Powerful Time Management Techniques

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1. Set goals constantly. My mother brought me up on goals. She was constantly writing goals and to-do lists—constantly. The thing about goals is that it's OK to change them. You see, it's not just the achieve ment of a goal but the journey that counts. You've heard that expression before. So, keeping that in mind, what's more important than hitting the goal is your attitude and actions about the goal.

It's really not about the achievement of the goal, but what that goal does for the person. It affects whether you're sitting on the sidelines watching soap operas or out there being real estate. You may be thinking that it's important that you reach your goals. No, it's important that you be committed to your goals. It's important that your actions correlate to whatever you're committed to. But if you have a goal and it's starting not to turn you on, and your actions show you've lost your commitment to it, it's OK to change it and get committed to something else.

Do you think that when you die it's going to matter how many houses you listed in your life or how much money you saved or earned? What's going to matter is the people you contributed to, the difference you made with your family and community—that's what's important. Goals need to be structured to help us be who we are. So if you've got a goal that's not turning you on and exciting you, change it.

2. Focus on building your listing inventory. Although I'll cover this in greater detail in Chapter 2, "The Art of Prospecting," let me share something with you now. If all you did was work buyers, could you make a six-figure income? Yes, but I suggest you would go insane. The best way to increase your production and manage your time is to focus on obtaining listings. You see, if most of your business came from selling houses to buyers, you would have to always be there to work with them. But if you had a lot of listings that should sell in a fair amount of time, you could be on vacation and still be making money. Why? Because other agents are showing your inventory. The more listings in your inventory, the more personal time you can have. Now, if you're spending too much time servicing your listings, it's probably because you're not working that part of the business correctly. We'll address that in Chapter 5, "Servicing Listings to Sell."

3. Use motivational devices. I believe that motivational devices clear the cobwebs from your mind and keep you focused on what you're committed to.

■ Image Poster. After you design your Next Level and say who you are committed to being for the 12 months, you'll take poster board and cut out pictures and words from magazines that represent that Next Level. For example, if part of your Next Level is to have a Mercedes or a boat, get a picture of that and put it there, maybe with some words to back it up. This will be a continual reminder to focus on your Next Level.

■ Dot Board. One of the things I have learned from training thousands of agents is that a key factor that holds them back is the stress they impose on themselves. For example, they'll say, "I need more listings" or "I need a sale." As insignificant as the Dot Board technique may sound, it solves this dilemma—and nearly all of my students say this is one of the best things they learned from The Power Program®. Here's how it works

Buy a standard piece of poster board and create a chart like the one shown in Figure 1-2.

Month

Listings

Listings Sold

Buyer Sales

Figure 1-2. An example of a dot board

Now, whenever you obtain a listing, one of your listings sells, or one of your buyers goes into contract, give yourself a dot in the appropriate column. So the focus is not "I need more listings" or "I need a sale"; instead, it becomes "I need a dot." Once again, as strange as this may be, it puts some fun in your career. What's also great about this is at any time in the year you can look at this board and see how well you're doing in each category. This really works! You'll get motivated—the peer pressure, the motivation just to get the dot up there is very powerful. I recommend that you put this over your desk or somewhere in the office (e.g., the kitchen) where everyone hangs out and sees it.

4. Use a daily to-do list with a highlighter. You should have a planner in which you list the tasks to accomplish. But what do we usually do when we accomplish something? We put a check next to it or we cross it off, right? The problem with this is at the end of the day the focus is more on what you didn't do versus what you did. Instead, I suggest that you highlight each item on your list as you accomplish it. This may seem like a little thing, but it makes a huge difference to your attitude.

5. DWP—Delegate Whenever Possible! Here's an exercise you may find useful. Make a list of all the low-priority items that you currently do, in business and your personal life, and see how you can delegate these items to others. For example, taking pictures of your new listings, making copies of keys, mailings, filing, housework, gardening, etc. Unless you find a certain amount of solitude in actually performing some of these tasks, I recommend that you outsource them.

6. Focus on accomplishments. Let me introduce you to a very effective technique I've used called the "Accomplishment Chart." Have you ever had a time in your career when you were depressed—when it seemed like you were doing a bunch of work, prospecting, showing buyers, etc., but deals were falling through and nothing was going right? Sometimes it just gets so bad, like the more you do the worse things are getting, then all of a sudden you can't see anything possible. You're totally immersed in the box, everything is not working, and it keeps getting worse and worse and worse.

There was a time in my career when I couldn't think how to get out of this whirlwind, except to change my thinking and focus on my accomplishments. So I came up with this Accomplishment Chart. It's a really simple thing and it made a tremendous impact for me.

On this chart are two columns: "Today's Accomplishments" and "Tomorrow's Accomplishments." When I would go home and at night before going to bed, I'd look at this chart and I'd write down all of my accomplishments for that day. During tough times, I'd force myself to find something good. For example, the first day I put on this chart that

I had previewed some homes, cleaned up my desk, and made some calls. They weren't earth-shattering accomplishments, but they were accomplishments nevertheless. After I answered the question, "What did I accomplish today?" I'd write on the chart for tomorrow—like a one-day goal—that I'd attend three listing presentations and preview five new houses. The next day I did the same thing, and again and again for three weeks. Before I went to sleep, I kept working this chart. Well, in the third week, I listed three homes and made two sales! Not bad for a week of production. But up until that point, I hadn't done much, because I was so trapped by the negative aspects of the business.

I encourage you to use the Accomplishment Chart whenever you need a boost in your career.

7. Schedule problem solving. This is for the top agents. When you get to your Next Level and you've got an inventory of 30, 40, or 50 listings, a seller can't just call and talk to you; otherwise you'd be on the phone most of the time. What a lot of top producers do is schedule problem solving. At the listing appointment they say, "Mr. and Mrs. Seller, if you ever need to speak with me because you have a problem or question, I talk to my clients (for instance) between 5 and 7 p.m. The reason I schedule that time is that the rest of the day I'm out working on getting your house sold. Of course, at any other time you can speak with my assistant, who can usually handle most problems."

8. Work the house, not the buyer. Here's what usually happens. A buyer calls into the office and says, "I want a three-bedroom, two-bath house." What does a typical agent do? She stops everything and tries to find that house for that buyer. Then she takes the buyer out and shows him house after house after house. During that process, if he doesn't buy one of these houses, then the agent makes certain adjustments: "Oh, OK, so you don't like this, I'll make sure I don't show you this, I'll show you another type of house " This is working the buyer.

Now, sometimes agents ask me, "But Darryl, if I am a buyer1 s agent, isn't that what I'm supposed to do?" There is no law that says you have to work like crazy showing a bunch of houses. Trust me, this does not work.

Working the house means that, instead of taking one buyer and showing a bunch of houses, you take one house and bring a bunch of buyers through it. Think about it. Which is better, to take one buyer to 10 houses or to take one house and show it 10 times? If you take one house and show it 10 times, your odds soar through the roof. You will sell that house.

I'll prove this to you. When you go to preview houses (a brokers' open house) and your office finds this hot house, the agents run back to the office and get on the phone and call their buyers to come out and see not 10, five, or even two houses. We tell the buyer to come out and see just this one house... and what happens? In a very short time, that house sells! In that moment all the agents are working the house, not the buyer.

So make it a system of organized habits and do that all the time. A Power Agent® of mine, Angel Schmidt from Long Island, New York, came up with this expression: "Less stress, income higher, work the house, not the buyer."

9. Work the shiny penny™ list. You have price ranges. Your buyer wants a house for $200K and you're going to look at houses from $200K to $220K perhaps. For a buyer who wants a house for $220K, you might show houses between $220K and $240K. In other words, you can take buyers and put them into price categories. Let's say in the $200K to $220K category there are 20 houses in your market. Of those 20 houses, aren't there usually three or four best of the best? Forget about style, forget about bedrooms, forget all of that. These are the shiny pennies, the cream of the crop. A serious buyer in that price range will usually buy the best of the best, regardless of the style he told you he wanted, right? That's why at seminars you've been told not to worry if a buyer says she wants this type of house at this price, etc. They don't buy what they call in on. In fact, most of the time they buy a totally different type of house. This is because they buy the best of the best in their price range.

So what I'm suggesting you do is find the shiny pennies in those price ranges and show only those. If they don't buy a shiny penny, chances are they are not ready to buy. Put them in your files and then, the next time another shiny penny comes on the market, call all your buyers in the price range and show just that one house.

What I suggest you do now is go back to your office, make a list of the price ranges in your market, and come up with the shiny pennies. Then make a master list of all those houses: that's the list that you show and you work. If you want to double your sales in the next 12 months, do this and you will!

10. Preview as little as possible. New agents need to preview to begin to learn value. But once you understand the value of homes, you should-

n't have to preview. Many agents have made their best sales when they never saw the house before. There's this thing that happens—not just in the real estate business—called the element of surprise. When you preview the house, you take away that element of surprise.

11. An idea pad. This is for those moments when you come up with ideas, like when you're driving in the car. It's not a big item, but it's a useful one. Keep your idea pad with you at all times. Even put it by your bed at night, so when you wake up with a great idea it will be yours forever.

12. Have an "ad book" that holds your advertising of other homes.

Have a book that has all of your old ads organized by heading or concept or category, e.g., three-bedroom colonial section. That way when you list a house, instead of sitting there trying to think up an ad, just go back to the section that has ads for the same type of house from months ago and use one of those ads.

13. Improve your technical abilities. Some agents are really behind the times: you just can't run your business anymore without improving your technical skills. I'm not just talking about computers and the Internet. I bet there are functions with your cell phone or office voice-mail that you're not even aware of. Some of these items can really free up your time when you know how to use them.

14. Hire an assistant. When you're ready for this, you'll know. If you want to make more money in less time, pay someone $7 an hour to help you do it. (See Chapter 10, "Working with Assistants," for details.)

15. Do a listing campaign. What are the two areas we work in real estate? Listings and sales, buyers and sellers. If you try to do both 100%, what will happen? Nothing—you'll burn out. Here's something I did when I was in sales. You go on a listing campaign. You don't work with sellers. You list, list, list like a mad person for 30 days. You build that inventory. Then you take a break. And when you take a break from listings, where do you work? You play with buyers.

If you keep building your listing inventory, do you have a sense of accomplishment? Absolutely—you're feeling good about yourself. But you need to take a break. You can't keep working listings day and night, night and day, or you'll go insane.

And the reason I call it playing with buyers is because you'll find that, once you've built your inventory, you won't care so much if they buy or not. It's more of a game. You show them houses for a few weeks, just the shiny pennies, and you know what will happen? They'll start buying them. Because you're not in the mode of "I have to make a sale!" You're showing them only the best. You will close more buyers and you'll have more fun in your career.

Now, after you sell a couple of houses, you write some offers and get them into contract and you've got a few dots on the board, then you're back on the listing campaign. And then you take a break to go play with buyers. Don't try to do both at the same time or you'll go cuckoo. You have to try to pace yourself. Real estate is not a sprint, it's a race; you need to pace yourself.

16. Move your desk every six months. I know that some of you can't physically move your desk, but if you can it would be great. You'll get a different view. Or, maybe you can change desks with another agent. Periodically, I just rearrange my whole desk. I'll change my office around whenever I feel that things are getting stale and I need to shake it up. I have agents tell me it's like a shot in the arm or a wake-up call. Plus, you have to clean up your desk to do this. You might be surprised what you'll find.

17. Have a purpose for each call. When we get to the section on the telephone and prospecting, we'll be more detailed about this concept. But for now I'm just going to say, have a purpose for each call. I think it's really interesting that many of us pick up the phone to make a call without being crystal clear as to our main objective. Before you get on the line, ask yourself, "What's the one thing I want to accomplish from this phone call?" Whether you're talking with some of your existing clients, a buyer, a prospect, or a referral, don't just pick up the phone. Have an intense purpose as to what you want to accomplish and what your objective is. When you do that, you're going to have fewer conversations where five minutes of business gets stretched out with chitchat to 50. That won't happen anymore when you have a clear purpose for each call.

18. Have a "scrapbook of the future." One of my students gave me this idea and I think it's the coolest thing. Most of us have a scrapbook of our past (you know, baby pictures, letters we sent when we were at camp—just a bunch of stuff). But you can create a scrapbook of your future. Start clipping all the things you want as you design your life, career, etc. Just cut them out and put them in the book. This is really an extension of the image poster we discussed as part of technique #3. But play it out here. Make believe that the scrapbook really shows shots of your life . . . your future life, that is! I think it's a really neat idea.

19. Involve your family in your goals. Put an asterisk next to this one. One of the things I know is challenging in our business is that we tend to work many hours. We spoke about this earlier. We schedule 55 hours this week in real estate and don't manage that effectively, we know we're going to expand out to 65, 75, and so on. When we do that, we're taking those hours from both family and personal life. Family life gets stressful, so I highly recommend that you include your family when setting your monthly goals. Here are two suggestions.

For instance, let's say that I have a wife and two children and I want to get five listings this month. I know I'm going to have to put in extra hours. So I'll go to my family, have a little family meeting, and say, "Here's what I want to do in the next 30 days. I want to get five listings. I'm going to be putting in a few extra hours. Here's my game plan. If we get these five extra listings, honey, you and I are going to go away for the weekend—to that resort you wanted to go to—just you and I with the spa and the whole thing. Kids, I'll buy both of you new 10-speed bikes." Obviously your family may get excited about this. So when you come home at six or seven at night, what do you think your family is going to do? They're going to say, "What the heck are you doing home? Get the heck out of here, knock on some doors, and make some calls. We've only got two listings and we need three more!" Do you follow me? Now, this may put a little pressure on you, but it's the good kind of pressure. I'll call it a "challenge." So have your family be a part of your goals and life will be a lot more fun.

Here's an extra technique my students have told me works really well in helping you to stay close with your family. Typically, whenever we feel guilty because we think we're neglecting our family, we take them out to the movie or to dinner. Instead, make a "Family Fun List." Make a list of all the activities you can do with your family (e.g., picnic, ice skating, horseback riding, theatre, bowling, etc.) and hang it up on the refrigerator. The "game" is you can't do an item twice until you've done everything on the list once. This will force you to do new and creative things with your family. Also, by hanging it up, you'll be more proactive about spending time with them, rather than doing it out of guilt. Oh yeah, make sure you highlight the items as you do them.

20. Get your file system together. In technique #13, I briefly advised you to "get technical"—to take full advantage of your computer and your cell phone and so forth. We have a chapter devoted to technology. Let's talk now, though, about your filing system.

■ Buyers. Earlier we spoke about working the shiny penny list—that in each price category of houses there is going to be a handful that are the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the shiny pennies. So with that thought in mind, we want to file our buyers by price range. This way, when you see a shiny penny in a particular price range, you go to your buyer file and call every buyer in that price range to come out and look at that shiny penny. Also within your buyer file should be a folder for what I call "A" buyers. These are people who have to buy a house. Most likely they've sold something else, so they've got a bag full of cash and need to place it somewhere. These buyers are the exception to the rule about working the price range. You show them everything and anything, because there's no question about what they are going to buy, just who they are going to buy it from.

■ Sellers. This first (and best) method for filing sellers is by their phone number. Let's say you're working with FSBOs. You take a box that holds index cards and on the tabs you write "0000," "1000," "2000," etc.—with those numbers representing the last four digits of a phone number. So let's say you have two FSBOs (for sale by owner), and the phone numbers are 223-0991 and 526-1234. The first FSBO would go behind the tab that says "0000" and the second FSBO would go behind the tab "1000." Whenever you look at the newspaper and check out all the FSBOs, you cut out each ad and attach it to a separate index card. Then, in the upper left corner of the index card, you put the town that that FSBO is in, if you work more than one town. In the right corner you put the phone number, because that's how we're going to file it. Then you would put some information, like their address and their name. Every time you see that FSBO advertised, you would write the date you saw it advertised. If you note that they lowered their price after a few weeks or months, don't cut out that ad; just use the index card with the original ad and, next to the ad, write their new price. Now, when you call that FSBO, on the back of the index card you can write down your conversation with them.

Here's the real power of this. When an FSBO stops advertising, say, for a month, then you see the new ad with the new price, you can call the owners and say, "Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, this is Darryl from XYZ Realty. I noticed that you started advertising your house again. I remember when you adver-

Front of Card

Escondido

516 555-1234

For Sale by owner. 4 bedrooms,

2.5 baths on quiet cul de sac.

Recently remodeled. Great home

Mr. & Mrs. Jack Jennings

for family. Call for appointment.

2334 Las Viajes Rd.

516 555-1234

4/8 ($175,000); 5/7, 5/21, 6/1, (169,000)

Back of Card

Back of Card

Figure 1-3. Keeping track of potential sellers tised it a month ago for such and such a price." They're going to think you're Houdini that you remembered this information. So, by using this file system, what will start to happen is that you won't be calling the same FSBOs over and over without knowing that you've spoken to them before.

When you see any new FSBOs in the newspapers, you cut the ad out and attach it to an index card. If you already have a card on any FSBOs you see advertised, you obviously don't need to cut that ad out again. It's a very effective system for tracking FSBOs. By the way, you obviously need to call these people and attempt to get a listing appointment!

Of course, you could use a database software program, like Top Producer, to file all this information. As good as I am at technology, I still prefer this file system for FSBOs. The reason is there is something about seeing the "real ad" that gives me a better sense of who these sellers are.

Now that we've got this file system for the prospects—the file box with the index cards—we need another system for our existing clients. Therefore, the second file system for sellers would be individual folders. (I'll give you more on this when we get into the chapter about servicing listings.)

Past Clients

Whether you're computerized or not, I want to say something about past clients. When you're listing and selling real estate on a day-to-day basis, you have a choice to generate business from one of two ways. Either you can go out and generate new business, constantly meeting new buyers and sellers, or you can tap into your existing business—people who know you, people who have done business with you before. Which is better? Obviously, tapping into existing business.

It's amazing to me how many agents live paycheck to paycheck. They get the money and get out of Dodge. They don't stay in touch with those sellers; they don't call them. I know there are a lot of companies out there that offer an automatic follow-up system; that's good, but that shouldn't replace your staying in touch with your people. I've met many agents who get 80% of their business from their client base, people they've done business with before. You've got a tremendous amount of listing leads, buyer leads, and referrals from this list, whether you utilize it or not. It's exciting. And I want you, right now, to make a decision and commitment that you need to service and take care of the people who know you and have done business with you before.

I learned this concept from the insurance industry. When an insurance agent sells a policy, he or she gets residuals. Every time the policyholder makes a payment on the premium, the agent gets paid a portion of that. So the more policies the agents sell, the more they keep adding to a steady flow of income that they can count on.

You and I have the same thing available to us. Except in our profession, it's one commission check at a time. But it could be constant. The key here is that you have to stay in touch with your past clients. But you have to put together some kind of system.

And don't do it just once a year. What I've found is that successful agents stay in touch with past clients at least four times a year. They'll send them an anniversary card, a holiday card, and maybe two other mailers, just to say, "How are you doing? Here's my face. Do you need anything? If you know of anybody listing a house, give me a call." Four contacts a year, minimum, and I recommend that one of those contacts definitely be a phone call.

■ Farming. You should have a totally separate filing system for your farm. (See Chapter 8, "Farming for Dollars," for more details.)

■ Today's urgent business. I have a bin for me and for my assistant on my desk. I have a bin for future stuff I have to do and I have a bin for the things I must do today.

■ Your taxes. I'm not going to go through all the categories, but what I recommend you do is, instead of sitting on your living room floor April 14 making piles, to make the piles as the year progresses by using a manila folder for each expense category.

As I said at the beginning of this chapter, all the best time management techniques in the world are meaningless without the proper attitude. So take a look and see if you're truly committed to achieving your Next Level in real estate. (I already know that you are; that's why you're reading this book!) I don't expect you to implement all of the advice I've just given you. But I do expect you to be willing to do what it takes to move forward in your career. With that in mind, review this chapter once more and select several of the steps to put into action today.

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CHAPTER 2

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i N

The Art of

v-

Prospecting

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