Agents: as a business owner, your TIME is your most important asset! So, if you’re stuck in day-to-day tasks like typing up emails and organizing your contacts, the big picture stuff that actually makes you money is getting farther away.
Join the many thousands of Realtors® and business owners who are gaining back crucial chunks of precious money-making time thanks to automation technology.
And if the idea of automation sounds intimidating, don’t worry! Start by introducing one or two new time-saving processes. As you become more comfortable, and with the right tools at your disposal, the little things that used to suck up your day will seem to disappear, allowing you to keep a razor-sharp focus on the high-level tasks that grow a business.
Here are some ideas, apps, and resources to get you started on your exciting journey to automation!
1. Set up automatic emails to respond to leads.
One of the simplest ways to start automating your processes is by setting up automatic email sends after various touchpoints. Whether a lead registers as a user on your website, requests info about a property, or shows interest at an open house or other event, sending them a quick, friendly email to get the conversation started is the perfect first step. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them or that you received their request or online registration and plan to be in touch soon. Use your template to ask a few simple questions like, “Which method of contact do you prefer?” or “When are you planning to buy or sell your home?” and let them know you’re looking forward to helping them out with the next steps.
An automated reply accomplishes several things:
1) It takes one more thing off your plate
2) It gives you control of the conversation
3) The immediate response makes the contact feel valued
4) It gives them the confidence that you run a quality, caring business
5) It allows you to stay focused on higher-level business matters, knowing that your lead is already being nurtured and cultivated
2. Freedom at your fingertips: cut your typing time in half.
If you do a lot of repetitive typing, TextExpander could be a big time saver! Text expander is an app that lets you type a short sequence of letters and replace it with whatever words or phrases you’ve programmed.
Tired of typing your mobile number in a text? Program a few letters like “zmob” and watch it populate with your number. If you have “thank you” notes or other form letters or templates you use often, a code like “tyltr” will produce an entire boilerplate that you can then personalize. If you’re hiring for a position and keep typing up multiple “thanks for applying” emails, a simple phrase like “jobemail” gets the entire email done in a jiffy.
A useful tool for teams, TextExpander allows you to share your shortcuts with other team members for a more unified message. You can program TextExpander to send your company logo or other pictures, too!
3. Be the secret agent who knows exactly where the leads are.
Finding new leads, or “prospecting,” is imperative — but also time-intensive. Data-driven, smart marketing platforms like SmartZip can help expedite the early stages of this process. SmartZip uses predictive algorithms to sleuth out leads and listings in your target market. You set the parameters for whom you’d like to target, and SmartZip compiles this data for you, constantly providing you with brand new leads and opportunities.
SmartZip offers an analytics platform so you can see the overall success of your pipeline. Another useful feature of SmartZip is its “grading” feature, which sorts your leads by the likelihood they are ready to buy and sell. And with SmartTargeting, you can easily find out where you can make the highest sales and gain the best clients.
4. Keep the conversation going with automated mailers.
Direct mail remains one of the most valuable tools in an agent’s toolbox, but creating lists and designing the mailers takes time. Tools like Corefact take over the entire process for you. Once you define your market and set up your profile, Corefact does the rest: They farm the best leads, pick the most effective mailers for your goals, and send out the mailers on a regular schedule.
5. Let your CRM work for you.
Automation is what makes CRMs truly useful. Since the goal of a CRM is to help you curate new clients and nurture existing ones, most platforms include automation tools that track and remind you which clients need your attention.
This takes a bit of work up front, but once you have your systems in place, you can use them for years. Tools like Zapier or IFTTT (which stands for “If This, Then That”) can help you connect other platforms to your CRM. For instance, if you have a contact form on your website, the information entered will automatically be “pushed” straight into a new record in your CRM. From there, your CRM can create activity updates by logging things like past phone calls and meetings and will alert you when a client needs some attention so you can easily prioritize. The days of manually entering this information in an Excel spreadsheet are over! (By the way, IFTTT can be used to get all your personal devices and apps talking, creating an endless array of “if this, then that” scenarios. Examples include, “Turn the porch light on when the pizza delivery is on its way,” or “Notify me when the International Space Station flies over my house.” The options are virtually endless!)
6. Social media content: set it and forget it.
Consistent social media marketing is an important part of your business, but consistently posting quality content can be a chore. Why not speed up the process with apps like Buffer or TweetDeck that handle the timing of posts or tweets for you?
These apps enable you to load your “queue” with a bunch of content — original and/or repurposed content that provides value to your readers — and schedule it ahead of time.
7. Take advantage of iBuying partnering opportunities
Partnering with iBuyers like Opendoor might seem like a controversial suggestion, but iBuying is a reality that is quickly changing the way real estate is bought and sold.
An iBuyer is an online company (usually a well-funded tech startup) that will make a homeowner an offer, sometimes within minutes, sight unseen, based on a proprietary valuation model.
In addition to working with sellers, iBuyers also partner with agents. This concept fits into the idea of automation, as companies like Opendoor handle everything from scheduling a showing, to coordinating an inspection, and even making an offer! Opendoor claims to pay “competitive” commissions to agents and a 1% referral fee, should you refer an unrepresented seller. Danny Dietl from BRIX Real Estate in Minneapolis partners with Opendoor, saying, “They have a real commitment to consumer experience, as do we. If you fight new ways to do business, you’re eventually going to get run over. Our approach is to look at new models and see how consumers are responding.”
Every part of the transaction is done through an app, including giving buyers access to the home. If it makes sense for you and your client, have the client go through the iBuyer for the showing or inspection. You’ll still want to be the closer and the expert who can help them navigate the process of making or accepting an offer.
Since the technology is here and may not be going away soon, being an early adopter of iBuying services, even if you’re not fully on board with the idea, shows that you’re savvy, adaptable, and well-versed in the world of real estate. Plus, you’ll be able to offer your clients even more options and maybe learn a little something through the experience.