SHIFT, The Pandemic, And The Hottest Real Estate Market Ever

Roger Bradshaw via Unsplash


In March 2020 the pandemic forced the real estate industry to a halt. In the few weeks before real estate was classified as an essential service, agents and brokers found themselves almost completely stalled. And as people were ordered to stay at home, they were certainly not in the mood to put their homes on the market and leave. Listing inventory declined 8.5% from the previous month and fell 15.7% compared to March 2019.

When the pandemic started, many people — including then-BOLD Coach James Shawturned to a trusted source: SHIFT. Written during the 2008 housing crisis, SHIFT is the playbook for what to do when the market turns. It walks agents through twelve tactics to refocus their business and their client strategies. When the market stalled in 2020, James Shaw, in partnership with Keller Williams Realty International, launched the Pivot: Shift Ahead Facebook group and over the next six months, tens of thousands of real estate professionals tuned in to daily calls, workshops, and a SHIFT book club that helped them tackle the real-time changes occurring in the market. 

Now, two years later, the market has shifted again. The real estate industry is experiencing an unprecedented time: as Gary Keller remarked recently, “2021 was the greatest sales number in the history of the real estate industry.” Housing inventory has reached all-time lows, and the average sales price of a home has skyrocketed, increasing 12% year over year. And for James Shaw, now VP of Learning at KWRI, this competitive market has only bolstered the need for community and dedication to mastery. The Pivot group has grown to include almost 100,000 members and most still hop on an early morning call to read through books and resources that can help them get the competitive edge. And, in both markets, SHIFT is the roadmap.

We connected with James to discuss why SHIFT helped in our time of crisis and remains more relevant than ever. He had this to say about the lasting influence of SHIFT:

The "Mini" SHIFT — Tactics 1-4 

“When the pandemic started, I gave copies of SHIFT to every business owner that I knew and said, ‘Just read the first four chapters, and then the last one,’” James recalls. “They’ll give you strategies and ideas for how you’re going to get through this.”

Whether it was the woman who owned the wine bar down the street or the owner of his daughter’s dance studio, James knew that any small business owner could use the first four SHIFT tactics to take control of their situation:

  1. Get Real, Get Right
  2. Re-Margin Your Business – Expense Management
  3. Do More with Less – Leverage
  4. Find the Motivated – Lead Generation 

Each of these tactics concerns something that an individual has direct control over. By choosing to get their mindset right, their budget and team doing the most they can with the leanest investments, and doubling-down on finding future business through lead generation, anyone can change their relationship with the market. Why?

Because “it’s not about the market, it’s what you do,” says James, pointing to the cover of his battered copy of SHIFT. “As Gary and Jay write on page 26, it’s all about knowing what to do and then it’s not about knowing — it’s about doing.”

This crucial step, taking action, is what separates those who will succeed from those who won’t — and it’s true in any market.

The SHIFT...Shifts 

Even though SHIFT was written during the toughest buyer’s market on record, it’s not only about surviving through tough times. The book’s core message about taking charge of your situation and reimagining your business is evergreen.

According to James, one of the most powerful lessons from the book is that “easier” markets don’t necessarily lead to our success, but often hide the problems with our businesses. These problems could be our undoing when difficult times come. 

“The most humbling lesson of a shift is this — we succeed in good times not only because of what we do right, but also in spite of what we do wrong.” — SHIFT, p.28 

 Given the booming real estate market of the past two years, many people are having the best years of their business. But will these be the same people that continue to thrive when the market changes?

SHIFT’s biggest lesson is that your business’s fate is never bound to the market. Your success is only a result of what you do.

Gary spoke about this during his speech at Keller Williams’ recent Family Reunion conference when he said, “What’s fascinating is that some people can have their best years in a down market and some people have their best years in the best markets. So don’t worry too much about what the market is doing in the end. Focus on your main activities of finding [people] who want to do business with you. If you can do that, the market will not totally drive your career.”

The Challenge in the Year Ahead: Leverage

With the Great Resignation in full swing, many businesses are starting their year focusing on their leverage. Many are struggling with finding, recruiting, and retaining talent in their organizations.

“I think the talent you have in your organization and how you’re pouring into them matters a lot right now. Because if not, and then there’s an opportunity for them somewhere, and they can make more money somewhere else, they’re gonna go.” James says.

If you’re finding yourself facing problems with your people leverage, revisit “Seven Steps to Talent Shift” on pages 42-43 of SHIFT. These steps will help you communicate your vision so that you can retain your talent, as well as build systems to check-in with them, train them, and help keep their long-term success aligned with the demands of your business. 

But, even with a talented team, an extreme market is going to push your business and its leverage to its limit. You’ll need to revisit the other types of leverage you have in place. “If your production is going up and you have less time to do things, you need really good tools and systems in place, too,” says James.

The only constant in life is change. So, in uncertain times and ever-changing markets, it is key to have the right systems and people in place so you’re prepared for change and can shift your business when shifts occur.

How has SHIFT helped your business throughout the past few years? How are you planning to level up your leverage? Let us know on the KellerINK Facebook page and subscribe to our newsletter for more exciting new information. 

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