Why productivity suffers when agents schedule their own tasks

Agents falter in their responsibilities when they don’t have a system that helps them manage their to-do's

Many jobs involve completing a series of sequential, prearranged tasks. Teachers grade papers, chefs cook food to order, real estate agents contact leads. Over the years, tasks have become more systematized despite the growing freedom technology offers. Why is that?

Performance. Think about Henry Ford’s innovation of the assembly line. Once each and every task was singled out and outlined, the production volume of cars suddenly quadrupled. Hospitals have seen the same results with similar assembly-line practices. By asking doctors to follow an organized workflow around reading X-rays and CT scans rather than their own, hospitals have been able to ensure accurate diagnoses more often.

In real estate, agents face similar task-related workflows that can be improved. Some salespeople cherry-pick leads, other offices employ round robin lead-distribution models. The freedom agents have around how they handle leads differs by brokerage and their managers.

BoomTown has witnessed the critical role organized workflows play in real estate success. We’ve witnessed real estate times like Brandon Brittingham’s outperform his brokerage with a system that helped organize his agents’ tasks. We’ve seen brokerages expand into new markets because they had a system to help them scale and hold staff accountable. We’ve also seen what happens when offices lack accountability to specific workflows and flounder as a result.

Often, we believe we know the best path to superior productivity, but data shows we’re not as good as we think we are. A recent Harvard Business School study showed that radiological services saw a 13 percent drop in productivity when workers chose tasks based on their own experience. Subpar productivity like this costs businesses a lot of money. If radiologists had avoided deviations in their tasks, they could have saved 2,494 hours over a year, which translates to 3 percent in annual profits, according to the Harvard Business School study numbers.

Real estate agents have their own tasks. Many of them deal with responding to new leads and existing clients. Leads flow in at all times of day, every day. It’s common to see agents falter in their responsibilities — especially with leads — when they don’t have a system that helps them manage their to-dos. Leads are neglected, money is wasted, broker and team leader stomachs churn.

Many agents fail to consider task-management in relation to an overall business strategy. Instead, they choose tasks they believe to be in the best interest of their personal productivity, and fail to be as effective as they could be as a result.

Not having a streamlined task system drains productivity. “Searching through your queue and deciding which task to choose next may not seem like it, but it’s actually taking a long time,” according to Harvard Business School doctoral candidate Maria Ibanez.

If you have ambitious goals this year — say a 40 percent increase in sales volume — then consider improving your systems and standards. You’ll find that an effective workflow easily trumps lead generation as far as business results are concerned.

Fine-tune your lead follow-up processes and employ a system to organize your tasks, create action plans for agents to follow, automate tasks and reminders through software. Success starts with understanding the challenges you’re up against and programming against them.