Trains, Planes & Automobiles: How Should A Broker Travel?

As the old adage goes, time is money.

When I first started in the investment sales brokerage business, my mentor told me I needed to get a car so that I could get to meetings faster and stay above ground to make phone calls.

I wasn’t sure I should buy a car, as I had only a few thousand dollars and student loan debt up to my eyeballs, but who was I to question my mentor? I had just moved to New York City, I was living on a friend’s couch, and my knowledge of the real estate world was limited. With the small loan I had secured from my grandmother to float me for my first year in the business, I bought a silver 1995 Nissan Altima for $3,500. It had three hubcaps, and the air-conditioning stopped working after the first week. It was May 2004 and the heat was just arriving for what was to be my first sticky summer in NYC. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but I now had wheels and I was in the game.

I figured out the subway system pretty quickly, and I noticed a lot of fellow sales agents back then took the train to their meetings. The subway was fast, but with most of my meetings at that time being in Brooklyn, I quickly realized that it was designed to move people from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back, not to move people around the various neighborhoods within Brooklyn. Even more importantly, I quickly came to the conclusion that the subway was not the optimum mode of transportation to and from meetings because when I did take it, I would spend 30 to 45 minutes completely offline, without my email and phone.

Although the car was more expensive to maintain and park, I calculated the additional time on a monthly and quarterly basis I would have to conduct more business, and it was a no-brainer: the car is the only way to travel for most client meetings in the five boroughs.

My car became my mobile office. I started having ideas about putting a computer, a printer and a fax machine in my front seat so I could do business faster. Although I never got that far, as I transitioned a few years later into my management career, I have seen several variations of the mobile office that exist, and I highly encourage all my agents to have some form of car and mobile office.