November 30, 2015

2011 Organization and Efficiency Tools: What Matters for Real Estate


2011 Organization and Efficiency Tools: What Matters for Real Estate

Real estate professionals tend to work in three realms:

  • Their desk, whether that’s at home or an office.
  • In the field, staging and showing properties or meeting with consumers at “neutral” sites.
  • The Web, where they manage business, client, and property data.

Practitioners need to make sure they’re organized in all three areas. For starters, take a look around your desk. A cluttered desk can eat up your day with wasteful searches for files, lost notes, and missed opportunities. If that resonates with you, it might be time to rethink your office layout and refresh the space. Free tools like Google Sketchup or the Ikea Office Planner (for Windows only) allow you to explore the possibilities before rearranging the furniture.

Your plans may call for a new desk or a new suite of office furniture. Whatever your preference, you’ll find suppliers of ready-to-assemble furniture have adopted a modular approach to outfitting the office. Mix and match components as your budget or your plans allow. Start with a new desk or hutch; then build the office around those in a logical way.

If all you really need is more space on your desk, a modest investment in something as simple as a desktop organizer, a little shelving, or an extra file cabinet will clear your work area. You’ll find a variety of accessories, ranging from the very affordable to the stylishly expensive. And if it’s been a few years since you upgraded your office equipment, you’ll gain much-needed space with an all-in-one printer or a new computer with a flat-screen monitor.

When you’re meeting with clients and showing listings, you are the portable professional. Everything you carry and how you present yourself should convey that. No matter how much a techie you are, you’re likely to bring more than a smartphone, netbook, or notebook. There are always brochures and flyers to take along, perhaps a digital camera, and maybe more.

You should carry your mobile office in an attractive case that’s neatly organized, with ample space to store and protect your belongings. As far as the technology goes, it’s OK if you still prefer pen and paper for your notes and calendar. There are binders and paper forms that allow you to do that in an organized, productive way while projecting the right professional image.

So much of the real estate services you provide actually centers on efficiently organizing, evaluating, and storing or disseminating information about clients, property, and your market area. Here, some standard tools and emerging technologies — and how you use them — can determine the direction your career takes.

Your return on investment from these tools depends on the time and effort you put into them. If software or a service sounds great, but it’s not a good fit for how you operate, it’s probably not a good investment. The only tools worth having are those you’ll actually use.

Take contact management. This is the cornerstone of any well-organized real estate career. The benefits of these solutions are many, provided you work for them. That requires comfort with how you enter info, build the database, and sift results. Before buying, take advantage of free trials to sample the user interface.