Starting a business can be exciting, rewarding, and even overwhelming at times. Back in 2005, I set out on my entrepreneurial journey and started my transaction coordinator business. I wrote about that adventure in my book Glitter, Duct Tape and Magic. In 2015, after 10 years in business I wrote the book The Road from Contract to Close, with the idea to help real estate agents understand more about what a transaction coordinator does, however, what ended up happening was people who wanted to start their own business reached out to me for coaching and mentoring. In 2018, I launched the Transaction Coordinator Academy to help individuals who wanted to learn to be a TC or to learn to take their skills and turn them into a successful business. Below are some of the steps involved.
- Choose a Name for your Business
When choosing a name for your business, consider the following: simplicity, professionalism, discoverability, and clearly reflecting the core values of your business. This is one of the least complicated aspects of starting your business, but does involve some time dedicated to thoughtfulness and research. Consider names that include keywords, such as those related to the real estate industry and transaction coordinating. This will be important to ensure that potential clients are able to locate your services when searching for a transaction coordinator. Once you’ve come up with something you love, check to see if that website domain is available. I wrote an article about naming you may find helpful – you can read that here.
- Make it Official
Next, you will need to consider your desired business structure, whether it will be set up as an LLC or Sole Proprietor. This is an important step, which will affect many aspects of your business moving forward. Once you have done the proper research and come to a decision, consult with an expert who can help you form your corporation by filing legal documents and helping to determine the best tax status. I highly recommend you meet with a trusted expert to help guide you in this matter. It is far less expensive to hire someone to guide you in the beginning than it is to fix things later on. Your research will help you to get an idea of what options are available, then the attorney or CPA you meet with can help you make sure they are a good match for your goals.
- Obtain any Necessary Licensing
What type of license you need to acquire as a transaction coordinator will depend on the state in which you live and work. It is important to make certain that your business is properly licensed by doing thorough research on state laws. The laws and practices of real estate can be complex. Therefore, ensure that you are familiar with the requirements and regulations of your state, as well as that you have a thorough understanding of the standards of real estate compliance. If you intend to work for clients in different states, you will need to follow the specific licensing rules that apply to that state. This is another place where a legal expert can truly be helpful.
- Learn the Basic Skills
To be successful as a transaction coordinator and provide your clients with the best possible service, you will need to learn and utilize a variety of skills. These include:
- Understanding the process of a real estate transaction from the time it begins to the time it ends. You may find one of the courses offered at the Transaction Coordinator Academy helpful.
- Finding the best communication methods for speaking with clients, agents, brokers, and anyone who you are doing business with. Choose an email – whether it is a branded email or gmail – that you are able to easily access from any computer or your phone. Use a VOIP system to create boundaries between receiving business calls and personal calls. Consider a communication platform such as Slack to streamline the communication between you and your agents.
- Additionally, brush up on the correct real estate terminology for communicating with professionals. You can get a copy of my book with a full glossary of real estate terms here.
- Clearly define the scope of work you plan to offer to your agent clients.
- Know how to market your services effectively (See “Marketing your business” below).
- Choose a Transaction Coordinator Software
Finding a software that will help you to manage your business is essential. Before looking into different platforms make a list of features you think would be helpful for your business. Look for a software that has a great support department and lots of training videos to help you get up and running as well as work through any technical issues down the road.This software program you choose will help you to complete the many administrative tasks you will find yourself doing as a part of coordinating real estate transactions. The best system is one you will actually use. A helpful tip is to create a task list for each transaction that you coordinate. This can be shared with your agent (in a view only format), to show them the steps that you are going to take and help you to stay on track. Review this process with your agent clients in your onboarding calls.
- Set your Rates
When you are just starting your business and you are new to being a transaction coordinator, it can be difficult to know what a fair and competitive rate for your services is. A good place to start is researching and comparing the rates of other, similar transaction coordination companies. You will also need to consider the method in which you will charge your clients. Most commonly, transaction coordinators will send an invoice to clients once the transaction has closed for them to pay. However, you also have the option of asking your clients to pay upfront or even using a system to automatically charge, via a prearranged agreement, the client card on file.
A bookkeeping software that you can use to track your sales and expenses will be a helpful tool to guide you financially. Xero does a good job and is recommended – here’s an article on why. Create a business bank account, and a merchant account for the processing of credit cards and e-checks – Stripe.com is a great tool for this and will integrate with Xero nicely. Consider enlisting the help of a local banker who can help you to manage your accounts as your business grows. Not only is this helpful for your banking needs, but it also could be an excellent source of referrals.
- Marketing your Business
In order to increase the effectiveness of your marketing, get a clear idea of who your ideal client will be and the type of clients that you want to work with. A little bit of creativity and ingenuity can go a long way in reducing the time and cost associated with marketing. I cover this and many other helpful business concepts in the Transaction Coordinator Business course. Consider looking for marketing opportunities in social media groups, at your local Chamber of Commerce, through attending trade shows, or networking with other industry professionals. Referrals and conversations with cooperating agents as well as lenders, title agents and even home warranty reps. You’ll also find an audio recording I prepared called Simple and Effective ways to Market to your Ideal Clients helpful in growing your business.
Once you begin to build a client base, create a profile for each client with personalized information. This could include their home address, license number information, favorite vendors, and birthday (so you can help them celebrate). You could keep this info in a contact record in something like Google Contact or as you grow you may wish to invest in a CRM. I like Agile CRM as it’s inexpensive and scalable.
Asking your clients for testimonials and reviews, which you can then post on your website or social media, is a great way to gain credibility and market yourself for future business as well.
- Being the Entrepreneur
As a new business owner, it will be important to ensure that you are nurturing yourself professionally and personally and making time for you.
- Clearly define what you want your business to look like. There are so many different ways to operate a business. I think this is one of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur. My advice is to start with the end in mind – what do you want your business to look like? How do you want to feel in your work? Who do you want to work with? What kind of time will you have for other things? Etc., List all of the things that are important to you. This will help you know the direction to go. Even with this, it could be a bumpy or messy adventure, but then again it could be amazing and smooth as glass. Either way, don’t let the fear of getting it wrong stop you – just know what you want and course-correct as needed when things get out of alignment.
- Allow yourself time to work on projects away from all other distractions and notifications. Read the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber – it’s an oldie but goldie.
- Hire a coach, mentor, or advisor to help grow your business according to your vision. This will prevent you from taking on all of the responsibility and getting burnt out.
- Make self-care a priority: take a class, go to the gym, read a book, take a vacation to relax and recharge. Do the things that feed your body and soul.
- Celebrate often! Develop an attitude of gratitude by finding something good each day and writing it down. Share your successes, big and small, with entrepreneurial friends and if you don’t have people in your circle to celebrate with, consider joining a mastermind group.
If there is anything my team and I can do to help you with your transaction coordinator business, please reach out. My passion is helping individuals create businesses that they love. You can learn more about working with me here.