Why Our Real Estate Team Doesn’t Have an Operations Manual

Everyone has something that they’ve been putting off.

The elephant in the room.

The one thing that has just defeated them and they can’t fight it anymore.

My friend Scott wrote about it on his blog: 6 Simple Steps to Kick Failure in the Teeth

For me, that one thing has always been the operations manual. From the time I became an executive assistant to the present, I have had this project hanging over my head. And I’ve made several attempts over the years to create an operations manual. I’ve tried putting one together in Word, and I’ve tried creating an online version using a WordPress site.

I actually got pretty far using the WordPress site. Both my transaction coordinator, Courtney, and I took our checklists and wrote a post or created a video for each step on the checklist.

The problem is, our checklists are ever-evolving. They are living creatures with lives of their own. As our needs change, we change the checklists. As new team members are added, we change the checklists. As we take on new territories and expand our markets, our checklists change.

Updating the operations manual to reflect those changes was just too overwhelming.

Operations Manual

So as my rainmaker, Ron, and I were sitting down to create our 2016 business plan, we reflected back on our 2015 business plan. I had included the task of creating and updating the operations manual as part of the 2015 plan. You know, the one that got halfway done and then never updated?

Ron let me off the hook over it. He said it wasn’t that important and that we could let it go.

I didn’t really realize how much energy that was taking up in my brain. Now, I didn’t think about it every day. But whenever I would review our business plan and saw it sitting there still undone, a part of me became exasperated about it. A reminder of work left undone. A reminder that I was failing at something.

And here’s the funny thing. It’s not like we don’t know each other’s jobs. If any one of us were to suddenly leave the team, the other members can cover that position until someone new could be found. We each know the basics that need to be done to get by. Now, our team is small (5 people) and the newest member of the team has been with us for 18 months. So I think our team is uniquely capable of these feat if necessary.

But for those of you with larger teams, who maybe still don’t have an operations manual, or if you do, it’s outdated, I would say this: let it go. Spend the time it would take to write/create your operations manual and cross-train the other members of your team. Do each other’s job often enough that you know if someone has to leave the team, permanently or temporarily, you know you can get by.

Relieve yourself of the burden of being responsible for the operations manual and then you can spend your energy elsewhere, like creating new marketing strategies or honing your customer service skills.


Have you given up trying to write an operations manual? Or have you written one and want to tell us about it? Leave a comment below! As always, you can email me with any questions at egilbert AT kw DOT com.


1 Comment

  1. Samantha Lee

    Wow, interesting. I have been working on my operations manual for sometime now too, I am much farther than I have ever been. But I do not have a team yet, As I just hired my first buyers agent. I wished that I had the operations manual done though so that I could easily tell her what to do and when, because it is all in my head. For me, I think an operations manual is a must because i will be hiring my first assistant in the next few months and having everything down on paper will help me train her better.

    It’s SO funny that you talk about your own website, just a few days ago I spent several hours looking propergram built in my CRM that help with the sales process and I realized it was going to take too long to get it into that program expecailly becasue I didn’t have it all on paper yet and then somehow I was looking at website templates for designing an operation manual online, I thouhgt oh this would be really cool! That didn’t last long..I realized i should just keep it on paper for now. SO I spent several hours looking at what program I should use to sort and put the manual on, You see right now I have my first buyers manual all in PDF form, I have taken several pages of several different pdfs and word documents and put them all together as one. The problem was that I can not edit them very easily. And when I gave it to my buyers agent I realized needed to add some more materials in there. SOO I as I was saying I spent several hours researching what program I should use..I decided to stick with word. I am comfortable with it. I don’t know what I am going to do with the pdfs that I can not edit, I guess what I will do is just have an appendix and have it in a folder.

    I wish I could let go, I guess..I have spent so much time and effort on it, I want it to be finished as well as I think that it will really help me and my growing team.


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