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Take a Day Off

The Real Estate business is easy. Everyone has heard this at one point or another. You’re your own boss. You can take off whenever you want to and it is a business that offers total flexibility. As much as this is somewhat true, let’s think about this and put it in a better perspective.  If you opened a shoe store, which is also a business, and you just decided to take off one day, and you are a sole practitioner, ask yourself, who the hell is running your business? Your customers show up and want to buy shoes and the store is closed.  Here’s the good news. You have a loyal following, and most of your customers will come back another day. A week goes by and you get up one morning and decide you need some serious “Me” time (again) so you close the store.  Customers that couldn’t get in when you capriciously decided to close the store the previous week, show up and this time they are disappointed for the second time.  You can be pretty certain most of these customers aren’t coming back. The worst part is they will tell everyone they know, how disappointed they were, but they just had to go to another store. Tragically, they really liked YOUR store but THEY WANTED SHOES. But, YOU were closed, so they bought them someplace else. In many respects, it is worse in Real Estate.

Agents quickly learn that the buyers and sellers they work with, just presume they work 7 days a week. Some agents foolishly tell their clients they are available 24 hours a day.  Try calling your attorney at 1:30 in the morning and see what kind of greeting you get. I once had a customer call me at 1:48 am and when I awoke to answer the phone I was less than happy. I looked at my clock to see the time, (that’s why I remember the time so clearly.)  I had a teenage daughter at the time and all sorts of crazy thoughts raced through my head about how she might have been in a car accident, etc.  NO ONE calls with good news at the time of the day. Here’s the worst part of it. The public for some strange reason thinks their priorities are so much more important than yours that you can hear the annoyance in their voices when you suggest that you are not available (for a showing, etc.).  I have often told my agents that if they are not available because they have to attend a graduation for their first born male child, they should resist sharing this personal information with their clients. The nicest and best of their clients will have a tinge of resentment because THEY are being inconvenienced.  What an agent should say instead is, “I would love to help you at this time, but I have a prior commitment.” Better still, “I have an appointment at that time, how about (an alternative time?)”  This second response is much more effective.  Interestingly enough, almost everyone who hears this is perfectly OK with it.  Subliminally, they know that you work with them by appointment, and they understand that IN YOUR BUSINESS, you work with other clients by appointment, as well.  People respect appointments or at least the concept of why they are important. The message they are receiving is that You are not simply blowing them off and playing golf, or taking your wife on a date, etc. 

The situation is so acute in the Real Estate business that a major contributing factor to agents not making it in the business stems from simple burnout.  They force themselves to be at their clients every beck and call and as a result it is not uncommon to get into the rut of working 7 days a week and never taking even one day off a week. Most businesses post their hours and almost all of them shut down for at least one day. Barbers historically seem to choose to close on Wednesdays  (as well as Sundays) in most markets. It isn’t an accident that there is actually a COMMANDMENT that suggests you should take a day off (to replenish yourself, the Sabbath, etc.)  A few years ago, I had an agent named John, who was doing incredibly well for himself in spite of the fact that he was barely into his second year.  He was working feverishly, and you guessed it, 7 days a week.  I applauded his work effort and his results, but I had to sit him down. I asked him what day was taking off to be with his family (and rest, etc.)  He told me emphatically, “He had no time to take off!”  So I followed up and explained that I like him and really respected his sticktoittiveness. Then I alluded to burnout and I asked which day he was taking off the following week? He went on to reassert his position, so I just told him. “Pick a day, Tuesday or Wednesday, and after you decide which, DO NOT even think of coming into the office on that day.”  If he came in I was going to chase him out and I would be very disappointed if I saw him.  As resistant as he was, he understood I was looking out for his best interest.

Here’s the best part of this story.  One of the things he learned was that he became much more productive by taking that one day off because he had to tighten up his scheduling procedure. By having an appointment (with himself) his clients worked around his schedule.  He also did not get burned out and he went on to have a very successful and profitable business and a well respected career.  Why, because he actually started to run his operation as a REAL BUSINESS. So if you are an agent, or considering becoming one, take a day off when you need to but absolutely take at least one day for yourself every week.  Your family, your doctor, your broker  and I bet even you) will appreciate it. You might even be surprised when your clients notice you seem less grumpy too.
I gotta take a day off. I’m exhausted.

Hey, I wrote the book on Real Estate, literally.”

Author Brendan J. Cunningham is a New York Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, lead of the Platinum Team at HusVar Real Estate, as well as an accomplished writer, Shakespearean trained professional actor, and podcaster.
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