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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]

My job consists of several things:
1. I answer the phone
2. I deal with customers as they walk in or phone.
3. I keep the website updated with new listings, photographs and so on, and I update old listings as required and I am informed. I do the same for MLS and for the do-not-call list.
4. I take the occasional new rental listing as an office listing.
5. I distribute and record on paper new listings.
6. I keep track of supplies and order when necessary.
7. I keep track of the agents.
8. I type the occasional letter or retype a form if asked.
9. I notarize when asked.
10. I keep track of the keys.
11. I deal with the mail.

Sounds like a lot, right? It isn't. The phone rings when it rings, and customers walk in when they walk in. Lately, we've been getting four, maybe five listings a day at most. A listing takes me ten minutes to process. Maybe. If it's not in the system already, in which case it takes me five. Entering and removing a key is also a quick job. Mail takes five minutes.

Everything else is occasional - at most once a week, usually less often. I'm spending a lot of time surfing the web, which is understandably irritating my employers. And I take very short lunch breaks. I just spent twenty minutes printing out labels for a different office.

They want *me* to come up with more things I can do. I'm lazy, but I'm not averse. Websurfing gets boring *fast*.

And I'm completely out of inspiration. A lot of you work in small offices. Any ideas?

(We outsource the book-keeping. The Th-Fri person does the filing, although I'd be happy enough to do it. That would take 30 minutes tops. The Sat-Sun person does the window ads, although I've done that,too. I already keep track of forms.)


Do you have documents that you give to buyers and sellers along the theme of "how to buy a house" (what to look for, dealing with mortgages, etc etc) and "how to sell your house" (simple things you can do to improve first impressions, mechanics, etc)? If so, were they written for real people or are they full of fifty-dollar words? Have they been updated in the last decade? Do they take the vast resources of the web into account? In other words, could they stand to be rewritten? And if you don't have stuff like that, would having it set you apart from other realtors in the area?

Are there things you wish the web site offered, or are there design facotrs that don't quite work? Maybe you could do more with it than just update the listings?

Is there any type of work that you would like to learn how to do that could be even vaguely relevant to your employer (databases, web design, accounting, whatever)? If so, you could do worse than learn about it on company time.

Failing all of that, writing fiction might be seen as less egregious by your employers than web-surfing.

Good luck!

Score keeping

This is a bit dangerous ...

But you might start a score card of some aspect or another of the activity you're around. Very minor stats that Excel or Lotus can handle, but YOU would develop for yourself. (You ever read Bill James books about baseball?)

What is the mean average duration of listing for all agents? What's the standard deviation? Which individual agents have a listing-duration less than that mean? Is the difference "noise" -- within the standard deviation, or is it significant?

How many listings sell above asking? What's the average boost? How many below, at what discount? Do either of these correlate to duration? Do they happen to correlate to one or another particular agent?

So maybe an agent keeps a listing around for longer than his peers but gets a price boost -- that's smart. But one who keeps it around a long time without taking a typical discount to keep product turning , that might be not-so-smart.

I feel ya. I have the same problem here at work. Lots of hurry up and wait. Though fortunately my boss doesn't mind me surfing the web in the downtimes - he does it himself ;)

In addition to what others have suggested:

Cleaning. Not saying scrub out the toilets, but can't hurt to dust once in a while (unless they have someone for that).

Also organizational cleaning, such as going through the files, tidying them, archiving anything that needs archiving, etc.

Followup calls/letters to clients to make sure everything is going well.

Other mailings to clients, such as birthday cards, holiday cards, etc.

Create a newsletter to distribute to clients that talks about the latest news (eg. new agents, houses sold) and listings.

Your office may do this anyway but if not, you could also help clients by getting them in touch with moving companies, pet sitters, house cleaners, etc.

What are the most commonly asked things by clients? Is there a way to provide them with that information, such as letters, brochures, things posted around the office? If so, make those.

Would it not be nifty to have an office blog? Not for actual personal blogging, but for the sort of semi-social, semi-work-related things that the whole office has interest in.

I was going to say start putting together an office manual. Include copies of forms you need to fill out, procedures for doing things, a chart of whatever the hierarchy is, job desceriptions, etc.

And make a copy for yourself, to take home, to show prospective employers on your next round of interviews.

I don't suppose that there are facilities for you to be making cookies for the office while there?