Putting Out Fires

Jennifer Allen (Denver real estate agent) writes a terrific blog and her post about prospecting (i.e., how we are supposed to get new business) struck a chord in me. I’m terrible at prospecting. I could no sooner pick up a phone and call 10 strangers and ask them for their business than I could…I don’t know, cut off my own toes. I. Just. Hate. Doing. It.

The theory is sound. If you spend all your time working on your current business, eventually you’ll find yourself with several settled transactions and no new business. Our business tends to roller coaster. We go out and prospect, then we get busy, then we suddenly have no more business, then we go out and prospect for more business. This also means that our income tends to follow a roller coaster path, especially when we’re new to the business.

So, the idea is to put time aside on a regular basis to prospect, even when you’re really busy. And it’s true, the current transactions tend to need attention regularly. There’s always something — the lender needs forms, the appraiser needs comparable properties, the termite inspector needs to get into the house.

Then there are the “fires”.  A typical fire might go like this… Everything is perking along fine and then you get an email from the lender, saying that the buyer’s loan has been rejected. Yikes! We’re two weeks from closing! The buyer is crying, the listing agent is screaming and the lender won’t return your calls. So you leap into full fire-putter-outer mode, call every lender you know and work those phones like a fiend. Finally, you get it resolved, the closing is back on track and your entire morning is shot. You feel like you’ve been through the wringer.

Some agents always seem to be in “fireman” mode. One agent asked me recently how much time I set aside a day (a DAY!) to put out fires. Curious, I asked him how much time he set aside. He said, “Two hours every morning. What about you?”  “Well, none.”  “None?”

The truth is, I don’t have many fires. Once in a while. But not often.  Sure, problems crop up all the time, but I’m seldom blind-sided by them. Frequent communication with everyone involved seems to take care of that. (Whoever invented email is a god to me, by the way.)

So back to prospecting. I spent this morning’s “prospecting time” writing this, chatting with my husband about our plans for his 60th birthday, and reading the real estate news on the web. Much more relaxing than calling strangers. And I just don’t worry about it. Most of my business comes from referrals and I thank each and every one of you who sends your friends and acquaintances my way.  You are all definitely saving me from “prospecting”!

© 2007 Susan Pruden.

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