I have written repeatedly about the 4 Freedoms for the Real Estate Professional. They are the Freedom of Money, the Freedom of Purpose, the Freedom of Relationship, and the Freedom of Time. On a practical, day-to-day level, the Freedom of Time has everything to do with balancing the need to seize the opportunities that come your way, with the need to take care of yourself.
Getting control of your time is not easy. It requires intentional effort and more importantly, an absolute self-confidence in the value you bring to the market. A real estate professional should not look at their practice any differently than any other professional would. You would never pick up the phone and randomly call a doctor, lawyer, or accountant and demand an immediate audience.
Don’t let anyone try to do that to you.
Having said that, there is a rhythm to our business. While working by referral undoubtedly makes for far more consistent income throughout the year, there is still a seasonality to the market. We need to be aware of it and we need to make the seasonality work for us.
Having my tracked my personal productivity and the productivity of my agents for several years now, I know exactly when I need to be ‘in’ my business, working ‘on’ my business, and when I need to be focusing on recovery and rejuvenation so I can go out and do all over again.
Holidays and Long Weekends
First of all, free time, time off, a holiday, or a vacation should not be something you have to earn and reward yourself with. For a full time, ‘all in’ professional regular time off is absolutely necessary to continue to operate in a peak state. If you do not take time to rest, rejuvenate, focus on your family, and do something outside of real estate I guarantee at some point you will burn out, lose interest, start making mistakes, and get sick.
I hear time and time again from agents that they like to be on call over holiday weekends because they think they are going to get a step ahead of the slacker agents enjoying some much-needed time off with their families. I used to be the same way until I realized that the random showings and appointments I took rarely resulted in a closing, much less a referral relationship of any kind.
Therefore, my first piece of advice is this, mark off every national holiday on your calendar as a free day for the rest of your life. Don’t just mark off the holiday, mark off the weekend that surrounds it. Start with the Big Six national holidays. Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
Take this time. Plan for this time. Your clients are taking this time off and more importantly they are going to understand if you are. Customers who do not understand can go find another agent.
The ‘All In’ Season
Spring and summer without a doubt is the prime season for real estate. Your referral-based business will produce significant steady income throughout the year, but spring and summer is when you have the opportunity to grow your business and harvest additional financial rewards.
It is easy to see why. Not only does your past client activity heat up with the change in the weather, but so do your incoming referrals. Client activity and customer activity both increase in the spring. It happens every year.
Here in Ohio I tell my sellers that they want to get their house on the market right around Valentine’s Day. That way when the very first new buyers of the year start to dust off their Realtor.com apps, their property is ready and waiting. If the winter has been particularly harsh, that first glimpse of warmer weather leads to a dramatic increase in activity in March.
Spring and summer is when we have to be in our business and committed 100%. Spring and summer is when I know I will be working late at least a couple of nights a week and probably at least one day each weekend. The business is there. Our clients need our help and this is what we signed up for. It’s time to go to work!
The latter half of February, March and April are prime time but there are breaks in the business where things naturally slow down a bit. Significantly, there is a pause in activity during Easter and spring break season. Your clients are taking a break and I want you to take a break here too.
May, June and July are generally the busiest months of the year. We are going to be putting in the time, we are going to be busy, we are going to be having a great time making things happen and we are going to make a lot of money. But there are natural breaks I want you to take here too.
Memorial Day weekend comes the same time every year and I want you to enjoy it. June tends to slow down every year for a few days around graduation party season and Father’s Day. If you can swing it is a great time to schedule a weekend or two off. July is super important but again, take the 4th of July off. 4th of July week is one of the most popular weeks for summer vacations for your clients so it is a great time for you to take off too.
July is transitional. A lot of business will occur in a short time between the 4th and the last week of the month. By the end of July however, things start to slow down as people squeeze in their last bit of vacation time before school starts again.
Which brings us to August.
August – The Mid-Year Recovery
There is still business to be had in August but in reality, it is one of the slowest months of the year for placing houses under contract and securing new business. It is however one of the biggest months for closings and your customer service and contract management skills are going to be on full display.
You have just spent six months making the most of your business and opportunity. Whether you want to admit it or not, you need, and yes deserve a break. This is the month to take a vacation and back off a few days. Celebrate. It has been a hell of a year so far.
The ‘On the Business’ Season
While you will still be enjoying a steady stream of referrals over the next few months the fact is it is time look at the past spring and summer with a critical eye. What worked, what did not, what goals did you meet, and where did you fall short? While September will be relatively busy, and October is a little bit like August with quite a few closings, now through November needs to be where you start thinking about next year’s ‘All In’ season.
I like to focus on developing new capabilities, marketing ideas, advertising plans and financial goals for the next twelve months during the fall. I like to make sure I create space to reflect on and make plans to improve my business. The pace this time of year is a less frenzied than spring and summer. This is the time of year the National Association of Realtors schedules their convention. This is the time of year to get better, sharpen the saw, and set new business goals and standards.
The holiday season in the USA starts with Halloween and spills like a hangover into the first week of January. It happens this way every year. From a working by referral perspective the holidays are the most important time of the year. This is the time when making calls, writing notes and cards, giving gifts and going to parties and visiting with your database are the most natural things in the world.
Those agents that approach the holiday season with a plan and sense of purpose can contact everyone in their database at least once and sometimes more than once. The seeds you plant and the referrals you earn during November and December can create the closings in January and February that other agents can only dream about. This is an ‘All In’ season but in a different way than spring and summer.
The Year-End Recovery
Once again you have done great work the last three or four months and it is time celebrate, take time for yourself and your family and get ready for the New Year. Christmas through New Year’s should be a guilt-free opportunity to enjoy yourself and your accomplishments. After all, spring and summer is right around the corner.
Here’s to you and the good life!
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