You’ve probably heard the saying “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” It simply means that nobody can do everything equally well. If you find yourself constantly trying to juggle all of the demands of your professional life as a real estate agent or broker, you may realize that you are better at some tasks than others. For those you need help with, it’s good idea to think about outsourcing to a freelance professional. Here are eleven tips for creating an effective and productive relationship with the person you choose.
Consider which tasks lend themselves to outsourcing
When outsourcing support services, think through the following questions:
- What tasks take up the most time for me each week? Each month?
- Which tasks am I weakest in?
- Which tasks do I dread the most?
- Which tasks do I worry about even after they’re done?
- Which tasks earn the most money for my real estate business?
Generally, you want to outsource those tasks that take up a great deal of your time and provide little return on the time you’ve invested.
For example, you may find that as a real estate agent, most of the moneymaking activity in your business comes from face-to-face listing and buyer presentations and time spent on the phone. However, you may be spending hours each week working on general accounting, tax preparation, and administrative tasks. Outsourcing to a CPA and virtual assistant (VA) would free up time that you could put to work bringing in more business each week.
Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
We all like to think that we’re good at everything we do and some of us pride ourselves on the level of activity we can sustain. The reality is that, while you may be able to do everything, that doesn’t mean you should do everything. Get real with yourself about what is working and what is not and look for areas where you can benefit from loosening the reins.
Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations
If you’ve decided to find someone to help you out, start by asking around for recommendations. You may find that many of your friends and colleagues work with VAs, marketing professionals, photographers, copywriters, graphic designers, or financial advisors and planners. They may be able to direct you to people who have proven themselves through ongoing excellent performance.
Consider freelancer platforms
Freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr offer the opportunity to find professionals with a wide variety of skills and expertise. There you will find options whether you’re looking for someone for a small one-off project or for a long-term, ongoing professional relationship. Look for client reviews and platform ratings as well as the number of jobs completed and the last time the freelancer completed a project. All of these will provide you with assistance in your search.
Conduct a smart online search
You may decide to look around for a well-qualified professional online. Look for a well-designed website or check out work samples and testimonials on their social media platforms to gauge the reputation of the freelancer. If they’ve been featured in major media or on a podcast or webinar, they may be a well-regarded expert in their field. Finally, consider searching for them on YouTube to get a sense of how they communicate and the level of expertise they offer.
Set clear expectations
When you reach out, make sure that you give them a sense of the scope of work and your timeline for completion. Answer the following:
- Will this be short-term or ongoing?
- What type of communication works best?
- What will they need to get started?
- How available are you for additional questions or instructions?
- What do they charge?
- Is that a ballpark figure or a guaranteed estimate of charges?
- How will you be billed?
Talk through the process with the person you choose to make sure you both understand expectations upfront.
Communicate in writing when possible
While you may discuss your project by phone, especially in the beginning, make sure that one of you is following up with an email outlining the main expectations related to cost, schedule, and other concrete details. That way there will be less chance of miscommunication and misunderstanding and you’ll both have something to refer back to should discrepancies arise.
Treat the freelancer as a professional
A well-qualified freelancer is not a hobbyist and is not working freelance as a casual side-gig. He or she has built a business based on experience and expertise. The freelancer deserves to be treated like a professional and paid for his or her time. While you will want to discuss the details of your project, it is insulting to quibble over clearly established expectations or to question how and why the freelancer charges what they do.
Pay invoices promptly
In that same vein, the freelancer is probably not a big business that can afford to wait weeks or months for you to pay an invoice. Generally, freelancer payments are due ahead of delivery or promptly upon receipt of an invoice. Most freelancer platforms require payment upfront, so take this into account when you schedule your project.
Provide reviews or testimonials for great work
Word of mouth is how most freelancers build and sustain their businesses. If they’ve performed well for you and you’ve established a good working relationship, they may come to you for a review or testimonial. Keep in mind the impact your good words can have on their future success and be willing to respond if asked.
Don’t limit yourself to help in the office
As you’re determining whether to outsource some of your tasks, don’t forget to think through the quality of the time you spend at home. It may be that the biggest time drain in your week is going to the grocery store or running errands. It may be working in the yard or cleaning your home. Consider outsourcing these personal tasks as well if they are taking up too much time or energy.
Remember, your time away from work is precious and intended for rest, renewal, and self-care. It is just as important and worthy as the time you spend in the office.