When was the last time that you saw an article, attended a conference or experienced any type of real estate training where they discussed floor time? Some recent research from the Texas Association of Realtors suggests it may be time to revisit this old standby from the last century.

Floor time (sometimes called "up time" or "opportunity time") refers to being the agent who takes incoming phone calls from your company’s ads, signs and Web marketing. You may also have walk-ins, i.e., people who stop by in person to inquire about buying, selling or renting a home.

Floor time is no longer available in many offices. The calls are either handled by a call coordinator, a call center or routed directly to the listing agent after they qualify the lead. If the listing agent is unavailable, agents who are designated by the brokerage receive these leads.

If your office does offer floor time, it can be either quite lucrative or a total waste of time. Your productivity during floor time will depend upon how much inventory your office carries, your office location, and how effective you are at converting leads into actual appointments.

Three important reasons for taking floor time are:

1. It is an additional opportunity to make money.

2. Floor time generates both buyer and seller leads.

3. Floor time helps you keep in touch with pulse of market.

The challenges with floor time

The primary challenge with floor time is that it is a passive prospecting activity. This means you are sitting at the up desk either waiting for the phone to ring or for someone to walk into your office. The best lead generation activities are those in which you actively control how many leads you contact. This is why very few experienced agents and virtually no top producers take floor time — their time is better spent generating their own leads rather than waiting for someone to contact them.

Questions to ask prospective buyers

The first four questions below can help you convert more buyer floor time leads into actual clients. When you receive a call, qualify potential buyers in terms of the type of house they are searching for, the neighborhoods where they may want to live, as well as what is attractive to the buyers about those locations.

Also, remember that many younger buyers purchase the lifestyle, not just the property, so be sure to probe for that as well. Here are some examples of what to ask:

1. Describe the type of house you are searching for, including the price range and the location.

2. What is it about the lifestyle in that area that you find to be attractive?

3. Do you have to sell another property in order to purchase?

4. Have you spoken to a lender about being preapproved, not just prequalified?

Questions to ask seller leads

If your floor call turns out to be a seller lead, you can probe more deeply by asking any of these five questions. Remember, your ultimate goal is to schedule an appointment rather than keeping them on the phone.

1. How long have you owned your present home?

2. What do you like about the neighborhood?

3. When are you planning on moving?

4. Where will you be going?

5. What is motivating you to sell?

Summarizing what the floor lead says

One of the most important skills you need for floor time is the ability to listen and then to summarize what the caller or walk-in has told you. Here are some of the transitional phrases you can use to keep the conversation going as well as to reconfirm that you’ve heard what the lead really said.

1. So what I hear you saying is that …

2. If I understand you correctly …

3. So it appears that …

4. So what you are telling me is that …

5. So one of the things you are looking for is …

6. So what’s important to you is …

7. Is that a correct assessment of what you have told me?

8. Is that right?

If your office generates plenty of incoming floor calls, you may want to take floor time as often as possible. Floor time is a waste, however, if you cannot get the caller’s phone number, schedule an appointment, and then close that lead to work with you as either a buyer or a seller.

If you are part of a large office where you may not have that many opportunities to take floor time, ask your manager if you can take calls in the evening or on weekends. Taking calls later in the evening is an especially good idea in the summertime when people are often out later.

Is floor time right for you? The only way to tell is to monitor your conversion ratio: How many leads are you generating for the number of hours spent? If other prospecting activities are generating more leads, then focus on your more dollar-productive activities. On the other hand, if you consistently produce closed transactions from floor time, make this old standby an important part of your lead generation activities as often as possible.

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