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Dream Big!

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Our expert shows this broker how to harness her energy and manage her time.

Georgia native Alisa Stone-Herring may be under 30, but she’s already accomplished what some people can only dream. A multimillion-dollar producer licensed in both Georgia and Florida, she’s earned the Graduate, Realtor® Institute and Certified Residential Specialist designations, and she serves on the Bay County Association of Realtors’ board of directors. Just last year, she started her own brokerage—Stone Real Estate Group LLC in Panama City Beach.

Her specialty is second homes (preconstruction condos, beach and golf course properties). Most of her business comes from referrals and repeat customers in the Atlanta area (where she spends the bulk of her marketing dollars). She promotes herself as “The Georgia Peach Who Sells the Beach.”

Although she’s entertained the idea of recruiting a sales staff, she’s content to be a one-person show for now. “Most successful companies are managed by a non-competing broker, but I’m not in a position to not sell real estate,” she says. “Not to say that it won’t change, but I don’t see myself stuck behind a desk.” She gets to the office at 9 a.m., but she’s happiest out in the field and tends to put off the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business until the last minute. “I’m at my most productive from 5 to 7 p.m., and I probably do about eight hours’ worth of work in that time,” she says. “I moved here when the market was through the roof.” As the market began to slow down, so too did her motivation. “Sometimes it takes until noon for inspiration to come,” she says.

Bring in the Expert
Real estate coach Bob Corcoran agreed to evaluate Stone-Herring’s situation. Here’s what he had to say.

1. Rewind and Unwind
Corcoran thinks it’s nothing short of phenomenal that Stone-Herring has accomplished so much so soon in her career—but he wants her to slow down. “The best advice I can give you at this point, Alisa, is to take a step back and breathe,” Corcoran says.

In an effort to prove herself and gain people’s respect, she felt she had no choice but to stay in fast-forward mode. 

“You want to get everything done yesterday, but let’s not throw more fuel on this fire,” Corcoran adds. “You must work no more than 50 hours a week and take a minimum of one day off. All successful CEOs take time off for their own needs.” Taking one day off will help prevent burnout and re-energize her for the workweek, he says.

2. Master Your Days
It’s imperative for Stone-Herring to take control of her time—especially in a slower market, when procrastination can easily become chronic. “First thing each morning, you need to review your day and plan what you’re going to do in 30-minute increments,” says Corcoran.

He recommends that she get the non-dollar-productive activities (i.e., administrative tasks such as checking her voice mail, reading and sending e-mails, calling vendors, reviewing files and preparing follow-up) out of the way first. Then, from 10 a.m. until noon she can work on dollar-productive activities like prospecting. “If you do only two hours of dollar-productive activities every day—for a total of 10 hours each week—you’ll be very productive,” says Corcoran. “But you have to be on the phone every single day.”

The hours after lunch are ideal for follow-up calls and going out to appointments with buyers and sellers, he says. “That will lead you right in to 5 p.m. Salespeople also like the 5 to 7 p.m. time slot for prospecting because more people are at home then, but if you do work during that time make sure it’s on dollar-productive activities only. Sending e-mails is dollar productive—if it’s related to buying and selling.”

To give her an idea of where to start, he suggests that she map out an ideal weekly schedule. “When you compare how you’re spending your time now with our schedule, you’ll be shocked at how much time you’re wasting,” he says.

“Set a goal to stay working every day until you get one new appointment,” Corcoran continues. If you get one a day, that’s five a week—and 260 a year. Even if you’re a horrible closer and you only sell 25 percent of those, you’ve sold 50 homes.”

3. Systematize Contacts
Stone-Herring keeps all her contacts on an Excel spreadsheet, which she updates with each new prospect. Corcoran suggests that she buy a real estate–specific contact management program that will help her maintain her contacts and plan her daily schedule. “I’m more of an on-the-go kind of guy, so I like TopProducer because you can access it online. Another program, Agent Office, resides on your desktop.” [See list of contact management programs on page 38.]

4. Get a Smartphone
Because Stone-Herring is a one-person operation, follow-up is entirely in her hands. “Getting back with people is huge,” Corcoran says, adding that she should strive to get back to people the same day they contact her. He recommends that she buy a handheld smartphone, such as a BlackBerry or an iPhone, to help her stay in touch when she’s out in the field. “You will be able to respond on the fly to every inquiry about your listings and your services. And you can even pull up your contact management program on your smartphone.” [See list of smartphones on page 38.]

5. Watch Your Words
Finally, Corcoran wants Stone-Herring to change her self-talk. In a down market, negative thinking tends to be contagious, he says, and when you listen to naysayers and react in fear, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “You are what you think you are. Look at some of the nonempowering language you’re using, Alisa. Trying is a failing word. Anytime we try, we usually don’t succeed, right? When you say, ‘I’m bad at time management,’ you’re setting yourself up to stay that way. Start your day with positive affirmations, such as ‘I will master my day’ and ‘I’m the CEO of my organization’ and you’ll become more dollar productive.”

This column provides advice from industry experts concerning marketing, technology and business issues. It won the Silver Award in the 2007 Best Column category from the Florida Magazine Association.