August doldrums here. I have a closing scheduled for next week and every little thing that has to be done I am doing with the utmost, nearly slavish, care, because I have so much time on my hands. Scheduling the walk-through? Why, I did that today, with my pings to both my dear client and the listing broker getting answered instantly. Guess that’s a nice reminder that no one else is too busy either.
When I left my corporate job two years ago, my best friend, an established freelancer, said, “Call me when you clean the bathroom.”
Well, the dog days teach me something about myself: that no matter how slow work is, I don’t naturally switch my energies to cleaning.
I am trying to be a good girl and clear off my desk (yuck!) but who likes that, really, so even when I go to the office with a few things to be filed, I just spend hours hanging out swapping stories with the other agents.
Part of that is because my buyer clients aren’t really around — this one is on a business trip, that one is on vacation in California, this other one is “working” in the South of France.
Similarly, no seller is going to list between now and Labor Day, so why bother?
So I am just going in and futzing around, er, bonding, with the people from my office. My sponsoring broker Dan and I found out, for instance, that neither of us had ever played the lottery in our lives.
This is a lot of what people in offices normally do — I remember being at a major newspaper and playing cards on more than one occasion while we were waiting for the printing plant to start up — but when you’re an independent contractor, it seems indulgent. What do you mean, you’re not out there hunting?
The other thing everyone in my office is doing is going to broker open houses, which are one of the great wastes of time here on God’s earth. Maybe in the suburbs, a broker open house for a house makes sense, but when someone is selling a condo building it is just their way of trying to push the leftovers off onto other agents. No one needs help selling the best apartments in a building, so by the time they send an e-mail to the brokerage community and offer food, you know the good ones are gonna be gone.
I have a saying that no one ever has cocktails at the penthouses that are reasonably priced.
But still, we’re going, because it’s August, and what else is there to do?
The marketing guru Seth Godin often differentiates between strategy and tactics, and he’s always arguing that the important thing is to have a great strategy, so I suppose he would say that the August slump is simply a question of what tactical decisions to make. But Godin also says the way to get your readers’ attention is to make lists, so for those of you who are twiddling your thumbs, five things more:
1) Polish up your Web site. I got in touch with a WordPress queen and she answered a question I had long had about graphics, and then I figured out a way to point to the most-visited parts of my site so that a new visitor could get just the highlights.
2) Design a direct mailing to go out in September. Dan in my office is particularly good at this, so I peeked over his shoulder to learn how he gets that extra bang out of those 250 words.
3) Learn about your neighborhood or area, or just more about buildings. This week I learned that one street in Greenwich Village has two names and got into a construction-oriented conversation and learned what “spalling” is. I’ll stuff that trivia into the back of my brain, but I’m sure it will come out at some point when I’m chatting with a client.
4) Schedule some lunches or coffees. We’re all Internet marketers now, but don’t forget to get face time with a few people along the way. If you’ve been meaning to see an old client, a local reporter or a new mortgage broker, why not make the call?
5) Head to the gym. Those back exercises I don’t have time for when four clients want me? Suddenly I’m doing them. You too: Go hit the weight room. Might as well look sharp for when the busy season starts back up in two weeks.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie.”