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Hey Agents, Here's Why You Should Put The Phone Down

Real estate can easily turn into a 24/7 business. Amidst buyer and seller frenzy, how can real estate agents maintain work/life balance?

Easy. Just don’t answer your phone.

Now before your hackles and eyebrows rise, realize that we’re simply talking about setting phone limits. You don’t want to turn into “that agent” who never answers the phone or returns emails.

But you do need to stop:

  • Answering your phone every time it rings
  • Replying to every text, email and social media alert immediately
  • Panicking every time you misplace your phone

…and here’s why:

1. You need to be at your best with every call.

Agent Teresa Tedder Overcash: "Always on but don't always answer. Nobody wants a burned out, frustrated agent on the other end of the line who can only say 'I can't talk right now.'"

Imagine talking to your client. On the other end of the line, you hear three background conversations, horns honking, a television blaring and a toddler screaming.

This is not a productive conversation.

There’s nothing worse for a professional relationship than failure to give proper attention. If your clients feel they’re getting one-quarter of your attention with every call, you’re doing something wrong.

If you’re in the middle of something, don’t answer your phone. Check your voicemail as soon as possible, and reply when your full attention is at the ready. And remember the power (and convenience) of text messages! Send a quick text if an urgent reply is needed and appropriate.

When in doubt, regroup. One focused, quiet call is better than ten hectic, disjointed conversations.

2. Clients will appreciate your sense of family.

Agent Jane Dixon-Hoffman: "Always on, but silenced during family time. I'm selective on answering and my clients know this up front. They admire my honesty and work ethic. They know that I work extremely hard for them during the non-family hours."

Your clients have a family life, too. And unless they’re totally selfish, they’ll understand (and appreciate) your need for scheduled family time.

And if they’re totally selfish, you may not want them as clients, anyway.

3. You HAVE to set boundaries.

Agent Michael Allen Roche: "You set your own limits. No one "gets to the point when" they can turn it off. One must manage clients' expectations. Set limits (working hours) and stick to it. If anyone doesn't respect my professionalism, I don't need them as a client."

You can’t assume that clients have reasonable expectations when it comes to your working hours. Your habits tell your clients what to expect. If you routinely answer the phone at 3 a.m., your clients will continue to call at 3 a.m.

So don’t answer the phone at 3 a.m.

Start any professional relationship with clearly defined phone-answering protocol. Explain how and when clients can best reach you.

Example: “My phone is on from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. If you need something outside of those hours, please leave me a message or send me a text and I’ll reply as soon as possible.”

Most clients are reasonable and understand boundaries. You just have to explain what those boundaries are.

4. You need to recharge.

Agent Christine Rocheford: "Mine goes off every night at 9 pm. It has made me more focused, less cranky and more effective. It has been a good business decision. You don't expect to talk to your other professional service careers 24/7. Aligning expectations is a primary skill."

There’s a reason we live in homes and not in cubicles.

You charge your phone every night. Don't forget to do the same for your life and your relationships. Everyone needs to rest and recharge (including real estate agents).

5. You only live once. Do it right.

Agent Charlotte Barnes Herron: "Nothing is more important than my family. Phones, iPads, etc are put in a basket until our time is completed. Enjoy your family while they're here. They'll be gone for a long time and you'll wish you had those moments back."

Personal relationships are strengthened and weakened in tiny, seemingly unimportant moments:

  • Over a family meal
  • During a backyard Wiffle Ball tournament
  • On a bike ride with a close friend

Don’t skim those moments from your life to focus more on business. There are always exceptions, of course, but don’t let those exceptions become the rule.

Agent Diana Hoyt: "Lost a family member to cancer last year. He and his wife (my sister-in-law) kept saying "when I retire" we will have time for______. Well, he was diagnosed and died 3 months later. They never got to do the things they wanted to do. We got a jolt after his death, reinforcing my belief that when there is a family to-do, it takes priority. No $400K sale is worth my memories."

Let this blog post be your "jolt." Enjoy your family and friends while they’re here. The satisfaction and joy that result from good personal relationships will seep into every aspect of your life, including your business.

So do yourself, your loved ones and your business a favor: Don't answer that phone.

How do you set boundaries in your work? How do you divide work/personal time?

I’m sending a huge thank you to our Military-Friendly Real Estate Agents Facebook community for their comments used in this post!

We want to hear from our readers! Let us know how YOU set boundaries in your work via the comment section below!