Systems Beat Memory

Caller ID tells me it is Fred calling. Fred only calls when there is a problem. I already know what the problem is. Sally, our office administrator was out sick today and wasn’t there to get something done for Fred. He’s calling to complain. I know it. 

Have you ever lived this scenario? 

It happens all the time in real estate offices across the country. Key support staff members are so good at their jobs that they never write down how they actually do their job, it is all in their head. That’s just fine, until they are out of the office. And the Murphy’s Law of Life kicks in meaning that your biggest complainer will somehow be impacted by their absence. 

There are two ways to prevent this phone call in your business. 

  1.  Have documented systems and checklists in place for every task that every employee does. This can take the form of an operations playbook and doesn’t have to take a lot of time to develop. Start with simply checklists and keep it in hard copy and in digital format. Here are some examples: 
    • Inputting a listing into the company system. 
    • Ordering photos.
    • Ordering business cards.
    • Buying/getting for sale signs, open house signs, directional arrows. 
    • Onboarding a new agent. 
    • Terminating an agent. 
    • Using the office (turning on lights, TV’s, computers, Apple TV’s, conference room phones, etc) — It really sucks when you have a client meeting and can’t get any of these things to work in the conference room. 
    • Etc, etc, etc. 

2.  Every employee needs a back up person. In the corporate world we call this cross training. That’s why you have a pilot and a copilot on an airplane. If something happens to the pilot the copilot steps in and no one is the wiser. This logic applies in your business as well. Every job function should have a pilot and co pilot who is trained to perform that function.  

A responsibility chart is a great way to document this within your company. List all the responsibilities within each functional area and assign them to the primary owner and back up owner. The two are now a team, if one can’t do the task then the other can. This is necessary even in small companies with 2-3 employees. 

So let me ask you, are you running your business with checklists, systems and software or by memory? That may seem like a silly question but the truth is the majority of real estate professionals are running their business by memory. 

Action items after reading this blog: 

1) Set up a meeting with your team and have each team member write a checklist for the 3 things they spend the majority of their time doing. You now have the start of your operations manual. Time allotted: 60 minutes. 

2) Take a spreadsheet, flip chart or piece of paper and write down the top three tasks each person identified and assign the primary person (pilot) and secondary person )co pilot) responsible. Train the secondary person if they don’t know how to do the task already. Time allotted: 30 minutes plus training as required. 

Published by Wendy Forsythe

I've spent my career working with people and organizations to help them build their brands. We live in a connected world where that line between a personal and professional persona has become nonexistent. Your brand is you 24/7. This blog is about me and my life. Some of it will relate to my passion for the real estate industry and some of it will just be about me living life and exploring my interests. The opinions expressed here are my own personal opinions.

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