“Stressed out? Get Organized with WorkFlows”

One of my other posts about combining activities in plans, prompted me to expand on that topic and go a little further.  The result is the following post.  Some of it is a repeat, but most is not.

There are a fair number of ‘Agent Productivity’ software programs and services available that enable the user to create ‘Activity Plans’, or ‘Campaigns’. These Plans have several tremendous benefits, and if you are using one of those programs (listed below), and you have not yet seriously looked into using the activity plan capability in them, you are missing out on an incredibly valuable tool that you already own. For those of you that are using, or plan to use them, the following information will help in the development of them.

I created ‘Activity Plans’ in Real Estate specific software when I was an agent, when the software became available in 1989, when we were all still using DOS! Since 1996, I’ve worked with many agents/teams around the country expanding/developing ‘Activity Plans’ in Agent Office and a few in ‘Top Producer’. I have witnessed, through first hand use, and through my clients, the value in using them.

In this article, we are going to focus on Listing & Sales Transaction Management. At least as important, is using activity plans to get business. Lead generation and follow-up plans. A good deal of this article applies to them as well.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • What are ‘Activity Plans’?
  • What are the benefits to using them?
  • How do you create them?
  • To-do’s, and Not to-do’s!

What are ‘Activity Plans’?

Some of the Real Estate specific tools available with which to use them are; Agent Office, Top Producer, Active Agent for Outlook, Respond, REST, 360 Agent, and Goldmine (with the Real Estate Specific add-on).

In all of these programs, the user can add a task to their calendar one at a time. Most licensees sit down when they get a listing, and do just that, and it takes a significant amount of time. Because it does, only a small percentage of the tasks that are actually performed during the process, will make it to the calendar. Using activity plans, you create a ‘template’ group of tasks, which can be assigned to a contact, or subject property, all at once, and they will appear on your calendar, on the dates when you need to accomplish them.

By tasks, I mean things such as; Enter into MLS; Write thank you note; Introduction call from assistant; Change contact category to ‘Seller-Active’; Obtain association docs, Mail ‘Client Listing Report’ etc.

What are the benefits to using them?

1) Far and away the biggest benefit is the reduction of stress you will see in your business life. Why?

Why is this business so stressful? Did you ever sit down and really evaluate why it is? There are a myriad of tasks involved in getting a home sold, and then taking it to settlement. What is one of, if not the biggest reason for your stress, is that you have those hundreds and hundreds of details constantly floating around in your head. When you are in the middle of the listing, or the sale, where are those tasks? They, and the resulting need for decisions about when to accomplish them, are bouncing around in your head. Tasks + Decisions = Stress!

Having an automated to-do list for all your transactions takes all of the repetitive tasks out of your head, and puts them on your calendar, on the day that you need to do them! Because you decided once, when you created the plan, when you want to do the tasks, the number of decisions you have to make are also reduced tremendously. Things no longer fall through the cracks. Your mind is more clear and less stressed, and you literally do away with dozens of decisions every day.

It is not possible to appreciate how much of a difference this makes, until you do it! It’s like telling a seller how complicated Real Estate is. They can’t comprehend it until they do it.

Even if you have someone doing your transaction management, how much do they do? They don’t do everything you need to accomplish throughout your listing, or your side of the sales transaction.

2) I know some of you are sitting there thinking, ‘I use comprehensive lists!!!

I congratulate you on being that well organized! It’s more than most. I guarantee you though, after having helped many licensees move from ‘paper to plan’, that many of the tasks you do for a listing or sale, are not on those lists. And even if they were…

  • No detail should be on a paper list.
  • Paper lists get lost.
  • Paper lists can only be in one file, or on one desk, at a time.
  • Those same details, when in ‘the plan’, can be viewed by anyone at any time, without having to waste time locating it. No more – “OK, who has the Oak Lane file?
  • No more walking to someone else’s desk or file cabinet.
  • No more need for sticky notes, voice mails, etc.

One of the goals with activity plans is to have every single detail (to-do, letter, call) in the plan, anticipating the day when you either hire an assistant, or have to replace one. Every detail that is ‘in someone’s head’ becomes a potentially overlooked detail, a liability, and part of a learning curve, for the new assistant, or replacement. This translates to a loss of time to you, in that you have to communicate that detail to the new assistant, and/or do the backpedaling for them, because they missed it.

No activity plan can hope to take every detail into account. Every transaction is unique. That said, a good activity plan can take the vast majority of the transaction’s details into account, as the vast majority of transactions are the same to agreat extent for almost every transaction. More often than not, the assistant takes care of the plan items, and the agent takes care of the unique items.

3) Speaking of assistants; if you have an assistant – how long did it take to train them? How many hours did you lose in productive listing and selling time? What if they quit next month? You have to start all over again. If you have activity plans in place, their transition and learning curve will be a very small percentage of what you just went through.

I was with a client the other day that proudly displayed his ‘Operations Manual’, which was what his assistant was supposed to use to do their job. If you’ve ever written an ‘Operations Manual’ you know that the day after you get it done, it’s well on it’s way to becoming obsolete.

Some of the above mentioned software programs enable you to have ‘Notes’ in each task, which you can use to describe click-by-click, how to edit the letter for that activity; how to print the report in that activity; what that activity is telling them to do, why they are doing that activity, and so on. They can be used as a “Dynamic Operations Manual”. This eliminates a tremendous amount of training time.

The difference is that with a paper operations manual, it inevitably becomes useless, because it is not kept current. Using the activity plans, and the notes in the activities, means you can edit/change/update that particular activity on the fly, and it’s automatically incorporated into any future ‘launch’ of that plan. It’s extremely easy, and therefore likely, that the plans will be kept up to date.

4) If the licensee wants to walk out of the office and review the progress of a transaction, it can be printed out, and every detail is in the report. Nothing is in anyone’s head. Nothing is on a separate paper list.

5) If you do not have an assistant, and you ask someone to step in for you for a day, 2, or more; everything is there. All in one place.

Next time:

  • How do you create plans
  • To-do’s & Not To-do’s


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