To the general public, spring means flowers in bloom, warmer temperatures and sunshine. For REALTORS®, however, spring is one of the busiest times of the year — a period that requires extra thought and energy.
Julie Kinnear, a Toronto REALTOR® with 22 years of experience, is equal to the challenge and prepares accordingly.
“Managing time is a key,” Kinnear says. “I subscribe to time blocking. I do a specific task for a certain amount of time and then I stop – and that includes appointments. Otherwise, I can get caught up in things that aren’t productive.”
Kinnear starts each day with a routine designed to make the day most productive.
“When I wake up, I don’t look at emails, texts or the phone; instead, I read something spiritually inspirational. I’m programming my brain to be in a positive place.”
“When I wake up,” says Kinnear, “I don’t look at emails, texts or the phone; instead, I read something spiritually inspirational. I’m programming my brain to be in a positive place.”
After breakfast, Kinnear writes in her journal for 15 minutes before taking her dog for a walk. “These activities are all meant to help with sanity,” Kinnear says. “If you don’t have kids, a pet is great, because they are routine-oriented and our business is not. They need your attention and help keep you grounded.”
Once she has had this time to herself, Kinnear is ready to face the day. Although she prefers to get difficult tasks out of the way first, “what happens is that I end up working on the urgent things. Having administrative help really improves the quality of the client experience because it allows for consistency, and it increases your business, because a lot of administrative things get done.”
Although it can be frustrating to be tied to the office during the lovely weather, Kinnear makes a point of looking at her annual calendar each January. She then schedules holidays for periods throughout the remainder of the year, booking them and notifying her colleagues in advance. That way she ensures that she takes vacation and can look forward to those times, since everyone is informed in advance. Otherwise, she says those holidays may not happen.
“It can be hard during the spring since your days aren’t balanced, but vacation counterbalances the spring because one is all work and the other is all play,” Kinnear says. She also believes strongly in exercising and getting outdoors, because “you need to be able to handle the hours, the pace and the stress of running around. Think of these activities as part of your job, rather than as leisure per se.”
Work hard, but don’t fret
Malcolm Clark, a Thunder Bay REALTOR® has a less structured approach to the spring selling season, saying that “it’s just hard work.” A REALTOR® with 24 years in the business under his belt, Clark begins preparing in January and February by establishing his advertising priorities for the year. Proximity to the United States border means that he can also target markets in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“You can’t have a set daily routine, because you have to deal with what comes along, but I manage to streamline what I do. I try to set out the priorities that work best for me and I tend to focus first on my most loyal clients.”
Each day, he starts his day from his home office at Two Island Lake, 30 minutes’ north of Thunder Bay, and makes a list of the day’s priorities. “You can’t have a set daily routine, because you have to deal with what comes along, but I manage to streamline what I do,” Clark says. “It changes daily. I try to set out the priorities that work best for me and I tend to focus first on my most loyal clients. For example, I don’t like to show properties at night, because they don’t show to their best advantage, so planning is required. You also need a good support system. I rely on our office manager for administration.”
When it comes to leisure, Clark considers himself lucky, because he lives on a lake. “For personal time, I have a pontoon boat, so I take my cellphone with me and do business on the boat,” he says. “I’m a pretty busy guy, but it’s all about time management.”
Communication and building strong relationships with clients are other ways to manage the spring season, busy or not, says Clark. “You should be confident in your abilities to negotiate a deal and must make sure the client understands you are representing their best interests,” he says. “They need to know you are thorough and will do everything you could possibly do for them.”
Organization is key
Marc Leroux, a Timmins-based REALTOR® with eight years of experience, says he relies on his cloud-based calendar to get him through the busy spring season.
“This way no matter where I am, I will always see what is happening and know that I am not double-booked,” Leroux says.
His strategy is simple: “My main strategy is to take care of the little things first to get them out of the way,” Leroux says. “Also, it is important to try to plan your agenda ahead of time so there are no surprises day to day.
“I like to be a five-minute manager. Whatever takes five minutes or less, do it right away and get it over with, because as your day goes on and things get busier, those little five-minute things that were left for later will end up being forgotten and will leave you with more tasks the next day. This can snowball pretty quickly.”
Leroux turns to technology to keep track of his clients’ needs, a task that takes time. “I use a program called Evernote®,” he says. “With this program I keep all existing buyers, listings, leads, sold properties and more in separate folders. This keeps me organized and on top of things.”
Leroux makes time for his wife and five children by booking time with them for dinner each day, much as he would any other appointment. “I simply book the time as though it was an appointment with a client; this makes scheduling my day much easier, as my agenda is set,” Leroux says.
As these REALTORS® demonstrate, the spring season may be busy, but it can be managed.