customer service too. So, how do you get there?
Five Tools to Get Started
For Moon and Schumacher, the road to obtaining real leverage starts with a mix of goal setting and accountability tools and adherence to two MREA models.
“You can’t get started on leverage until you know where you’re going,” Moon says. Breaking down your goals, priorities and strategies tells you how to spend your time, where you’re going and why you’re going there.
Once you have leverage in place, create 4-1-1s, the tool that reflects their top priorities, for each team member. Even before you’ve added leverage to your business, you can break down the components of your business with individual 4-1-1s to see how you should spend your time. For example, make separate 4-1-1s for both lead generation and marketing. KW agents can learn more about the 4-1-1 on KW Connect.
3) Accountability partners.
Whether it’s someone in your office or a coach, you need someone to talk to and to provide some objective accountability. “Who you surround yourself with helps you grow bigger and think bigger,” Schumacher says.
4) Economic Model.
This MREA model helps you work backward so you know how many appointments you need to go on to hit your goal – and where leverage can be employed to help you make those numbers. Understanding the Economic Model is the first step to building a career in real estate, or taking a team to the next level.
5) Organizational Model.
The MREA model that makes leverage legible, the Organizational Model will serve as your road map as you grow your business and begin to take more off your plate. “What would my life look like at level two?” Moon asks as an example. “How many hours a week would that buy me back?”
Leverage in Action
KW agent Alisha Simpkins has been flying solo for 15 years in Chico, California. In 2021, she closed 93 units for about $37 million in volume. And she credits much of that to finally going all in on leverage. “I joked that most people wanted to be me until they actually got into my life.” At the time, she was averaging 70 to 90 units a year and thoroughly burned out.
Now, thanks to leverage, she works from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and uses Friday, Saturday and Sunday for downtime and personal pampering. She’s purposeful about using her work time exclusively for high-level tasks and leaving everything else for her assistants.
Also based in Chico, California, is another longtime solo agent (and another Alisha!) Alisha Fickert. In 2021, she closed 82 transactions for $22 million in volume. “I didn’t get purposeful and start running my business like a business until I joined KW six years ago,” she says. “Then I started putting systems in place.” At the time, she was hitting about 50 transactions a year at the time and lacking sustainable support. Her first hire was a virtual assistant five years ago, and now she has an executive assistant as well.
“It helped me get control of my family life and helped me take on more clients too,” Fickert says of leaning into leverage. “Today, I spend my time on the top 20% of my business, which is lead generation, and leverage out everything else.” She limits her work to four days per week (“Mommy Day is Wednesday,” she says) and is on track for about 100 transactions this year.
Over on the East Coast in Wilmington, North Carolina, solo agent Robby Cavinder closed 120 units for about $33 million in volume in 2021. Cavinder is quick to dub his journey as “painful” and that it “took longer than it should’ve.” With six kids at home, he was doing 70 units by himself before battling burnout and finally focusing on leverage. “I went from working in my business to working on my business, and that’s where the change came for me,” he says. “I found people who made me better at what I do. No one succeeds alone.”
When he first started with leverage, he first hired an admin that wasn’t a good fit and then found his current admin, who has been with him for two years. Because the focus of his business is for sale by owners, he also has an ISA who focuses on FSBOs as well. “It’s very easy in this business to try to be a superhero,” he says. “You can try to do everything, but if you’re not focusing on the bigger things, like lead generation, your business won’t last.”