Have you ever wondered what you would do with your business if you received a call that required you to drop everything and divert your attention to an issue more important than business? The call may come from a family member needing your help with an emergency or about an aging parent that needs your FULL attention now. Or worse, that call may be notice that someone you really cared about was at the end of their life. Or maybe the challenge is that YOU need to attend to a an urgent personal medical issue.
Inevitably something will call for your attention at some point in your business life if it hasn’t already. I realize this may not be something you want to read about today, but if you are reading this it is because you need to hear it.
So, what is your backup plan when you get the call? Who will be there to COMPLETELY pick up the pieces for you and step in to take over your business so you can attend to what is really important? Have you set up any systems in your business to deal with an emergency?
I have had MANY clients over the years who have been faced with this exact problem. When the call comes, there may be little to no time to deal with getting a system implemented then, so figuring this out now is essential. You need to have a plan, and discuss that plan with your designated emergency contact as well as your broker.
Here are some things to consider when making your plan:
- Make a binder titled EMERGENCY PLAN and have the following sections in your binder:
- Current clients
- Potential clients
- Contact information
- Important deadlines
- Family contact information
In the event you prefer to create an electronic emergency plan, simply create a folder either on your computer or a secure cloud system that has instructions on how to access the above items. For example, if you have your database in Top Producer and track current and potential clients in there, then you might have instructions on how to access Top Producer and how to access notes in your Potential Clients and Database folders. When you need someone to take the reins, simply share the folder with them. You may also have this file shared with your managing broker if you have that type of relationship with him or her.
You might also just have instructions in your binder in each section on how to access the information online rather than having a backup copy of each item in the binder.
- For the Current Client section of your binder (or in an electronic folder) have a list of all your current transactions that are under contract including buyers who have written an offer or sellers who have listed their property with you. Even just keeping the MLS numbers of the listings and a copy of the contract for the buyers can supply your emergency person the much-needed information they will require to take over for you.Alternatively, you may have instructions recorded with your managing broker indicating what agent should have access to the information in your files. Then they should have access to the contracts and what supporting documents are available. In that case, you might record in your binder: “Managing broker x has instructions to provide copies of contracts and documentation for all active contracts with client notification.”
- In the Potential Clients section, you can include an updated printed copy of your potential clients with a brief explanation of where you are at with them. You can make a very simple table that has their name and contact information along with whether they are a potential buyer or seller and their timeline. Then make sure to include your last contact and important deadlines. For example, you might show that Jane Doe is a potential seller who wants to list by September 1st. If you are away on an emergency and it is August 20th, it clearly tells your emergency person that this potential client needs to be contacted. And with the contact information easily available your leads can be taken care of as well as your current clients.If you are utilizing an electronic version of the binder, include instructions regarding how a list of potential clients is accessed. You should make sure you have notes on each person recorded as well as what you have sent in terms of reports, if CMAs were done and how to access, etc. Be kind to your emergency contact, and yourself and your client by taking the time to update each potential client file every week.
- For the Contact Information section, have a master list of the people you deal with on a regular basis in your business. Include your Managing Broker, key office people, title companies, lenders, printers etc. Anyone you require to do your job that the Emergency Person might need to contact.
- For the Important Deadlines section include a hard copy of your calendar. Have it become a part of your process to add important deadlines to this section in the binder. Deadlines would include closing dates, condition removal dates, financial deadline dates etc. Make sure you know when your license is due for renewal, your MLS dues are required to be paid, etc, so there is no lull that would cause problems.Of course, if you are tracking this electronically, provide information on how to access an electronic version of the calendar, such as your Google calendar or on Outlook.
- For the Family Contact Information section include the names and contact information for key family members that may need to be contacted to find you in the event you go “dark”. You might be unavailable by cell phone and there may be some very critical issue that your emergency person needs a quick response for and they can’t find you. Having this information makes the emergency person’s job that much easier.
- For the Database section of the binder, include an updated hardcopy of your database OR if you have this electronically and you are comfortable giving someone else access, then include directions for that access. That way when you get a message or calls are forwarded to your emergency person, they are able to reference whether or not this is a person you have a relationship with and how to proceed.
If you are giving this some thought and considering who this emergency person should be, remember to find someone who you trust and someone who is not too busy to step in for you and give your clients the kind of attention you would want them to receive.
My recommendation is to make sure you think through all the details of your business to make sure you have it covered. I suggest sitting down with your emergency contact and meeting up front, letting them know where your binder is, etc. Your managing broker should also be privy to the plan and you should have a signed document on file that outlines your wishes.