The Gift of a “Wrench” | The Zebra Blog

The Gift of a “Wrench”

wrenches and a gift box

You may have heard the term “throwing a wrench in the plans”. Well, from where I’m standing, it seems to be raining “wrenches” this month.

I have been contacted by so many agents I am coaching who have needed to change their plans for the summer because a family member has become ill or passed away, they themselves have gotten sick or have been in an accident, they have to go on an unexpected (and unpleasant) trip, their assistant has quit, or something else in their world has gone seriously awry and they must divert their time and energy away from their business to fix it.

Dealing with a wrench is usually not a pleasant experience, especially when also faced with running a business that you own, manage, and are often the sole employee. Most agents do not have a team of people who can fill in when they need to take several days off in a row. And with the market in many areas as hot as it has been, there are not too many agents with a lot of down time to help pick up the slack.   

So, what will you do if a wrench lands on your lap? Do you have a contingency plan for any number of wrenches that might come your way? And if your answer is to grab an umbrella to shield you from the onslaught, then it is time to make some plans.

Imagine you are thrown a wrench – a big one – tomorrow morning at 8:30 am. And you only have two hours to make a plan which will completely cover your business for two weeks with the exception of a half hour phone call and half an hour for email once a day. Do you have a plan? What are you going to do?

  • Do you have someone who will cover for you?
  • What is the method of compensation you have with this person? Is it in writing?
  • How will any leads coming in be handled?
  • How will your email be handled?
  • How will your calls be handled? Voicemail?
  • Are your files up to date enough for someone else to go through them and know where the files stand?
  • What role does your managing broker play?
  • What will you do with the currently pending transactions? Who will handle which part?
  • How will you let your clients know what is going on and the next steps?
  • If something closes when you are gone, how will your commission be deposited if you need the money?
  • How will vendors and your bills be paid?
  • If information needs to be changed on a website, do you have the account numbers, contact information, usernames, and passwords with you?
  • Does someone have access to this list in the event you need them to make a change for you?

This isn’t a pleasant exercise, but it is important to really think things through ahead of time and bring in all the parties, so everyone is on the same page. In fact, if you are a managing broker, I would suggest having the agents in your office go through this exercise and present to you their “Wrench Plan”, along with any additional information you may need in order to help them manage their business in the event of an emergency.

And if you are thrown a wrench this year, consider the gift that wrench will bring. One of my clients just lost a parent and needed to drop what she was doing business-wise and do nothing but focus on her family for two weeks. The gift there? While it was awful that she lost her parent so suddenly, she treasured those two weeks with her family. And while she always knew the agents who covered her business would probably do just fine, the fact that she had no choice but to let them cover for her (successfully cover for her) has given her the confidence to feel like she can actually take some time off without needing to check in constantly.

Another agent learned that she didn’t have to be glued to her desk in order to be an effective agent, giving her the freedom to work a few days a week from home … or the lake.

Still another agent learned to put the phone and computer down and focus – completely focus – and enjoy her family without always having one ear out for the phone.

As an agent and a managing broker, I certainly have had my share of wrenches, and without a “Wrench Plan” the stress of putting a plan together, while also trying to deal with the situation at hand, will leave you weak and less-capable of dealing with the situation that really needs your focus.

So get out your toolbox and prepare yourselves for whatever wrenches may come your way!


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3 Responses to “The Gift of a “Wrench””

  1. Robin Vogel says:

    Denise – love this article and so true – have dealt with the “wrenches” on several occasions the past few years – and I think perhaps more as a function of age, seems like once wrench finally gets oiled and cleaned and another one comes along – I have not fully implemented the wrench plan by any means, however your list of items to consider is timely and maybe the kick in the seat I need to truly line up some folks to help out and vice versa.



    • Denise Lones says:

      Robin- So very true. Being even just a little prepared can save a person from a lot of stress at a time when you need it most. Best wishes to you and hoping that your next wrench doesn’t land in your lap for some time yet, but when one does, that you’ve got a plan that gives you the power to focus on it. -Denise

  2. Tina says:

    Excellent… so much ‘food for thought’ thank you !

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