Sunday, March 9, 2014

Need Help, Ask the Secretary

There are two kinds of training that Realtors go through.  One type is classroom work that makes you more familiar with certain issues that Realtors run into—like how septic systems work or just who is it that eats lead paint or maybe simple changes in the law.  The other type is general training to make you better at selling and encourage you to get out and meet the public. At every meeting there is a pundit or training guru talking about working smarter—not harder. And usually they have some high-priced CD’s that they will sell at a discount, “today only.”

Usually these guys start out their “teaching” by telling their group they have been a huge success and yet they started with nothing. They overcame being born without thumbs or growing up in an abusive home or having 10  kids by age 19 or some such problem—and usually a problem that you don’t have—and they became successful just by working smarter not harder.

Realtors usually work harder—not smarter—so this is notion that buying a CD  will solve our time and family issues resonates with us. Out of the 168 hours in a week, we’re guilty of working half of them at least. So when their flyers ask questions like: Don’t remember the last time you took a vacation? Do you regularly put in 80-hour weeks? Are you headed for burnout; an all too common side effect of the ultra busy work life we’ve programmed ourselves to believe is necessary to succeed.

One of these promotional flyers just came across my desk, and here are some of the questions it poses:  Do you really need that meeting or can you just walk over to someone and get to the bottom of an issue?  Do you check your e-mail all day long? Are you trying to do everything yourself? Work at home (if you can) at least one day per week.
All of these ideas sound compelling. And probably they all have good solid basis in fact, but as I used to tell my sales team, “it’s difficult to remember the goal is to drain the swamp when you are up to your waist in alligators…” Which is just another way of saying that life gets in the way of even the best laid plans.

In most real estate offices, we have terrible managers.  We never hire managers, we hire salespeople. The good ones stay, the bad ones quit, and the best ones are made managers—a job they neither trained for nor probably wanted. And I can tell you that from personal experience, most managers don’t make as much money as good salespeople. It used to be that a manager’s perks were a private office, regular hours and health insurance. But given the recent downturn in real estate and the Affordable Care Act, the only perk is the private office, unless the broker is downsizing.

So when you go into a real estate office, look around.  You will see there are workers and there are managers who once were workers, but now drink coffee and walk around. If you want to get a good agent to represent you, forget talking to the manager, just ask the switchboard operator which agent is the most successful, you should get a straight answer, and then you can decide if you need the busiest agent or one who has time to work for you.
Dane Hahn is a real estate professional at Sarasota Realty Associates in Venice, FL.  Contact him at or by phone at 941-681-0312. See him on the web at

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