Radical Time Tracking for Productivity and Optimization

by Matt Hoover

In the fast-pace world of commercial real estate, efficiency and productivity are critical to the success of any agent. Brokers must juggle numerous responsibilities and competing priorities, including client work, property marketing, transaction management, prospecting, and administrative tasks. Success in this business hinges on our ability to manage time effectively, and it can be very difficult to identify what is the most important task. How should we balance working in the businesses versus working on the business? How do we know which activities will have the highest return on our time and effort?

For me, it goes back to the old adage that if you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it. If I don’t pay attention to how I spend my time, I can be assured that I didn’t make the most efficient use of my day. Distractions abound. Fires need extinguished. Urgency trumps importance. As the saying goes, you either run the day, or the day will run you. So, what’s a commercial real estate agent to do?

Track every single moment, every day. I know how that sounds. I know it isn’t what you want to hear. It isn’t what I wanted to hear when I first started examining my efficiency. Tracking your full day feels like it’s just something else that isn’t essential and will take up valuable time. And don’t get me wrong, it does take effort, but in this case the obstacle is the way.

The good news is that it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Online time tracking tools have a very low barrier to entry. They are intuitive, and many offer free accounts. And agents are already predisposed to carefully track the money. We account for every dollar coming in and going out of our pipeline. We carefully track our expenses and don’t waste unnecessary funds on things that won’t generate income. But if time equals money, then it should follow that we want to track every moment we spend, just as we track every dollar we spend.

I know what you’re thinking – it sounds like a lot of extra work. That was my initial concern. My first two thoughts were: (1) it sounds like a real chore to track my time; and (2) I am already focused and conscientious, and don’t think I was that much time in the first place. The truth is that I was completely wrong on both fronts.

When we started our new business at Capstone, I took on the challenge of committing to track my time for a few weeks to see where I might need to tighten things up and where I might be able to gain additional efficiencies. The intent was to track every working moment of every day from the minute I start working until I shut it down for the day.

This simple experiment completely revolutionized my approach to the management of my business, my approach to prospecting, and even the types of clients I engage. In fact, I saw such a dramatic bump in my total output that I have incorporated this strategy into my daily workflow and plan to continue indefinitely. There have been many benefits, but I’ll provide a shortlist of the most significant for you to consider.

Enhanced Productivity and Delegation
Time tracking provides detailed insight into not only how I spend each day, but also where I direct my focus over weeks and months. Understanding this distribution of time across different activity categories enables me to identify areas where I excel and where tasks consume far more time than they should. By leveraging time tracking tools, I can optimize my schedule and the delegation of work to my team. Ultimately, it allows me to dedicate more time to high-value tasks like prospecting, negotiating high value deals, and nurturing major client relationships. In the end, it increases my productivity as well as the productivity of my team.

Prospecting – Expected Value
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the activity. Detailed tracking allows me to break down my actual hourly rate by tying my revenue back to the actual hours that I spent on each deal with each of my clients. Many of us understand the 80/20 rule in concept, but it is a different thing entirely to look at a detailed list of all the deals that I worked on and identify where I made less money than I thought I did.

In some cases, agents can actually lose money on deals when you factor in the amount of time spent on them in addition to traditional deal expenses. This arithmetic is foundational as we consider which deals and clients to pursue in the future. Without a detailed time tracker, it would be impossible to accurately measure the cost of a deal against the expected value of future commissions.

Data-Driven Decision Making
Beyond my individual time management strategies, data from a time tracking tool can also become a valuable asset during performance reviews of team members and junior associates by showcasing an agent’s aptitudes and areas for potential improvement. In addition to individual performance, time tracking data also informs corporate decisions based on hard data rather than gut reactions and subjective opinions.

The Bottom Line
For commercial real estate brokers, time is directly correlated with income. Understanding how time is allocated across different tasks can highlight inefficiencies that, when addressed, directly impact profitability. Time tracking assists in identifying non-billable hours and administrative tasks that could be streamlined or outsources, allowing agents to focus the majority of their time on revenue-generating activities.

By providing a clear understanding of how time is spent, these tools empower brokers to optimize their schedules, focus on revenue-generating activities, and achieve a better work-life balance. Ultimately, time tracking is not just about measuring hours; it’s about maximizing the value of every minute to drive success and growth in the commercial real estate industry.

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