How to Take a Stress-Free Vacation as a Real Estate Agent
Stop making excuses.
You need a vacation. A true vacation.
No driving back into town for an open house. No taking client calls from the beach. No laptop on your lap during happy hour.
If that’s making you squirm uncomfortably, hey — we get it. As a real estate agent, someone who only gets paid when they work, the idea of taking a vacation vacation and not a working vacation can be anxiety-inducing.
But you need one. And you can and should take one.
It takes working smart and working ahead. But it’s worth every ounce of preparation.
Here’s what you need to know in order to take a stress-free vacation as a real estate agent.
Schedule Your Vacation(s) Early
This is the golden rule of taking vacation as a real estate agent, especially if you’re not part of a real estate team: plan your holidays far (far!) in advance.
Planning in advance doesn’t have to mean booking your flights and putting a deposit down on a villa. It’s just about scheduling: picking your days or weeks, blocking them out in your calendar and working around them.
So how far in advance should you plan? Four months to eight months, if you’re able to. Enough that your holiday won’t likely impact current clients and that you have enough time to prepare for clients you will have.
Make a Vacation Coverage Pact
Are you part of a real estate team? If the answer is yes, then wonderful: you’ve got built-in vacation coverage.
It’s one of the advantages of working on a real estate team — you’ve got teammates. With enough notice, one of your team members can help out with an open house, emergencies and desperate client inquiries.
Working as an independent agent within a brokerage? Don’t stress.
Most other agents at your brokerage will gladly agree to provide some light coverage for your business while you’re away, providing that:
- they have enough notice;
- you’ve done enough pre-planning that their job will be pretty straightforward; and,
- most importantly, that you will cover for them when they’re away.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask. An offer of reciprocity will go a long way.
Put the Right Tools and Systems In Place
Finding human backup isn’t your only option for ensuring your business quietly hums in the background while you’re away. There are tools that can help, too.
Email filtering. Nearly every major email provider offers a tool that allows you to create filters for your inbox. (Filtering means using certain criteria to dictate what happens to emails that meet that criteria). This can save you a lot of time and energy when you return from vacation, but also helps you separate the noise from the important stuff if you absolutely need to check in once in a while.
You could, for example, set up filters that sort things like data reports and news updates into a folder, emails from friends into another folder, and messages from important clients in another (the one you’ll be checking if necessary).
Auto responder. This one may be a little obvious, but turning on your email auto responder and writing an out-of-office message is the simplest, most effective way to avoid disappointed clients and impatient leads.
Make sure your message includes the start and end date of your time away, clear information about when you’ll be checking and returning messages (e.g., “I’m currently on vacation with my kids and won’t be checking emails until I return on August 8”) and a contact name and information (such as that of a team member or the person you’ve arranged to cover for you) for urgent messages.
Chatbots. A real estate chatbot on your website or Facebook page is a great way to avoid losing potential leads while you’re away. The chatbot can provide on-demand information, answer basic inquiries and even guide a visitor through questions in effort to eventually capture their contact information for you to follow up with later.
Another consequence of being responsible for every cent that comes your way: “boundaries” is a word without much meaning.
Real estate agents almost always put their clients first and that can sometimes lead to unhealthy scenarios in which clients take advantage and their agents don’t stop them. A lack of boundaries can lead to late-night phone calls, incessant text messages… and the inability to take a true vacation.
Setting boundaries with real estate clients is always important but if you want to be able to take a vacation in peace, it’s essential.
So what does that look like? Like…
- Giving your clients plenty of notice. If you wait to tell your clients about your planned vacation, they’ll panic. You might worry about losing them by telling them too soon, especially if you’ve just started working together, but advance notice is vital. Confidently sharing your dates and your well thought-out plans for coverage will give them peace of mind that they’re in good hands
- Introducing your clients to the agent covering for you ahead of time. Have a quick coffee date or video call, facilitate any questions and make sure contact information is traded.
- Communicating your expectations. Make sure your clients know that you’re not taking a working vacation and that you won’t be answering phone calls or emails. If you do plan on checking in once in a while, let them know what they can expect (e.g., “I’ll be checking my emails every other day after 7 p.m.”).
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It’s not just your current clients that need to know that you’re on vacation.
It’s your brokerage. It’s your social media followers. It’s your website visitors.
Here’s your pre-vacation communication checklist:
- Set up your email auto responder
- Give clients a quick call the day before you leave to wrap things up and remind them who to go to for assistance
- Add a vacation message to the contact form on your real estate website, letting leads know when they can expect a reply
- Send an email to key members of your brokerage informing them of your vacation plans and coverage
- Publish an Instagram post (or temporarily edit your real estate Instagram bio) sharing your vacation plans
- Record a new voicemail greeting on your work phone
- Send a newsletter (if planned) and include a note about your absence
What are your strategies for being able to take a vacation as a real estate agent?