Calls are a necessary evil for real-estate agents — necessary because, every once in a while, they mean sales; evil because they always eat time. I remember leaving an all-day training session and unmuting my phone only to find 72 calls waiting. Like a modern-day Sisyphus, I plowed into the mountain of messages only to hear ping after ping as more rolled in. That was the day I had my phone forwarded to a virtual assistant (VA).
How a virtual assistant revolutionized my real-estate work
When my VA began answering my phone, her impact on my work-life balance was nothing short of a fairy godmother. After all, most of my calls just needed a quick, data-driven answer. Many of the others come from telemarketers in disguise, or were simply wrong numbers. Installing a gatekeeper to my phone was a long-overdue boost to my productivity, but there’s more.
Social media is another of those necessary evils. In previous decades, 90% of a realtor’s work was lead generation, and 10% was follow-up. Thanks to handy platforms like Facebook and Instagram, that ratio has flipped. Today’s real-estate pros spend 10% of the day tracking down new clients and 90% desperately trying to keep in touch with them. We typically make a sale with three out of every hundred leads, but it’s anyone’s guess which those three might be.
I admit it: my virtual assistant is the one scouring Facebook to keep up with my clients’ milestone moments. She’s the one acknowledging their birthdays and anniversaries. Does that make me insensitive? All I know is that the value my VA provides makes it possible for me to be present for my own personal milestones.
Finding the virtual assistant who created order from chaos
Back in 2012, I placed a help wanted ad. The assistant I envisioned was someone techy enough to post ads on Craigslist, take them down, then re-post them at the top of the heap the next day. It’s not rocket science, but at the time, it was a surefire way to sell homes quickly.
I sold homes in Utah, but I ended up hiring an assistant from the Philippines. Halfway around the world, my new assistant, Daphne, tore into my craigslist and classified marketing with a vengeance.
In time, I expanded my team and had 11 VAs doing SEO, social media, graphic design, video editing, and scheduling. If the task didn’t require licensing, certification, or a physical presence, my virtual assistants were on it. I could go entire days without touching my keyboard because they did it all for me.
Six years later, a friend asked — or rather, demanded — to know my secret. She stopped just shy of accusing me of holding out on her. I was running a business that sold 200 homes a year, and so was she. The only difference between us was that I took nights and weekends off while she worked sunup to sunset. I tuned her into virtual assistance, and soon, she had friends demanding to know her “secret,” too.
Incorporating virtual assistance into your work
My VA is always right there on my laptop’s monitor. Some people find it challenging to get used to this kind of working relationship, but I sure didn’t. On the contrary, our proximity enables her to learn nearly every aspect of what I do during my day.
It wasn’t long before I was able to relinquish my to-do list. To give an example of our daily interactions via the laptop, my VA tells me who to call and pulls up notes to tell me what I will want to say. Throughout the call, she jots down useful information for the next time.
If you ultimately decide to try a VA, you’ll probably start as I did; delegating simple administrative tasks like email correspondence, data entry, and scheduling. As you get to know each other, your VA will become more and more integral to everything you do.
How virtual assistance boosts both productivity and free time
My VA set up my showings, scheduled my meetings, and handled all the monotonous jobs that ate up my day. I was free to do what I do best: communicate.
Calling clients and building relationships is where I offer value. Everything else is time better spent elsewhere. I turned my VA loose on taxes, emails, and social media, and I invested my time in interacting with clients and delivering presentations.
Ironically, when I was bogged down in minutia, I spent a ton of time at work, but was not as productive as I am today. After handing over routine tasks to my VA, I’m more productive than ever and still have time to give to my family.
Here’s a little formula to evaluate your productivity:
Performance = Potential – Interference
My VA is constantly managing my tech and social platforms. She vets everything because Facebook messages, texts, and emails are all interference. The less interference you have, the better your overall performance will become. Stop trying to do it all, and start doing only what you do best. If you find a talented assistant to handle your interference, you’ve won the game.
Author bio: Craig Goodlife is a real estate executive who started Cyberbacker to connect small to medium-sized businesses with the top-flight support staff that they need in order to grow. Cyberbacker is an innovative, new, mission-driven company for connecting small to medium businesses. Cyberbacker is the leading provider of world-class administrative support and virtual assistant services from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world.