Your Business, Your Boundaries
Every so often I like to talk about boundaries. Now, let me preface: this is just me and how I operate. We all run our businesses differently and that’s one of the beauties of real estate. I just choose to stop and smell the flowers more often.
What sparked me to write this blog is, recently, I had a client who didn’t like certain things about how I run my business. Even though the way I run it in no way interfered with the effectiveness in which I represented him. The client simply has a mindset of most of the country: That if you aren’t working 24/7/365, then you aren’t working effectively. If you aren’t at a desk for 14 hours a day, nothing’s getting done. I set certain boundaries and I always set expectations, however, when the expectations become a reality, that’s when it…well…becomes a reality for the client.
Some of the books I’ve read as of late are “Four Hour Work Week,” “Start with Why,” “The Go-Giver,” “Love is the Killer App,” and “Tribes.” All these books teach us about time-blocking, coming from kindness, leadership, and work/life counter-balance.
What I have discovered is, we can read all the books in the world on these topics–having the right systems in place to enjoy life better, how to be a leader, work more efficiently, etc.–and we can have all of them down pat. However, the one thing that may stand in our way from achieving it to the fullest isn’t even ourselves. It’s everyone else–the ones who don’t subscribe to it. It’s the ones who live to work, not work to live. Unless everyone else adapts these habits, it can be a major roadblock that keeps us from getting there sooner. We can still get there, it just may take a little longer. And here’s the thing–it’s not even their fault. Let me explain.
We all have clients who want our attention every waking moment of the day or night.
I have had clients who only reply to calls, texts and emails at 11pm and expect me to respond. I have had clients who call me at 10pm and want to see a home the next morning at 8am. This does not make them inconsiderate or rude or disrespectful of my time. It’s just how the world has conditioned them. We want our food NOW. Our taxi should arrive with an app in 5 minutes. We want our movies streaming INSTANTLY. We want to see homes TODAY!
I still struggle with boundaries, and I feel I always will. I don’t think I will ever perfect it, but I do think I can get close enough. It’s important for me to always be very transparent with my clients. I don’t want them to think I’m always working because I’m not. It’s silly for me to make them think I am. It’s unrealistic and gives them the impression I’m a robot. I want them to know that I’m human and do human things. Are they always working? Most likely they are not either.
I’m home every night by 5:30 to have dinner with my wife and kids so I can play with my boys, have dinner with them and do bedtime. This goes until 7pm and I make sure my clients know that. Phone calls, texts and emails do not get an answer during that time frame. In fact, emails in general only get a reply 3 times a day (unless there’s a dire emergency). After the boys are in bed, I will respond to texts, call and emails from 7:30-8pm, and then I am done until 9am the next day.
I take either Saturday or Sunday off every week, and I tell my clients that, and I tell them why. And they get it. If they don’t, then they aren’t a good fit for me. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t ever lost a client due to this. I most certainly have.
Don’t be afraid to be a human being with a life outside of this business.
You don’t have to tell clients you are on other appointments when you are at the playground with your family or out to dinner with loved ones and friends. An outgoing voicemail that says, “I’m either on the other line or with a client,” is impossible and unrealistic. Be truthful and human and it always wins. You can’t argue with family time. At least not my family time.
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