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Got a minute? If you're a busy manager, that's about all you have. That's why Carla Cross, management coach, speaker, and author, has created this blog just for you, with ready-to-use tips to master management through people.

Archive for time management

graph going up sledgehammerHave you systematized your business? Or, are you drowning in paperwork and un-prioritized tasks? How’s your time management? Have you found yourself going to too many different directions? Do you have some significant time management challenges? In this world of lightning change, agents can struggle just to stay even–much less get ahead. The ability to organize these changes seems daunting. But, the need is greater than the risk. If we can’t manage the day-to-day business through systems, we’re caught forever in ‘crisis’ management. Here’s how to organize, systematize, and automate our jobs so we can manage change—rather than having change manage us.

Systems List for You:  Even though I have observed that few agents have systems, I’ve also observed it’s even more pronounced with managers! So, at the end of this blog, I’ve provided you a list of systems you should create or buy–and implement.

You as a System

I want you quit thinking of yourself as a creative individual, and, for a moment, consider that you can organize what you do just like software organizes tasks (well, almost!). In other words, you can systematize YOU, to some extent.

Choose or create systems—then harness technology. First, create your systems. Then, choose the technology to run those systems. You’ll spend less money and utilize your technological investments better if you’ve organized your business systematically first. Then, you’ll know exactly what systems you want to automate. (I’ve worked really hard to help your agents get systems. In Up and Running in Real Estate,  I’ve provided a Technology Planner, to help you prioritize their needs, plus 60 other checklists, processes and systems to make it easy for them to organize and implement).

Five Steps to Systematize Your Business

1. First, itemize the tasks you do each day.

2. Prioritize your tasks as they relate to accomplishing your main objectives. What are the most important tasks you do to assure you make money consistently? (Up and Running provides lots of guidance on prioritization for agents.)

3. Organize your high-priority tasks into systems–or purchase systems.

Should you create your own system, or buy one? Smart managers buy systems, if they’re available. An example is a recruiting follow-up system. Even though a manager could create a system, time spent on creation isn’t worth the price paid in ‘down sales time’ profitability. Don’t be a creator unless you just can’t find a good system.

4. Choose your technology to support the systems you already have in place. Let’s say you now how a manually-created recruiting follow-up system. You’ve decided who you will involve in the plan; you’ve decided which tasks you can delegate. Now, you’re ready to choose technology to automate your system. Because you know what you want this technology to accomplish, you can make a good choice. You can easily customize the software to meet your needs–because you already have a system in place.

5. Package your systems so you can promote your exceptional business organization to potential agents (you are showing them how you can help them with their biggest challenge–time management).

Start with just one series of tasks and get that systematized. Soon, you’ll be running your business much more like a business.

Systematize and Package for Managers Click here to get this list and start systematizing!

Help Your Agents Gain Systems, Skills, and Confidence the Easy Way

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It can take years to create just one checklist to keep yourself on track. And, in Up and Running in Real Estate, my new online training/coaching/business start-up plan, I’ve got 60+ for your agents! Why re-invent the wheel when you can take all the great information, processes, and systems included in Up and Running in Real Estate and help your agents hit the ground (or re-hit it) running!  25 short training videos, 60 processes/systems, and 25+ special resources for your agents to use, too. Only $249, and quantity discounts available, too. The coaching component makes it easy, too, for you to coach your agents to success. Why not get started today? Click here for more information.

house with daisyIt’s spring. Flowers are blooming. Is your business ‘blooming’ as well? The business is definitely picking up–yet, many agents are still on the sidelines, looking at the game, as though they were ‘benched’! Don’t let that happen to your agents. According to a study by one of the largest real estate firms in the Northwest, March/April is historically the highest buying time of the year. Why? Buyers are purchasing now so they can move when school is out. What do I mean by ‘buyers’? Anyone who is buying or selling.

Getting Back into the Game

Here are four steps for your agents to take now to assure you are on the A team, and are definitely in the game, along with recommendations for managers to coach your agents back into the game:

1. Polish your database. I know. It’s been languishing while you’ve been on the bench. Now is the time to purge, polish, and publish.
Recommendation: Add 50 clients to your database each week for the next 3 months, until you have a very robust, up to date database. It’s your first step in recognizing who your leads actually are.

Manager’s recommendation: Meet with each of your agents, and actually see their databases. You may be surprised at the lack of organization. This will be your opportunity to coach your agent to a great database.

2. Lead generate as though you were employing yourself (your are). Set aside 2 hours each day in the morning to lead generate–5 days a week. Get back to work. Buyers are out there, waiting for you to contact them!
Recommendation: Switch your lead generating activities to 60% proactive, 40% reactive.

Manager’s recommendation: Use this internal business review to coach your agent to a proactive approach to lead generation.

3. Lead generate to your best sources–those people who thought you were wonderful–but you haven’t kept in touch.
Recommendation: Choose 5 people a day who you know will absolutely love to hear from you. Why? You need positive reinforcement to get back in the game.

Manager’s recommendation: Coach your agents with methods to re-establish those relationships. In my next blog, I’ll share the “Mallory Survey”, a wonderful, simple method to touch base with those who love you, and get some powerful testimonials, too.

4. Spend some money–but the right money. A recent study showed agents spent the most money on direct mail, their websites, and print advertising. Yet, two of the three top business-getters were referrals and repeat business! (and none of these 3 money-burners were in the top three!). Isn’t it ironic that they spent much more money on those lead generating activities that didn’t pay off?

Recommendation: Go back through your business last year. Then, add up the marketing dollars you spent you your best sources, vs. the marketing dollars you spent on your worst sources. I’ll bet you find the same conclusions.

Manager’s recommendation: Use that same internal business review to help your agents see where they spent their money, and help them make changes for better marketing pay-offs.

Armed with these 4 action steps, you’ll not only get back in the game, you’ll conquer the game. Remember, you have less competition now, and a huge pent-up demand for your services. Take advantage of it and find all those people who will think you’re wonderful 2 years from now, when interest rates are up and home prices have appreciated!

Beyond the Basics of Business Planning

Plan_Act_CelebrateMy online business planning resource has all the analytical tools you need to help your agents review their businesses to date–and set goals. Support and motivate them to a great year! The managers’ program includes all the agent webinars and tools PLUS the manager’s business planning program. Click here to learn more.

teacher at boardWould you say your agents are ‘clutterers’ or ‘systematizers’? What do their desks look like?  If I  walked into your office, what would I see? Could I see processes and systems your agents use in providing top quality customer service? Could I see checklists, posted, so that I knew they followed a regular, proven procedure for each group of activities? Could I see pre-made, replies to use, presentations for buyers and sellers? Could I see binders labeled with each subject (like ‘listing process’), and filled with ‘how-tos’ for assistants (or agents) inside? Or, would I see stacks of disorganized papers?

Until your agents meet the organizational challenge, they can’t really move forward.

There are two reasons to organize.  The first is that it provides much better customer service. If I’m the consumer today, I want to know that your agents are trustworthy—that you’re good for their word. If I can see that they have systems, I know that they will have a much better chance of keeping their word to me. I’m using the word “see”, because we believe what we see, not what we hear.

The second reason is that it provides agents much better time management. The agent’s biggest challenge is to find a way to make the same amount of money and quit working 24/7. Creating systems will take a long way toward that goal.

Take system inventory now.

Here are the minimum systems your agents need:

For sellers:

  • Lead generating system (should be run with contact management software)
  • Automated process for following the lead from first contact through listing
  • Visual marketing presentation and a system for having them pre-done and always ready to go
  • Pre-first visit presentation and a system to have them packaged, ready to use
  • System for following the listing from first listed to after closing (can be automated with use of a contact management program)
  • After close/client retention system (can be automated)
  • Your personal marketing system—a marketing plan that can be automated and delegated to someone

For buyers:

  • Lead generating system—driven by contact management
  • System to follow the buyer from first contact to sale (can be automated)
  • Visual buyer presentation—packaged and ready to use
  • Pre-first visit presentation—packaged and ready to use
  • Checklists: process during buying/before closing/after closing—client retention
  • Your personal marketing system

How to begin. Real estate professionals are doers. We talk our way through processes.  We dread organizing things, and frankly, we’re not good at it. So, how do we begin?

Lead Your Agents to Systematize

Start with one system or process at a time. Help your agents make a list and prioritize it for the systems you need first. Put a date to start, and a date for completion (I know, there’s that organization again!). You’ll find that the first is the hardest, and then, it starts to actually get easy! It’s a skill like anything else. Bottom line: Systematization allows you to actually run a business, not just run after buyers and sellers.

Managers: What about you? Are you systematized too? I’ll address this is a later blog.

CarlaToolkit (2)11c CBMS ImageNote: If you want to make it easy on yourself, get The Complete Buyer’s Agent Toolkit and Your Client-Based Marketing System, the complete buyer and seller systems, with dozens of checklists, processes, and presentations already created for you.

Managers: Do you provide a job description for success during the selection process? If you’re like most managers, the answer is ‘no’. And, if you’re not, you’re missing a great opportunity to

1. Find out if that agent intends to do the job of a successful agent

2. Get that agent on track to successful action priorities

3. MAKE more money from that agent (and that agent makes more money!)

Real vs. Ideal

In truth, whatever we do each day becomes our job description. Rather than leaving those actions to chance, help your new agent (or transferring agent) get her/his business on track from day one.

To Create your Agent’s Job Description

List all the activities agents do in a business week. Now, go back and prioritize them as ‘business producing’ (those that lead directly to a sale) or ‘business supporting’ (those that support those business producing activities).

Okay. Now, compare it with my lists.

Here’s my list of business producing activities:

Business Development (those activities that result in a sale)

  • Contacting prospects (“lead generation”)
  • Following up on “leads” –  only phone and in person count here
  • Qualifying buyers
  • Showing homes to qualified prospects
  • Writing and presenting offers to purchase
  • Giving listing presentations to qualified sellers
  • Listing marketable properties
  • Attending offer presentations on your listings
Here’s my list of Business Supporting Activities
  • Previewing properties
  • All paperwork
  • Mailings/marketing
  • Talking to loan officers, title companies
  • Attending meetings
  • Education/research
  • Creating processes and systems
  • Personal website work/email marketing/social media

How often do you expect agents to do business producing activities? How often do you do expect them to do business supporting activities?

Here’s my prioritized job description for a successful real estate agent.

A Prioritized  Job Description of a Successful Real Estate Agent

Create your version of a job description with prioritized activities. AND, provide it during the interview process.

 

Exactly what does a successful agent do daily to create exceptional production? You sure need to know to help your agents grasp effective time management. So, I’ve made a model ‘day in the life for you.’  Compare your agents’ schedule to this schedule. At the bottom of this page, I’m supplying you a ‘fill-in’ schedule with an evaluator so you can help your agents get better at scheduling for productivity.

8:00 a.m. to 9 a.m.                   Paperwork/database input

9 a.m. to 11 a.m.                     Lead generate pro-actively (most important principle in time management: proactively lead generate 2 hours in the morning)

If you have an office meeting, make up your lead generation in the early afternoon

11a. m. to 12 noon                   Preview properties (or office tour to preview properties)

Noon to 1 p.m.                          Lunch

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.                        Lead generate an additional 2 hours (if new agent with no or few qualifying appointments or offer presentations)—or, may do this from 6 to 8 p. m. if needed to contact buyers and sellers when they are available

Or, if you are an experienced agent, substitute qualifying appointments to show/list marketable properties for lead generating activities

3 p.m. to 5 p.m.                        Show homes to qualified buyers/present offers (see below for alternate times for presenting offers)

5 p.m. to 6 p.m.                        Paperwork/market your listings/prepare for buyer tours

6 p. m. to 7 p. m.                      Dinner

7 p. m. to 9:30 p. m.                 Present offers/represent seller at offer presentations

Balance: Your business-producing activities (lead generating, qualifying, showing, listing, offer presentations) should take 4-5 hours a day when you are new, or are re-generating your business. Your business-supporting activities should take no more than 3-4 hours a day.

Experienced agents steadily growing their businesses: Lead generate 2 hours a day in the mornings, 4 days a week.

Many more time management tips, strategies, and prototype plans are in Up and Running in 30 Days. 

Click here to get your complimentary fill-in schedule with an evaluator to help you manage time more effectively.

Here’s the “s” word that will solve your time management problem. Well, I’m assuing that, if you’re in management, you have a time management problem, right? Here’s the word:

Systems.

Are your systems up to speed? On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being high, how would you rate your organization and your systems? Do you seem to be grabbing at papers right before your recruiting appointment? Do you find yourself sketching a training outline five minutes prior to the training start time? If so, you’ll want to take some time to “systematize” yourself. Why?

Save time

Get more done

Lower your stress levels

Enjoy your job more

(See the end of this blog for a link to systems you need in place).

Why do Managers Need Systems?

Good agents today have systems for each process they manage. For example, an agent has a listing process system, which includes the materials, packages, and checklists to manage the process. With those systems, agents can not only the manage the process, they can delegate the right activities to their assistants.

Managers Don’t Have Nearly the Systems Agents Have

Think about the systems, processes, and checklists you, as manager, recommend that your agent create to accomplish the critical tasks, or activities, in his business. Now, compare that with the tasks you, as manager, have to accomplish in your position as “people” manager. Work from the tasks to systems to manage these tasks. To prioritize the systems you want to develop, first:

1. List the tasks you do as manager. Now, list the parallel the tasks agents do.

An example: A critical task an agent does is to ;ead gemerate. Good agents have systematized that process into lead generating and marketing plans, complete with specific tactics, dates, and budget. Managers must lead generate, too. They lead generate for agents.

Does your lead generating(recruiting) plan for agents resemble that of your best agent’s marketing plan? Is it as systematized? Does it have the materials, time frames, budgets, and delegations that good agents have in their plans? (That’s one of the main things we work on in my one-on-one coaching program for managers, Leadership Mastery coaching.

2. Prioritize your tasks as they relate to accomplishing your main objectives. What are the most important tasks you do as manager to assure your office makes a profit?

An example: If recruiting is very important to reaching your objective, how complete is your recruiting system? How organized is it? Who is involved with you in your recruiting plan? How well are you delegating the systems?

Your Job Description Comes First

Developing systems first requires that you’ve prioritized your job description. (Wait: Do you have a job description?) Then, you must either create or purchase systems to manage these processes. One reason managers haven’t systematized their work is that managers have few resources for systems organization. To actually systematize their work, they must create these systems from scratch. Given the myriad of activities managers must accomplish, that’s a daunting assignment. Instead, many managers stay in “crisis” management, which admittedly takes up a lot of the day, but doesn’t allow the manager to move ahead as a leader.

In contrast, agents have many resources for systems organization, both purchased and exchanged with other agents. First, there are many more agents than managers, and agents coming into the business each day. So, there is a larger market, and need, for agents’ systems. In addition, agents have led the way in organizing their businesses to delegate to assistants. It’s become ‘the thing’ to do.

Resource List of Needed Systems

Click here for a list of systems and processes you need to manage your business with grace and lower your stress level.

Want to know more about our Leadership Mastery coaching program? Click here for a complimentary consultation.

Right now, I’m writing a new agent training program for a major national franchise. In it, I’m guarding against the very training mistakes that cause agents to fail. (See below for what I’ve built into the program). Obviously, new agent training isn’t working very well. About half of all agents who go into real estate sales in a given year fail.  In this blog, I’ll name 3 big mistakes most training programs make, and the ‘cure’ for these mistakes.

Big question: For all that time, money, and effort you spend on training, don’t you deserve a pay-off? Why are you using it as merely a recruiting tool? I don’t believe you’re getting your money’s worth…..

Those Mistakes Most Training Programs Make

1. Don’t make agents do any work

Well, duh. If the agents don’t put to work what has just been taught in the classroom, what’s the point?

Cure: Spaced repetition training. Teach something in class, and then have the agent do it ‘for real’ in the field and report back. I know it’s harder to do, but you’ll get results. Worth it, right?

2. No accountability for action

This is kind of like #1, but I’m going to focus on lead generation here. We teach all types of lead generation techniques, and then don’t expect agents to go out and use those methods immediately and report back. No wonder they wait 6-8 months to  talk to people!

Cure: Make the course a lead generation/follow-up course with high accountability. Get an agreement prior to starting that the agent will do the work.

3. Wrong topics stressed

Take a look at that training outline. Where are the biggest modules? I’ll bet they are in the ‘technical’ area. Okay. They need to learn how to write purchase and sale agreements. But, how about all the actual business-running topics: Business start-up plan, lead generation, sales skills, time management and organization……How big an outline do these have? I’ll bet just a few pages. So, what do you think the agents think is most important?

Cure: Be sure your course focuses on business-producing activities–in the right order and foundationed by a business start-up plan–and the business-supporting activites that support the business producing activites.  (See Up and Running in 30 days, 4th edition, for these priorities).

Let Me Ask That Question Again

For all that time, money, and effort you spend on training, don’t you deserve a pay-off? Why are you using it as merely a recruiting tool? I don’t believe you’re getting your money’s worth…..

What do you think is most important to assure your new agent training gets results?

 

 Are you giving your new agents every opportunity to succeed? Do they have start-up plans? Are they being coached weekly in those plans? Iam proud that Dearborn Financial Publishing has just released my 4th edition of Up and Running in 30 Days. It features technology recommendations, a social media planner, a technology planner, and dozens more updates. Take a look at a short video I just did for the publisher:

Yes. Your new agents attend training. But, that doesn’t give them a detailed hour by hour schedule, nor a lead generating plan to follow. It DOES provide them lots of information. Their problem is in prioritizing it. Unfortunately, 95% of new agents start without a start-up plan! So, they waste so much time, money, and energy chasing one idea after another. You can get a coherent, proven, completely contemporary plan with the new 4th edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.

And, in this new edition, I offer tips to coaches to support their agents as they work through the plan–and get a sale in 30 days!

Click here to take a look at what’s in the new 4th edition.

 

 

Are your agents drowning in clutter? If I walked into your office, (or your agents’ offices), could I see processes and systems they use? Could I see the checklists, posted, so that I knew they followed a regular, proven procedure for each group of activities? Could I see pre-made, ready to use, presentations for buyers and sellers? Could I see binders labeled with each subject (like ‘listing process’), and filled with ‘how-tos’ for assistants (or themselves inside? Or, would I see stacks of disorganized papers?

Having been in sales and management a long time, I understand how difficult it is to organize that blizzard of information. And, admittedly, you’ll have to keep changing your organization as you progress. Yet, until you meet the organizational challenge, you can’t really move forward. It’s up to us, too, as managers, to help our agents step ahead of clutter and into effective time management.

There are two reasons to organize.  The first is that it provides much better customer service. If I’m the consumer today, I want to know that your agents trustworthy—that you’re good for your word. If I can see that the systems, I know that you will have a much better chance of keeping your word to me. I’m using the word “see”, because we believe what we see, not what we hear.

The second reason is that it provides your agents and you much better time management. The agent’s biggest challenge is to find a way to make the same amount of money and quit working 24/7. Creating systems will take a long way toward that goal.

Below are some checklists of the processes and systems agents need in place to take their careers to the next level. Take this system inventory now with your agents now.

Here are the minimum systems agents need:

For sellers:

  • Lead generating system (should be run with contact management software)
  • Automated process for following the lead from first contact through listing
  • Visual marketing presentation and a system for having them pre-done and always ready to go
  • Pre-first visit presentation and a system to have them packaged, ready to use
  • System for following the listing from first listed to after closing (can be automated with use of a contact management program)
  • After close/client retention system (can be automated)
  • Your personal marketing system—a marketing plan that can be automated and delegated to someone

For buyers:

  • Lead generating system—driven by contact management
  • System to follow the buyer from first contact to sale (can be automated)
  • Visual buyer presentation—packaged and ready to use
  • Pre-first visit presentation—packaged and ready to use
  • Checklists: process during buying/before closing/after closing—client retention
  • Your personal marketing system

How to begin. Real estate professionals are doers. We talk our way through processes.  We dread organizing things, and frankly, we’re not good at it. So, how do we begin?

Start with one system or process at a time. Gather your agents for a workshop. Make a list and prioritize it for the systems they believe they need first. Put a date to start, and a date for completion (I know, there’s that organization again!). You’ll find that the first is the hardest, and then, it starts to actually get easy! It’s a skill like anything else. Bottom line: Systematization allows you to actually run a business, not just run after buyers and sellers.

Note: If you want to make it easy on yourself and your agents, get The Complete Buyer’s Agent Toolkit and Your Client-Based Marketing System, the complete buyer and seller systems, with dozens of checklists, processes, and presentations already created for you.

Now, you’re on your way to ‘unclutter’ the clutter!

 

You’ve been coaching an agent for three months. You haven’t seen any improvements. What do you do if your coaching isn’t working?

The biggest mistakes managers make in coaching agents is to continue the coaching relationship when the agent isn’t doing the work. Usually, we continue because we didn’t set coaching standards at the beginning of the relationship. When our coaching doesn’t get results, we think that we must re-motivate the agent—that this is our job.

Who or What Motivates?

Motivation happens when we do an activity and it works for us. Then, we want to do it all over again. That’s right. WE do the activity! In this case, it’s the agent doing the sales activities and having some success. You just encourage that success. You can’t encourage not doing things, which is what you’re doing when you let that agent meet with you and you ‘pump them up’ even though they haven’t done what they were supposed to do! Don’t get caught in that trap. 

Reasons to Terminate the coaching Relationship

Here are the reasons to terminate the coaching relationship:

  1. Not doing the activity work
  2. Not meeting at the scheduled time 
  3. The results are working negatively on your own self-esteem

You’ve done your agent and internal review, and you’ve established the coaching rules. Now, it’s easy to terminate the coaching relationship. You already set up those perimeters prior to starting your coaching relationship. Remember, you have only time to coach those who respond. You also need this response to provide your own self-assurance that what you’re doing is working.

 Free Yourself for Better Experiences

By terminating the coaching relationships that have no pay-offs, you’re freeing yourself to coach those who do want your time and talent—and you’ve pre-determined that these people will be successful. You’ve created the best recruiting tool there is—concrete success from your agents with your personal and professional help.

Choosing and Coaching ‘Responders’ Has Many Benefits

I find time and time again that when I try to work with people who do not want to achieve higher goals, they fail—and I feel as if I’ve failed. So, my caveat to you now is this: Choose the people you will coach carefully, to retain your self-esteem, self-confidence, and contribute your talents to those who will respond. That’s a win-win!

A coachability evaluator: Click here to get an evaluator you can use with agents.

What are your reasons for terminating a coaching relationship? What mistakes have you made in continuing a non-working relationship? 

P. S. I’m working on an online program right now for the new or challenged agent, to get them into great business habits fast. One of the features of this program will be broker coaching. I’ll coach brokers on choosing those who are coachable, and how to coach when you have no time to coach! What do you want to see included?

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