Are you new to real estate? Starting out as a new real estate agent is exciting – but it can also be daunting. From clients and offers to inspectors and paperwork, there’s a lot to keep track of. Getting organized from the start will save you time and stress, and make the transition to your new career much more enjoyable and lucrative.
Starting a Business
There are a myriad of appealing reasons to get into real estate; connecting with new people, being your own boss, flexible work hours… but if you want to make an income, you have to treat it like a business. You need to keep up with contacts, paperwork, client requests, marketing, and more, all while maintaining a professional, put-together image. In short, you’ve got to get organized and stay organized! With that in mind, the transition to your new career will be much easier if you implement your organizational strategy from the very beginning.
1. Organize your Work Space
Searching for items on your desk is absolutely not the best use of your time. The few extra seconds it takes to keep things organized will save you hours of time (not to mention frustration) down the road.
Keep items you use often easily accessible. Don’t hide the paperclips in the back of a drawer if you’re using them every day.
Use labels on everything. This allows you not only to find items at a glance but it also makes putting them away easier and faster. This is extra useful if you have other people working with you, as they won’t need to spend time searching for items.
Maintain an accessible “pending” folder for unfiled items – resist the urge to just pile things haphazardly on your desk. Keeping these items in one place greatly reduces clutter and helps you find yet-unfiled papers when you need them.
As a real estate agent, your vehicle is likely as much of an office space as your desk is. Develop a system for keeping items organized there as well. You may want to keep a small filing box in the trunk or the back seat, and extra pens and a phone charger in the glove box.
Before you finish work, always take a few minutes to tidy up. This allows you to hit the ground running the next day.
2. Have (and Use) Customer Relationship Management Software
A CRM database is one of the most powerful tools you can use in a customer-focused industry like real estate. The more detailed and complete your database is, the more clients you can reach and the better service you can provide. Have a plan for following up regularly with everyone on your list. Make sure you’re capturing details for the following types of contacts:
- Sphere of Influence: Everyone you know who could potentially become clients or refer you to clients. Friends, acquaintances, other agents, your hairdresser, etc.
- Partners: The people you work with in a professional capacity. Lawyers, inspectors, contractors, etc.
- Prospective Clients: People who have shown interest in your services but who you aren’t actively working with yet.
- Current Clients: Those you are actively working with.
- For sellers/listings, keep track of their current status, property details, asking price, commission rates, contingency dates, etc.
- For buyers, keep track of their budget, requirements, and “wish lists”, past and upcoming showings, offers, contingency dates, etc.
- Past Clients: Those people for whom all transactions are 100% complete. You will want to stay touch with them so you’re ready for their next purchase or sale.
3. Schedule Your Work Hours and Your Off Hours
Real estate usually requires working some extreme hours. It’s normal for evenings and weekends to be busy times for most agents. As a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working all the time and burning out. Or worse, you might even try to accomplish both work and non-work tasks simultaneously, resulting in doing neither effectively.
Start to make good use of your calendar. Find a scheduling tool that works for you and develop a system that you’ll stick to. You may prefer an old fashioned tactile day-timer, or a digital tool like Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar. Whatever you choose, commit to using it.
Block out your week in advance and decide which days you’ll be “at work” and during which hours. Block those times into your schedule. Also decide which days/hours you’ll be off, and block those into your calendar, too. Unless absolutely necessary, stick to your schedule. It might take a month or two to sort out what works for you, but this structure will keep you efficient when you’re working, and sane when you’re not.
4. Schedule Time for Communications
Emails and phone calls never stop. If you answer each one as it comes in you’ll quickly find yourself unable to complete any other work. This is another good example of when time blocking should come in. You might choose to respond to emails and phone messages twice a day, for example from 10:00am-11:30am and 2:00pm-4:00pm. Block that into your calendar. It will allow you to get back to people in a timely manner without interfering with your other work. Completely close your email and turn off notifications on your phone so that you won’t be tempted to check your email at other times. Stick to the blocks.
You might even consider including these times in your phone voicemail message or in your email signature. Real estate clients respect a well-organized agent and they’ll appreciate the fact that while you can’t be tied to your phone all the time, your availability is clear and predictable. Having a structured schedule will keep you more productive and will show that you’re extra professional.
5. Keep a Call Log
Keeping track of communications is one of the most important tasks in running a business – especially in real estate! Neglecting to get back to someone or losing a number can cost you thousands of dollars, and can negatively affect your reputation.
Be diligent about recording all of your calls. Capture the date and time, the name of the caller, and a few notes about the topic. You never know when this will be useful to have. Purchase a call log book or a notebook specifically to use as a call log. Don’t write on random notepads or scraps of paper. It’s too easy to lose track of them.
It’s very important to have CRM software, but even so, you should also have a physical book since so much of your real estate work will be on the go. It’s important to be able to easily record information even when you’re away from your computer.
Implementing these simple tips will ensure you have an efficient and professional system in place right from the time that you start with your very first client. Consistently staying organized will mean that you spend less time searching for items and information, and more time closing your next deal.