What a Real Estate Administrative Assistant Can Do When Business is Slow

Depending on your market, you will experience swings in the real estate business. Sometimes these swings are seasonal, and sometimes they are due to market conditions. Here in the Midwest, our swings are typically seasonal.

In fact, here’s a breakdown of our 2015 closings by month:

  • January: 6
  • February: 3
  • March: 9
  • April: 6
  • May: 11
  • June: 12
  • July: 12
  • August: 11
  • September: 9
  • October: 13
  • November: 14
  • December: 4


As you can see, December through April, we are down in closings.

75% of our closings take place May through November which is only 7 months out of the entire year. So what are the admin staff doing in those other 5 months?


Improving Systems

Does your database need to be updated? Have your agents call through the database to make sure you have correct information. People will sometimes get new work email addresses or new cell phone numbers. It’s an easy phone call for the agents and it improves the information in your database.

If you don’t want to wait for your agent to make those calls, you can check the addresses of your past clients again the tax records. If you have a large number of expired, cancelled, or FSBO leads in your database, check those addresses also. Those people may have moved in which case you can delete them from the database altogether.

Check your database against Facebook. More and more, having a Facebook profile is nearly as essential as having a phone number or email address these days. Log in to your agent’s Facebook and either friend the people in your database or ask them to like your team’s business page.

Update your checklists. This is crucial. How many times have you added something to the checklist mentally, but you haven’t updated the actual checklist because you’ve been too busy? That sort of mental hurdling is exhausting. Do yourself a favor and get your checklists in tip top shape so you’ll be all ready to go for the next busy season.

Get your marking calendar in order. Figure out what you are going to send out and when. Is it a blog post twice a week? Is it a monthly newsletter? Is it a postcard every three week? Is it a quarterly event?

And don’t just decide what you are going to send; actually write out your marketing pieces. Right now, when it’s slow. Because when it’s busy, you’ll be too stressed out to think creatively about what marketing message you want to send.

Update your scoreboard. Are there other number you need to be tracking now that things have changed? And things should have changed. You increased volume or units, you’ve added people to the team, you’ve added lead generation systems, you’ve increased your marking, etc.

Are you tracking how many leads you are receiving from each source? Are you tracking the days on market for each listing? There’s plenty of information to track, but deciding which information is key. Make it a point to have a meeting with your lead agent to discuss what numbers are important to the growth of the business.

Learning New Technology


Since I started in real estate, I’ve had to teach myself the following programs:

  • Publisher
  • Excel
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • HTML code
  • Google Voice
  • WordPress

It is so important for you to educate yourself on new technology. Real estate is largely about being a marketing and media company. If you don’t know how to create marketing pieces, either print or online, you are not doing your job.

I am finding that in the early stages of being part of a team, the agent largely relies on making outbound phone calls. These calls are going to people he knows such as past clients, family, and friends. And the calls are going to people he doesn’t know such as expired or cancelled listings, FSBOs, and to the homeowners surrounding his listings.

Like everything though, there are diminishing returns. He can’t keep increasing his production just by making more phone calls; there are a limited number of hours in a day.

So rather than selling real estate one person at a time, it becomes crucial to reach more people. And the only way to do that is through marketing.

You can create a marketing piece that gets mailed to thousands of people. Those thousands are likely to look at the message for three seconds (the time it takes to sort though the mail to your marketing piece, glance at it, and throw it in the recycle bin). But, you’ve just reached thousands. How long would it take your agent to dial 1,000 phone numbers? You get my point?

Researching New Systems

Now’s the time to get your hands on some trials. Some systems have free 14-30 day trials you can use to test-drive the system and see if it will work for you and your team.


Insightly.com – 14 day free trial

Topproducer8i.com – free demo

Contactually.com – 30 day free trial

Brivity.com – free live demo

Seizethemarket.com – free demo

Boomeranggmail.com – free basic subscription

Mixmax.com – free basic subscription

Yesware.com – free trial

Adobe Creative Cloud – free trial

Commitment to Excellence – video demonstration


Now’s the time to invest in some books that will help you become a better assistant. There’s no cheaper education available to you than books.

Two that I received for Christmas which I’m especially looking forward to reading are 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More and Riding Shotgun: The Role of the COO.

I’m also looking forward to reading a series of books for administrative assistants by Joan Burge:

  • Who Took My Pen…Again?: Secrets from Dynamic Executive Assistants
  • Underneath it All: Postgraduate Level Revelations Lift Administrative Assistants to New Heights
  • Become an Inner Circle Assistant: How to Be a Star in Your Profession and Achieve Inner Circle Status!

Taking a Break

This one is the simplest of them all. The admin staff on our team are paid a salary, not hourly. So there are some days where we go home at 3:00 in the afternoon because all the work is done for the day. We don’t have to worry about our paychecks being short because we didn’t work a full 40-hour week.

There is nothing wrong at all with taking a break. We sometimes work late or work a few hours on weekends during the busy season. So when the slow season comes around, we time to enjoy the holidays and just relax.

Being paid a salary means we don’t have to keep track of our hours and we are always paid the same amount whether we worked 50 hours during a week in the summer or 30 hours during a week in the winter.

If this is an arrangement  you can work out with your agent, I highly encourage you to implement this. It cuts down on paperwork and it’s one less thing to stress over, leaving more brain power for the important stuff. Now truly, this requires that you have a relationship with your agent built solidly on trust. If you’ve proven yourself trustworthy, there is every incentive for you to receive this salary structure.


What do you like to do when it’s slow around your office? Share your own tips in the comments. Or, you can always drop me a email: egilbert AT kw DOT com!


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