Until Robots Become Brokers, We Need Systems

By simplifying your workload and setting up effective systems to manage everyday tasks at your brokerage, you’ll cut down on human error and better serve your clients. Here’s one idea that doesn’t require technology.

Could a robot do your job?

In 2013, University of Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne estimated that 47 percent of total U.S. jobs could be automated by 2033. From self-driving cars to robotically assisted operations, machines are increasingly becoming more capable of performing a wide range of tasks. If that makes you feel uneasy, consider the ramifications of human error in recent years.

Most car accidents and data breaches are caused by human error, along with many disasters related to nuclear power, space exploration, and medicine. But people’s mistakes also account for a significant amount of financial loss in business, including real estate. We’re all fallible, even though we try to do our best at our jobs. As the saying goes, “to err is human.”

Don’t think human error is something that can be overcome simply by “trying harder” or “being smarter.” Even surgeons and rocket scientists make mistakes, and it’s not because they’re inept or incapable.

The solution, at least while we’re still waiting for our Matrix-like downloading capabilities, is finding a way to do our jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible. The best way to do this, I would argue, is by using systems to simplify our workload whenever possible.

It may sound overly simplistic, but systems present often-overlooked opportunities. At Renters Warehouse, systems are something that we swear by, and we have perfected them so we can consistently provide excellent service to our clients. They govern everything we do, from our client initiation process to the day-to-day nuances of property management. They’re essential for interviewing tenants and ensuring that we remain in compliance with ever-changing regulations and landlord-tenant law. In short: They’re vital to just about every sector of our operations.

Curious how systems can improve your business practices? Here’s a look at how a simple and basic system can foolproof your business processes.

Checklists? The Past Meets the Future

Ironically, one of the best systems that you can use to reduce error in your business practices is a throwback to the olden days: simple checklists.

As Atul Gawande outlines in his book The Checklist Manifesto (Metropolitan Books, 2009), everyone from trained pilots to surgeons uses checklists to ensure that nothing is forgotten, even in emergency situations. This is true for doctors, engineers, lawyers, and, yes, real estate agents and brokers—anyone who has to rely heavily on their own knowledge and experience to do their work.

Using checklists dramatically increases your effectiveness while at the same time reducing errors. In our increasingly complex world, no one can be expected to remember each and every step that’s required to do something. To hold yourself to this standard is to expect the impossible.

Create Checklists That Work

Humans are a bit more complex than programs that can be tweaked with simple code. Your checklists need to meet several important criteria:

  • They should be concise. Five to nine points per section is recommended by experts in the airline industry. Outline the most important steps, and don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. The last thing you want is to inundate yourself or your agents and staff with overly detailed lists.
  • Your checklists should “work well with others.” You should have an understandable procedure for following checklists and make them easy enough so you can pass them along to an agent or assistant for the day.
  • The best checklists are fluid. You should always keep your eye on the future, looking for ways to improve and refine your list.

Not a perfectionist? No worries. It isn’t about obsessing and holding yourself to an unrealistic standard; instead, it’s about freeing you up from the pressure of having to remember every nuance of a system each and every time. It’s also about working as efficiently as possible and doing your very best with what you have. You’ll benefit from saved time and a process that can hold you accountable while providing your clients with consistency and bolstering your reputation as a professional.

If you’re tired of human error, then consider perfecting what you do and putting it down in the form of a checklist. Take advantage of helpful online tools that make creating checklists fast and simple. Then watch as your success rate increases. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be able to get your work as close to perfection as is humanly possible.

Do you work with checklists? What areas of your work do you use them in? I’d love to know your thoughts, so leave a comment below.


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