How To Use Workflows To Mitigate The Cost Of Hiring A Real Estate Assistant

This blog post is the 4th in a series of 5 articles demonstrating the impact templates and workflows can have on your real estate business.

When you hire your first assistant, you have to train them…

Even if you’re lucky enough to find someone with experience, we all do things differently, so you have to spend a significant amount of time showing them exactly what you expect of them. That is time that could have been spent performing income-generating activities. So this is where the extra costs come in. You will lose income as a direct result of hiring an assistant. It’s simply a matter of how much.

You can’t avoid that loss completely, but you can mitigate it to a very large degree by using workflows!

Read on to learn how.

1) Assign Activities to Job Positions

If you haven’t already built your workflows and you plan to hire an assistant someday, you’ll want to plan who will be “assigned” the activities in the workflows. If your CRM allows you to assign Activities to Job Positions versus individuals (as Realvolve does), it will save you a great deal of time when you bring on your assistant. Simply assign an Activity to “Assistant” instead of yourself. Then, when your new assistant starts a workflow, all they have to do is plug in their username when it asks who the Assistant is.

2) Build a Dynamic Operations Manual

When your new right hand starts, the first thing you’ll teach them is which workflows to start for which situations. Once they start a workflow, everything they’ll need to do for that listing/closing/event will be scheduled out for them.

It’s a beautiful thing, but there’s still some possibility for confusion. If you haven’t previously discussed exactly what they will be doing, notifications like “add contacts for the new parties to a transaction” won’t provide them with quite enough information to get the task done.

The solution is to have a Dynamic Operations Manual built right into your workflows. For each To-Do activity, add a note with instructions on how to accomplish the task. For the example above, your note might say: “Each Party Member you add must have at least their first and last name, email address, and phone number.”


If you’ve ever created an Operations Manual for your employees, you know how frustrating it can be when you finally finish and publish it…and your operating procedures change. When that happens, you have to reach out to everyone and tell them to read the changes. And since those changes may not be relevant to them at that time, they may be forgotten and never even read.

The great part about a dynamic operations manual—one that is built right into your workflows—is that if a process changes, all you have to do is change it there in the workflow note. It will then be seen when it is needed by the person who needs it, rather than being missed because it was irrelevant at the time.

A word of advice…

Creating workflows is time consuming. Rather than adding all of these instructions on the first pass when you’re creating the workflows, consider adding them afteryou’re done creating them. You’ll get your workflows done and ready to use much more quickly. Then you can go back and add the instructions, while enjoying the benefit of using them in the interim.

3) Measure accountability

If you’re not using workflows yet, how do you keep track of what your assistant is doing and whether they’re getting it done on time? And what if you have a bigger team? You have to ask each person for an update, right? That’s going to be very time consuming.

Workflows make it easier! You can just click a few buttons and view the status of each listing/closing/event. You can see what has been done, what needs to be done, who is doing what they need to be doing, and who is maybe behind on their list of tasks for the day.

Workflows allow you to more efficiently monitor the productivity of your new assistant (and everyone else on your team) so you can make sure they’re earning their keep.

4) Avoid interrupting your assistant

Are you killing your assistant’s productivity?

How many times a day do you text, email, or call your assistant to get a phone number, check on that mortgage commitment, or have them check to see if you can add something to your calendar? If you can set up your workflows do all of that automatically, you can stop bugging your assistant, and they will get much more done.

As you can see, workflows can significantly mitigate the costs associated with hiring an assistant for your real estate business. Workflows allow you to:

  • Automatically generate to-do lists for your new assistant
  • Provide up-to-the minute instructions for accomplishing those tasks
  • Measure accountability
  • Avoid interrupting them with quick questions

Ready to learn more about integrating workflows into your real estate business? Contact us or visit our website to find out more about Realvolve!

CRM Reviews on YouTube

It’s very overdue, but I’m finally getting around to doing CRM reviews on YouTube. I currently have a three part review of Top Producer, and in the next week or so I’ll be reviewing IXACTContact, WiseAgent, Realvolve, Contactually, and Referral Maker.

This particular series of reviews is going to follow along the lines of what I have done on my reviews on my site. To do a thorough review of a CRM and include all of it’s features would make the videos too long. So I’m going to focus on each CRMs Unique or Notable Features. Unique is just that. No one else has that feature. Notable is something that this particular CRM does that is either better than the others, or it just has a different twist to it, making it Notable. To get to my channel, which is also called All Things Real Estate CRMclick here!

Hope you enjoy!

New Affiliate! Referral Maker Real Estate CRM

I am proud to announce that I am the first reseller for Referral Maker CRM from Buffini & Company. They have been using and marketing it primarily to their existing coaching clients for a couple years but now they are ready to let everyone take advantage of their unique CRM.Referral Maker Desktop

You can tell from the start that Referral Maker is different. They don’t call them contacts. They call them relationships. Referral Maker is all about knowing your contacts inside and out and working them to increase referrals. Or you can just hope for new business all the time, something Buffini refers to as Transactional. Which one is more desirable? It goes well beyond categorizing people as buyers, sellers, prospects, suspects, past clients, etc. You rate their propensity to refer you. You can record their hobbies, favorite restaurants, sports teams and many other data points that enable you to do much more personalized marketing than just sending out another email drip campaign.

So this CRM is geared towards capitalizing on your existing relationships vs focusing on Internet leads. So if you are very much into the latter, this one may not be for you. It is also not, currently, for someone who wants to use their CRM for transaction management in great detail. I often have agents tell me that they really just want their CRM to track their people and keep them following up in an organized way. That’s this one to a “T”.

There used to be a few software applications whose only objective was to help you set goals and track them. Referral Maker ties that kind of thinking into a CRM to actually track and prompt those goals you have set. If you need a CRM and you like goal setting, Referral Maker is unique in its approach and should definitely be on your short list, at the top.

Around June 2015 I contacted the Buffini organization to inquire about affiliating with them to re-sell Referral Maker. It was a pleasant surprise when I eventually ended up talking to Brian Wildermuth who is now their VP of Business Development. I know Brian from 2008 when he owned Sharper Agent and we were affiliated for resales. Brian suggested I join them in Philly for the Success Tour last week and I’m very glad he did.

I started in real estate in 1987. There was no internet that provided a plethora of free training information like there is now, so I spent a small fortune on seminars, books, tapes and more. I read so many books and listened to hundreds of hours of Tommy Hopkins, Denis Waitley, Steve Stewart, Zig Ziglar and so many more. I even did the Firewalk with Tony Robbins. That was something I’ll never forget!

But yesterday I witnessed first hand why I have heard so many positive comments over the years for Buffini and Company. Wow what an impressive production and just a great overall experience. I now have a much better perspective with which to view their Referral Maker CRM.

Buffini made some great points in the context of Internet Leads versus nurturing your database for referrals. If you’re like me, if you haven’t experienced it yourself you’ve heard many disparaging words about internet leads. Namely, that they are either bad leads, or that there are too many, with few that result in a closing. Buffini’s teaching is that it is far less time consuming and much less expensive to work your database than it is to always go after new business using lead generation solutions and social media. And that is the thought behind the CRM. It’s about nurturing your database and that’s how it is set up.

But what makes it unique is that with all the other CRMs, you are pretty much on your own unless you want to pay someone like me to coach you how to best take advantage of your CRM. With Referral Maker, you can buy just the CRM, or you can buy into a whole philosophy and be coached all along the way to make the best use of it. If you have been trying to use a CRM but keep failing, this may be an alternative worth considering.

For more information, a trial, or to purchase referral Maker, please click here.

2015 CRM Solutions: Is Simpler Better?

I’m honored to have been one of the people interviewed in a recent article for RealtorMag Online by Michael Antoniak entitled 2015 CRM Solutions: Is Simpler Better?  Hope you enjoy it.

Learning a Real Estate CRM

Why get one in the first place? Without one, only the very most organized agents are truly organized and not in crisis mode an inordinate amount of the time. But there are plenty of agents who are making a great deal of money either on their own or with teams and have no CRM. No one has to have a CRM. But if you do, you can make the same money you make now in less time, or you can make more money in the same amount of time. That’s only one of so many benefits that you cannot really appreciate until you have gotten over the hump and look back at your career pre-CRM.

Your first choice is how you are going to use it. Is it going to be a glorified Rolodex or are you going to run your business with it? The following addresses the latter because the former requires no real commitment or significant learning curve.

If it feels like the hardest part about getting organized with a CRM is figuring out which one to get, but that’s only part of it. You also have to make time to learn it. Note the use of the word make as opposed to get the time. It is so very important to understand that this one point can make all the difference in the world. Will you be the person who implements the CRM and reaps the benefits or the person who eventually regrets spending the time and money and blames it on the CRM being too difficult to learn.

As a Real Estate licensee, we wear many hats. No one likes them all and learning software is one that most distinctly dislike. There are those who will tell you that the reason most agents don’t use a CRM is because they’re too complex and they need to be easier. As a result a number of Real Estate specific CRM’s are focused on making them easier to learn, almost to a fault. What it’s turning out to be in some cases is that CRM’s are being dumbed down to the point where they are no longer CRM’s. They are contact managers. An overly basic CRM is essentially a contact manager which is just a glorified Rolodex. A CRM is far more robust than a contact manager, so regardless of how well it is presented or how intuitive it is, you still need to take a good bit of time to learn it and how to integrate it into your daily routine. You learned how to use Outlook, MS Word, and maybe MS Publisher or MS Excel too. You spent hour after hour playing with them with no support and no training, until you got a handle on them and never complained because you had no choice. What is so different about learning a CRM? If you want to profit by what a good powerful CRM does, then you need to invest the time to learn it. You do not have to like the time you invest into becoming proficient with a good CRM. But what you will like is having more of a life, with less stress, with less mistakes, with better service, with less staff, with more compliments, with more referrals. Is that worth the effort?

Maybe you have heard the time management axiom that a meeting takes as long as the time you allot to it. The same goes for your Real Estate day. You cannot keep putting off learning your CRM until the time that you need to spend with it presents itself. For many of us, that time just does not come.

So what are some guidelines to help insure adoption of a CRM? The first thing to realize is that in order to use a CRM properly, you are going to end up changing the way you do certain parts of your business. One example is that you are currently recording data (names, phone numbers, email addresses) in many places. The goal with a CRM is to have as much of that data in one place, the CRM, as possible. Post-It pads go in the back of a drawer. No more scribbling on desktop blotters or napkins. Throughout the day if you are in front of your computer, you can enter it easily. Get in the habit of entering it while you are talking to them or immediately afterwards. If the CRM has a good mobile interface, it an be entered into there as well. But some times you just need to scribble it somewhere the old fashioned way. That’s fine, but here’s the rule. You have one small notebook in which you take notes. You are not allowed to write anything that is destined for the CRM anywhere else. You then take that notebook each morning or evening and de-brief that information into your CRM.

It’s all about attitude so the first thing is to make sure you have a good view of the big picture. The time it takes to learn the CRM is finite, right? While it may seem like it in the beginning, it’s not going to take the rest of your life to learn the CRM. The learning curve does end at some point. So what’s important is to realize that in the beginning it is going to slow you down and that will make it aggravating and frustrating. The better your attitude, the less you will experience these negative emotions. What is more important is to realize that after you get over the hump it will no longer be an effort to go into your CRM and work in it. It will become as much a part of your day as your email. When you’re in the office you’ll have it open on your laptop or desktop because most of what you do each day will be in the CRM. When you’re not in the office, you have access to your database on your phone or your tablet so you can continue to interact with it.

Initially you need to spend a minimum of one hour each morning before you do anything else as long as you have to, to learn the features you are going to use first. Your goal is to do this every single day without exception until going into the CRM is no longer a chore or a learning curve, but something that you do because you want to and need to. You will need to because you will be running your life with it. Yes both personal and business. There is no reason to separate them with regards to contact information and calendaring. So, in the beginning using the CRM is miserable until you internalize it. Then, it is something that is part of you from there on out.

A comment I hear on a regular basis in one form or another is that the agent does not “want to have to be chained down by a CRM and forced to spend too much time entering information into it”. If you think about it, what information are you putting into the CRM that you aren’t putting somewhere anyway? Do you have one set of contacts in your phone, another in your email, another in a spreadsheet, another in your MLS, and on and on? Having a CRM simply means that instead of having a number of places where you record your day to day data that you need, you have only one place to put it. The end result of that is that it’s much faster to find and use information and you can do many things with it that you never could before.

Before you buy a CRM, you must be committed to making the time to make it work. Know that it will be time consuming and frustrating in the beginning. Know that if you get over the hump, you will realize it is one of the best decisions you have ever made in your real estate career.