When I think about how many hours most people work per week, I think you would agree that 40 hours is what most people would guess to be the average hours that most people work in a typical business setting. When I think about real estate agents, I think you would also agree that most real estate agents can work many hours one week and less another week. In other words, their work hours are flexible and therefore do not conform to the “corporate average”.
When I am working with an agent and they tell me that they want to increase their income, the first question I want to get answered is what their hourly rate has been the past couple of years. The solution for making more money can be to increase the number of hours you work, but there should also be a strategy to make more per hour. If you want to double your income, the solution isn’t to double the amount of hours worked. You may have more money on paper if you do that, but you would have given up more of your life to get there. Unless the ratio between the extra income and the extra time makes sense, you could simply be spinning your wheels for nothing.
Here is a classic example:
Let’s say you looked at your income for the past two years and, for the purpose of making it easy to make my point, let’s assume you earned $100,000 gross commission.
If you truly worked 40 hours per week for 52 weeks of the year then your hourly rate of pay is approximately $48.08 per hour. But what if you worked only 46 weeks per year and you took 6 weeks of vacation? That would increase your hourly rate to over $54.34 per hour.
So you can see that it is VERY important to get real about the time you spend working in real estate. You can’t just say that you make $100,000 per year without looking at how many hours of your life it took to earn that.
I often tell agents that if they are happy with the amount of money they make but they want more quality of life and even more money, I tell them to increase their time off. This not only gives them an automatic raise but it also gives them better quality of life.
I had an agent recently that bragged about making over $400,000 in gross commission. He told me he wanted to make even more money and perhaps take time off to enjoy his life. But when I asked him to go through his calendar and his email to see how much time he was REALLY spending working he was shocked to see that most of his email communication began around 7 a.m. and ended close to midnight on many days. Basically he was working over 16 hours most days.
So is you take his gross income of $400,000 and look at the total number of hours he was working (6 days per week, approximately 16 hours per day totals 96 hours per week or 4992 hours per year), he made $80.12 per hour.
Even though his gross income of $400,000 is four times higher than my example of the other agent who made $100,000, he did not make four times the hourly rate the other agent made.
So you can see how important it is to monitor the TIME you spend working not just the GROSS INCOME you are making. When you want to give yourself a raise, the quickest and easiest way to do that is to simply double or triple the amount of vacation you take because you will still strive to make more this year than you did last year, but you will do it in less time when you take that extra time off. Perhaps simply adding a dedicated day off every week would help you to have more quality of life and make more per hour.
The other thing that determining your per hour rate will do is help you prequalify clients better because you know the TRUE cost of wasting time on clients that aren’t serious about buying or selling. It also helps you make smarter decisions about cutting commission, working with companies that supply you with leads but only pay you 50% of the commission, or referring out business that is not in your field or area of expertise.
Also remember, we are just looking at gross commission, not net commission. Once you take out your expenses, take a second look at how much you are making per hour. But that is an article for another day.
Take some time to really figure out what your true hourly rate is. It will quickly put things into perspective for you. Remember, you can’t improve what you can’t measure!