Sometimes it’s OK to let a few things fall off the to-do list to prioritize the things that absolutely need to get done — and to keep one’s mental health in check. But agents should be discerning in deciding what to let go of and what really can’t be put off.

This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.

When the market — and life — get busy, there are always those little tasks that fall by the wayside and get left undone.

At home, it might be laundry or cleaning the bathroom. At work, maybe it’s not giving that extra touch to people in your database.

Sometimes it’s OK to let a few things fall off the to-do list in order to prioritize the things that absolutely need to get done — and to keep one’s mental health in check. But agents should be discerning in deciding what’s ok to let go and what really can’t be put off.

Inman rounded up some business to-dos that agents might be tempted to forget about when their calendar is jam-packed and assessed what’s ok to let go during busy times, and what’s not.

Task 1: Filling your pipeline

When business is so busy that it’s impossible to imagine a time when there will be a lack of clients to attend to, it might be easy for an agent to justify not paying close attention to their pipeline.

This is a mistake, though. “Focusing solely on your current business — and taking your eye off of future prospects — is a short-term view with the potential for harm in the long run,” Inman contributor Renee Deane says.

The up and down nature of the market dictates that agents need to always be sure to keep their pipeline full.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Task 2: Keeping in touch with your database

How often does an agent actually need to reach out to the people in their database anyways? Even agents who are convinced of their memorable personality need to stay in front of people in their network with regular communication and face-to-face time.

Inman contributor Tom Toole says agents need to make time to call and text at least five people in their database per day and send out two weekly emails, one real estate-focused and one community-focused.

At the end of the day, building and keeping up relationships in this industry is crucial.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Task 3: Saving for taxes

Tax Day comes around every year (this year, it’s April 18) and most agents can’t afford to not plan ahead for it. North Carolina-based tax professional Dalaine Bradley recommends saving at least 20 percent of your monthly income into an account specifically dedicated to taxes. Some agents may even opt to pay their taxes quarterly in order to avoid paying an eye-popping amount come Tax Day, which can also feel more manageable psychologically.

Saving for taxes is just another thing agents can’t afford to slack off on in their business.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Task 4: Keeping your income and expense tracking up-to-date

Keeping the books balanced is one of those essential tasks to any business, even if it’s a bit tedious. Most real estate agents will likely have some sort of affinity for budgeting (but not always), so this is one task that’s likely not a make-or-break situation if an agent lets it go a few days longer than initially planned. But don’t forget about it altogether.

Bottom line: Can put off — but not for long

Task 5: Fulfilling continuing education requirements

Taking continuing education (CE) courses throughout an agent’s career is another necessity in order to keep one’s license and remain in good standing. Some agents might think CE courses are a joke, but it’s no laughing matter for the agent who forgets to fulfill their CE requirements and has their license revoked.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Task 6: Depositing earnest money

Handling someone else’s money should always put an agent on high alert. So, forgetting to deposit a client’s earnest money for escrow in a timely fashion? That’s a huge no-no.

This is one of those tasks that’s probably best taken care of as soon as possible so that there’s little chance of mishandling the funds.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Task 7: Saving for retirement

Like saving up for taxes every year, saving for retirement should be another necessity for agents. Still, many put it off, and as a result, are stuck working later in life than might be desirable. For the agent in good health, working into advanced age might not be a problem — but it’s much better to plan for contingencies now than be stuck in a tough position later.

The smart choice is to start putting money away into retirement early, and/or invest in real estate (if you haven’t already), so that there’s a cushion ready for when you want or need to retire.

Bottom line: Can put off — but not for long

Task 8: Following up after listing and buyer appointments

The agent who gets to clients first when they decide to buy or sell a home has a distinct advantage since 77 percent of sellers, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2020 profile of buyers and sellers, only meet with one agent before listing their home.

Even if you happen to be the lucky agent who gets to that client first, your chance of landing that listing or that buyer is much greater if you take the time to show your interest by initiating further contact.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Task 9: Keeping active social media accounts on multiple platforms

There’s a general misconception that someone who isn’t rocking accounts on every social network, from LinkedIn to TikTok, faces the threat of becoming irrelevant. However, merely having social accounts on certain platforms doesn’t mean much if you’re not fully committed to them.

Try choosing one or two social media platforms that feel more accessible or intuitive for you personally and make a commitment to engage with them regularly.

Bottom line: Let it go

Task 10: Updating marketing materials

At least once per year, agents should take a critical look at their marketing materials and revamp them as needed. Since it’s not absolutely critical to keeping one’s business up and running, it’s easy to make excuses for why it’s ok to let this task go, but keeping marketing fresh and current can give one’s business a huge boost.

Any publicly posted headshots, especially, should be updated at least once per year. It’s ok to be in denial about how much you age over time, but it’s not ok when you meet someone for the first time and they can’t recognize you because your headshot from five years ago looks completely different.

Bottom line: Can put off — but not for long

Task 11: Updating listing presentation templates

As with marketing materials, an agent’s listing presentation should remain fluid with the times. It’s ok to stick with the main bones of something that seems to be working, but take the time once per year to view your listing presentation like an outside critic.

Does any formatting seem clunky? Is there any way you can give it a modern facelift? Are there any new market data points you should start including?

Bottom line: Can put off — but not for long

Task 12: Learning how to use tech tools

Old guard or new guard, there are some agents that just don’t take the time to learn how to effectively use all the tech tools their brokerage provides. Many will still likely run a good business despite this, but they also won’t realize how much more they could optimize their work if they had facility with all their company’s tools.

Typically, there are individuals whose sole job is to help agents learn the ins and outs of the brokerage’s tech offerings — and not taking advantage of this opportunity is almost like leaving money on the table.

Bottom line: It’ll cost you

Task 13: Creating content

Anytime an agent creates content and puts it out into the world, it helps generate more personal brand awareness. Those agents who commit to creating content regularly — whether it’s blogging, TikTok videos, podcasts or otherwise — that’s relevant to their network, are reaping benefits from it.

Like agents who don’t learn how to optimize their brokerage’s tech tools, agents who only create content every once in a while might not suffer deeply from it in an apparent way, but they also won’t be benefitting from it as much as they could be.

Bottom line: It’ll cost you

Task 14: Keeping your contact info up to date

At first, keeping one’s contact information up to date and consistent in any public places online or in print might seem like a pretty basic business task. But with the increasing number of platforms agents are on these days, it can be easy to either forget all the places your contact information is posted, or simply prioritize updating the ones that you yourself primarily use. Don’t fall into this trap!

A potential client who gets frustrated trying to contact you at the wrong number or email address — because you haven’t updated your Facebook, etc. profile in a while — could be a potential client and commission lost.

Bottom line: Can’t neglect

Email Lillian Dickerson

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