The coronavirus outbreak has thrown a wrench into our schedules and plans, amongst other things. One thing we might not have been able to prepare ourselves for is the strange summer we’re about to have.
In the wake of the outbreak, employees who are accustomed to spending their days in the office have now found themselves having to adapt to working from their homes. Now, these employees are going to have to stare at their pools or outdoor patio while working hard.
It’s important, now more than ever, that you optimize your business and life, and stay focused on what you can control during these trying times. It’s even more important to keep your team motivated and optimized, especially now that we’re entering the summer season.
I invited serial entrepreneur Nick Sonnenberg, the co-founder of Leverage, to elaborate on how we can make working from home actually work.
Leverage was created with the intention of staying focused on your unique abilities and outsourcing the rest.
In its first year, Leverage had an employee base of 100-plus, and made seven figures. In five years, the company has been fully remote and has never had an office.
That’s why I knew Sonnenberg was the perfect person to mastermind on how to optimize your business remotely.
“When working with businesses to optimize themselves, I found a pattern,” Sonnenberg said. “Every company, no matter size or industry, needs three operational efficiency components.”
He calls it CPR — communicate, plan and resource — and it’s crucial for any business, especially right now. It’s the business model he uses to run Leverage and on which he consults people.
For top real estate teams, it’s vital to learn project management for non-transactional projects and tasks, emailing for client communication and internal team communication platforms. Here’s how you can use CPR for your business.
Communication is like the oxygen of your real estate team. If you can’t communicate efficiently, everything else suffers. This summer won’t be like the summers we’ve seen in the past. It will be stressful and discouraging, but with the right communication tools and plans, you and your team will cohesively work together to motivate each other and ensure projects are completed.
“The problem that we face is that when we use the same tool for all communication, is that we create a scavenger hunt for ourselves to find information,” Sonnenberg said.
He breaks down communication into three separate buckets: text for personal, email for external communication and a program like Slack for your internal communication.
External communication best practices
To optimize your emails with clients, especially when you’re at home and might feel a little frazzled, Sonneberg recommends to get your inbox, not your unread emails, to zero.
There are three main things you can do with emails: reply, archive and defer. The main reason you would defer an email or snooze it is if you have themed days in your schedule.
If you focus on administrative work on Mondays and you receive a non-urgent, admin-related email Tuesday through Sunday, you can snooze it in your inbox to reappear on Monday when you can deal with it.
“This is a really great way to get to inbox zero, and knock un-urgent things out of your line of sight,” Sonnenberg said.
Internal team communication
There are so many robust tools that you can use to improve your team’s internal communication. Slack is one of them.
Another way this benefits your internal team is that it can help you prioritize your communications. If someone on your team needs you first thing in the morning, you can get to Slack zero, before you get to inbox zero.
You can even have separate channels on Slack for different departments, like marketing, sales and even payroll. This makes it easy for you to go back into conversations and find what you’re looking for much faster.
To run your real estate team effectively, you need a map. Your map is the project management software that your company runs off of.
There are plenty of project management tools you can use. Most tools work the same way and will give you the same functionality you need to run your real estate team. Having a project management tool in place will help you take the reins of your projects and team while you work apart this summer.
No matter which tool you choose, it will give you everything you need to stay in sync with your team, hit deadlines and reach your goals.
Another crucial step in the planning section are your team meetings. Nick Sonnenberg says Leverage’s motto is “No agenda? No meeting.” Nick believes every meeting should have a cadence, agenda and structure.
Even now, a few months into the COVID-19 situation, you may still be finding it difficult to work remotely and reach your team. So, to help you stay connected, you might want to opt in for 15-minute check-in meetings every day.
The agenda and structure for this meeting should be simple. You’ll want to ask them what they did yesterday, what they did today and what they’re focusing on tomorrow.
Every meeting needs an agenda. The agenda should be collaborative in the cloud or attached to every calendar event. Consistent meetings also mean that instead of sending constant messages, if something is non-urgent, you can add it to the meeting instead.
Ideal meeting structure
Use the first five minutes of the meeting for personal catch-up. Ensure that you’re considerate of everyone’s time. If certain people are only relevant to a few of the matters on the agenda, go over those first, and allow them to leave.
Team meetings are an amazing opportunity for you and your team to stay connected for every possible project or challenges you face.
It’s important to digitize your knowledge. You don’t want one person on your team to hold everything in their head and get sick or quit. You want your whole team to be in the know so that they’re able to optimize themselves and the business.
You need a process document in order to ensure your team can fully function without a certain team member. A process document outlines the exact steps needed to complete a task or process from start to finish. It describes how team members perform the process, not what the process is.
Having a process document in place removes a level of risk for your team, and it ensures that everyone’s on the same page at all times. This will be especially helpful to team members this summer, as people start using their vacation time every two weeks or so.
You will also have breakthroughs by constantly having new eyes on the same process, and it will also save time because you can automate your processes.
The biggest takeaway from this Mastermind was that we can all pivot our teams now by working together and planning and building our structures with resources. The tools we use will change, but the concepts we’ve learned from this Mastermind will not.