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2007-05-03 13:39:00

Putting Together a Technology Plan of Action

This article is an excerpt from the "Real Estate Technology Guide."Most real estate professionals purchase technology products and services in a haphazard manner, wasting precious monetary resources on technologies they have no business buying. The speed of invention in the technology world is mind-numbing, and every piece of hardware or software you purchase has a learning curve. Don’t buy technology until you are ready to put it to work and only as it fits into your “Personal Technology Plan of Action.”

We are fortunate to live in a time that is unlike any other in recent history (the last five hundred years). The invention of the transistor, followed by the microprocessor, and finally by the Internet makes this the most exciting time to be alive! We have seen, in the past twenty years alone, more valuable scientific and technological breakthroughs that almost change the entire world overnight. Let's list a few minor examples:

  • Cellular communications
  • Internet
  • E-mail
  • GPS (Global Positioning Systems)
  • Computerized automobile engines
  • Robotics in manufacturing and science
  • Personal computers
  • Handheld computers
  • Digital imaging (photography, video)
  • You could probably list even more examples than these in a few minutes. These and other technologies didn't exist even fifty years ago (some didn't exist twenty years ago)!

Of course, we are often tempted to buy the latest and greatest whiz-bang tool for our business. Sometimes we buy because our competitor has it. Sometimes we buy because our client asked about it. Other times we buy because we think it is a good thing to have. Finally, we often buy these tools for their WOW factor. Unfortunately, when we get back to the office with our new tool, we somehow never find the "right time" to learn how to use it, set it up, or load it with our information. As a result, it gathers dust for so long we often sell or donate it in its original packaging!

What happened? We were convinced that this new tool would make us more efficient, effective and an all-around better professional. The answer is usually simple. What happened was that the tool dictated the plan, instead of the plan dictating which tools and in what order we would invest in them. Clearly, the plan must be created first, if the tools are to be of maximum value to your business.

To create a Personal Technology Plan of Action requires analyzing your current business. To get the most out of technology, you want to integrate technology solutions into what you are already doing, and then employ technology in new areas. Pull out your last ten transactions and list everything you did in each of the following areas:

1. Educate -– the first thing you do with buyers and sellers alike is educate them about the market, the process, the disclosures, the forms, etc.

2. Locate (buyers)/Market (sellers) -– What are all the things you do during this critcal phase of the home buying/selling process?

3. Negotiate -– from writing the offer to presenting and countering.

4. Administrate to the closing -– many details are attended to in this phase of the process.

5. After the sale communication –- staying in touch .

In each of the above areas, what is it exactly that you do? List everything leaving nothing out. You will consider each technology product or service you contemplate purchasing based on where you will use it in your business.

Creating a Technology Plan of Action

1. Where are you now?
2. Where do you want to be and over what period of time?
3. What is your tolerance for learning as all technologies have a learning curve?
4. What is your budget?

To Create a Technology Plan of Action:

Determine your business needs and objectives.
Determine your business goals.
Determine the technology solutions to accomplish the goals.
Determine the cost of the technology solutions.
Estimate the learning curve.
Determine the timeline to purchase.
Create a budget for implementation.
Finalize the implementation timeline.
Implement the plan.

To create a plan, you have to uncover your business needs and objectives, first in general terms, and then more specific. You will then be able to move on to establishing your business goals and looking at what technology will help you achieve those goals. Use the following outline to help you establish your needs and objectives. Note that this is just an example. You should develop your own unique needs and objectives statement.

Needs and Objectives (General): More Business
Needs and Objectives (Specific):

    • More buyer prospects
    • More seller prospects
    • Better "farm" penetration
    • Higher referral rates from client base
    • Higher referral rates from associate base
    • Client growth and investment marketing penetration

Needs and Objectives (General): Better Business Efficiency
Needs and Objectives (Specific):

    • Shorter "sale to close" timeframe
    • Faster response to client requests
    • Better client access to my team and me
    • Faster access to all transactional information

Needs and Objectives (General):  Better Client Service
Needs and Objectives (Specific):

    • More client Feedback
    • Incidence Tracking
    • Better quality marketing materials
    • Maximized property exposure
    • Better feedback from potential buyers

Needs and Objectives (General): Better management of service vendors
Needs and Objectives (Specific):

    • No missed appointments
    • Faster response to inspection repair requirements
    • Fewer "surprises" from inspections
    • Better tracking of vendor quality

Developing Your Business Goals Statement

After completing a Needs and Objectives Analysis, you are prepared to develop your Business Goals Statement. Goals should be as clear and measurable as possible. Vague goals can lead to vague results. The closer your stated measurements are to reality, the more likely you will be to attain your goals.

Question: What does my business need that technology can provide?

Needs and Objectives (General): More Business
Goal: 30% increase in sales by Jan.1 (choose either an increase in the number of transactions or an increase in the $ volume of your business)

Needs and Objectives (Specific): Better Business Efficiency
Goal: No increase in staff to reach the goal of More Business

Needs and Objectives (General): Better Client Service
Goal: One referral per two clients

Needs and Objectives (General): Better Management of Service Vendors
Goal: Create and use VendorTalk Listserv for preferred vendors

(Saul Klein, John Reilly, and Mike Barnett of Real Estate Electronic Publishing Company, home of RealTown, are the authors of The Real Estate Technology Guide.)

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