Debbie Hanlon_crop - webBy Debbie Hanlon

Not long ago, a sales rep showed a house I had on the market to one of his buyers. Twenty-four hours later, when I still hadn’t heard from him about what his client thought of the house, I called him and asked how it went.

Well, by the way he answered you’d have thought I’d asked him for his firstborn! He went on this tirade that went something like, “I sold six houses this week. I don’t have a clue what house was yours. I’m going to Mexico next week…I need to recharge….”

Click! End of conversation.

The beaches and bars down south, as we know, are littered with the sunburned bodies of burned-out real estate agents like that one. The sad thing is, these agents aren’t trying to escape the bad times, they’re trying to escape their own success. And the reason they’re trying to escape it is because they haven’t planned for it.

A good real estate career happens when you take care of the two sides of a sale: getting the listing and closing the deal. Unfortunately, most agents put all their time and effort into the first stage and very little into the second. We work, hustle, advertise for and chase after listings. We’re so busy doing that, we don’t pause and think about what we’re going to do when all those listings turn into sales.

The agent I mentioned earlier is a prime example of that way of operating. No doubt he did very well getting listings – the fact he sold six houses in a week is testament to that. The fact that he had to run off to Mexico after selling them to recharge is testament to the fact that he wasn’t prepared for that success. He’s not alone. I dare say that if most agents out there had a week like that, they’d be in a spin as well and on a plane to an all-inclusive.

Early in my career I developed a series of systems that made getting and maintaining listings a breeze. However, if I hadn’t also made a plan for what happened when I sold those listings I would have been burned out long ago. I would not have been able to enjoy my family and have the life I’ve led outside of real estate.

What they are is simply a daily to-do list for when a property is sold. Each step needed to make the transition from the sold sign being put in place to the buying and sending of the client appreciation gift is detailed in a way that even a monkey could follow. It had to be simple – I was too busy making money to have to think about what I had to do next.

With technology today it’s even easier to do. I am magically prompted by my email calendar to do the things that have to be done. I never have to wonder, okay, where am I on this property’s closing? What do I have to do on this one? I’m told what I have to do each day and I take a small part of each day and do those things. When you have a thousand little things to do, none of them seem that scary alone, but put them all together and they are an avalanche of details that will bury you in no time. Like the agent I mentioned, you just melt down from the pressure.

So whatever stage you’re at in your career right now, please make it a point to pause and ask yourself if you’re ready for success. Are you ready to start turning over a high volume of inventory or will it overwhelm you? Take an hour today and jot down the thousand little things you have to do, put them in the order they need to be done and program them into a calendar. If you’re lucky enough to have an assistant, sit down with him or her and do it. Make a plan for success. That way, when it happens you can enjoy it. Isn’t that what success is supposed to be all about?

Debbie Hanlon is a real estate broker who has helped train hundreds of sales reps and brokered and managed a national real estate franchise. She also founded an independent real estate firm. Currently she coaches sales reps all over the world. She is the CEO of All Knight Inc, a global educational mobile company, as well as a published children’s author and the creator of the national I’m No Bully Show. 



Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.


  1. Such a great common sense article. The fact that it lacks responses pretty much proves what Brian Martindale states below.
    Welcome back Brian, your comments were rather rare lately !

  2. Hi Debbie:
    You are a very disciplined, forward thinking, meticulous person. The majority of commissioned sales representatives are none of the above. That is why there are so few like you in the real estate business.
    You are not intellectually lazy. You are not a reactionary. The majority of Realtors are both of the above.
    You are a consummate professional. The majority of Realtors are not.
    The reason that the majority of Realtors are as described herein and not like you lies with the practices of CREA on-downward within Organized Real Estate vis a vis their/its incessant money chase/collection rituals at the expense of naïve wannabe’s pursuing unrealistic dreams of wealth as sold to them by said puppeteers. Downright immoral, unethical and sleazy on ORE’s part. Wannabe’s simply become pawns to the scam. I think Melanie Aitkin would agree with me on that score.
    Glad that you started out above all of that stuff right from the git-go.
    I’d vote for you as CREA president for life.
    One smart Newfie I’d say.

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