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November 28, 2007

7 Ways to Simplify Your Business Using Systems

Client needs are met when every step of the home buying or selling process is completed with due diligence, and proper records are maintained.  Each transaction has at least 100 different activities that include: appointments, tasks, phone calls, emails, and letters to be mailed.  If anyone agent is working with ten clients simultaneously and selling 20 homes annually, then 2,000 actions must be performed.  Activities are not always completed to satisfaction because one or more items may accidentally have fallen through the cracks. The answer to fulfilling client needs relies on systems.  Reliable systems lead to happy clients, future referrals and profitable business to sell upon retirement.

Seven ways to simplify your real estate business by incorporating systems:

1.  Reliable rules.  For every step in the listing or sale process, there must be defined expectations.  Draw out a diagram to show how you expect your business to run from the moment you meet a prospect until the transaction closes.  Our real estate business must run like a machine so that tasks, appointments, or phone calls can be appointed to other members of our team to ensure every detail is finalized.  Solution - Respond 2.0, an add-on to Microsoft Outlook, is real estate specific and requires no monthly fee.

2.  Networking.  If we are working in teams or are using multiple computers to access information, keeping congruent files and accurate records can be a challenge.  The following questions should be asked:

  • How many computers are being utilized?
  • How many people are on your team or need access to my computer files?
  • What is my budget?

Four common networking solutions:

1. - one person, two computers $

2. - one person, many computers $$

3.    Sequel server with Virtual Private Network – many computers, many people $$

4.     Exchange server – many computers, many people $$$$

3.  Sync Smartphones with the computer.  Treo™ Smartphones, Blackberries, or Pocket PCs will allow us to keep track of important items.  Lookup birthdays, home anniversaries, view reminders to call and ask for referrals.  Smartphones allow us to save time and organize our business so that we can make important decisions on the fly without booting up the computer.

4.  Campaigns conquer.  Campaigns are the series of steps for each category of contacts in your database and/or properties that you are marketing or have sold.  Important dates will decide when campaigns will begin and end.  Dates, when leads are received, can start a series of phone calls, mailings, and emails.  Listing dates include signed listing agreement date, sales contract date, acceptance date, and closing date.  When the transaction closes, assign a campaign to follow up to provide service and ask for referrals.

5.  Compatibility with other programs.  Multiple databases and programs that do not work together will cause severe delays in synchronization of information.  If we store contacts in contact management, the MLS, and our email account, information may be lost or misplaced when needed most.  Also, functionality is reduced because something may work great in one program but not another.  Microsoft Office programs, Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint work together to save time when exporting/importing contacts, using mail merge, and the program has an automatic conversion to HTML.

6.  Shorten the learning curve.  Reduce the learning curve by taking live classes or view the video tutorials provided by the program or system.

The help section on our computers will also answer frequently asked questions saving our time on hold with technical support.

7.  Technical support.  Pay for additional technical support.   Computers and programs need maintenance just like cars do.  Look to technical support by the service provider to explain, set up the system or be able to help when things don’t work.  Technical support does cost money but should not be overlooked.  This usually starts once the system is created or the software is registered since support is not usually given until a product is registered.

Systems work well when we invest time, money, and energy learning how to use them efficiently.  Systems do not guarantee results; people guarantee results.

(Doug Devitre e-PRO, ABR, GRI, CRS, PMN, SRS, Devitre Holdings, LLC.,, 1213 Oakleaf Dr., St. Louis, MO 63119.

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