The phrase “herding cats” alludes to the attempt to control something or some group, which is uncontrollable or chaotic. Having never had a cat of my own, I cannot say that I have experienced this herding thing personally. However, I imagine that herding cats is analogous to running a real estate brokerage. It is an extreme challenge to get a group of independent contractors to march to the beat of the same drum.
On the one hand, why should they? After all, real estate sales agents are independent contractors. Isn’t it their right as independent contractors to come and go as they please? Isn’t it their right to make their own hours and to set their own policies and procedures? Can’t they manage their clients as they see fit?
On the other hand, as independent contractors are to be supervised by their broker and it is the broker that holds the responsibility and liability for each and every transaction, there should be a level at which it is acceptable for the broker to set and establish policy and procedure. Clearly, this continues to be a very gray area when it comes to running a brokerage.
Each and every brokerage model is unique, and it is the broker or the sales manager who establishes the office structure. But, what should that include? How can you create a structure that encourages success and fosters education and training?
Brokerage Routines That Foster Success
Over the years, I’ve fallen into a pretty good routine. My routine seems to provide agents with learning and training opportunities, while also permitting a level of freedom with which most feel quite comfortable.
- Set a regular schedule for office meetings and trainings. Our meetings are set for Mondays at 9:00 a.m., which is admittedly not the best day for that. However, we had to select a day that was not also a scheduled day for local “broker opens” because we didn’t want our agents have to decide between the two meetings.
- Send a weekly newsletter. Every Monday morning, all of our agents receive a weekly newsletter. It contains the activity calendar for the month as well as other important goings-on. We introduce new agents, note topics discussed in the office meeting (in case agents miss the meeting), and have links to important webinars and trainings. We find that the weekly newsletter is a good communication tool for those agents who don’t come to the office much.
- Bring in speakers and trainers. We invite speakers and trainers from organization such as the association and the local MLS to come to our office and train our agents. Of course, trainings are always offered at other locations, but our agents prefer the convenience (plus, it is also a good recruiting opportunity).
- Contact all agents weekly. I make it a policy to speak with each of my agents once a week. If you have 100 agents, this may not be possible, but you could text them or send them an email and make sure that they don’t need anything. When you speak with your agents regularly, you may be able to head off any trouble before it occurs. You can also make suggestions for best policies and provide solutions for tough situations. This is a good way to find out what’s up with those agents who don’t hang out by the water cooler.
Is a running a real estate brokerage kind of like herding cats? It might be. But if you have some good, solid systems in place, your agents will know that the structure is there if and when they need it.
Recognize and use free time at work like the gift it is
(PRODUCTIVITY) Free time during your workday can lead to furthering your mind and productivity.
Clocked in but clocked out
We’ve all had those slow days at work where we’re looking for ways to kill the time until the clock strikes five.
While it can be tempting to use this time to text or mess around on the Internet, there are much better ways to use that free time that will make your future so much easier.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
First off, tidy up your workspace. Papers and items have a way of accumulating and may be distracting you even if you don’t realize it. By organizing your stuff and throwing away what you don’t need, you’re able to breathe and focus within your workspace.
It also does wonders for your work brain to clear up your email inbox.
Once that’s all done, plan out the rest of your work week. Make a list of the major goals you’d like to accomplish and then a sub-list of how you’ll knock those goals out. Update your calendar and make sure everything is on track.
Social media, networking, and research
It’s also beneficial to use this downtime to further yourself and your organization. Three ways you can do this is through: social media, networking, and research.
If you have access, take some time to look through your company’s social media and see what can be done to enhance it. Either throw up some posts yourself or pitch ideas to the social media manager.
Networking can be done in this small amount of time by sending out “catch up” emails to old colleagues, “welcome emails” to new clients or introduction emails to LinkedIn contacts.
Send them a “how’s it going?,” tell them what’s new with you, and see what they have going on. You never know where networking can lead so it’s always good to stay in touch.
With research, see what the latest trends are in your field and study up on them. This may give you new ways to look at projects and tasks at hand. And, it’s always beneficial to have continued learning.
While on the subject of continued learning, take this time to mess around with something you may not feel completely knowledgeable of. Maybe dig around RPR data, perhaps practice using different computer programs it is never a bad a idea to nourish your brain.
Having free time during the workday is something of a gift. If you can help it, try not to waste it.
Bill Gates’ big regret of a simple command haunts him, what haunts you?
(EDITORIAL) If BIll Gates is still living with a big regret, it’s time to ponder your own, your own humanity, and consider moving past it in a healthy way.
It has come to light that Microsoft founder Bill Gates regrets some of the original design decisions of the PC. Namely, the CTRL+ALT+DEL command that allows you to log in to the computer, due to its lack of simplicity when trying to access a key part of a computer’s operating system.
I know Mr. Gates probably has other regrets when looking at the span of his more than thirty years involvement with being associated with one of the most profitable companies in the world. I am assuming that you also have some regrets you have also in regard to your own business and/or career.
We all do.
According to psychologists, regret occurs when an something perceived as an error is made that has some personal accountability tied to it. If you’ve ever been a part of a business team, supervising employees, or been the boss, you’ve had a wealth of personal accountability. And, since you’re human, you’ve definitely made some mistakes.
One of my former bosses told me after a long day, in which I made some mistakes: You did the best you could have with the information you had. More than likely, if you’re agonizing about that mistaken car reservation or wrong decimal point, you made a normal human error. Even if it isn’t a small day to day thing, but perhaps a big issue with some big consequences, you can move on from that. It will be okay.
A great way to move on from a failure or mistake in business is to use the situation as a lesson for the future. Chances are, if you’re a team leader who messed up a relationship with an agent, you will have more agents in the future to avoid that error with.
Learning from your mistakes, and using your errors as fuel to increase your motivation for the next project, is a great way to deal with regrets healthily. If you don’t process your regrets, you can deal with a wealth of mental and physical health problems like chronic stress, depression, and damage to the systems that regulate your hormones.
You will have mistakes, but those mistakes have gotten you to this point in your life. It’s impossible to guess how your life would change if you were able to go back and fix that one thing that feels like a turning point in your business life. Living in spite of regrets is one of the hardest challenges in life to face, but just like Gates, you will accept the past and move on.
Working Woman’s Wife: on-demand assistants for busy female brokers and agents
Austin startup, Working Woman’s Wife, offers on-demand help for ambitious female executives juggling work and home life.
Over the past half century, women have made enormous strides into the workplace, including previously male-dominated professions. More than ever, women are serving as executives for major organizations, starting their own businesses, and finding success in the world of real estate.
Unfortunately, women’s success in the working world has not been counterbalanced by a reduction in their responsibilities at home. Statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor last year reveal that women are still doing the vast majority of housework, including childcare, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping for household amenities.
On an average day, half of all women are completing chores and errands, while only 19 percent of men are contributing to running the household.
Even when men do pitch in, they tend to spend less hours on housework, while women often cut into their work time or overbook and overstress themselves to manage both their careers and their households.
Helping ambitious women every day
An Austin-based startup wants to help ambitious women who “have long been without the advantages wives have provided to men.” The Working Woman’s Wife is an all-around personal assistance and concierge service fulfilling many of the housewifely functions that have long given men a leg-up in the business world.
According to the Working Woman’s Wife, women complete an average of 18 hours per week of unpleasant and unpaid work, which means they have less time to advance their careers or spend quality time with their families.
When you hire a “wife,” she will complete many of these tasks for you, including office task such as emails and data entry, organization of your personal spaces or office, pet care, party planning and cleanup, cooking, laundry, running errands, personal shopping, and chauffeuring. They can even hang out at your place until the repairman shows up, so you don’t have to waste half a day of work taking care of a household problem.
How pricing for a “wife” works
Wives are available by purchasing packages of hours in increments of 30, 60, 80, or 100 hours per month, starting at $900 per month. Currently the Working Woman’s Wife serves the Austin, Texas area, but they are hoping to open chapters in Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Boulder, and the Silicon Valley.
Busy women brokers, real estate agents, and executives could obviously benefit from having someone take care of all of the “little things” that so often burden women who could be making more money, advancing their careers, and relaxing, if they had the time.
However, I can’t help but wonder who will be helping your “wife” run her own household while she is busily tending to yours. It’s great to see women wanting to help out other women, but maybe it would be better if men would step up to the plate. In lieu of $900 per month, perhaps you can convince your hubbie to pick up some of the slack instead.
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