As part of our guest contributor series Mark Ferguson of Invest Four More gives us the secrets to his time management success and provides actionable tips for real estate brokers on how to balance all your work responsibilities.
Being a real estate broker or agent can be a wonderful and fulfilling job. However, for many real estate brokers, there is only so much time in the day for showings, marketing, prospecting, writing offers and so much more we need to do. Many brokers will find they hit a ceiling where they can only handle so many clients or so many sales before they drive themselves and their families crazy. How can brokers create more time in their business so they can make more money and have more time for their loved ones?
1. A real estate broker must be organized
I am a horribly unorganized person. I am a big picture visionary which means I am bad at details and keeping the little things intact. However, the more organized I am, the more I get done, and the less stressed I am. So, while it is tough for me to do, I must make a point of organizing my time and everything else.
I sold over 200 houses a year, multiple years in a row when I was primarily an REO and HUD listing broker. I was forced to be organized or I would have lost a lot of business. I spent at least 30 minutes a day planning everything I needed to do. I had to plan when I would drive by houses for inspections when I would complete BPOs (broker price opinions), when I would review offers and everything else involved in the job. Instead of driving by one house, I would drive by 10 at a time. I would plan my route to be the most efficient.
Brokers need to plan as much of their day as they can to stay as efficient as possible. Too many brokers are running around in circles trying to get things done without any planning. The more planning you do, the more time you will have. A broker cannot schedule everything, but the more they have scheduled the more time they will have.
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2. Take advantage of technology
I am one of the least tech-savvy guys out there. I tend to break my computer and phone on a regular basis. I have to call in some of the more tech-savvy people in my office to fix things. However, that does not mean I do not take advantage of technology to save time.
One of the biggest time savers for brokers is the ability to sign documents on the go. I use DocuSign, but there are many programs that allow brokers and their clients to sign docs with email. I can save hours each day with electronic signatures. Instead of meeting with a client to sign something I can email them the document. Sure, I could email them the PDF and hope they have a printer, scanner, and can get it back to me, but not everyone has that capability. DocuSign tells them exactly where to sign and makes it super easy.
I also love to use Dropbox for our file storage. I can have everyone on my team on Dropbox and choose who has access to what. We have office folders, agent folders, picture folders and so many more folders! I can take pictures of a new listing, upload those to Dropbox and my entire team has access to them before I get back to the office. I don’t have to download them, make sure they aren’t too big, then email them, and hope it goes through. Of course, I use my phone to take pictures because the quality of most phones rivals the good cameras now. We also have leases, contracts, and other documents on Dropbox that can be easily accessed without hunting through email.
3. Utilize all available resources
Many brokers and agents do not realize how many resources they have in their office or with other businesses in the industry. In my office, we have staff who can help with many tasks. They can write contracts, enter information into the MLS, set up showings, call title companies, you name it. Many agents want to do every task themselves but how much time could they save by outsourcing some of those tasks to people already in their office and willing to help?
Real estate brokers and agents also may not realize how much help title companies can be. Many title companies will market for agents and brokers. They will mail postcards, farm neighborhoods and send other marketing material to the broker’s clients. The broker has to pay for these services, but they are often very affordable especially when you consider the time saved. A broker does not need to know everything about everything. If a client has questions about how the title company operates or specifics about a lender, the broker can give some information — but don’t be afraid to get the lender to explain exactly how the loan works.
4. Learn to delegate tasks
When I was just becoming successful as an agent, I worked all the time. I remember working half of my honeymoon because I had no other choice. Things had to be done and I had no one else to do them. I learned that hiring an assistant was a life saver. Hiring an assistant may seem expensive, but they are not as expensive as chasing away clients because you are too busy to do a good job. Not only does hiring an assistant save you time, but it makes you happier! When I first hired an assistant, I gave her the busy work that I hated doing. I focused on training her to do the tasks I disliked the most. She did not mind doing them, but it made a massive difference in my life and business.
Eventually, she got her license, we built our team, and she started paying for herself by selling houses. I used to worry that someone else would not do as good of a job as me. However, after hiring the right person I realized I was not doing a good job anyway because I was too busy. The quality of my work improved by hiring help. I delegate as much as I can now. I have someone mow my lawn, do my taxes, and do my bookkeeping because my time is more valuable doing other tasks.
5. Stay focused and guard your time
It is very easy to get distracted as an agent or broker. You get a call here, an email there, someone comes to say hi and then it is time for lunch already. I guard my time. I am very careful with how I use it because I know it is limited and I cannot make any more of it. Other agents and brokers will be careless with their time, but that does not mean you have to be. It may sound rude, but I do not idly chat with other agents or staff in the office. I do not spend hours on the phone when I do not have to. In fact, I email instead of call people whenever possible. I do not have lunch with title companies or lenders three days a week when I could be using that time for more productive work.
I also do my best not to multitask. I could be checking email, doing a market analysis, checking my text messages, looking at my hot sheets all within three minutes. I also could be missing important emails, not paying attention to the hot sheets and forgetting important details in the market analysis because I am doing so many things at once. The more focused I am on one task, the better and faster that task will be done. I know that brokers have to answer their phone and I am fine with breaking concentration to get new business, but doing five things at once does not save time and is asking for mistakes to be made.
You’re responsible for your own schedule
Being a broker or agent can be very fulfilling, but it can also be tough. There is rarely someone there to tell what needs to be done and when. We must be our own boss and that means planning, guarding our time, learning how to use our time efficiently, and leveraging others.