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2010-05-05 16:28:30

The ABCs of Systems: More Money, Less Work

It was the key to Ray Kroc’s success before McDonalds became a household name. Yes, Kroc’s start was humble to be sure: he was a 52-year-old peddler of malted milk machines. But it was a special day when he entered the McDonald’s brothers’ burger shop to sell them one of those machines. While he was there, Kroc’s proverbial light bulb went off – it was an idea that would shoot McDonalds into the stratosphere of business legend.
The idea was this: a system. He knew that if he could add a system to the burger business, then the whole deal could operate on autopilot. And that’s exactly what he did. Every McDonalds now has a straightforward system – basically as simple as a checklist of what has to be done to make a franchise successful. Organized, manageable, efficient and most of all profitable.
So what, Bob? We sell real estate, not burgers. True enough. The reason I share this tidbit is that Realtors can tap the power of systems not only to add serious income, but also to have a life outside of work. Believe me, it works. I’ve helped hundreds of clients set up their office so that operations work much more smoothly and with much less effort.
I’d like share some basics to get you thinking about systems for your office. I’ve included below some fundamental elements (that you’ll find are as easy as ABC) you can use to begin putting systems in place. I strongly suggest you involve all of your office personnel in this process. Not only do more heads yield more and better ideas, but when everyone contributes, you get more buy-in for any changes that come about from your efforts.
1.      Analyze – First, analyze your operations as they stand today. Do you feel there’s room for improvement? Do you get the impression there’s waste and inefficiencies? Do you often feel rushed because of “all the little things” that need to get done? Do you sometimes get the feeling you’re forgetting something important in your day-to-day activities? If you’re answering yes, you’re likely a good candidate for systems.
2.      Breakdown – Next, breakdown your office. What are all the parts (the activities) that make up the whole that is your office? Some examples would be sales, lead generation, advertising, administrative functions, employee training and prospecting. And then, breakdown each of these tasks to get to the root of how your office actually functions. So an example of breaking down sales might be to examine precisely where your new business is coming from and how it’s coming into your office. Get down to the nitty gritty and list all the ways your sales happen, and at the same time look for waste and inefficiency -- and believe me, they are there. Sometimes it takes a while to see, and oftentimes it helps to have an outside perspective. (Some of my clients think I’m a genius when I spot the waste, but it’s really that they were simply too close to see the problems – the can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees scenario.) 
3.      Communicate – Then, communicate all the roles employees (certainly including you) must play to make each of the activities in your office operate at full efficiency. And when I say communicate, I mean write them down. Make lists. This is an essential part of not only spelling out what’s to be done, but also paving the way for future improvements in efficiencies – you can’t fix what you don’t see.
Let me hear from you. Do systems make sense for your office? Can you see how becoming more systematic in your operations might help you be more profitable, while at the same time adding to your leisure time? Please share any comments or questions you have about this article. Send me an e-mail at
Bob Corcoran is a nationally recognized speaker and author who is founder and president of Corcoran Consulting Inc. (, 800-957-8353), an international consulting and coaching company that specializes in performance coaching and the implementation of sound business systems into the residential or commercial broker or agent’s existing practice.
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