Photo Courtsey of Ben Just Ben
Not For Me!!!
“Hey Rock, how are you today?” I was often asked when I first entered real estate in 2002. I would follow up with, “I’m ok for a Monday Morning.” After a couple of seconds of silence the person I was speaking with would ponder the date and time. After they realized I was in the wrong, I would get “Rocky, its 6:30 p.m. Friday!?!?!?!?” After these exchanges of banter I’d come back with, “Not for me, it’s ALWAYS Monday, I am a REALTOR!”
After the chuckles subside, I am talking real estate and how I work 24/7, a virtual all night drive through for your real estate needs. This always ended with me handing out a business card with office number, direct line, pager, cell phone, fax, email address, web site, shoe size, and eye color. I was begging to receive phone calls at 2 a.m., and of course, I did. There were nights at the office until 4 a.m. finishing listings, writing offers, and organizing paperwork. I would go on vacation and would be tied to my cell phone and laptop.
That was back in the summer of 2005. I had been an agent for 3 years, and married for 7 months. My new bride had had enough. She hated the fact I was missing dinners, dates, and working, when we should have been visiting her family in Kansas. In a very stern tone she told me “it’s either real estate, or me!” So I took a 9-5 job, Monday through Friday, as an Onsite Representative for a title company.
I was flying along and doing well, my wife was happy, and I had vacation time, sick time, a boss that was over 200 miles away that I saw twice a year, and HEALTH INSURANCE! All was well in the VanBrimmer Land. Suddenly, it all came to a screeching halt. The mortgage meltdown started, and I was let go August 2007. I was on the beginning of a “state sponsored” sabbatical. What was I going to do?
It Dawned On Me
Then it dawned on me, REAL ESTATE. But there was a catch…I had to have SET hours per the boss. I thought to myself, “That’s it? That is all it takes for me to get back in to real estate? SWEET!
Due to my wife’s request, I now share my hours with my clients right off the bat. I have a sheet of paper with my hours of operation:
Monday, Tuesday 8am – 9pm
Wed, Thurs 8am – 6pm (I have obligations in the evening)
Sunday, I take selective phone calls. Everyone deserves a day of rest.
At the end of that statement, I let them know I have 2 phone numbers (local to my service areas) on my card that does it all. Call one number and it will find me at my office, home, or on the road. It bounces all around until it finds me. If for some reason I do not pick up, leave a message. I promise you, I will call back as soon as humanly possible. Of course, I include my email address on my card, and even debated adding my twitter ID.
The surprising thing is…it WORKS! My clients respect and appreciate the fact that I have communicated when I am available and how to reach me. I have instilled trust in them that I am available to them when they need me. Even better, they do not expect me to have my flashing neon light on saying “ALWAYS OPEN!”
A good night’s rest and harmony in my home makes me a better agent for my clients.
“So Rocky, how are you doing today?” “I’m ok, for a Monday morning!” It is still a great line to let people know I am in real estate. I guess I still need to work on that!
July 24, 2008 at 7:51 pm
Setting limits was the best thing I ever did. I tell people my story – of watching my mom – single mom, Realtor with two kids – working her tail off to support us, but always making my soccer games.
I do the same; when I coach, I tell my clients I have appointments that are non-negotiable – practice and games. I have yet to meet a customer or client who overtly does not understand or respect that; if I do, I’d rather not work with them.
‘course, clients do tend to call me at all hours now, and in this market, I’m grateful for the ringing. 🙂
July 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm
Rocky, I couldn’t agree more! I have a family member who argues that I should be available 24/7 to my clients. In a former life I was on-call 24/7, which made for NO LIFE doing a job I loved, but burned out on. When I left that world I said ‘never again!’. Now my clients know when I’m available and all seem to be just fine with it.
Love your first post! I see why you’re one of the AG Chosen Few. Keep it up, man!
July 24, 2008 at 8:01 pm
Rocky – Love the “Ok for a Monday morning” line. I can see where that would open up a lot of conversation. Great thinking!
July 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm
Absolutely unbelievable. Thanks so much for this post. You’re gonna be a hit for sure. Talk about breakin’ in big time.
July 24, 2008 at 8:12 pm
Great Idea, although I am still young and not yet tied down. That is something that I need to work on because I can tell what the biz does to people, I guess it is sort of like an addiction. Time is needed to disconnect and enjoy life.
July 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm
It is great you have set this schedule, and I think, as long as you communicate it with your clients, they will be very respectful of your personal time. I am “starting” to set some limits- I no longer spring for the car keys as soon as someone calls and says they want to go see a house. I do a lot more pre-qualifiy. Great post!!
July 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm
You are a smart guy Rocky!
Listening to your wife is always a good idea. 🙂
July 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm
Terri, she would beg to differ at times! 😉
July 24, 2008 at 8:41 pm
Very smart practice. I am trying to be like that, but not quite there yet. The funny (or may be sad) thing, I got a call today from someone out of state, who said I was the only one who answered the phone. Go figure:)
July 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm
I love the “Monday” line. Gotta agree that it seems like that would work very well. I too have put some control over my availability. There’s absolutely no way I will schedule over my karate time on Monday and Wednesday evenings, nor will I schedule over any cycling time on weekend mornings. And Friday night is date night.
July 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm
When i started in this biz many moons ago, i was in a similar situation. Newly married, newly licensed, and in a down market where you were thrilled when the phone rang. Few had cell phones, so you gave out your home phone. Three years into it and one of the top agents in the country hired me as a buyer agent (the first one in my market to do so).
He laid down the expectations, then told me I had to pick one weekday to take off, and every third week it would be a Saturday or Sunday off. I was not to come into the office on a scheduled day off and unless it meant a deal was dying, no one from the office would call me. I was floored.
He told me that without a regular day off and a semi regular schedule, I would burnout and be of no use to him and this was strictly a selfish, but smart business decision on his part.
Now I book all activities as appointments, be it a listing appointment or coaching a ball game. Unfortunately, there are still people who don’t give a hoot about my family time, but most can handle “I’m booked at the time”. Those that can’t are not worth it.
July 24, 2008 at 10:48 pm
Rocky,Great point that you make- No matter how you do it,you need to put aside time for your family. My style was to schedule my family time as part of my week, and to make them priorities. Never missed my son’s school or life events, and managed time to maintain a relationship with my wife. However you do it, you need to maintain balance
July 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm
You definately have to balance fun, work, play, family all together, and real estate agents have a lot of crazy hours. I have been an agent for 6 years, so I know what it’s like. I try to always educate people on time saving stuff on my blog whenever I can, I have met a lot of great people in the business though. I like the photo above.
July 25, 2008 at 12:53 am
I like the idea, because even if you cheat you know you can do it somewhat undisturbed. I think it may send a deeper message, invoking professionalism and good business behavior… shows you are organized and a mover. Unless you are really best buds, I think any worthwhile client should understand and respect that you would prefer email over a phone call past 9PM.
The cool factor of a client twittering you at 2AM would be hard to resist.
July 25, 2008 at 4:59 am
I make myself very available to my clients, however there are times when I do need to just shut it off or I will go insane. Making myself as available as I do, I find people are more than respectful when I tell them I am not available that time or day.
Glenn fm Naples
July 25, 2008 at 5:26 am
Rocky – congratulations to you for taking back control of your life. There are few if any true emergencies in real estate that we have to work 24/7/365.
July 25, 2008 at 5:40 am
To repeat what a very well established agent here once told me…
“A happy wife is a happy life.”
July 25, 2008 at 5:43 am
Welcome aboard! It’s great to be reading you here. What a great way to start – by setting limits. As real estate professionals, we can learn well from other professions. You certainly wouldn’t expect a doctor to take your call at 2am. And let’s hope you never have a need to reach an attorney at 2am, either. By setting limits, we’re telling the world that deserve to be treated as the professionals we most certainly have become.
July 25, 2008 at 8:25 am
Nice words Rocky. I think the key is “control”. Also, by setting a work time-frame, it gives a normalcy feeling to work. The hardest thing for new people coming into real estate or any self-driven business is to stay focussed and to have a plan (and follow that plan of course).
July 25, 2008 at 9:26 am
Beautiful! Boundaries work. I have heard from more agents about how they can not set a schedule-that their clients would go else where-people have no patience….you name it. I have heard it.
I find it extremely refreshing that you have set a schedule, stick to it and it works. You have given me hope for humanity….mmm…ok, well at least some of the people I work with at any rate.
July 25, 2008 at 10:33 am
@Chuck G – My wife enjoyed your last comment – life is good! 😉
July 25, 2008 at 10:54 am
@Bill Lublin and @ Chuck G – My wife would applaud too. She reminds me of that quote every once in awhile just to make sure I don’t forget it!
July 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm
Great post. I dropped 40lbs. by setting up a scheduled appointment on my calendar to work-out. It was the only way I found to force myself away from work to get a work-out in and to not allow people to schedule meetings for me that would conflict. If you are having difficulty making time for something, schedule it as an appointment for yourself.
July 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm
I have always taken a weekday off to volunteer in my kids school. I have NEVER had an issue with a client over my schedule. I think the thing is just letting them know how you work.
I personally don’t understand agents that take phone calls at all hours. What possibly needs to be answered at 9:00 at night that can’t wait until 9:00 am.
July 27, 2008 at 8:34 am
Just don’t have one of those cornball “Brian Buffini” messages on your voicemail greeting .. “I only return calls between 11 to 1 and 3 to 5”. I find them insulting and a rather pathetic attempt to try to control others…
July 27, 2008 at 9:46 pm
Guilty here! I have a horrible schedule; no, actually – I have no schedule. I have recently decided to take most of my work to the office, instead of having it before me all the time at home. I’m hoping it will help control the urge to work when I should be having fun. It’s a start.
Glenn fm Naples
July 28, 2008 at 7:18 am
Chuck G – your saying is very true
Glenn fm Naples
July 28, 2008 at 7:21 am
Paula – you have to commit to leave the work at the office. I have personally found that having an office outside of the home means I leave the work at the office – just have to learn to be more reasonable about the hours spent in the office. 🙂
July 28, 2008 at 7:25 am
You are absolutely correct….but I’ll leave it to you to find a jingle that rhymes with “husband.” 🙂
Glenn fm Naples
July 28, 2008 at 7:30 am
Chuck G – thanks for the assignment. Will have to find some ladies to think about that one. LOL
Also wishing that I can figure out the blockquote cite command properly. LOL
August 4, 2008 at 10:31 pm
I find that if I don’t set boundaries, I can go about six or seven days straight before I just have to take a break. I need a mental, emotional, physical break from real estate; some time to just unwind. I know that’s my limit, and that I have to be consistent with setting boundaries.
Well done Rocky, welcome to AG!