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The Student Becomes the Master
A few years ago, a student at the University of Tampa called and asked if I'd be willing to serve as his mentor for a class in entrepreneurship. He was bright, articulate, and had an unusual level of focus. I was impressed. He had done his research and made it very easy to say yes. What he may not have known then is that a mentor usually benefits as much as the mentee, which was exactly my experience with Scott Shuman. For example, in discussing his ideas, he didn't just want my advice. He wanted to understand the reasons behind my advice. This was a great gift because it challenged me to reconsider some long held beliefs. Today, Scott is the Director of Operations at the Sue Adler Team. Oh, and by the way, he's also finding time to be on pace for about $25mm of real estate transactions of his own. (Whaaaat?!?)
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Why Productivity Systems Are the Future and CRMs Are the Past
By Frank Chimento, VP – Broker Division, Elm Street Technology CRM software is diluted and largely ineffective! There, I said it. It's true. The future belongs to productivity systems, NOT CRM software. Last December, while attending Inman Connect in New York City, I overhead a few industry insiders commenting sarcastically about the good news that there are "...only about 10 new CRM products this year." They were right and that is good news. Yet, when you go online or open almost any industry related blog, you'll read or hear companies harping on the need for having a CRM. Of course, these are usually companies that sell CRM software. Often, they'll quote anecdotal statistics confirming the increase in business by companies that employ CRM software. This shouldn't be surprising to anyone, considering that in business you get what you focus on and, of course, CRM software can help some people focus. However, in real estate, what matters even more than simple customer relationship management software is productivity. To put it another way, growing a real estate brokerage or a real estate agent's business is about capacity. It's about scalability. Let's break it down. After almost 20 years working with brokerages and agents of all shapes, sizes and brands, as well as working with the largest technology companies in the industry, it is solid science that the typical agent has almost 400 contacts in their "database." With even conservative assumptions of only 3 percent turnover year-over-year (industry data says it's more like 5-7 percent,) that means 12 transaction sides should take place in every single agent's database each year. Yet, the typical agent does not average anywhere near 12 transaction sides per year. Why not? I submit this lack of volume has less to do with a CRM system and much more to do with a lack of productivity systems. Gathering everyone you know into one "place" should be part of your strategy, but understanding the sequence of how to qualify and quantify which individuals are likely to move through a sales pipeline should be the paramount objective of every professional real estate agent and brokerage. To do this efficiently without breakage requires a system, not merely software. It requires understanding how to increase capacity, because we have yet to determine how to add more hours to the day. Growing a real estate business is a process, not an event! What determines an effective productivity system? Flexibility Agents and brokerages in today's environment use a variety of tools for staying in front of clients and one size doesn't fit all, but it's important your productivity system is open enough to allow for plug-n-play opportunities. The future of the real estate business is all about integration. Think of your smartphone. You may use many different apps to accomplish tasks compared to what I may choose. Your real estate productivity system should function in the same manner. Think of your productivity system as your mainframe or your operating system that allows you to connect and/or disconnect ancillary services at your choosing without disrupting the entire ecosystem. Business Model Congruency A useful productivity system is congruent with the real estate business. In other words, your system needs to "understand" real estate. It makes little sense to apply another industry's nuanced systems to real estate. It's not congruent. For example, stellar productivity systems understand sales cycles and the differences for referrals from your spheres of influence, compared to leads from online portals or pay-per-click campaigns. Good productivity systems understand your GCI goals and how transactions are conducted, as well as having the flexibility to navigate the "parent/child" relationships (technologically speaking) regarding team structures, etc. Be careful your system is not one-sided toward only your sphere of influence or only your online lead cultivation. It needs to handle all aspects of your business. Data Is the New Bacon Everything tastes better with bacon, and a great productivity system is all about managing data. Your system must be able to handle live MLS data as well as customer and task/activity data. Data is power. Data is control. To scale your business and increase capacity, you must own and utilize your data to find the gaps in your production and identify solutions. KPIs Key Performance Indicators are the lights on each side of your runway. Not knowing where you are or where you're supposed to be will put you in a ditch. If there is one startling observation I've noticed over my career it is that profitable brokerages and agents know their KPIs and review them constantly. Underperforming brokerages and agents usually ask me, "What does KPI stand for?" Your productivity system must provide comprehensive visibility into all the appropriate indicators necessary for making decisions and adjustments during your business activities. Ironically, most CRM software companies state that a good CRM should improve agent productivity. In reality, increases in capacity or "output" is what increases production. A more honest statement would be that a good productivity system will increase profitability because it will identify gaps, increase capacity, reduce waste, and provide more time to focus on the activities that generate revenue. In short, a good productivity system provides the kind of coaching and insight that moves the needle toward profitability. Elevate BOSS (Business Operating System & Services) is a new brokerage and agent productivity system that's 100 percent devoted to increasing profitability by boosting production capacity. Elevate BOSS is much more than software, it is a system. Because it is built on a cloud-based open API platform, it is flexible and can integrate with a variety of ancillary tools. Providing everything from social media marketing, IDX sites, MLS data feeds, customer activity workflow and task coaching to lead aggregation-response-routing-and tracking plus CMA creation wizards and brokerage recruiting modules, this productivity system is the new framework putting the most critical pieces of functionality at the fingertips of real estate professionals. Additionally, the unprecedented key performance indicator dashboards provide agents and brokerages with never-before realized access to the information that matters most. The new Elevate BOSS platform is now bringing on small, medium, and large brokerages for our beta release and implementation. If you would like more information about this revolutionary business operating system, visit: boss.tryelevate.com    
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WAV Group Systems Audits and Integration
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Windows 8.1 Tip: How to Disable Hot Corners
Windows 8/8.1 features so-called "hot corners," which are particularly useful on a touchscreen device. Tap or click a corner of the touchscreen and watch something happen. (For example, tap or click the top, right corner and the Charms bar displays.) This is fine when you're tapping a touchscreen, but it sometimes gets in the way when using a PC with a mouse – especially in the desktop environment. Fortunately, in Windows 8.1, Microsoft gives you the option of disabling the top, left and right hot corners. To do this: Go to the desktop. Right-click an open area of the taskbar, and select Properties to display the Taskbar and Navigation Properties dialog box. Click the Navigation tab. Go to the Corner Navigation section, and uncheck the first two options.
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Windows 10 Unveils New Possibilities
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What You Need to Know About the New Apple iOS 8.3 Update
Apple has recently released a new update for their mobile devices that will improve performance, fix known bugs, and unveil a redesigned Emoji keyboard. This update improves performance for launching apps and how quickly they respond, messages, wi-fi, Control Center, Safari tabs, third-party keyboards, keyboard shortcuts, and more. It will also fix known bugs for wi-fi and Bluetooth connections to prevent disconnections, enterprise apps, accessibility features, and messages. Now you can send group messages and view all parties in the group, have the ability to report junk messages directly from the messages app, and filter out iMessages that are not sent by your contacts. The new update also fixes a known bug with Family Sharing that would prevent certain apps from launching or updating, preventing family members from downloading certain free apps, and increased reliability for Ask-to-Buy notifications on family members' devices. To install this update, you must either have the iPhone 4s or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad Mini or later, or iPod Touch (5th Generation). Earlier models of any of these devices are not compatible with this update. You can install this update from your device when connected to wi-fi, or by connecting your device to a computer with the newest version of iTunes installed. If you are installing it from your device, you must first go to your Settings then select the 'General' option. From there, you can select the 'software update' option and choose 'download and install.' Choose 'later' if you are not connected to wi-fi yet or choose 'install' if you already are. Download timeframes vary depending on the speed of your wireless connection. Once downloaded, your device must restart to configure and apply the update.
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Future Proof Your Real Estate Business
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2014 Paperless Guide: 6 Steps to Transitioning Your Office
Guest contributor Michael Antoniak says: Some benefits of going paperless will be immediately apparent. It's a long-term project, however, as you decide how to implement such a strategy. Make sure to hit these six steps along the way. You don't get rid of any legal obligations when you go paperless. In fact, working with digital documents and electronic signatures may come with new responsibilities to your clients and require more disclosures. Your state association can advise you on these and provide you with or point you to an authorized library of digital forms and contracts. Association representatives can also advise you on how much longer you need to hold on to your paper records and if digitized versions of those files will suffice. 1. Create a System of Systems This is a new workflow you're creating. You may find everything you need in a turnkey solution, but it's more likely that you're going to mix some software and services. Components must seamlessly integrate so the same documents are available to everyone involved, however and whenever they access them. 2. Security Security should always be a top consideration when evaluating software and cloud services. Once you go paperless, you're entrusting your documents — and the sensitive client information they contain — to that product and provider. You want assurance that your records are encrypted and protected against unauthorized access, as well as stored on multiple servers in different locations. For peace of mind, you may also want a digital archive in your office, with files automatically backed up to a hard drive on a regular schedule.
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Systems, Systems, Systems!
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Did You Forget About the Data?
You are buying another brokerage, you've negotiated the terms and you've finally cut the deal. The acquisition of that competitor's office is going to finally happen. Congratulations! Now you are thinking about changing the building sign; getting new business cards and yard signs for the agents; how to announce the deal; etc. This is all of the surface stuff that people see. But have you thought about the engine that runs the machine? Your technology, your back office accounting systems, your web integration to the MLS/Boards and every tool that actually makes your company run! These essential tools are often overlooked until the day after. And what you don't see is what creates challenges! Here are some things to consider: When integrating one office to a new environment, the back office systems are often not the same. And, even if the two companies are with the same technology partner, the service level or menu of products can be different and will require some advanced planning to seamlessly integrate. The MLS systems can be challenging and will also require some advanced coordination between you, the other party, your MLS, real estate boards and your technology partner. Sensitivity and confidentiality prior to your announcement are critical and you should ask your technology partner and any employees involved to sign a NDA.
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Windows 8: Learn the New Windows
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Windows 7 or Windows 8: Which to Choose
Windows 7 was Microsoft's big hit after the complete miss known as Vista. With the release of 7, Microsoft showed that it is not ready to hang up its hat. Now with Microsoft's newest release, Windows 8, some parts of the operating system are old hat but some portions are a whole new bag of tricks. By this point you're wondering what the new changes are and what hasn't changed, or maybe just which version works better for you. Interface The first change is in the Windows 8 user interface (the user interface is what you see and interact with on your screen.) There's some similarities to 7, but it's still very different because it is geared more towards touch screen PCs. Windows 7 had support for touch, but not as improved as Microsoft's newest version. This change is personified in the new start menu. Now dubbed Start Screen, this interactive menu shows your choices now on tiles. These tiles give you an easier and quicker way to access the programs you want. A further improvement has been the on-screen keyboard and hand recognition. A Windows 8 touch enabled PC is not required for this to work. There are peripherals made by Microsoft, Logitech and other companies, such as touch mice and track pads that allow users to use the touch based properties of Windows 8.
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Tech Talk: iOS 6 Disappointing, but Worth Downloading
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Look Out! Business Process Systems Are Everywhere You Look
Why don't brokerages update their business process systems to create the exceptional real estate transactions consumers and agents are looking for? Most real estate companies don't run efficiently because effective business process systems are nonexistent, and any business process management is a mostly rudimentary, manual process. So I wonder: If the manufacturer of a coffee drink or automobile can have systems that assure consistency, quality, and great experiences, why can't the same be said of a $300,000 home—the most important investment most Americans will ever make? "I would like a Frappuccino™ please." Business process systems are everywhere you look. Someone at the front counter presses a button on a computer; A barista follows a very specific series of instructions, illustrating which ingredients to use, how to assemble and then package the drink; Each location purchases their products and ingredients from approved vendors that follow strict guidelines set by corporate. This ensures quality, fresh products are served to their customers. Your Frappuccino™ tastes, looks, and is delivered the same way whether you are in Miami, New York, Boston, or Los Angeles. This business process management yields efficient and consistent results, benefiting the customer, store and corporate. I am a firm believer that the real estate transaction has been commoditized. What is going to separate the winners from the losers will be the quality and consistency of what the brokerage and its agents can deliver to the consumer. The key to this will be the ability to install business process systems that facilitate the seamless, accountable, and transparent organization of information key to the real estate transaction. Improving your business process management will allow you to deliver the best real estate transaction possible for agents and consumers.
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Real Estate Service: Bridging the Gap!
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Six Philosophies Winning Companies Share
As part of the Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate monthly talent attraction discussion series for network brokers and managers, Eric Post, VP and co-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Realty Partners in Oregon, shared a considerable amount of valuable insight with our network into what it takes to build a winning company. I was really excited to speak with Eric; I admire his energy and passion and I knew he had a lot to share with our network, and the timing seemed perfect. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Realty Partners has achieved many accomplishments over the last year. After many months of trimming the budget and committing to a campaign that would "organically and aggressively" grow the company, Eric agreed to share his company's strategies and philosophies that he believes all winning companies share. Creating a Balanced Life If you happen to friend Eric on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, you will see a man who understands the value of balance. He works hard to play hard and this attitude seems to play a considerable role in his many achievements. Whether it is hanging off a snow-covered mountain, smiling on a school bus with his daughter or the pictures involving his Father's Day Spartan Race, it is apparent that Eric is a man with drive, determination and a very big heart. When I asked him how he juggles personal and professional activities, Eric shared one of his biggest success secrets. He schedules appointments with himself, not only professionally, but personally as well. Time with his family, time at the gym and time spent building his business all go on the calendar. In an industry where it is easy to put in 80 hour weeks, Eric knows that the key to success is setting aside personal time. For him, the happier, healthier and more balanced he is, the better business partner he will be.
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Try Homefeedback - 6 Months Free!
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What’s the Deal With Windows 7?
These days, it seems like I can’t go anywhere without hearing about Windows 7. With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at why everyone seems to be completely enamored by the software. For Windows Vista users, the change is pretty gradual. Windows 7 borrows many of the user interface enhancements that were first introduced in Vista. For XP users, however, the change is dramatic. Speaking as a lifelong Windows user, I can say that like many, I avoided Windows Vista due to the negativity surrounding it. Since making the jump from XP way back in January (when the public beta became available), I can’t imagine going back to XP mainly due to the advancements in the user interface. If you haven’t already heard about the new features and changes in Microsoft’s latest operating system, here’s a brief rundown:
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