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Floor duty is time which a member of a real estate office must spend present in the public area of the office to field incoming customers. Several other types of businesses also retain the concept of floor duty. In the real estate community, some offices are moving away from this concept, instead directing prospective clients directly to individual members of the office, while others use secretarial staff who forward calls and inquiries as appropriate, instead of requiring that a real estate agent or broker be “on the floor” at all times during regular business hours.
The original idea behind floor duty was that at any given time, a client might want to contact a real estate office. If the client has no connections with the office, he or she has no interest in cultivating a relationship, which means that a client who walks by an empty office or calls and never gets a response will move on to another office. By contrast, if a client walks in and is immediately greeted by a real estate agent, or calls and an agent answers, that client will be more inclined to establish a relationship with the company.
Floor duty offers an opportunity to develop clientele. In addition to working with clients who drop or call in to the office requesting immediate assistance with real estate sales or purchases, floor duty is also used by some agents to follow up on leads, work on paperwork, and perform other tasks which are hard to complete while in the field. This can include scheduling showings, inspections, and other appointments to ensure that the agent will have lots to do out of the office on days when he or she is not on floor duty.
For new agents, floor duty can provide significant opportunities. Many people go on the recommendations of friends when they need to buy and sell real estate, which means that they are more likely to go with established agents in an office. If a new agent can meet a walk or phone in client and cultivate a relationship, she or he can land a deal and start to develop a loyal clientele which will in turn offer referrals of its own.
Some real estate agents loathe floor duty, arguing that it takes away from time which they could be spending in the field. Others feel that the benefits to them personally as well as the firm as a whole outweigh the occasional inconvenience of working on the floor.