Here’s a great idea that will save you money — fire your receptionist! OMG! You have to be kidding me! If there is one thing that’s as sure as “for sale” signs in this industry, it’s the ever-present receptionist at the local brokerage. You know the one I’m talking about. She makes slightly over minimum wage… maybe $8 per hour. She’s on the payroll for 40 hours per week, with paid vacation and benefits.
The cost to the brokerage is about $370 per week plus benefits when you count the employer FICA, the federal and state unemployment, and the paid vacation. With benefits, that works out to over $25,000 per year. Okay, that’s not the end of the world.
I agree. It would make sense if she were providing an additional $125,000 in value to your operation. (Payroll costs should be about 20% of revenue as a thumb-rule, so everyone on the payroll should produce five times their cost in value to the company.) But let’s look at the typical brokerage.
What does the receptionist actually do to provide that $125,000 in value? She answers the phone and then hands the phone off to the appropriate person because she is neither skilled enough nor experienced enough to actually answer most questions. And in most real estate companies that position is turning over faster than the agents, a third of whom turn over every year.
What that means is that just about the time she is actually competent to answer the phone, and then look up the appropriate person on her personnel log and transfer the call or (God forbid) take a message (that ultimately falls into a black hole), she has decided to move on to greener pastures.
In the brokerage where I began my real estate career, we had five receptionists during my two-year affiliation. What’s worse was that hardly a week went by when there wasn’t some personal drama that demanded her immediate attention so she was late, left early, or absent altogether. Those days, her chores fell on the other staff, making them less efficient.
I determined that when I opened my own company we would not have a receptionist. It’s now been six years, and I’ve saved $150,000 and untold drama. But how can I not have a receptionist? That’s pretty easy actually. Every agent has his or her own mobile phone, and the agents either advertise those numbers or they advertise the hotline number we provide in their virtual office technology.
My agents own their own signs, so the numbers on the sign are theirs. Their hotline calls come in, and are routed to them seamlessly, while inserting the caller information into their client manager where they can followup and keep notes. The agents never miss their calls, and I don’t have to be in the middle.
But what about walk-in business? I have a sign at the receptionist desk that says if there is nobody at the desk to ring the bell. (There is never anyone there.) But you know what? Someone always gets up and answers the door. Problem solved. Let’s face it, desks are cheaper than people. And desks never call in sick or get involved in office drama.
Those walk-ins are rarely customers by the way — it’s generally the mailman, UPS, or an agent dropping off a contract for an agent. In six years and in three prominent locations, I’ve had less than a dozen walk-in customers, and all were handled without a receptionist. Amazing!
So, if you are a broker or if you’re thinking about opening your own brokerage, think about this: What could you do with an extra $150,000 over the next six years? I say fire the receptionist and use the money on something that will return value. Or maybe buy a nice boat and get away for a while! That’s what I’d do. And that’s Max-Bang!
View all articles in this series:
- Max-Bang Series: Starting with Basics
- Max-Bang Series: Open House ’til it Sells!
- Max-Bang Series: Become a New Home Specialist
- Max-Bang Series: Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse!
- Max-Bang Series: Help a FSBO Go Hi-Tech!
- Max-Bang Series: Let a Lender Pay Your Ad Bill!
- Max-Bang Series: Build Your Seller a Website!
- Max-Bang Series: Fire Your Receptionist!
- Max-Bang Series: Incorporate Yourself!
- Max-Bang Series: Just Say NO to E&O!
- Max-Bang Series: Fire Your Phone Company!
- Max-Bang Series: Become the Resident Genius!
- Max-Bang Series: Start a Relocation Company!
- Max-Bang Series: Free Advertising!
- Max-Bang Series: Add Video for Free!
- Max-Bang Series: Hire Part-time Agents!
- Max-Bang Series: Add an Admin Fee!
- Max-Bang Series: Free Electronic Document Archival!
- Max-Bang Series: Making a Great Referral!
- Max-Bang Series: Lose the Overhead!
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Matt Jones is the founder and CEO of FavoriteAgent.com, nationally syndicated columnist, broker, and best selling author of LCM: The Secret to Success in the New Age of Real Estate, The Ultimate Listing Presentation, Traffic: How to Sell Fast and Net More, Becoming a Mega-Producer, The Science of Online Marketing, 10 Steps to Real Estate Success, 20 Questions: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Real Estate but Were Afraid to Ask, The Virtual Office Model, Max-Bang!, and The NEW Ultimate Listing Presentation. Jones' North Carolina-based company has been profiled by major media outlets as an innovator and a pioneer in the industry, and CNN's Pulse on America claimed FavoriteAgent.com is "changing the way real estate is being done in America." This article is syndicated in the following locations: iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, BlogMattBlog.com, RealBlogging.com, NewsGeni.us, TheCommissionCheck.com, RevampedAgent.com, and now Amazon Kindle.