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The 5 Ws Of Building A Real Estate Workflow [Infographic]

I have been developing real estate automation software for more than 30 years, so sometimes I forget that when people hear the word “workflow” for the first time, it can leave them feeling a little mystified.

Today, I’m here to take the mystery out of workflows. I’ll start by giving you a clear-cut definition, and then I’ll go over what I like to call the “5 Ws” to show you exactly what goes into setting up a workflow. By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll be feeling much more confident about exploring the workflow functionality available in your CRM.

Let’s start with a simple definition.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is a pre-designed series of activities that is set up within your CRM and used to automate typical business processes. Any task that is repetitive in nature can be put into a workflow. When you systematize every step of your process into workflows, you have more time for face-to-face interaction with your contacts AND you ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

(That was the short version. For the long version, click here.)

For real estate agents, the benefits of using workflows are invaluable:

  • more flexibility and freedom in your day
  • more time to focus on your client relationships
  • total control over all of your transactions, from contract to close
  • reassurance that every tiny detail is handled with the utmost care
  • more time for family and personal life

Sounds pretty good, right? Now let's go even deeper into workflows for your real estate business.

Related: Why Workflows Are Gonna Rock Your World

The 5 Ws: Taking The Mystery Out Of Workflows

To really understand workflows, it helps to see exactly what is involved in the setup. My favorite way to explain this is through the 5 Ws. 

When setting up a workflow, there are 5 components to consider: Why, Who, When, What, and Where.



1) Why

Why are you building this workflow?

Start by identifying the purpose or goal of your workflow. Then give it an appropriate title. For instance, if the purpose is to follow up and stay top of mind with prospects in your database, you might title your workflow Prospect Follow-Up.

Once you’ve established the purpose or goal of your workflow, you can begin to create the individual tasks that will be the stepping stones to accomplishing that goal. Each task will be composed of the remaining Ws: Who, Where, When, and What. 

2) Who

There are actually two parts to this W:

First, who will perform this task? This is where you can delegate tasks to someone on your team (or, of course, assign them to yourself!). 

Who will be the recipient of this task? A task is usually performed for a lead or client, but it can also be for anyone else involved in a listing or transaction—a lender, home inspector, general contractor, buyer agent, etc.

3) When

When should this task be performed?

The When can usually be set up in two ways: as a specific date (e.g., October 15) or as a computed date (e.g., 3 days before closing). Most of the time, you’ll be using computed dates.

Realvolve Spotlight: 4D Automation

Take automation even further with Realvolve 4D automation! Schedule something to happen on a specific date, after a delay, based on a decision point (choose from a list of options), or as soon as the previous task is done.

4) What

What is the work that needs to be performed?

Every workflow platform is different, but in Realvolve, these are some of the attributes used to describe the What of a task:

  • Task Title: Briefly describe the activity (e.g., Review Listing Documents)
  • Type: Classify your task (e.g., Appointment, Birthday, Call, Email, Text, To Do...)
  • Checklist: This is optional, but consider creating a checklist to break down a complex task into its constituent parts. Each checklist item must be completed before the task can be marked as done.
  • Action: This is for any time you want Realvolve to do something for you—send an email, send a text, start a workflow, or tag a contact.

5) Where

Which property does this concern?

You’ll only select a Where for workflows involving one of your listings. Selecting a property allows you to do things like track a property’s activity history and send email templates in which the property’s address auto-fills.


These are the basic building blocks of a CRM workflow. You begin with the end in mind, starting with your goal or purpose (Why), and then building out tasks to accomplish that goal. For each task, you choose Who will perform the task (and for whom the task will be performed), When it will happen, and What activity should be performed. And for workflows involving a listing, you also select a Where.

See? Not so mysterious after all. 


Realvolve: An insanely customizable workflow platform for scaling your real estate business

There's a real estate automation platform out there for every agent. There are simple, free CRMs with database management and easy drip campaigns. There are platforms focused heavily on lead generation and marketing.

And then there's Realvolve. It's not a one-size-fits-all platform. There's no quick start. It isn't simple or easy. That's because Realvolve is a highly customizable, workflow-centric automation platform designed to help entrepreneurial-minded agents build and scale their business.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Your real estate business has become so successful that you're drowning in paperwork.
  • You need to delegate work to your assistant—but you're a bit of a control freak.
  • You want to build a real estate empire. (But you also want to go on vacation.)

If so, Realvolve is the platform for you!

To learn more about Realvolve's robust automation capabilities, schedule a chat with one of our workflow experts today!

Talk to a workflow expert 


This article was originally published on June 23, 2017. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Mark Stepp

Mark Stepp is the Chief Innovation Officer at Realvolve. He has been designing, developing, and engineering real estate automation software since 1983. Mark hosts online webinars and training classes for Realvolve customers on all aspects of CRM, listing & transaction management, and workflow development.


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