Staying organized and managing your workload effectively are crucial to success in real estate. Three REALTORS® from across Ontario share their strategies for managing their schedules.
Given the multitude of tasks involved in real estate, it can often feel like a challenge to stay on top of it all. Successful Realtors learn early in their careers to take charge of their workloads, rather than let the work rule them. They find the strategies that work best for them and stick with this approach so they can accomplish everything they need to do.
Organization and efficiency are absolute necessities, says Carl Vandergoot, who has worked as a broker of record in London, Ontario after working as a salesperson for 22 years. Given the volume of transactions he handled each year, he says time management skills were crucial. Every night, he still writes out a to-do list of tasks for the next day, adding stars to the most important items. Incomplete tasks get transferred to the list for the following day.
“Having a list doesn’t mean you will get through everything,” he says. “If you can get through everything, you’re not doing enough, especially in sales.” Time management is largely about having a good system, adds Vandergoot. For him, that means tackling the hardest tasks first to get them out of the way.
“Prospecting was something I always did first,” Vandergoot says. “I was on the phone from 9:30 to 11 a.m. to sell and always made that a priority, no matter how many other things I had to do. Although a lot of people might not be home at that time, I realized that I would never do prospecting at 7 p.m. I spoke to a lot of answering machines.”
As part of his systematic approach, Vandergoot ends each year by creating a business plan for the following year that helps him to move forward. It includes details such as when and where to advertise and when to take holidays the next year. He also relies heavily on technology for his customer relations system, using software that helps him stay in touch with both current and past clients.
“I love technology,” he says. “A good database and follow-up system can help you stay organized.” He has used both the Top Producer and IXACT Contact database programs, and likes both. The latter includes a feature that assembles and helps distribute a monthly newsletter for the REALTOR.
“At some point, you need to accept the fact that you didn’t complete everything but you’re proud of what you did accomplish”
For Ayn MacDonald, an Ottawa Realtor with two young children, time management means scheduling her work around her family. She uses an electronic calendar and “I put my family responsibilities in the calendar first, and then arrange my work time in between. I’m a mom first, but a Realtor always.”
Each night, she creates a to-do list written on an old-fashioned post-it note that sits on her phone. MacDonald takes it along with her throughout the day. Learning to be comfortable with not finishing everything on the list has been a challenge for her.
“At some point, you need to accept the fact that you didn’t complete everything but proud of what you did accomplish,” MacDonald says. “Be comfortable with the idea that perfection isn’t possible.”
Strategic planning and rolling out her business plan are the parts of her job that MacDonald finds most time consuming. The brokerage employs a part-time assistant and another representative who works mostly with buyers, which helps reduce MacDonald’s own workload.
“When you’re running a business, you need to treat it like a well-oiled machine,” she says. “I have a hard time letting go of control, so that’s always a challenge for me.”
Rita Auciello, a Toronto Realtor and OREA instructor, makes a list of all tasks she must complete and checks it in the morning and again at the end of the day.
“I keep the list in front of me so I can cross things off,” she says. Auciello tackles the most difficult tasks first, such as cold calls, but she also prioritizes those items that are most important. Completing the task list takes perseverance, she says. “I try to avoid making appointments first thing in the morning so that I can address other priorities and organize my day before I go out.”
Preparing a house for the market is her most time-consuming task, says Auciello. “This project involves working with the home stager and helping the client to pull things together,” Auciello says. “They’ll need to do packing, organizing and getting rid of clutter, and I help with suggestions to show the property better.”
She works with a partner and another sales representative when they need extra help serving clients, she says. Auciello has taken this approach for the past seven years and she says it enables her to accomplish more.
“The rep helps with paperwork, and my partner and I are backups for each other,” Auciello says. “We try to see clients together so that if one of us is not here, the clients don’t feel let down. We lose less business that way, and I don’t feel so bad about taking a vacation.”
She does try to schedule time for herself, too, which is easier now that her children are grown. However, no matter how well Auciello tries to keep organized, she cautions that “Real estate is unpredictable. Sometimes you get one phone call and then you don’t get anything else on your list done that day.”
Time Management Tips:
- Learn to say no, or I’m not available, and offer other options.
- Develop good systems and routines.
- Take charge of your day.
- Read some of the many time management books that are available.
- Accept that you may not complete every task on the to-do list.
- Focus and discipline are keys to success.
- Invest in a good client retention system.
Story by Elaine Smith
Sources: Rita Auciello, Ayn MacDonald, Carl Vandergoot
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