Finding His Way Back: When California real estate tanked, Mark Gonzales nearly let himself sink, too. "It was so challenging," he says. "I felt like I was just getting experience, and then the market turned. I was watching friends go into other jobs with six figures, and they didn’t work weekends."
Get out or get serious: Rather than give up, Gonzales hired a business coach. In 2008, he closed 16 transactions totaling $6.2 million, leased 4 properties, and hired and trained an assistant. He’s now mentoring two new sales associates.
Cheap tricks: After recommitting to real estate, Gonzales became obsessed with leveraging technology to increase his business. "I maximized my presence on the Internet," he says, "by advertising on free and low-cost sites, such as REALTOR.com, Zillow, and Craigslist." He also participates on 10 free social networking sites. As revenues increased, he hired a search engine optimization team to make sure his Web site ranks high in Internet search results. "My Web site," he says, "attracts more than 3,500 visitors and produces 30 to 45 client registrations per month."