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20 Plans Show Realtor Time of His Life

“Business accounts for only three of the 20 plans I keep in my planner, because my life doesn’t focus only on business,” says Rivers, who with his wife, Rebekah, co-owns Re/Max Professionals Realty in Tallahassee, Fla. The other 17 plans organize details such as family activities, community involvement, vacation plans, retirement goals and plans for financing his children’s education. Attention to detail has helped the Riverses ring up $800,000 in commissionable income this year, selling more than 200 homes.

Being organized isn’t the same as being busy, Rivers stresses. “Being busy can feel fulfilling, but sooner or later things will get out of hand if the work isn’t focused on productive activity and planning future goals.”

“I’ve learned that I should be spending about 50% of my time belly-to-belly with customers. If I’m not doing that, I’m not doing dollar-productive activity.” But too much time with customers isn’t better, he stresses. “If I’m spending 90% of my time with customers, it means I’m not doing enough with my staff [six employees] to ensure the office runs smoothly, and I’m not doing enough planning and follow-up to keep the business moving forward. I’ve learned that 50/50 is the ratio I need to maintain to stay in control.”

Rivers charts a five-year course for all his plans — including vacations. Rivers knows that downtime is important, and a schedule staves off chaos. Last year, when his team sold 173 houses, the Riverses spent nearly two months out of the market. They’ll do the same this year, but they’re still on track to sell nearly 50 homes more.

“You’ve got to remain flexible,” he admits. “If I’ve got a corporate client coming to town the same day I’d planned a three-day weekend, I’ve got a hard choice to make. But having a plan to start with means I can adapt and change it rather than forget about the time off altogether.” Similarly, if a client cancels an all-day meeting, Rivers goes fishing. “You can’t be so rigid to either your business or your vacation that neither can adjust. You’ll deny yourself too many opportunities for both.”

Rivers breaks down each of his five-year plans into one-year plans, which then translate into monthly and weekly goals and programs. All are computerized using standard software. Initially, the company used some real estate specific software, but Rivers found the programs too unwieldy.

“The products were good, but they weren’t as widespread or as well-tested as bigger products,” he says. “As a small-business owner, you need support and repair expertise, and that’s much easier on major-brand products.

“Technology doesn’t sell real estate,” stresses Rivers. “If it’s not freeing up your time to do productive activity, then it’s a problem, not a solution. I see a lot of my peers spending time on their computers and enhancing their Web sites, and they’re missing the fact that the only truly productive time is face-to-face with people. The entire point of any technology is that it is a tool to get me an appointment.”

Writer: Craig A. Shutt