Become More Productive and Close More Deals:
My Brief Guide on Hacking Schedule, Follow-Ups, and Faster Commute in the San Francisco Leasing Market
Despite the generic title, the things in this list will actually help you to be more productive, close more deals, be more creative, and ease your mind.
1. Wake Up an Hour Early
I am not exactly sure why this works, but waking up an hour earlier than needed has a profound effect on the day by making room for my mind to map its thoughts. I started waking up an hour early so that I practice the routine from the book ‘Miracle Morning,’ by Hal Elrod. By waking up early, I am saying ‘This time is for myself.’ I Meditate, journal, read a devotional, read affirmations and do a brief exercise to get my heart rate up. Each part only takes 10 minutes or less.
Why this works
This whole morning routine is geared around getting your mind into clarity for the rest of the day. It allows you to get clear in a time in the morning that is free of incoming calls, chores, and worries of the day that will come on their own time. This morning time is for you and your mind. No one can invade that time because you have carved it out as a priority for yourself and the thoughts in your mind. It will give you a peacefulness throughout the day because you have already told yourself this is a time of stress free exercise.
2. Make a ‘Must Do List’ So That You Can Get All Your Plans Down Right Away (essentially speed up the decision making process)
This one can be tough. There are all sorts of articles on ‘To do’ lists. Some say write down 10 things, others say only write what fits on a sticky note, others say don’t make lists — use your calendar. We all know that there are certain parts of our jobs that are most vital. The point of the list is to move from task to task as quickly as possible. That is why making a list is the first step. Take 3 minutes and make a list. After that, your brain is focused on that task, and not wondering about what you forgot.
“Limiting Choices allows room for more clarity in the mind” — Andy Puddicombe
For me to be successful, I know that I have to post fresh ads daily for the apartments I am renting. I require myself to create 10 ads before moving to my next task. Second, is to answer emails from the night before. Truthfully, like most people, I am answering emails all day with questions, leads, and other stuff that hits my inbox. There’s also a satisfaction of completion when completing a task.
3. Getting Around Faster
This section is dedicated to literally getting from place to place faster.
In my first week of college, I only had about $250, and I spent $100 of it on a longboard skateboard. Since I didn’t have a car, I needed a way to get around campus. The skateboard allowed me to get from class to class quickly, and I didn’t need to lock it up like a bike — I just took it into the classroom with me. My mom thought it was a stupid purchase, but it turned out to be one of my best purchases. I used the skateboard for years, and ended up saving lots of time by getting around campus quickly.
We all know that sales is a number game. Typically I show 5–15 apartments (in different buildings) each day. When I first started leasing apartments, I had more leads than I had time for appointments. Now, driving in San Francisco is one of the hardest ways to get around with traffic and lack of parking spots. Plus paying the meter. All this takes away time over the course of the day, which means less appointments, which creates less sales. I was wasting time driving from building to building. So I started using Uber and Lyft. That saved some time, but started adding up quickly in costs when you’re using it several times a day. Luckily, Scoot is around. It’s a company that has electric scooters all around town. You just pick it up and drop it off close to your destination. It’s a probably the best way to get around if you don’t own a scooter. If you can ride a bike in the city, then you can ride a scooter. They top out at 25 mph. Eventually I bought my own scooter. I estimate I reduce time traveling by 50%. I can get to the front of traffic lines at red lights, park it inbetween cars, and best of all I fill it up once a week for $3.50.
4. Get Ready to Walk
I don’t wear nice dress shoes anymore. When I’m with a client, my goal is to find them an apartment, so we walk from building to building looking at apartments. Often times, a person will be coming from out of state and want to see a cheaper apartment located in a run down neighborhood. Not knowing the neighborhood, they quickly discover it’s not where they want to live. So we walk up and down hills, in and out of buildings until we find the right apartment for them. This happens multiple times a day, and the miles add up. I typically prepare myself to show someone 4 or 5 apartments. The more I can show them, the more likely they will rent with me. I wear tennis shoes most days because of all the walking.
5. Pack Your Bag
Most days I wear a small backpack with essential items. The key is to have the right items I will need on a day to day basis without getting too heavy. Remember - I’m walking 4–5 miles a day with this thing on.
A. A backup battery (to charge my phone when it dies)
B. Headphones to wear on the train
C. A book or magazine
D. An IPad (or computer but computers get heavy lugging around all day)
E. A pen and notebook
G. Lunch (bring a lunch to save money)
H. Water Bottle (don’t stay thirsty, my friends)
I. Business cards
J. Toilet Paper (When you gotta go…)
Bonus Items: A raincover for my backpack so it doesn’t get soaked!
Double Bonus Item: Rain Shoe Covers!
6. Lunch — Eating Light is Right
This item is often overlooked on most people’s day. There is a profound effect on afternoon productivity based on the meal that is eaten at lunch. Eating a heavy meal will most certainly put me in an afternoon slump. That is because it takes more energy to process a heavy meal. That energy takes away from mental focus, willingness to be active, and desire to make the extra effort that might be needed to close a deal. Next time you are feeling sluggish at 2pm, think back to what you ate at lunch. It was probably something heavy. Try a salad with meat in it. Avoid carbs and cheesy things.
7. Appointments — Make them Chase you
Going back and forth with a person trying to decide a time to meet can take longer than the apartment showing. The texting and emailing already adds up in valuable time. I decided to let the prospect make an appointment instead. First, I was using Calendly, but then I found something better with the suggestion from my boss. It’s called Showmojo — it allows people to make an appointment online in a timeframe that I choose. Then they get a reminder and verification. It also makes sure they are ready to move in within the next 3 weeks, if they say no, then they can’t book an appointment. It saves me a lot of time and headache. I also make most of the appointments during the daytime. No need to wait until 7pm for someone to get off work. Have them come in the day and show them 3–4 apartments so its worth their time and yours.
8. Qualify the Prospect
A lesson I have learned from my peers, is to make sure the prospect is ready to rent. I wrote a separate article for prospects on how to find an apartment in San Francisco. How do you know if someone isn’t ready to rent?
“I’m flexible on move date” and “I just started looking…”
‘Flexible’ means they aren’t that serious. ‘Just started’ is ambiguous, and requires some more digging. Have they given notice to your current landlord?
“I want to see apartments in the Sunset and Downtown”
Do they really know what neighborhood they want to live? Contrasting neighborhoods means they aren’t ready. Have them check out neighborhoods on their own.
“I don’t know my credit score”
Do they know their credit score? creditkarma.com is a free credit score! Sometimes it’s too late by the time they apply, but its a good question to ask.
9. Connecting with Prospects
I have met some of the most interesting people by showing apartments. Every person has a story and I intend to learn it in my short time with them. I really like to know what their interests are, and if they are working on anything exciting. I discover new technologies and companies. I was able to learn about cryptocurrency, biomedics, and all sorts of startups. They need to trust that you are able to know about a neighborhood, the building, and the lease terms.
10. Read and Know the Lease Agreement
The San Francisco Apartment Association lease is 40 pages long. It isn’t too much different than other leases, except that has a lot of little nuances that bring up questions. When I was new, people had a lot of questions about the lease and I kept asking my boss what the answer was. Then someone gave me advice to read the lease, because it has all the answers. It has most of the answers that I need. This helps to save time going back and forth with my boss. The lease gets signed faster now, and I can move on to new clients to show them apartments.
11. Setting Boundaries
I enjoy helping my clients find housing — but to be very clear, I am not managing the property (nor do I get paid to manage it). That is the job of the property manager. So when a client contacts me and has a problem with the apartment, I ask them to email the management and CC me on it so I am aware of what’s happening. I tell them I am not the person to correct the problem, but I can point them in the right direction. Getting into other problems that are out of my control derail my energy and focus. Setting boundaries is important to stay on track.
12. Consume and Create
I use public transportation every day to get to work. About 2 hours. I use that time to read books, listen to podcasts, or answer emails. I have learned a lot by consuming this information. But there is more than just consuming information. It’s a good practice to write. It doesn’t have to be for anyone, you can just write for yourself. The more I write, the better I become. I have a list of things I want to write about and the list grows faster than I write the articles for it. Writing is important because it helps to create my own narrative.
How do I stay in front of past contacts without begging them for referrals? A newsletter seems like the best idea. I don’t have one going yet, but I do have a format planned for it. I hope my newsletter tells contacts what I have been up to, an article that gets them to think, and maybe something funny. I get some great content from The Hustle, Medium (Duh) and a few others worth reading. If I get some crappy generic newsletter that doesn’t bring value, I unsubscribe.