Technology strategies for commercial real estate
My primary focus involves driving innovation in property data research and commercial real estate CRM. This allows me to stay connected with just about every facet of our industry. I’ve come to recognize some simple and effective technology strategies that drive the most successful companies. See below for a list of the ones I think are most prevalent.
Get off the desktop
Everything in this post assumes that you’re running your business in the cloud. To maximize productivity you need to be able to set up shop anywhere. This is only feasible if the tools you use live online. If you’re still anchored to legacy desktop software that keeps you tied to a specific computer or an office-based server then you’re significantly inhibiting your growth potential.
Get online now. Your goal is to choose a cloud-based alternative for any technology tool whenever possible. Switch if necessary. You will be doing yourself a tremendous disservice otherwise by perpetuating a dying business model. The desktop is dead (related article).
Always be connected
My mantra when I originally started my commercial real estate career was to “always be closing”. Now it is “always be connected”. Sure closing is still critical, but if you don’t have the ability to stay connected to your data, your clients and your deals then you may never have an opportunity to close.
Get a laptop. Use a tablet. Think mobile. Choose technology tools that allow you to access critical CRM data and files through the web. Buy as much bandwidth as you can afford, and be sure to have the ability to tether your mobile phone to your laptop or tablet. You could also buy something like the latest Chromebook that offers free built-in 4G cellular service for life.
Use one phone number
A broker gave me a business card recently. It listed three phone numbers including Direct, Office and Mobile. Apparently I’m supposed to guess what number is most appropriate at any given time. It shouldn’t be your callers’ responsibility to track you down. Multiple numbers lead to frustration, loss of efficiency and reduced client service.
Pick one universal number and make it the only one you use – forever. You could elect to just use your mobile phone. Other services like Google Voice and Skype allow you to have a single phone number that forwards to one or more lines. I’ve used Google Voice for several years to ring both my office and mobile phones simultaneously. It even autodials from ClientLook. My business card has one number.
Collaborate in real-time
We live in an on-demand world. This is becoming increasingly apparent with commercial real estate deal management and CRM. Long gone are the days when a monthly activity report or phone call with a client would suffice. If you’re still manually tracking data and generating periodic static reports then you’re an easy target for your competition.
Tailor your workflow to connect your daily prospecting, marketing activity, emails and file management to deals. Make these deals available in the cloud to your team and clients. Allow everyone to collaborate in real-time. Increase your transparency to keep your clients engaged and your business growing.
It does not matter how successful and established you are. Smart, novice salespeople with the right tools can move faster, market more effectively and deliver better service than the most seasoned professionals. Your existing relationships will only take you so far. If you’re not constantly striving to find efficiencies in your business then you’re a prime target.
Fortunately well-planned commercial real estate technology initiatives can have a rapid ROI. Focus on simplicity, high adoption and customer service when considering a software investment. Don’t be afraid to make a change if something isn’t working. No matter what, do not overbuy. If a solution appears to be more than you need, then it most certainly is. Take giant periodic leaps and small regular hops to constantly improve and you’ll never fall behind.