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We all know people who work 80-plus hours a week with not enough to show for it. We also see those who have broken the mold and are achieving superstar results with ease. There are 24 hours a day and 168 hours in a week for all of us.
What’s the difference between those who scrape by and those who excel? In my experience, elite teams and brokers consistently integrate the following elite time management hacks into their daily lives.
1. Challenge every assumption
You don’t achieve elite time management by doing what everyone else does. The masters of the game know all the rules. They know them so intimately that they know exactly where they can break them.
Efficiency and effectiveness hacks are like Easter eggs hidden on Easter morning. They are all around waiting to be discovered by those who are willing to look for them.
2. Be brutal about your time investment
Be ruthless about being driven by ROI (return on investment) and ROR (return on relationship). Evaluate everything you do by how it contributes to your bottom line or to the relationships that matter to you. Return on investment should be your filter for everything you buy. Ask yourself, “How much money can I make with this purchase?”
Your goal is a 10X return. A 2X return is acceptable. Anything less, or worse, without a clear answer, should be avoided.
When it comes to people, ROR, or return on relationships, is your measure. How much value are you bringing to the other person? Any service business is driven by creating loyalty. Loyalty is driven by shared memories, making people feel amazing and looking for ways to anticipate needs before they arise.
There are billions of people in the world. As humans, we have the capacity to have a meaningful relationship with a couple hundred at any given moment. The obvious conclusion is to invest in relationships where you can do the most good with people who appreciate the time and energy.
3. Grow teams within teams, but don’t recreate the brokerage of 40 years ago
Teams are increasingly filling the void left by the evolution of the brokerage model. As they do, they are also finding out why the brokerage model evolved. The profitability in that model has continued to erode.
To achieve elite time management, you must proactively find the right people for the right seats, which means having a multilayered approach involving the person’s values, goals, personality and skill set. These must align with your brand promise, growth strategy and client service standards.
4. Learn to communicate like an executive
When communicating with executives, you need to start with one sentence that summarizes your point. Most executives don’t have time to listen to the back story if it is irrelevant to what you are asking.
Most of the time, the person will agree with what you are asking because they trust your judgment or the ask seems reasonable. If they need more information, then provide it.
Elite time management uses the 30-3-30 rule. Start with the point articulated in 30 seconds or less. Then, if needed, you can follow it up with a 3-minute executive summary. If the issue is more complicated, then condense the details into 30 minutes. The longer you work with someone, the more you will find 30 seconds is enough to get an answer to 90 percent of the day-to-day issues that come up.
5. Focus on what works
Know precisely where your active clients are coming from. Know what stage they are in your pipeline and what trigger needs to happen to move to the next stage.
Visualizing this in a dashboard format is extremely helpful for most leaders. Don’t waste time or energy on things that fall outside of the purview of ROI or ROR.
Our industry is diverging into two camps. One is lead chasers. Those are the ones who are paying to play. They are working with funnels, metrics, ISAs, and they’re servicing vast pools of people.
There are plenty of elite teams and brokers structured this way, and they are making a killing. For them, the game is a volume play. It’s a competition in the tech world that takes hundreds of millions of dollars to compete in. The big portals dominate and control the lead flow. They also get to dictate what the cost per lead is.
The second group of elite teams and brokers are obsessively focusing on building loyalty in relationships. This philosophy is local-first, where the team or brokerage’s book of business is paramount.
Agents and teams cultivate each relationship purposefully. They invest in people. For this model, the value of the real estate professional transcends the transaction. They are playing the long game. This model is a boutique model that trades quantity for quality.
6. Systematize all your repeatable tasks
You will grow only so far on personality. Past that, the power of leverage becomes essential. Systems, processes, and procedures allow elite teams and brokerages to scale and grow. Anything that repeats can be turned into a system.
The more you use the system, the better it will get through refinement. When systems are running smoothly, it’s appropriate to make them better.
You should evaluate every system in your business through the clients’ eyes or the people it serves. Be obsessive about this. Efficiency is excellent, but only if it really works for all stakeholders. Real estate is an ever-changing business, and each system should be “owned” by someone responsible and accountable for the results and its evolution.
7. Build in margins
Margins are the padded spaces in your time and money. In today’s world, everyone is busy. Those who practice elite time management are productive.
To be productive, you must factor in times for mental white space. Take the time to turn off the outside noise and let your subconscious work. It’s amazing how many problems are solved or great ideas generated when you can just hit pause for a few moments.
The elite can maintain their pace because they build in margins. The best in the game are doing millions more than the average in GCI and doing it in less time and with a far better quality of life. If you find you don’t have time and are exhausted at the end of each day, it indicates that you need to start with this step.
8. Focus on your strengths
The elite focus on the handful of things they are genuinely brilliant at. They manage around their weaker points. You can’t define what you are good at without acknowledging what you are bad at.
Here’s why: Let’s say putting in hard work will get you a 20 percent return on your investment. You want to make sure you’re putting that effort in where you’ll get the greatest return. But to do that, you’ll need to eliminate the lower-hanging fruit from your to-do’s.
9. Make sleep, exercise and eating a priority
You can only run as hard and fast as your health allows. The better you take care of yourself, the more you will be able to accomplish. Sleep is essential to your mental and physical recovery. It is something you need to be mindful of.
Exercise helps with overall energy, vitality and mental acumen. Invest 30 minutes a day to purposely move your body.
Eat to fuel your body. No amount of exercise can overcome a poor diet. Take time to enjoy your indulgences; just keep them in moderation.
10. Set client expectations upfront
The elite teams and brokers manage time by proactively setting expectations ahead of time. We waste so much time and energy in our businesses due to misunderstandings and miscommunications. Unexpected problems arise. One thing we can count on in every transaction is something will go wrong.
The pros tell their clients the truth ahead of time. They will intentionally set lower expectations. Elite teams and brokerages build in some margin where they know they can outperform what the client anticipates. This step is the secret to boosting referrals and amplifying client satisfaction and loyalty.
Elite time management hacks are used by the best in the business. Those at the top of their game are working less than 40 hours a week and traveling often. They spend plenty of time with those they love. The elite carve out time to do what brings them fulfillment and joy. They intentionally leverage their time to get them the most significant returns.
We all have the same 24 hours a day, the only difference? Those who practice elite time management choose to invest their time wisely.
Chris Pollinger, partner, Berman & Pollinger, LLC is a senior sales and operational executive skilled in strategic leadership, culture building, business planning, sales, marketing, acquisitions, operations, recruiting, and team building.