Here's a good list for mobile tech tools!
In today's highlighted post, I wanted to link to a great post by An Bui, DocuSign Social Media Manager. I found this post both informative and helpful to any real estate professional looking to integrate greater mobile functionality into their business.
Traditional ways of doing business are changing as the workforce becomes more mobile thanks to electronic signature, email and other tools.
One industry that is adapting to this new business reality is real estate. They no longer meet at the office or head back to the office to get things done. Some real estate professionals don't even have an office - they have a car that takes them where their clients are.
Of course, a mobile agent is always working when they are out and about - they must always be accessible to their clients, able to answer questions as they arise and able to provide the same, or better service than a traditional agent.
What tools do mobile agents superstars leverage as masters of mobility?
1. A smart phone: A smart phone with a great data plan will enable to you communicate with your clients in ways they are accustomed to. If you're working with younger clientele, they may prefer to text, or sms. If your clients communicate mainly through email, you'll be able to check your email wherever you are.
Blackberry or iPhone tend to be the smart phones of choice. Blackberry is available with various carriers. iPhone is available only on the AT&T network.*
2. A good laptop: Make sure you have a solid laptop that you can take anywhere. You'll have to make tradeoffs on size, durability, and portability. Most laptops will last between three to five years, depending on hardware quality, usage, and other factors. Get the biggest hard drive you can and the fastest processor speed possible.
Laptops are fragile - make sure you have an external hard drive to back up your data. You can also back up to a remote server and pay for hosting. Generally, remote hosted services also guarantee your data - double check before selecting a provider. This protects you and your data in case of theft, fire, or other disaster.
3. A digital video camera, or a Flip: If you also have a regular digital camera, bring it along too. You can use them to preview homes, create virtual, online tours of properties, and integrate images into emails you send your clients, for your blog posts, and to document various features to help your clients find or sell their property.
4. DocuSign electronic signature: DocuSign can help you quickly create documents for your clients for signature. With integration with the major forms providers, time-saving functionality such as templates, error reducing features like signature and initial stick-e-notes and others, DocuSign has helped realtors save time and increase client satisfaction. In-person signing means that if you and your client really value the in-person interaction, you still get to take advantage of electronic signature - no more illegible faxes! Additionally, DocuSign also stores your documents for you - you and your clients can access your DocuSign documents, as long as you're a customer. Save a copy locally and know that you also have access to the original signed documents as well.
You also can get an offer in for your client in mere minutes - in a time sensitive industry like real estate, this is a big advantage for you and your client!
5. Mobile Broadband: MiFi or a mobile USB card / stick will enable you to have internet access if there is no coffee shop with wifi nearby. Keep an eye on your data usage - if you get the smallest plan and go over on your usage, you will have to pay overages. Verizon charges $0.25 / MB for overages. Uploading or downloading photos or videos; streaming music, or videos; and chatting via video or voice will eat up bandwidth!
MiFi will enable you to share your bandwidth with others - clients who are mobile, but don't have mobile broadband, will appreciate it if you share with them. Also, it's wireless and you don't need to worry about snapping off the USB device.
6. GPS: Some phones, such as the Sprint Instinct, may have GPS (with voice directions!) on the phone and included with the data plan. The iPhone with the plastic back (Second Generation and GS) also has GPS included in the device. If your phone does not have GPS, consider getting a GPS unit for your car. Do you want to present an image to your clients that includes being late because you got lost or not knowing how to get to the next house you wanted them to see?
People are busy. Being sensitive to your clients' time constraints demonstrates your professionalism and will help you build a positive reputation to drive word-of-mouth referrals. Plan for worst case scenarios regarding your data and equipment so you can continue to provide a high level of service to your clients, the kind of service that keeps them raving about you.
*unless your iPhone is hacked or jailbroken.
**hat tip to Clint Miller, for inspiring this post