Tech expert Anton Babkov reveals how agencies can enjoy big productivity gains by making just a few small changes to their business.
For the last five years, I’ve worked in the real estate software industry, witnessing tech-driven success first hand. More often than not, the biggest shifts in our clients’ productivity haven’t come from radical changes to the way they operate. It’s the little things that add up – like switching to an easier tool to complete a task, or removing an unnecessary step in a workflow.
In this post, we’re going to run through three easily implemented apps that some of our most innovative clients are using.
Slack – the email and meeting killer
Email isn’t great for internal communications and meetings take up time most of us don’t have. That’s why plenty of businesses (ours included) have moved to Slack.
Slack is a cross-platform messaging and file-sharing application. It lets you message a co-worker directly, or set up channels for departments or projects so teams can collaborate. Plus, it comes as both a desktop and mobile application, so you can keep a finger on the pulse of your agency wherever you go.
Deadline reminders, agency announcements, price updates and under-contract notifications are just a few examples of things you wouldn’t want to risk losing in your inbox. Instead, these can be posted to the appropriate Slack channel where everyone who needs to is sure to see them – either as an alert on their computer or as a push notification on their mobile.
Despite being less than two years old, Slack is used by the likes of NASA, BuzzFeed, Spotify and AirBnB. And the best part? There’s a free version.
You can create your own account here. It’s also a good idea to have a look at Slack’s guide to getting started and customising your account.
The greatest to-do list of all time
Put your hand up if your office is littered with post-it notes.
While your CRM is probably great for follow-ups and client management, more diverse processes are going to need their own system – which usually means dusting off the whiteboard and abacus. Instead, for the low price of absolutely nothing, you can move to Asana.
Asana is a cloud-based task-management application that makes getting in control of your growing workload easy. You set up projects, add tasks and subtasks within them, then tick them off as you go. You can attach deadlines, assign tasks to users and give feedback with the in-built comment system to streamline the way you work together.
If you don’t have concrete processes for things like organising community events, on-boarding vendors and managing or creating marketing schedules, you should definitely give Asana a go. Aggregating and compartmentalising your tasks and projects – coupled with Asana’s KPI reporting and tracking functionality – is great for keeping you prepared and on track (just in case you were wondering – NASA uses Asana too).
Asana has comprehensive help documentation and a guide to getting started here.
Accounting for the rest of us
Xero has been making some huge waves lately – and with good reason. Their online accounting software is, in a word, awesome.
As a tech business, we use Xero. As a matter of fact, we’ve been so impressed that we’re already working on integrating it into our system.
Xero offers an incredible amount of functionality for a menial fee: instant cash flow, integrated bank feeds, simplified follow-up, easy invoicing – it’s all there in the one great system. What’s more, unlike essentially all accounting software ever, it’s actually easy to use.
Real estate (and the rest of the known world) has needed a truly innovative and usable accounting application for a long time – and Xero has provided. It works wonders for simplifying the payroll, sick/annual leave, paying bills, billing out, client invoicing and all your taxes and GST. Everything that goes out and everything that comes in can be processed in a few clicks within Xero.
Xero’s desktop and mobile apps work in tandem so you can keep on top of all the payments you need to make or receive everywhere you go.
I strongly recommend checking out Xero’s pricing plans – you can even try it out for free. Your accountant will love you for it.
I said I was going to mention three apps, but here are a few bonus ones you might like to check out as well:
- Yesware for open and view tracking for individual emails;
- E-sign for contracts and other documents;
- Hootsuite for social media management and automated marketing schedules.
Anton Babkov is the chief executive of Rex Software, a real estate software provider with 30 staff and more than 600 agency users. He talks regularly with Rex users and leading industry thinkers about the state of technology and innovation in the real estate sector. Until 2008, Anton practised intellectual property and internet law, working with tech companies from early-stage start-ups to some of Australia’s largest telecommunications and media companies.