How To Take A Vacation From Your Real Estate Business | Podcast - EP022
How To Take A Vacation From Your Real Estate Business | Podcast - EP022
This week Kelley and Jeff talk about keeping your business rolling AND enjoying some summer holidays.
When you're on vacation should you disconnect or check-in?
Jeff shares his 90 min vacation work day and Kelley gives his hacks to balance his business and being present for his family.
Learn when to tell your clients your going away and how to properly prepare for another Realtor to cover your business.
There is some gold in here that applies to every week of our business - not just vacation weeks.
We appreciate and read all your comments and emails. Keep them coming and thanks for watching/listing/reading along! - Kelley & Jeff
Kelley: All right, we are live. Welcome to the Thrive, Not Survive podcast. With me, as always, my cohost, Jeff Thibodeau, coming to us live from his cottage out near Brantford, Ontario. How close are you to Brantford, actually?
Jeff: Not at all. No. It's like, three and a half hours away, but we're in the Great Lakes. If anyone's looking at a map, I'm on this little chunk of rock called [inaudible 00:00:24], we love it hear.
Kelley: Awesome, I was watching your instafeed there yesterday, and the day before, man. Crazy stuff. Just climbing up the side of mountains and hiking and all that kinda- looks like you're having a lot of fun.
Jeff: That's what we try to do up here.
Kelley: Alright, so we are, this is actually episode one of the Thrive, Not Survive podcasts, a.k.a. episode 22 of the podcast, so I think we're just gonna continue forward. It's a little bit of a rebrand, right? We'll just-
Jeff: New title, same old-
Kelley: New title. Same dudes.
Jeff: And uh, new title. New exciting title. That's what's-
Kelley: New exciting title. Exciting times. We also have some other announcements that we're gonna make at some point in the future when some things are ready, so I guess I just cued that up for like, the next episode or the next episode after that so a little bit of foreshadowing there. Today, we're gonna be talking about how to run your business during the summer holidays. Everybody wants to take a holiday. Jeff's on holiday's right now. I'm stuck at the office. As you can see, I'm at the office. If you're watching on YouTube, I'm here at my desk. Jeff is in his car, not moving, he's in the passenger seat, pretty sure he's gone to Palm Bay there or something like that, 'cause he's two hours ahead of us, right, and he's on vacation. So I'm curious, how in the hell is the machine continue to run while you're hanging off the side of a rock, man?
Jeff: There's so much of it, right. First of all, it's mostly mental, I think, that for realtors, people who are on call, right, like you think about back in the day whenever you see a doctor with a pager. I know we're not saving lives, but we're on call, like 24/7. Our industry is reactive, and so it's a big psychological shift to think that you can manage a reactive-based, client-based business remotely. And so, for me, that's the first point, and just embracing all that's available, and I actually, believe it or not, I don't do many transactions that, anymore as everyone on my team, but I did sell a house today, even on vacation. And I'm doing a podcast. And I just had a conference call with your admin team. So here's the thing. You can decide. This is the biggest thing.
Are you gonna go away and disconnect, or are you gonna go away and stay connected? That's the first thing, because as I coached over agents for a year there with the Tom [Curry 00:02:39] company, and the thing I realized is people, they get angry at their clients when they're on vacation 'cause your clients called you, but if you didn't set it up to be disconnected, that's your fault. Either you're fully disconnected, or like I'm doing right now, you're committed to checking in for like, 90 minutes twice a day just to solve everything, and keep the machine going and send an offer through DocuSign and call your client and congratulate them like, which vacation do you want? I almost never take completely disconnected vacations, but I take a lot of drives up to the cabin. So that's the first thing I'd say. I mean, you just had some vacation also, Kelley, what's your secret?
Kelley: Yeah, so I've actually, in ten years in this business, and I absolutely agree with you, we are on call, you know, you're helping people with the largest transaction that they're gonna make. They're making no decisions on hundreds of thousands of dollars here, and so to up and leave them in the middle of the transaction is incredibly difficult for somebody that is somebody that is successful in their business and they're really committed to helping their clients. So I get it from that perspective, but at the end of the day, like you said, you've also gotta be able to set up boundaries for yourself and so for the first time in 10 years, last year, it was my 10th wedding anniversary, we decided to take the kids to Disney World, and I committed to myself and to my family that that was gonna be my first disconnected vacation. So the way that I set it up was I had a number of deals, live deals that were on the go.
I had two agents that I selected off of our team, I updated them on all of the files, I said "This is where everything is at, I need you guys to be able to take care of this for me." We worked out some sort of a fee agreement for each closed transaction, and I was able to successfully disconnect from the deal. In fact, I wasn't able to totally disconnect. I got a text message from one of the agents that was looking after things for me while we at a baseball game down in Tampa, and I'll tell you, man, I got just knives coming out my kids, coming out my wife's eyes. As soon as I picked up that phone and I started typing away a text message, my son looked at me, he said, "Dad, I thought you weren't supposed to be working on this vacation." Boom, done. Shut the phone off. That was it. For the rest of the vacation, right? So I wasn't checking in, there was none of that. I was committed to my family, I had my boundaries up and I set things up.
My last vacation, we went to BC for a little bit. I'm also going, I'm gonna be going back to BC in October. We have the timeshare that we go to, and for these types of vacations where I'm not too far away, I don't completely disconnect. Like you, I commit to an hour to an hour and a half in the morning and an hour to an hour and a half in the evening, typically after the kids are in bed, and so I'm not really looking at my phone, I'm not answering text messages, I'm not answering emails, I commit to those times. Now, if I've got a live deal and I haven't left anything, left that deal in the hands of an agent that's gonna look after it for me, then that's my mistake, right. So it all depends on the type of vacation that I really want to have and how much my family is willing to put up with. That's my gauge.
Jeff: Yeah, it's perfect. It's all about looking in the mirror or looking at the loved ones around you and knowing which kind of vacation you need, and I used to think I needed the complete disconnect, but that was actually the old employee me. The new self-employed, running my own business me, I learned I actually don't want to disconnect. Like, I read marketing books on vacation. It's not really a hassle to talk to a client and sign a purchase contract. That didn't ruin my day, so I've actually learned that unless I'm going somewhere the cell signal is impossible, or you're going on a real adventure, but I actually like this type of vacation better. You get six hours of play and two, three hours of work in your eight-hour day and your business keeps moving. You don't come home to 300 emails in your inbox. So let's talk about, though, because that's the easy answer. I want to talk about how to really disconnect, and you've got into a lot of big things there. So if someone needs to get away, and I know a lot of people do, and I think it's healthy.
We talk about it, taking a Saturday off versus taking two weeks off. What are some of the things that a good, savvy agent has in place so they can actually power down their phone for a week?
Kelley: Yeah, you know, I mean, you and I are a little bit different because we've operated teams and I've got access to a number of agents on our brokerage, any one of which would be more than happy to look after my business while I'm away. If you're a solopreneur or a solo agent, sometimes it can be difficult for you to be able to find someone that you trust and so what I would suggest is, no matter if you've been in the business a year or six months, 10 years, 15 years, it doesn't really matter. You need to find someone in your brokerage that you trust that you feel like you could leave your business with if you wanted to go and completely disconnect, so that's, that would be my first piece of advice, is finding someone that you trust, that you like, that you feel would offer the same level of service to your clients as you would. The second thing that I would suggest is working out a fee agreement and having something in writing right up front. You know, it all depends on, again, what you're willing to do.
If you're really, truly, wanting to disconnect, there's gonna be a price behind that, and I'm more than willing and more than happy to be able to pay 25% ref feral fee to somebody that's gonna help me close a transaction while I'm away with a client in mind, and I know that it's gonna be done in a very professional, competent way, and making sure that the client's completely looked after so I'm more than happy to do that. I have that in writing, and whether it's an email or we've actually formally sat down and we've said, "This is what it is, sign here, sign here, press hard make four copies," we've got a set agreement so that there's no confusion when I come back from holidays. That person knows that if they wind up closing transactions for me, they're gonna wind up getting paid. So those are two really big things that I would suggest before you go on vacation, before you plan to completely disconnect.
Jeff: Yeah, I think having one or more people you trust and not just as friends, but you trust that they provide the same level of service, and that could be, it could mean anything. Not everyone is into the super-high end service, but say you're into kind of more transactional and banging deals together, and then you hand your file off to someone who's like, super [inaudible 00:08:58] they're gonna change your client's standards of expectations. It can work in either direction. But having a few people you trust, and I like this idea too of the "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," so if you do really have a friend in the business that you work with at the same brokerage, instead of even a fee agreement, just that you take a week off, I cover for you, and I do vice versa, then you know it's kinda like the golden rule. I'm gonna treat your clients well, because I expect you to treat my clients well while I'm away, versus these people want six or seven showings but they're not gonna write an offer until Kelley's back, I'm not gonna get paid a dime.
So there's lots of flexible ways to do this. The most important thing you need to do, if you want the level of service that you're used to providing your clients to continue, and when you're away, is you need to build a dossier on your clients to hand to this other agent. They don't have the repor and the history and the nuance and they haven't been on all the other showings or know where these people are at. You've gotta provide that in a couple paragraphs of writing on that client's situation in a file to hand and the busier realtor you are, that bigger that job's gonna be, but that's how you earn the actual disconnect so there are no questions about how whatever situation comes up for that client should be treated.
Kelley: Yeah, so absolutely, documenting everything, if somebody's out showing, this is exactly what they're looking for or something pops up on the MLS, I expect you to go and do this and contact them and show them the property. I think, ultimately, it comes back down to, I get where you're coming from in terms of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" sort of scenario, I get that, but I think that there could be a level of resentment built in if the one agent is super busy and the other agent isn't busy at all.
I mean, if you're super busy, Jeff, and I'm looking after your clients and I'm run off my feet plus I'm trying to run my own business but I'm not super-busy at the moment, and I know that I'm not gonna get paid from all the running around and stuff that I'm doing, I might wind up stepping back a little bit from that, and maybe that's me, I don't know if that's human nature, I have no idea, but my suggestion is you've got a really good friend and you trust that person, then definitely have them look after things for you, but my belief is that you should have some sort of a fee agreement there. At the end of the day, it really comes down to a couple of different things. Number one, do you have a family? Do you have a loved one, do you have somebody that is going to be angry with you, do they already view you as a workaholic, do they feel like they're pulling your work with you and you're not able to give them the attention that they need?
So those are the things that I think that you really need to look at. Look at your own situation first, and then determine the type of vacation that you really, truly want to have. It's either you're fully disconnecting, you're partially disconnecting. If your loved one is okay with you working three hours a day, some of us really enjoy, like you said, reading those marketing books. I enjoy listening to podcasts, marketing podcasts. I just got into Mike Tyson's podcast the other day. It's hilarious, right? That's just my, those are my downtime type items. So I think at the end of the day, you really need to decide what kind of vacation you want, figure out whether your family is gonna be willing to allow you to work, if that's the type of vacation that you want, and then finding someone that's gonna look after your business for you while you're away, regardless of whether you're plugged in or not. What are your thoughts around that?
Jeff: Well, I think there's one thing that came to mind as we're talking about chunking the day down and maybe having two 90-minute sessions that you're doing. Imagine if you just came back from vacation and kept working like that. You dealt with all the fires in two 90-minute windows and then the rest of the day, you actually move to the [inaudible 00:12:47] forward on stuff you cared about. So we're moving the [inaudible 00:12:51] forward on family time and all the good stuff here, but when you're back at the office, if you just powered through the morning and got the stuff done efficiently and you treated your workday as holy as this day at the lake with my family, how much work would you actually get done? It would be incredible. I'm gonna start implementing this when I get back. So that was item number one. And then item number two is something that I've learned just by my own nature, is that when I come back from vacation, I just cannot hop back into the fire immediately the next morning.
So I've learned to tell my team and the people I'm going away and my clients that I'm gone for one or two more days than actually when my plane arrives back home or I get back, 'cause I need a day to decompress on the home front, unpack, get the house caught up, and then you need a day to empty the inbox and get mentally back to work and then I can start doing showings or start seeing clients again, so I like to have that little padding on the back of vacations too, so you hit the ground running, you're not in this frenzied mess and everyone's waiting for you on a Monday morning and you just took the redeye home, like that's not gonna be ...
Kelley: Yeah, I think you really hit on something really poignant there. There is something called a summer funk, like I think every agent goes through this, right? Some agents are just absolutely swamped busy, others are, their clients are out on holidays, maybe they're taking the holidays, they're kinda disconnected from the business even though they're actually still in town, supposed to be doing business. Some agents wind up going through a summer funk and I love the idea that you have there in terms of chunking your day down and really executing on a lot of stuff in that first hour and a half of the day and then figuring out whether, this is getting away from the summer holiday type podcast that we're gonna do, but it really translates nicely into actually running your business on a week-to-week basis so you've got an hour and a half in the morning where you're focusing on putting out fires, returning emails, making phone calls, those sorts of things, and then that six or eight hours in between that next hour and a half.
You could be working on your business, you could be working on your brand, you could be writing a blog post, you can be out actively showing. There's all kinds of things that you could be wind up doing with that time that you have, I love that idea. Now it kind of translates into that time now that you're gone, holidays are done and over with, and now it's back to reality, right?
Jeff: Just keep the pattern, and when it's the next vacation comes, you're still maybe working two 90-minute chunks a day. It's like when you can be, we all do two different types of work, we have the stuff that we're reacting to and we're responding to because deals and clients, and then we have stuff we're doing for our business, and so that's what I think about on these vacations, is that I hit the pause button on all those big projects, all those big initiatives, lunches, meetings, but on the day-to-day work, the offers, the [inaudible 00:15:41], the do the podcast with Kelley, that stuff's gonna go on in those 90-minute chunks, and yeah, I think it's brilliant if you start to rethink every day like that, not just 'cause I only want to be connected by my cellphone to the Internet for 90 minutes a day, right? Wow. Let's just do it. Vacation for the rest of the year. I'm in it.
Kelley: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of agents, for me, it's every time I declare that I'm going on a vacation, it seems like that's when we get the most busy, right? So it just absolutely gets crazy for us, and sometimes that's fortunate, sometimes it isn't. I think again, you mentioned some agents wind up getting upset at their clients for calling them and bothering them while they're on holidays, right? This comes down to setting up boundaries for yourself.
Jeff: Yeah. If you're in the point, if you're ever getting upset that one of your clients is reaching out to you, you've either got too much money or you've just got the complete wrong perspective on this business, right? We can't be like, "Ah, they're bugging me, they don't respect my vacation!" No, you didn't coach them properly, you didn't set up the auto-responder properly, you didn't set up someone to care for them. You know, everybody gets vacation and when you get out in front of it, whether it's a Saturday off, I'm gonna rant a second here, but if it's a Saturday off or it's a week off, when you get out in front of it, everyone's respectful of that, right, like everyone wants a vacation knows they deserve one. But what they don't want is to call you on a Tuesday 'cause you need something and your voicemail to say "Oh, Jeff's away 'til next Tu-" and that's the first they heard about your vacation.
That's why we get a bad rap and then you're checking your voicemail and the perso- "Hey, what's going on with my deal, I didn't know you were away," and then you're in a bad situation. If you get out in front of it, and you actually plan it, and you show your clients that even though you're going on vacation, you've got someone great you trust to look after for them. You've got your emergency cell phone. If they can't handle it, that agent'll upgrade it to you. We know that everything's in place. They know about their situation, and even once in a while, we've had to actually do the warm hand-off, like do the meeting with the client and the agent that's taking over because the client feels like there's high stakes involved, and they want to know they're gonna be cared for while you're away, so do the right thing, set it up in advance, and then actually enjoy your vacation. Everyone does it backwards. They disappear, and they get interrupted, and then complain. Like, set it up first and then enjoy. It's easy.
Kelley: Yeah, I've got a client right now, his mortgage broker decided that she- I mean, she decided, probably a long time ago, that she was going on vacation but she didn't tell my client until the day before, like the night before that she was going on vacation or in the middle of a live deal, and she winds up forwarding his file or whatever, his information off to another mortgage broker without having any sort of introduction. My client's coming back to me going, "What the hell do I do," and I'm like, "It's up to you. What do you want to do? We got a full mortgage brokerage here, but you know, it's entirely up to you and what- I know what I would do, right, but that's entirely up to you and what you would do," right?
So yeah, I mean, I think at the end of the day, it does come back to that Golden Rule, and like you said, if you're treating your clients with respect and letting them know that, "Hey, listen, I'm taking my family on a holiday, I'm gone for a week, this is the person that's gonna look after things for you, if you absolutely have to get in touch with me, you definitely can. I will return your phone call. Again, it comes back to how your family is okay with the amount of work that you're gonna do on your holiday, so just to kinda wrap this up, and circle back a little bit and kinda bring things back to the end, or bring it to the ending, I guess, first of all, you need to decide what kind of vacation you're gonna go on.
Are you connected, are you disconnected. Second, you've gotta figure out whether your family is okay with you actually taking a connected vacation. Third, you've gotta look for somebody that is gonna look after your business and your clients like you would. Somebody that you know, like, and trust that's gonna make sure that everyone's taken care of, and then the fourth thing is decide whether you're gonna have some sort of a fee agreement built in there. Did I miss anything?
Jeff: Then actually follow through with your vacation plans.
Jeff: Don't plan a disconnected vacation and then spend half your day on your laptop and don't plan a connected vacation and then ignore your phone for four days. Plan it and then do it.
Kelley: That's right. All right, man, that's it. You got anything else?
Jeff: All right. I gotta go back to the waterfront. I'm outta here.
Kelley: Good for you. You're outta here? All right, man. 'K, that's all we got for you, for watching on YouTube, please leave us a comment below. If you have any questions for us, you know how to get a hold of us. If you are listening to this on iTunes, we appreciate your reviews. I do believe that we've got seven five-star reviews now. I love the feedback, thank you so much, you guys are great, and we'll catch you next week. Have a great one, man. Talk to you soon.