Creating Systems and Models That Work for You | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Author: Dave Naso, Managing Broker, Keller Williams Chicago – Lincoln Park

When we hear the words “systems” and “models,” we often think of overly complicated, robust plans or expensive technology. Whether you realize it or not, you likely have systems and models built into your real estate business. The success of a system or model doesn’t rely on technology or expansive plans. A system can be as simple as a habit, daily routine or checklist. Its success and efficiency centers around one question: will you use it?

Any task that you do more than once in this business, can easily become a system. It’s just a matter of documenting the process so that you can be purposeful about performing those same set of steps again – or, better yet, someone else performing those same set of steps again for you. Dianna Kokoszka, the CEO of MAPS Coaching at Keller Williams Realty, says, “This business is not about selling real estate; it’s about following a schedule.” That rings true, from your actual calendar with appointments and dates, to the processes you follow when meeting a new buyer or seller. It’s all just about following that system/model/schedule that you’ve put into place.

I like to think of myself as a pretty tech-savvy person, but technology for me can sometimes overcomplicate simple steps. When creating a system or model for your business, start with the basics. After you have a plan in place, you’ve worked out all the kinks, and you’ve mastered the process, see how you or a team member can improve the system with technology. Until you have mastered the basics, you are likely going to spend more time trying to get software or technology up and running than following the system. For instance, I have bounced around from one CRM tool to the next, following the amazing promises made by different software sellers. Right now, however, I’m back to using a good old Excel Spreadsheet. Why? Because I wasn’t leveraging the fancy technology provided in those CRMs.

Remember: technology is not an easy way out. A system only works if you follow it in a purposeful way, and technology typically helps make these processes more efficient. If it’s a simple process, you’ll likely be more inclined to follow it.


Now, you may feel like you don’t have systems or models established, but that’s likely not the case. Your daily habits can be systems and models; just make sure they’re efficient ones.

  • Do you wake up each morning and immediately start responding to emails?
  • Do you meet buyers for the very first time at a showing?
  • Do you go into each listing presentation without a plan or presentation?

Believe it or not, these are all systems, albeit inefficient ones.

Take a step back and reflect on how you can perfect these processes. I recommend taking a few hours to brainstorm your typical day — or better yet, your perfect day. Write it all down.

I did this several years ago with client checklists. I looked at all the steps I take during a listing, from pulling comps and researching public records, to ordering photos and creating fliers, to MLS entry and showing scheduling. I even documented my client communication at various stages of the transaction. I took all those notes and complied a checklist to follow, that’s then broken out into the following sub-categories: Pre-Appointment, Listing Prep, Active, Under Contract and Closed. Now, when I take a listing, I follow the same series of steps. I also have canned responses for client communication. This not only saves me time, but it also ensures I’m covering all the important topics and have consistency in my message and in my client service, because I have a simple process to follow.


The Chicago Association of REALTORS® and MRED provide easy access to simple real estate tools to get you started mastering systems in your business.


I subscribe to Sentrilock through C.A.R. and whenever possible, I put a Sentrilock lockbox on each of my listings — that’s my showing system. Sentrilock allows my time to be freed up for other appointments and the property to be shown with greater ease. Buyers prefer lockbox showings too – just ask them!


I also highly recommend ShowingTime, provided by MRED, for managing all your showings. ShowingTime is simple to use, allows sellers to track and manage showings as well, and is included with your C.A.R. membership.

No matter whether you’re just starting your real estate business, or you’re a seasoned veteran in Chicago, now is a great time to start documenting the processes you do each day for your clients and business. Remember to create a clear and easy system for your regular tasks, leverage technology when appropriate for efficiency, and most importantly, follow your systems every day.