New Habit for the New Year

For greater productivity, make your lists and check them twice.

December 1, 2000

We’re approaching a time of year when many people make personal resolutions--to lose weight, save money, or spend more time with family.

But before you clink glasses to welcome in the New Year, you should also make a business resolution to start keeping checklists to help run your company and give customers the best possible service.

Sometimes the service you give people is different from their perception of it. My experience has been that perception of service is always as important to a customer as reality.

When I was actively selling real estate, one way that people perceived I was delivering great service was consistency. The sign went up on time, along with the lockbox--with a key that actually worked. Others in my office knew everything about the listing when the first call came in, and it could be viewed on my Web site six hours after the listing agreement was signed.

Keeping checklists is a great way to make sure you give consistent customer service. Real estate practitioners do many of the same functions every day. Certain functions can be compartmentalized and turned into a series of checklists--simple “to do” lists for your most important real estate tasks.

Among the most popular real estate activities to include are

  • Preparing the listing presentation
  • Making the listing presentation--in person, by mail, or online
  • Marketing the listing
  • Transaction coordination for closing
  • Follow-up
  • Dealing with your own expired and withdrawn listings

In addition, you should create checklists for buyer brokerage (the process of getting an exclusive buyer agreement and working with that buyer), tech procedures, office procedures, hiring steps, and your main lead-generation systems such as open houses. Virtually every activity in real estate can be turned into a checklist that you can use to create your daily, weekly, and monthly plans.

Your checklists will evolve as you mature as a sales associate or broker. I started most of my checklists by jotting down the steps I took while I was doing them. When I found new procedures, I added them to the checklist. When I looked over my Schedule C (on my federal tax return) and realized I needed to slim down the overhead, I eliminated steps no one would miss.

My first checklists were on paper. However, it’s easier to refine and manipulate your lists on the computer. Once you create your checklists, you won’t have to store all those profit-making, client-pleasing steps in your brain anymore. Your service, follow-through, and prospecting will be more consistent. You and your customers will be able to count on the job’s being done right.

The checklists together will become an operations manual, the basis of delegation as you duplicate yourself through assistants. When you retire, someone just may buy your book of business and the operations manual along with it.

Checklists are a natural and necessary step to grow, monitor, and develop enthusiastic customers and increase net profit.

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