Like it or not, there are no set hours in the real estate business. You work when the client needs you. You're constantly navigating around closings, listing presentations, phone calls, and emergencies.
Unfortunately, this is the "nature of the beast". Real estate is a client-centered business, and that's not ever going to change.
BUT - and I mean this! - you CAN still have a life. Yes, it's true. Even if you feel that there's no way to get control of your time and your life because your clients demand your attention every living minute of the day. Even if you feel like you're pulling your hair out between appointments. Even if you feel like there's no hope of getting an hour or two off next week. You CAN still have a life.
I know what you're thinking: HOW?
HOW can you still have a life and sell real estate without being at the beck and call of every client who wants to talk to you at 3 in the morning? While guaranteeing that your income increases every year? HOW?
If you want to have a life - a good quality life - while working in real estate, then you must run the business with your own rules.
And you have to sit yourself down and ask yourself some hard questions.
Here's a list of the Top Ten questions you must answer for yourself. Nobody can do this for you. You've got to be honest and direct, unafraid of the answers.
"Do I have routines in my business?"
You'd better. A business without routines is like a dentist without a drill-the job just won't get done.
Most people try to make routines based on the needs of their clients. This is completely backwards. Instead, create your routines based on your needs.
There are many routines, but a great one is time off. Time off must be a routine in your business-not something you "get around to" when you're not busy. Without time off, you will burn out.
For example, you may decide that every Wednesday, you don't work until 1:00pm. Once you decide it, it's set in stone. That's it. No more Wednesday mornings. Period.
Another routine is consistent marketing. Without regularly contacting your database, your business will suffer. The funnel of leads must constantly be filled, and the only way to do it is by sending out solid real estate-related information CONSISTENTLY.
There are many other routines. Take one at a time and MASTER it. Then add another. Then another. Then another. Before you know it, what used to take you three hours takes you three minutes because you have everything down to a routine.
"What does my follow-up system look like?"
Month after month, you must be in touch with your database, but especially your past clients. They are the goldmine from which a large percentage of your future business will come.
If your follow-up system is not in place, get working on it.
"What does my Quality of Life look like?"
Quality of Life is more than that Wednesday morning off. It's also taking care of yourself. Do you get to the doctor and dentist on a yearly basis? I can't tell you how many agents I know who neglect their health because they think they're too busy.
Hey, without your health, you're not going to have a business for much longer. Take care of yourself. Get exercise. Eat healthy. And see your doctor.
Don't forget vacation. When was the last time you took one? I thought so. You're too busy, right? Maybe next year, right?
Well, here's a fact: People who don't take vacation don't make as much money as people who do. Vacations feed your soul. Vacations give you the opportunity to step away from your life and see everything from a new perspective. Go call your travel agent and set one up now.
"How comfortable am I with technology?"
Sorry, old school agents. It's the 21st century and there isn't anything we can do about it. It's a software-based planet now, and we all have to catch up. Every agent needs to master technology.
I've seen it before, I'll see it again. It's the stagnant agent who never tries anything new. It's time to use Excel, Outlook, Word, and Publisher. You don't have to become a computer programmer, but you do need to learn the basics. It will only help you.
This includes having a website. We no longer live in a world where there is an excuse for not having one. And I mean a real website. Is it just a page within your company's master site? If so, then you're making a huge mistake.
Your website should be custom-made, not just a template. This is so important because agents usually rush to create a website, then consider it finished.
It's NEVER finished. You need to keep editing it in chunks every month. It's the business card of the 21st century. We all have to accept it, get over it, and get used to it.
"How's my client care plan?"
Ask yourself, "What do I do on an annual basis to really cement my relationship with my clients?" Are you going beyond satisfactory customer service into Five-Star Customer Service?
It can be something as small as an Annual Client Review that you send out to your past clients. It can be something as big as an Annual Client Appreciation Event.
What are those extras you're doing for your clients to STAND OUT? Extras that make them say, "Working with this agent was an amazing experience."
"What does my advertising look like?"
Take a good hard look at your advertising and ask yourself, "What is so special about this ad?" Is it a carbon copy of everyone else's? Or does it send a unique, crystal-clear message why a client should work with you?
If it's the former, you need to revamp your ads.
"Have I made a graph of my business?"
I love graphs. I know some of you don't, but there is nothing is as valuable as the reality of statistics and numbers. Numbers never lie.
To know where you are in your business - and I'm talking precisely where you are - take some time to visually graph your business, both in your head and on paper.
Visualize how many buyers and sellers you work with, the amounts of their closing dollars, the percentage increase or decrease over last year. Graphing your business gives you a good sense of the pace at which you worked month-after-month.
Once you graph your business, you can see how close you are to reaching your goals. You also identify some patterns in your own behavior that will help you to see what you need to do to move to the next level.
"Are my presentations top-notch?"
This is a biggie. This is one of the major ways real estate agents pour money down the drain - by not knowing how to present.
If you do not have a specific presentation for sellers and a separate one for buyers, then you will lose business. You need to slam-dunk every one by demonstrating that you are the ONLY agent with whom to list property.
When you go on a listing presentation, what is so special about you and what accompanying documents do you take to prove it? Do you visually show a client how you're going to market their home? Not just tell them, show them? Do you have a portfolio that showcases all the fine marketing you've done? If you say you do professional photography, do you have a portfolio to prove it?
The listing presentation is a critical area of your business. Don't neglect it.
"Is my business a conveyor belt?"
A conveyor belt delivers whatever you need at the push of a button. Does this sound like your business?
It can and it should.
For example, do you have tools in your business ready and set to go when a client needs it?
Let's say a potential client calls out of the blue. Do you have a Buyer's Package ready to be sent to them immediately? What about a Seller's Package? Do you have a Pending-to-Closing calendar?
These are items that need to be automated in your business, set and ready on your own personal conveyor belt so you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you need one of them.
"What am I giving back?"
There is nothing as rewarding as giving back some of your invaluable time to community, to children, to the disabled, to a group you're passionate about, or to a charity.
Agents who give back are happier, more well-rounded, and proud to be doing something more than just making money. They're making a difference. Most are pleasantly surprised how giving back results in rewards coming back their way. It's almost an unwritten law of the universe that what you put out there comes back at you from different sources.
Not only that, but when you're serving others, something happens inside you. It makes what you're doing that much more worthwhile.
The bottom line to all this is: You CAN have a great life and be in this business by asking yourself good questions and answering yourself honestly.
Take some time today to ask yourself how you're going to take your business to the next level.