How to Apply the “Work the System” Mindset to Real Estate

Renae Virata | April 13, 2016 | Best Practices

How to Apply the "Work the System" Mindset to Real EstateAs a real estate agent, you no doubt have many, many systems, all working simultaneously. It can be tough to manage! Or, you have a system or two while everything else runs helter-skelter.

One way to take some control over your real estate business is to better manage these systems or to simply put some in place. The book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less by Sam Carpenter is a must-read for any business owner and applies especially to busy real estate agents.

To give you a little insight into this book and “novel” concept, Carpenter lays out a nice summary on his website:

  • The world, and each of our lives, is a collection of independent systems, not a confused mass of sights, sounds and events
  • Every condition in your life, this moment, was preceded by one of these linear step-by-step systems
  • Creating our futures, these processes are executing right now, whether we see them, or not…
  • In order to create the results we want we must manage these processes
  • Yes, we are ultimately interested in results. However, results are byproducts of the systems we choose to either manage or ignore
  • Leaders tend to over-think, increasing complexity. Let’s back off, to create a simple plan based on a limited number of objectives
  • Our businesses are machines…primary systems composed of sub-systems. Yes, and so are our lives
  • We stand apart from our businesses, examining them from an “outside and slightly elevated” position
  • The world is moving FAST. Our businesses must be resilient and powerful; able to respond quickly. We accomplish this by spending our days creating super-efficient business machines, not hop-scotching around the latest management fads
  • Constant system improvement is our personal “prime time.”
  • We’re not fire-killers. We’re fire-prevention specialists
  • We learn from our errors and so we see problems as opportunities for system improvement: problems instigate system improvement
  • It’s easy to set up a business so front-line people want to be engaged…and management is listening. This is the WTS “bottom-up” strategy
  • Using certain communications tools and protocols, everyone is informed. Decisions are made quickly
  • Massive innovation in a product or service is not often possible. However, massive improvement in the existing mechanics of virtually any company can happen quickly. How? It starts with a simple mindset shift within the CEO. Then, this vision flows downward into the rest of leadership, into management, into operations and distribution, and then to the customer

Let’s apply a few of the concepts here that may be the most important for your real estate business.

Setting Up Systems

Systems always sound good when you first talk about them. But actually recognizing the different systems and properly setting them up is another story.

Marketing has a plethora of systems that demand a high amount of organization. If you have metrics to measure, it’s important to make this a regular habit and know every metric and from which marketing efforts these should be measured. We talked briefly in the last post about different areas of marketing to measure. Write down all the ones that matter to your real estate business and determine when and how you will work the data.

Following up, as we’ve discussed and will never tire of, has multiple systems based on whom you contact and, perhaps, where they came from. Having a CRM system in place is part of the equation, but knowing when and how to contact your leads and prospects is the other. In the next section, we’ll talk about how to actually make the systems work so that they become easier to follow and you become more consistent.

Working Procedures

Have you ever worked with a virtual or personal assistant? They can be a lifesaver. But on-boarding them can be a nightmare.

One thing that Carpenter suggests is outlining every assignment that present and future assistants can follow. He calls these “working procedures.”

The first thing to do is to make a list of every task an assistant would do. Then you would make a working procedure document for each. For example, for a Listing Manager, it would seem pretty simple. A job description could look like this:

  • Oversee all aspects of sellers transactions from initial contact to executed purchase agreement.
  • Prepare all listing materials: pre-listing presentation, Listing Agreement, sellers’ disclosures, comparative market analysis, pull online property profile, research old multiple listing service (MLS) listings and etc.
  • Consult & coordinate with sellers all property photos, staging, repairs, cleaning, signage, lockbox, access requirements & marketing activities.
  • Obtain all necessary signatures on listing agreement, disclosures and other necessary documentation.
  • Coordinate showings & obtain feedback.
  • Provide proactive weekly feedback to sellers regarding all showings and marketing activities.
  • Coordinate all public open houses and broker open houses.
  • Input all listing information into MLS and marketing websites and update as needed.
  • Submit all necessary documentation to office broker for file compliance.
  • Input all necessary information into client database and transaction management systems.

However, for maximum efficiency, each of these tasks would have its own working procedure document that delves more deeply into it. “Coordinate showings” would have a step-by-step list, including where and how to start coordinating a showing, where one can find certain documents, how to enter information (including the correct formatting), right down to hitting “Save.” You can also include scripts for portions where calls need to be made, to take notes and how and where to input them.

Being Fire-Preventers

We all run into snafus once in a while, but philosophically having the mindset that every system you have in place for you or your team exists to prevent potential issues will gain more time and more freedom for everyone.

Think back to a time when you didn’t have a process in place for, say, your listings. You may have a multitude of ways to get the word out but accidentally forget one important one until it’s too late. Your client calls you out on it. If you had a system in place when putting out your listings, you wouldn’t have missed any of the steps to make it a success.

The process of closing is another great system to have delineated so you don’t miss a beat. Having everything laid out, in order, and with the proper procedures for saving documents, having items signed and FAQs can ensure that you are on top of everything.

This is just a snippet of the book and how you can apply it to your real estate business. Really, what this book seeks to do is to help save time, costs and energy that you put in everyday by staying more organized and recognizing that your real estate business, as busy as it may get and as varied the clients you have will be, is merely a bunch of systems that you can finally manage and control.

You can get the book for free by going to the website and signing up for a digital or audio copy.


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Renae Virata