Even the smallest adjustments can bring big benefits in the shape of productivity, efficiency and sales. There are many tools on the market, but the challenge is finding the right ones. Having been in real estate for many years myself, I understand what the daily frustrations look like. Here are some ideas on tools and resources to support you in your quest for ongoing agency success:
Are you using the cloud to streamline your operations and store your valuable data in a secure way? Cloud-based software has brought about a new wave of tools that are revolutionising the way both small and large businesses operate. We’ll cover some of these below.
Accounting and finance
If your agency’s accounting lies at the mercy of an Excel spreadsheet, it might be time to invest in accounting software. Whilst you might be used to using Excel over the years, it isn’t an accounting tool and has many limitations. Aside from the potential for human error, the use of manual methods such as Excel spreadsheets will cost hundreds of human hours over the year, and also expose you to human error and nasty GST mistakes that need sorting out at year-end.
If you’re thinking it’s time for an upgrade, I recommend Xero. There’s a reason why Xero gets endless reviews and continues to go from strength to strength. It’s packed with tools and intelligent features that could work wonders for your agency. Xero will enable you to collaborate with your accountant and save much time reconciling the numbers. Its key features include sharing the accounts with your accountant, connecting your books with your bank accounts, automated billing and integration with valuable systems such as PayPal, financial reporting and CRM software. What’s more, it’s also a flexible and highly responsive interface, which means you can enjoy the experience across your PC, tablet and mobile.
Remote working and collaboration
Is your team using Microsoft Office? If you haven’t already, you might want to consider Microsoft’s online suite, Office 365. It’s a great tool that gives you access to the familiar Office platform (email, documentation, spreadsheets and presentations) in the cloud. It’s a great solution for doing work on the go, sharing team files and documents and increasing productivity across the board. Subscription to Office 365 is very reasonable, it just depend how many licences are required for your agency.
If your agents are using iPads for work purposes, Office is now available via a series of apps on the iPad. These apps enable you to make edits to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents directly from the iPad – then send them on or save them to Microsoft’s very own OneDrive if you have Office 365 (or Dropbox if you prefer that). This is a great example of how the power of the cloud can be leveraged to create seamless working in your team.
Dropbox is another extremely useful tool that allows you to store your agency’s files and folders in the cloud, so that everyone can access them at any time. What’s more, you can share files by sending links to folders or individual documents by email. It’s very handy for sending large files and it’s completely free too. With Dropbox, you don’t need to worry about losing data. If your server or hardware fails you, your files are nice and safe.
If you’re big on social media in your agency, ensure you’re not wasting too many hours doing basic posts. To streamline your social media activity, you can use tools such as HootSuite. Hootsuite lets you control all your activity from one dashboard, without the hassle of logging in and out of different accounts.
MailChimp is a great email marketing tool that’s completely free and advanced enough to support good email marketing practice. Using professional software will also ensure you look polished to your clients, help you segment your database and keep your email lists up to date. Above anything, it’s extremely simple too.
If your agency uses PowerPoint presentation or video, Vimeo and Slide Share are great resources. Vimeo is the new and more modern version of YouTube and a user-friendly platform to host and share your agency videos – be it client testimonials or your own company videos. Similarly, Slide Share enables you to store your presentations online and share them with staff and clients.
In terms of website resources, Wordpress is the most popular website CMS platform. And with good reason – it’s easy to use and makes publishing content extremely easy. Shutterstock is our go-to resource for blog post images and a few other marketing activities. There’s a decent selection of high quality, low cost images on there. For targeted internet marketing tools to help you boost traffic, you might find resources such as Noble Samurai useful.
For password management, Last Pass is another free tool that will enable you and your team to log-into your regular accounts and save hours in trying to remember passwords. It’s these little things that can make big differences to the day to day!
There’s an abundance of tools to help make your life easier as an agency owner. Use them in the right way and you’ll save hours.