Real Estate Mastery: Client File Management

Welcome to our Real Estate Mastery series, a set of blog posts and videos to share what works for us, in the hopes you can have some great takeaways as well! If you are anything like me, or 99% of all Realtors, client file management is one of your biggest struggles! There are many apps and CRM (client relationships management) websites, tools and programs, yet for me, I have discovered I need something a bit more organic. Pen + paper and something I could hold in my hands.

While we DO use Pipedrive for team management of all of our client file management / transactions, for our individual task and timeline management, it's all about this ingenious system called a "tickler file."

During a brainstorming pow-wow with Kara Macdonald, the marketing genius behind Your Favorite Title Lady and Pruitt Title, I lamented that I was having a hard time keeping up with the day-to-day responsibilities for my clients, and that all of the technology available was making my head spin. She said, "why not use the old tickler system?"

Before I entered the real estate industry, I was a paralegal for many years and we had used the same old school tickler file system she was referring to! I knew how to do this! Hooray! We used one index card for each client and on that card was all contact info, the type of case (criminal, probate, family law, etc.), as well as the assigned associate, etc. The index cards then were placed behind the date tab according to upcoming brief deadlines, client meetings, etc.

The concept is simple: to use the tickler system, simply pull the cards that correspond with the current day, and you have your daily to-do tasks. Do the work, assign the next date / deadline and place the tickler card behind the appropriate date.

tickler file system 8th and Home

Fast forward to 2016 and the system looks pretty similar, except with color coding for transaction type: yellow for our awesome buyers, red for our lovely listing clients and blue for our rad rental clients.

tickler client organization system 8th and home


(The added bonus with my system is that when placed inside a tote, my system is now portable! Being on the go a large majority of the time, that is a huge benefit.)

I've revamped the system a bit and instead of an index card being used with the tickler system, I instead use an entire client folder.

Using the color scheme above, each client receives a set of documents inside the file folder:

1. an Intake Sheet

2. a Transaction Sheet and

3. an Action Taken sheet.

All of this information is located inside our Pipedrive system, but it was important to also maintain it at my fingertips.

Intake Sheet

This form allows us to keep track of all parties to the transaction to eliminate hunting through emails or text messages to remember which pest control company performed the termite inspection, as well as knowing at a glance which HOA to order the appropriate documents from.

Transaction Checklist

THIS is a LIFE SAVER! If you don't already have one, I would strongly suggest that become a priority. There are SO many moving parts inside of a real estate transaction and it can be not only costly, time consuming and sometimes disastrous to miss any one step along the way. Using a checklist that encompasses all of the required tasks, to do items, etc. is imperative to a successful real estate business.

Client Intake Sheet Transaction Checklist tickler client organization system 8th and Home

Action Taken sheet

This is where I keep track of every interaction as well as noting what needs to happen next. For example, if my first action taken was to "meet for listing presentation", then perhaps my Next Step will be to "follow up with potential client to answer any questions" or "send Exclusive Listing Agreement".  The Next Date becomes the date on which that Next Step should happen. The file folder then is placed behind the respective date tab in my tote.

Client Action Taken Sheet tickler client organization system 8th and Home


Each morning when I am ready to get to work, I simply pull the files behind that days tab ... get to work and then place the file folder with a fresh set of instructions behind the next appropriate tab!

How do you organize YOUR client files?

If you ARE the client, it's important that you ask your potential Realtors how they manage their client files and transactions! This is an important part of what is likely the biggest financial transaction of your life. It's important that there is a plan in place with the Realtors you are trusting with this process!