Setting boundaries with your real estate clients, it’s one of the toughest gray areas of real estate. For some agents it comes easy, but for many agents there never feels like there’s an off switch on your role as agent. Unlike most jobs, real estate agents have one of the most fluid jobs without well defined rules. Although agents live in a world of restrictions on the language they can use and the words they can write, in so many other ways there’s no rules or even conventions. Late night texts, weekend hours, and clients that expect you to wear many hats, this is the world agents live in. The key is learning how to thrive in this amorphous world.
Determine What Works for You
Some agents thrive when they’re socializing and connecting with others. Then there are others who are more introverted (yep, they do exist!) and prefer to have a set time when they can rein in communications. First, you need to figure out which way you personally thrive. No advice book or blog article can answer this question for you. In fact, you may not know fully until you’re living the agent life day-to-day.
If fielding calls and texts around the clock drains you, then it may be best to set up firm office hours and explain those to every one of your clients. But, if you get more antsy when the phone isn’t ringing and business isn’t flowing, then this rule isn’t worth addressing. Determining what you can live with for the long haul is the key.
While there will be some agents who tell you real estate is a 24 hour business, there are plenty of others across the country who are thriving while staying within the realm of regular business hours. Don’t let peer pressure push you into a system that doesn’t work for you. The best choice is the one that is most sustainable to your individual needs.
Not Every Text is an Emergency
Although some clients might feel like they are having an emergency, you, being an expert in the field, know it’s not. By having prepared responses ready to calm your clients can be a great way to diffuse high stress situations in a way that makes the client feel heard and understood. Some agents keep a stock list of responses they can just copy and paste in a to-do list or note-taking app. “Let’s chat in the morning,” “I can look into that and find out more,” “I’ll book you a tour asap,” are all actionable responses that will keep the client from feeling ignored. Just remember, if these actionable items come in when you’re not at your desk, create a timed reminder in your calendar to ping yourself, so you don’t forget the next step and drop the ball.
Give to Your Clients and to Yourself
You just sat down to dinner with your family and your phone rings. It’s a new-ish client who you were glad to recently land. What do you do? Take the call and leave the family to dine alone? Or slip your phone back out-of-sight and go on with dinner? The former can quickly get into a habit, while the latter can make you stress about losing a client and potentially upset them.
How about a third option? This could be answering the phone and quickly explaining the truth and promising to call back as soon as you’re free. That 30 second call can give the client a sense of confidence while allowing you to enjoy the meal with much less worry. Most clients have families and personal lives and understand the need for a balance. And those that don’t, well, you probably know to run far away from those types as quickly as possible.
Go Time Versus Slow Time
It’s always important to learn to pace yourself. There will be sometimes where the work-life balance is non-existent. You just keep going and going and the work doesn’t stop. You’re probably thinking that sounds amazing. And those crazy busy times usually are, because they mean multiple commissions are coming in. But they can also be exhausting times. These are the periods in your career where you may need to look at the rest of your life’s pie chart, to see where you can set other boundaries. How about out-sourcing tasks you don’t need to perform? Set a boundary with housework and hire a housekeeper or a social media manager to take the pressure off of yourself. Then during the slower periods maybe you can go back to your normal routine.
Know When to Say When
How many homes will you look at with a buyer before you throw in the towel? Questions like these can be hard to answer because you’ve invested time and resources into securing clients. Learning when to cut losses can be a liberating and time-saving lesson when mastered. Look at these times when you need to let a client go as steps that are in everyone’s best interest, rather than a failure or rejection of the relationship.
Setting boundaries can be one of the game-changing practices that brings your business to the next level. By learning how to be honest and giving while still maintaining your peace and personal life can not only make you a more successful agent, but a happier individual as well.