Phu says the biggest change to her job in the past year has been taking “a broader role in promoting the office — for example, planning a fundraiser benefit in addition to our regular art show/exhibition.”

Inman is interviewing office managers. Here’s Carmen Phu, office administrator and marketing specialist at McGuire Real Estate.

Walk us through a day in your life. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office and the last thing you do before you leave? What happens in between?

On a typical day, one of my various tasks is to make sure all photography is scheduled, and to design any needed graphic pieces for marketing — postcards, brochures, fliers, newspaper ads, private showing invitations and more — for listings awaiting to come on the market or planning for a big community fundraiser event, or pet adoptions, etc.

I then review all files to ensure they’re compliant by communicating with the broker or transaction coordinators. For planning events, I organize caterers, photographers, local artists, design invitations to send out, and we’re well-advertised across all types of news and media outlet.

In my free time, I work on neighborhood map designs, all drawn by hand and completely branded to the company and agent.

The last thing I do before I leave is to make sure all pressing matters are done and make sure to say, “Bye, see you later/tomorrow,” to everyone in the office before taking off for the day.

What’s your favorite part of your day? What’s your least favorite part?

Favorite part of the day would be the morning; it’s generally nice and quiet — perfect time for my creativity to run wild, and productivity is free to roam before agents trickle in. Least favorite part would probably be late afternoon after lunch, when I start feeling a bit lethargic, laziness ensues and I start getting pulled in different directions with tasks.

Have you ever managed an office outside the real estate industry?

I have not. I needed a job and I had an opportunity present itself; turns out, it was a real estate company, and I have been with it ever since.

Everything I know about real estate I’ve learned through this job, and it’s been an interesting journey.

How many agents work out of the office you manage? How many brokers?

We have 13 agents plus a broker manager, and of the 13, three of them have the broker title.

How many listings does your office manage at any given time?

Approximately 15 per month.

Describe your office. What is the floor plan like? What is the decor like?

Our office is a small and cozy retail space on a popular commercial block. Gazing in from the outside, you’ll notice a gigantic blue poodle on display in our window.

When you waltz in through our Dutch-styled front door, to the left you’ll see a lovely custom-made front desk, and on the right a set of stairs leading to the second floor. A few steps further, and there are agent desks along the two sides of the wall and a hallway-like feel down the middle.

To the right behind the desks, we have our mini copy-and-print area and a small kitchen area behind that. Upstairs, there are a few more agent desks with a mobile station along the right side wall and a wonderful conference room.

On the walls throughout the office, we feature beautiful artworks by local artists, changed every six months, sporting a variety of different types of mediums ranging from photography, acrylic on canvas, mixed media and more.

At the rear of the office, there is a sliding door leading to our tranquil garden with an Italian-inspired water fountain, beautiful plants and a seating area, perfect for meetings during a hot, summery day.

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What CRM does your office use?

We have our own custom CRM, which was developed by our technology partner, Booj.

What email system does your office use?

Microsoft Office 365.

Do you have a live person answer your phones, a messaging service or some other way to manage phone calls?

I answer all incoming calls to the office.

Do you have any office manager assistants, or are you doing it all yourself? 

I don’t have any office manager assistants, I do, however, have a weekend receptionist who picks up some of the spillover clerical tasks and paperwork.

Are you involved in the social media strategy? How so?

I’m not too involved. I make sure our events make it into our social media pages; otherwise, we have a pretty awesome, well-versed PR specialist who handles it for our entire company.

Have you ever sold real estate? If not, do you have any interest in selling real estate yourself?

I’ve never sold real estate before. I don’t have much of an interest to sell, but maybe my mind will change in the near future. Who knows where the future will take me?

What does lunchtime look like for you — do you leave the office for lunch or eat a brown-bag at your desk?

I don’t leave the office much for lunch. At most, I’ll grab something next door and eat at my desk.

On a rare occasion, I’ll take a real lunch and leave the office for an hour to grab lunch away from the everyday eats.

How do you support agents after-hours and on weekends?

We have a weekend receptionist, and if there’s an emergency, agents will generally text me after hours.

Would you recommend this career to someone else? Why or why not?

If they enjoy the challenge of working with a variety of different types of people, then yes.

What has been the biggest change to your job over the past year?

Being able to take a broader role in promoting the office — for example, planning a fundraiser benefit in addition to our regular art show/exhibition.

What sets your brokerage apart? How do you differentiate yourself?

Outstanding support for our agents and clients. We have 28 employees who support 150 agents. From my role in the office to a PR/social media specialist, we make the agent’s job as easy as possible.

If you were forced to work in any industry other than real estate, which would it be and why?

Tech industry. Seems like it’s quite a big world there with lots of opportunity.

Are you involved in any technology investment decisions?

Sometimes. The cool thing that I like about McGuire is that if you have a bright idea, you share it and they’ll take it into consideration, and if everything works out, we’ll find a way to do it.

Do agents rely too much on you to handle things?

Sometimes a little too much. I spoil my agents. :)

To what extent do you help with closings?

I receive the purchase contract, send it to the broker for approval, then correspond with the transaction coordinator to make sure checks are correct, then disperse it to the agent.

What broker or agent habits drive you crazy?

Last-minute requests and trying to defy deadlines.

If you had a magic wand that would grant one wish related to your job, what would it be?

Everyone is always happy.

Are you an office manager who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.

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