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OK For a Monday

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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.

An Ultimatum…

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)
Friday 8-6:30ish
Sat 8-2
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.

It Works!

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!

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Jim Duncan

    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. 🙂

  2. Sherry Baker

    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!

    Sherry

  3. Matt Stigliano

    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!

  4. BawldGuy Talking

    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.

  5. Jason Sandquist

    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.

  6. Jamie Geiger

    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!!

  7. Teri Lussier

    July 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    You are a smart guy Rocky!
    Listening to your wife is always a good idea. 🙂

  8. Rocky VanBrimmer

    July 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Terri, she would beg to differ at times! 😉

  9. Faina Sechzer

    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:)

  10. Steve Belt

    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.

  11. Bob

    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.

  12. bill lublin

    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

  13. RonOrr.com

    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.

  14. Carson

    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.

  15. Mike Taylor

    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.

  16. 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.

  17. Chuck G

    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.”

  18. Vance Shutes

    July 25, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Rocky,

    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.

  19. Jim

    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).

  20. Molly

    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.

    Thanks!

  21. Bill Lublin

    July 25, 2008 at 10:33 am

    @Chuck G – My wife enjoyed your last comment – life is good! 😉

  22. Matt Stigliano

    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!

  23. Mike Gray

    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.

  24. Melina Tomson

    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.

  25. Jim Gatos

    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…

  26. Paula Henry

    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.

  27. Glenn fm Naples

    July 28, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Chuck G – your saying is very true

    , but couldn’t this be true for the ladies involved in the real estate profession as well?

  28. 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. 🙂

  29. Chuck G

    July 28, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Glenn,

    You are absolutely correct….but I’ll leave it to you to find a jingle that rhymes with “husband.” 🙂

  30. 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

  31. Jeremy Hart

    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!

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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