Christina Hoffmann has covered real estate and homeownership for two decades, including as REALTOR® Magazine managing editor and HouseLogic.com’s content manager, with added expertise as owner of a demanding 100-year-old house. She is currently a senior speech writer at NAR.
Home Offices: Good for Broker, Good for Salespeople
Home office-based broker encourages the same for salespeople.
May 1, 1999
For each of Van Deeb's professional hats--owner-broker and salesperson—the Omaha-based practitioner maintains a separate office. When he's in "Johnny salesperson" mode, Deeb works from home, where he can focus on his numbers. A big believer in the productivity that solitude inspires, he has worked from a home office since 1981, well before it was fashionable.
1998 Production: About $12 million in residential sales. The company did about $25 million last year.
Home office size: 10' x 13'. "I use my fourth bedroom, next to the master bedroom," he says. "If I get a business call late at night I can tiptoe into next room."
His technology must haves:
- Top Producer software
- IBM Thinkpad laptop
- Sony digital camera
- HP Deskjet 895 CSE color printer
- Laptop port
- MLS connection
- Two phone lines, one with call waiting, and one for the MLS and fax. "I'm never on both at same time, so it's not a problem."
- Furniture: Computer desk, writing desk, file cabinet, comfortable chair
Total set up cost: $5,000, plus $50 a month for Internet charges
When Deeb's in broker mode, he works from his a 10-desk office or what he likens to a docking station, for plugging in laptops and meeting clients. He opened it after his company grew from a single-person business six years ago to a 14-salesperson shop. He checks in there once a day to drop off checks and important state and local association information in salespeople's boxes.
Deeb figures that as the company grows, the 10 desks could easily accommodate 50 mobile salespeople rotating in at different times. But 10 desks keep the overhead low. “My salespeople have no office fees. They're not burning my lights. I give them good commission. And they don't pay for signs, riders, lockboxes, or their first order of business cards. They may have to sell 40 houses at another company to make the same money they'd make here selling 20."
Deeb dispenses his work-from-home philosophy to his salespeople as well. He encourages them to set up their home offices—they all have one--and requires them to buy a cell phone and pager. "I ask that they give their cell phone number to customers, because it's better customer service," he says. "Then customers have the salesperson's direct line. When you're a small outfit you've got to offer something that's better than other companies—namely service."
Senior Speech Writer
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