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Programming your team to manage their time

"My staff work hard, but not always in the most organised fashion. They are also almost dictated to by computer-generated ‘to-do lists’. I feel they could be more productive if they understood how to manage their time more effectively. Any thoughts are welcome.”

Julian O'Dell
Julian O'Dell image

Julian O’Dell

JULIAN SAYS: Time is our most valuable resource. The best people in business recognise this and have it as a central mantra as to how to conduct their work.

Time and efficiency on the start line imageEstate agents should understand that the most important sale they make every day is their time – in other words, investing their time in people and situations that will give them a return on that investment. Sadly it is easier to waste time in estate agency than in many other professions.

Qualifying applicants and vendors thoroughly is a quality of the best estate agents that we work with. The main reason to do this is to ensure that we do spend our time with people who are going to earn us money.


It is worth comparing this concept to playing snooker. You should always be trying to pot the high value balls like the blue, pink and black. Some agents consider motivated and capable applicants and vendors as the ‘money balls’ because concentrating on and prioritising them will earn us the most money.

On your marks. Get set. Go! Is your team correctly programmed?

All of us at some point have wasted possible hours conducting viewings and wasting time with buyers who were never going to buy, the time that could have been spent with buyers who will.

People who manage their time effectively realise that self-organisation and time management are skills which need to be learnt and continually practised.

Poor time management can have a real effect. It can mean you spend too much time on non-productive work rather than generating business or too little time making proactive calls. It creates a lack of focus and in the end more stress and a poor life work balance.


So how good are you and your team at time management? Ask yourselves the following questions and give a rating out of 10 (10 is perfect, 0 is poor)

  • I use a diary effectively
  • I have full control of my day
  • I always do high priority work first
  • I plan effectively to deal with administrative tasks
  • I have a daily written plan of priorities in order of importance
  • I plan so that the majority of the time is spent proactively speaking to customers/clients
  • I deal assertively with people who waste my time
  • I always ask questions if I don’t understand or if haven’t been briefed well enough
  • I have my work life balance in control
  • I review the effectiveness of my time management at the end of the working day

Some of these questions may be difficult to answer objectively and it is often useful to keep a record of your time management over a week to get a true picture of how well you are using your time. Planning and identifying priorities is a key skill. A key way to do this is to divide your time into A, B and C.

‘A Time’ activities are the key sales activities that lead to sales when we are in direct contact with the customer over the phone, in the office or in a property with a vendor or potential buyer.

They include carrying out a valuation or viewings with a well qualified applicant.

These are sometimes called ‘nose to nose, toes to toes’ activities where we are directly trying to create or close a deal or instruction.

‘B Time’ activities are the things that lead to (A) time activities: delivering canvassing material or phoning out new properties and price reductions. Progressing sales is a (B) task as it is not admin, it is a proactive sales activity that will bring in income fast; it’s no good arranging more deals if we haven’t yet been paid on the deals we have already arranged.

‘C Time’ activities are the tasks that have to be done but are not going to lead to an immediate offer, such as admin and general enquiries. What percentage of your day do you spend on A activities? Consider the past week:

  • How many applicants have you registered?
  • How many valuations have you carried out?
  • How many viewings have you arranged and fed back to the vendor?

A morning meeting to review yesterday’s activities and completed priorities ensures the team (and individuals) are monitored and managed. It ensures the manager identifies shortcomings and missed tasks quickly. It is also an opportunity to identify, discuss and issue the priority tasks for the day. All these principles will assist in focusing the team on becoming a more effective unit and do make sure they remember the old adage “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.”

Julian O’Dell is founder of TM Training & Development.

January 19, 2018