In our Property Management series, agency owner and EAC director, Elizabeth Sargood takes the focus off sales, as she dives into the complexities and challenges of managing people and property.
Elizabeth provides key insights into the best practices you can employ to better your company’s performance and drive property management growth.
Real estate isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. Or so we’ve been taught.
For so long; more years than most of us can count, we have been told we need to be early risers, late sleepers and available to our clients for every minute of every hour in between.
We’ve made ourselves accessible practically 24/7: we’ve spent late nights following up leads, answered calls and emails while on holiday, and actively permitted our work to not just come home with us, but to pull up a seat at our family dining table.
And we’ve done all of this because we’ve been told it’s what we have to do to get ahead; to be a top agent.
But life doesn’t have to be like that. You can be a great real estate agent and have a life too!
Why is balance in real estate so rare?
Finding a balance between professional and private in our line of work is not always easy — especially if you know you’re competing against others internally or externally for managements and listings, and your availability might be a major factor keeping you in the game.
One big reason balance is a challenge in real estate is we are dealing with people who are seeking support and service in relation to something personal for them. For that reason, it makes much more sense and is more convenient to them, to manage it at times when they are not working; that is, in their ‘personal’ time.
What this means for us, is our days often extend from a standard 9 to 5, to evening phone calls that run straight from Monday, through the week, and into our Saturday morning opens. By default, their ‘personal’ time becomes our ‘professional’ time.
Beyond this, in both property management and sales, a sense of urgency often drives client contact.
In sales, a buyer calling with an offer brings with it a momentum that needs to be maintained and a demand for fast response.
In property management, sudden changes in personal arrangements, broken pipes or a gas leak — for obvious reasons — result in a client who seeks immediate assistance.
So, if everything is driven by a demand for instant response, is it impossible for agents to ever achieve balance?
Managing self-care and boundaries in real estate
It is absolutely possible to stop being the job every second of every day and start spending more time with your family or on your exercise regime, cooking hobby… or Netflix!
To achieve balance, you need to set boundaries. You need to realise while work is a priority and your client should always receive great service, great service does not always mean immediate service unless the urgency is warranted.
I have found prioritising my self-care and that of my team by setting clear boundaries around our service, enables us to perform better than we ever have, and as a result, our clients are happier and receive enhanced service.
Consider implementing these tried and tested tips (we use them!) to set boundaries and start balancing great service with a great life!
- Set expectations with clients and do not deviate! Nicely let owners and tenants know at the beginning of the relationship what your working hours are and that calls should only be made outside of those hours if the client has an emergency.
- Practice what you preach. Put your phone on silent when you are at home and on weekends. Let the calls go to voicemail and only return them in the case of an emergency. Return any other calls inside the agreed business hours, when you are working.
- Communicate clearly. Set your voicemail up so it lists your hours of availability and ask clients not to email outside of these hours unless urgent.
- Don’t accept text messages. There are two reasons for this: firstly, it’s very easy to see a text and completely forget about it which can result in your service suffering. Secondly, it gives clients more comfortable license to contact you directly outside of hours, without you being able to zone it out. Respond to each text with ‘unfortunately we cannot accept text messages. We require your enquiry be made via email to [email address]’.
- Plan in privacy. Have half an hour in the morning to sit down and organise your day before you jump into it. This helps you prioritise what needs to happen that day in peace and quiet.
- Take control of your time. Have times during the day during which you put your phone on silent so you can concentrate on the job at hand. Your day can get very stressful, very quickly if you’re trying to handle emails and necessary jobs when your phone is continually ringing. A good tip is to put your phone on silent for sets of one or two hours, and then return calls when in the car or out and about.
- Take a lunch break, even if it’s only 15 mins. Failing this, take 15 mins out of your day to go for a walk, have a coffee or listen to a podcast.
Elizabeth Sargood is a Property Management specialist with Aspect Estate Agents.