17 May 5 Steps to Systemizing your Real Estate Business
Full Disclosure: I’m a nerd. A nerd of epic proportions.
In high school, I was part of student government, Future Business Leaders of America, and on the Academic Decathlon team. I read (or listen to) a book a week, and listen to podcasts constantly. I’m on the endless pursuit of becoming my highest and best self and being the most efficient, and more importantly, the most EFFECTIVE.
And from the moment I sunk my teeth into the concept of systems in business, I was hooked! I remember exactly when it happened. Bryce and I had already decided we wanted to start our own business. I was nervous, so I was reading everything I could get my hands on about businesses. There I was, reading “The E-Myth: Revisited” by Michael Gerber at my desk between calls when we were still in finance.
In that book was a nerd’s paradise of tactical strategies to make businesses more effective.
It was everything that I was in to, and from then on I’ve understood the importance of systems in business.
Once we started our business, it was a story of “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Starting a business in real estate was so much more complicated than we imagined, and we worked SO hard to replace our incomes that first year. After about 12 months, we had started flipping homes and were finally profitable. But, we were working 7 days a week and were terrified to leave town, in case we had a buyer show up out of the blue, or a deal imploded while we were gone. It felt like this:
It was unhealthy.
It was unsustainable.
And…it was totally unnecessary. Because if you can control anything, it’s how you run your business!
So we spent a couple of months in our second year working with our mentors and with each other, and learning how to truly systemize our business. It took time and a lot of effort. And it still does – systems need maintenance, and they need to be constantly monitored and improved.
But the moment that I truly VALUED the importance of systems in business came a year later.
We threw ourselves the most amazing wedding of our dreams. Then, we went on our dream honeymoon – 10 days in paradise, on the beaches of the Southern Caribbean seas. While we were there, we helped an investor client purchase a property from 3,500 miles away and paid for half of our trip.
It was mind-blowing. And this matters, because:
A) We were traveling! We were doing what we loved, exploring new areas of this earth, together. Traveling is something we are so passionate about, and this moment was the moment that we realized we can still run a successful business, and explore our passions outside of real estate.
B) The two of us are completely self-reliant. We don’t come from money, and we don’t have much family to support us. The wedding, the honeymoon, all of it was on us. Our responsibility. And to be able to show up, and give ourselves that experience, it was life-changing.
So you could say that I’m really ALL IN on systemizing your business.
Systems remove all the stress and guess work out of your business. When you always know what tasks need to be completed, when, and how, and in which order, suddenly you’re not living in chaos. Suddenly you are a level-headed CEO running an actual business.
When your business is systemized, you’re not on the treadmill of constantly reinventing the wheel. You’ve determined a process that will bring you a positive (profitable!) outcome, and you repeat it each time to bring you greater success and revenue.
Most importantly, systems allow your business to grow. They allow you to hire team members, delegate tasks, and find more time to live instead of work – while earning greater revenues. Without systems, you make it hard to grow or leverage yourself in any way.
As if you need more reasons? When you have the knowledge that the work is getting done, you make more time for YOU! Time to go on vacation, be fully present with friends and family, and earn more money all the while.
But, a lot of times I hear from agents that the whole “systems” thing feels kind of vague. So, I wanted to give a quick rundown on Systems: Exactly what they are, and how you can start implementing today!
Step 1: Defining Systems
Let’s start from the very beginning.
A system is just a repeatable process that you can follow to produce the same result multiple times.
Any action or sequence of actions you take more than once is a system. From a business perspective, this means that the many, many tasks we take each day in our business can and should be systemized. This is different from automation: A CRM can automate a specific system in your business. But not all systems are automated.
The process you take after receiving a referral, or to open escrow, or to keep a client in the loop during a transaction, all the way to marketing your database – those are all systems. You probably already have systems here without realizing it – you do what works for you, but maybe you’re not totally intentional about it.
The thing about systems…
Because all of our businesses are unique, and special, and work in different ways, we will all have different systems. Our systems will all be different. That means it’s up to us to break down our business, piece by piece, workflow by workflow, to identify what processes need to be systemized.
Step 2: Identifying Workflows to Systemize
Here comes the fun part! You need to break down your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to determine what workflows you repeat to build out your systems.
You want to look at all the different areas of your business to do this. Nothing is off limits! Consider the systems that can make up each part of what you do every week:
Marketing + Branding
Misc. or Extras
What activities do you do in each of these areas? Here’s an example.
For lead generation, there might be three big activities that I do, which are:
Nurture the Database
Each of these activities can and should be systemized.
Step 3: Documenting the Systems
Now here is the work. You need to dedicate time to document every step and action you need to take to complete the workflow, and you need to determine what constitutes as a good or bad outcome here.
Take out a pen and a lot of paper, or open up a Word Doc, and for each system, outline exactly how you need it to look to be successful. Here’s an example.
Example: You determine you need to prospect two hours every week day.
When will the prospecting take place?
What types of prospecting will you do on each day?
Where will you do this?
What materials or resources will you need?
What will you need to prepare?
What will you do with leads generated?
You then complete this process for each workflow.
Step 4: Implementation
Now that you’ve decided how you want these workflows to look, you need to decide how to make sure you execute them the same way, every time.
How will you make sure that every time you prospect, open escrow, market to your database, you follow your prescribed steps? There are a couple of ways we can do this.
You can create folders in Google Drive for each situation that you simply pop in to to follow your checklists and procedures. Or, you could keep these all in a binder or a manila folder on your desk for easy access. Just find a way that works for you, that you know you can stick to…and then stick to it!
Step 5: Automation and Delegation
This is usually where agents like to start their systemizing. They want to find the BEST CRM, the best task management systems, all the things that cost a lot of money and time to invest in! Once you’ve done all the important work of identifying systems and documenting them step by step, you can now analyze all the different ways you can automate and delegate the work.
A CRM will help with transaction communication, task and due-date reminders, and drip campains. When looking at your documented systems, you can see very clearly which tasks you can upload into a CRM, depending on its capabilities.
You can also consider a task management system like Asana or Trello to help schedule your tasks in advance. There are also a lot of really great videos on Youtube that go in to detail here, but it’s worth spending some time to see how you can make this work with your own business!
You can also then begin thinking about delegation. The obvious thought here is to hire a transaction coordinator, and by having your own systems in place, you’ll have greater insight on what type of coordinator you’ll want to hire. You can also consider an assistant once revenues allow, as well as other services like graphic designers for marketing, advertising agencies, and ISA’s (internal sales agents).
As you grow your team, you’ll have a much easier onboarding time, as you will literally have the blueprint to the job to hand to your new assistant or showing agents.
Going Forward: Your most important systems
As you go forward, the most important system you’ll have is your CEO Time. Each month, you’ll need to schedule time to monitor your systems, look at the outcomes and see if they are working effectively for you. This is your time to tweak and improve where you can, or choose to eliminate work all together.
Over time, your business will change and evolve, and having this CEO Time will allow you to keep up and leverage as you go. Schedule this time in your calendar, and don’t let anything come between it!
Now you just have to find the time and make it happen. Your future self will love you for it!