What the hell was I thinking…?


When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I needed more of an income, and the gas station wasn’t going to cut it.  A friend of mine knew a guy who owned a mortgage company, and an apartment complex.  He needed help so I agreed to meet with him at a local restaurant.  We hit it off right away, and he hired me on the spot.  He said he needed help filing, paying his bills, answering the phone, the typical office receptionist work that every office needs.   I started the next week.

I walked in on Monday morning and looked around the office.  I wanted to go home, I could not believe what I was looking at. There were files in piles in every corner of the room, only a few of them were in folders.  Post it notes all over every desk in the office.  Notes from the tenants in the apartment complex with lists of things that needed to be fixed, the printer did not work, and the fax machine was jammed.  He brought in the mail, and handed me a pile of late bills, and junk mail that had been traveling around with him in the car for about a week.   I was there about 15 minutes when the first phone call came in.  It was another missed appointment with a big client, and now this client wanted to go somewhere else.   I talk to this very nice, but very upset client and was able to get him to agree to one more chance.  He would not be disappointed again.  I learned very quickly that this man was great at what he did, but he had no organization skills, and was overwhelmed easily.   He did not expect his business to grow as fast as it did, and he could not keep up.

I got to work, starting with the piles all over the room.  I had to create some sort of filing system so we could tell the difference between what he was working on and what he was done with.  We needed some sort of tenant filing system, so we knew who was in what apartment, and what work needed to be done.   I put together a deposit and went to the bank, while I was out I stopped at Staples, and bought a new fax machine, got toner for the printer, and some general office supplies.  I hired a maintenance crew for the apartments, I created tenant files, with all the information we needed to track.  I created a maintenance schedule for the crew, and a request form for the tenants to keep track of who needed what.  I created a filing system for the mortgage company, I scheduled all of his appointments and sent him reminders 15 min before every appointment.  I created a tracking system for his mortgage clients so we both knew what paperwork had to be done for each client.  I answered the phones, and talked to most of his clients on a daily basis.  He was able to gain control of his business.   We had a filing system, deposits were made on a daily basis, all his bills were paid, and no more scheduling issues.   I began hiring him an office staff to help keep him on track.  His business started growing, and when I left in 1998 his company was making more money than he thought he would ever see, his tenants were happy, and he had a waiting list for both his apartment complex, and his mortgage company of people who wanted to work with him.  I heard from him a couple of years after I left, and he had acquired several more apartment complexes, and he was actually in negotiations of selling all of his apartment buildings, and his mortgage company.  He was ready to retire.

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