In your mind, picture this:  The hustle and bustle of a real estate office.  Agents are on the phone making deals.  The copy machine runs in the background.  Clients are walking in and walking out.  There’s chaos everywhere. 

I don’t know of many offices like that anymore, especially post corona.  When we started Deerwood Realty and looked at available office space, it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to lease.  The days of random potential home buyers and sellers just walking into the office are long gone.    With computers and scanners, we can all work from anywhere.

We run a super lean office.  There’s a number of reasons for this, but one we are focusing on here is that I’d noticed years ago that there are a lot of people in an office that don’t seem to do much.  Are they “bullshit jobs” as coined by David Graeber?  I don’t know. 

The office administrative assistant’

I don’t want to run anyone down, but I once worked in a real estate office where we had someone who sat at the front desk.  The job was to answer and route phone calls.  It was a full-time job.  Unfortunately, there was no oversight, and there weren’t too many calls.  Half the time was spent just talking to the people in the office.  The other was trying to avoid her.  She seemed to have a lot of issues, daily.  One day, she just stopped coming to work.  When we looked at the computer, her searches had been archived.  “How to quit your job” and “Best real estate companies to work for” were the two top searches.  Can you imagine paying someone to sit and search for their next job on your dollar?  When we started Deerwood Realty, we decided that we didn’t need an administrative assistant. 

Phone calls from hell

The one reason I thought companies had an administrative assistant was to get through what I like to call phone calls from hell.  These calls take up all of your time, don’t contribute to any sales or revenue, and leave you wondering what you did to deserve having to listen to them.  This past week has been perfect for these types of calls.  A sampling;

Me:  Deerwood Realty, this is John 

Caller  Yeah, Mike, Trudy passed out at the lunch table again.

Me:  I’m sorry to hear that

Caller:  She was eating in the cafeteria and just fell off of her chair.  I already called Max.  It’s probably time to put her in the home

Me:  I think you might have the wrong number….I don’t know a Trudy.

The rest of the day, I’m worrying about a Trudy who sounds like she needs medical attention. 

A little while later I get another call, and it went to voicemail

Caller from voicemail:  Hi John, I was curious about 3322 Violet st in St. Louis…please call me back immediately.

I call back

Me:  Hey, it’s John from Deerwood Realty, I saw that you called about 3322 Violet st?

Caller(chaotic screaming in the background) :  Hey John, thanks for calling about 3322 Violet st.  Do you know if it’s for sale?

Me:  I looked in my system and it sold about 6 months ago, but it’s not currently listed for sale.

Caller:  Ok, I live on the street and the workers at the house stole my dog.  My daughter is blind and can’t talk and these people stole my dog and I want it back.

Me:  I don’t know anything about the people at the house or the dog, how did you get my number?

Caller:  I just want my dog back.  They stole my dog.

Me:  I’m sorry, I’m just a real estate agent.  I don’t know how I can be of any assistance for your missing dog.

So now I’ve got Trudy who is needing medical attention and a woman is convinced that some workers stole her dog at a house I didn’t list for sale.

The recorded “I am a buyer” call

I usually get two recorded calls a week from a “lady that just happened to be driving down my street and has to buy my house” All I need to do is call such and such number and she will buy it. When it switches over to a human I tell them I am a real estate agent and they hang up.

The real estate website guy

Me:  Deerwood Realty, this is John

Caller:  Hi John, we spoke about 6 months about our website company

Me:  I have a website, and I don’t know anything about this

Caller:  You see, John, we have the best real estate websites for agents.  If you don’t have a website, your web visitors will go somewhere else.  Are you familiar with SEO?  Our sites come fully optimized for SEO and for an additional 300.00 a month we will add SEM.  Does that sound like something you would be interested in?

Me:  No

This is the modern real estate office.  4 calls, none of them having to do with listing or sales I am a part of, and it’s pretty much like this every day.  The sheer number of calls that have nothing to do with real estate in our office is amazing.  We spend more time with chasing down dogs and sick Trudys than doing the actual business of real estate.  The legitimate calls are maybe 10% of our total call volume. 

Does your industry work like this?  90% of calls having nothing to do with the work you do?  Leave a comment below, I’m curious to see your answers.