Debbie HanlonWithout a doubt the single biggest thing I did that helped propel me to No. 1 in Canada in my first year in real estate was the systems I put in place. Systems are the blueprints you follow to build the real estate career you want. Done right, they become parts of a selling machine that makes your life a whole lot easier. I used a system for every activity I had to do as a real estate agent, from open houses to a listing process that included pre-listing, listing and post-listing systems. Together, the systems I developed helped me retain clients as well as get new clients and keep my costs in line. They also gave me more free time to enjoy the money I was making on my way to becoming No. 1.

My systems are broken down into the activities you have to do on a certain day. Let’s say you just listed a house. Your post-listing system will show exactly what your next step is and then all the steps after that. Following those steps ensures that the house sells as quickly as possible and your client becomes a word-of-mouth advertisement to their friends and family about the fantastic level of personal service they received from you.

The same rules apply to any other activity you undertake as a real estate agent. If you have an open house this Sunday, your open house system shows you what activity you do on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to that Sunday.

Once you put real estate systems in place, you will get more successful, and the more successful you get the more activities you’ll have happening at the same time. In a week you’ll be giving listing presentations, organizing open houses, closing deals, targeting For Sale By Owner homes, creating and running advertising campaigns, preparing for seminars and Lord knows what else. Real estate systems allow you to do all those activities without having to think about what you have to do next. It really is that simple!

There was a point in my career when I had over 100 listings and I counted the subdivisions I carried as only one listing each. Without these systems in place I would probably have lost my mind trying to service all those clients. My real estate systems simplify things to the point where it doesn’t matter how many listings you’re carrying. It works just as well for a hundred as it does for one.

I also developed systems when I started my own real estate company, so it ran as effortlessly as possible – but that’s another story for another day.

Now that you’re running your career as a business, instead of a real estate agent running yourself ragged trying to sell houses, systems make perfect sense. It’s no different than any other business. From banks to bakeries, all businesses employ systems that they follow to streamline and simplify the work they have to do to ensure a successful outcome. For banks, that could be anything from signing up new customers to approving loans and for a bakery it’s the recipe they follow for the perfect baked goods every time.

So don’t go off half-baked in your real estate career. Put systems in place and trust me, in no time at all you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Debbie Hanlon is the president and founder of Hanlon Realty. She is a three-time top 50 CEO winner and was named one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada. She is currently an elected city official in St. John’s, Nfld. and is available for motivational and training seminars. Email [email protected].

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. Can you please keep me posted as to the release date of your upcoming book.
    Please and thank you,
    Wanda Clark
    Partners Advantage GMAC Real Estate.

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