By Jonathan Osman
No one would have guessed that REALTORS® would look back on 2009 as “the good ole days,” but as the real estate market continues to find bottom, that’s exactly what some are doing. The reality for 2011 may be that we are all fighting for a smaller piece of the sales pie and remaining in business means implementing low-cost solutions to save money.
That being said, here are a five technology tools that brokers and agents alike should implement to help survive an uncertain 2011.
1. Cloud-based Phone Service
The telephone is still the most important tool of our business but for most brokerages, this can result in a huge monthly expense towards the bottom line. Plus, every agent walks around with a phone attached to their hip so is the expense of a phone system and monthly service even necessary?
Services like RingCentral, Grasshopper, and Phonebooth offer users a plethora of options and features usually reserved for phone systems that cost as much as a BMW 550i for less than the cost of a cell phone bill. Local number – check, 800 number – check, fax-to-email – check. “Find Me” features – check. Best of all, whether you are a solo agent, small company working from home, or a mid-sized firm with 50 agents, you can still have the big-company presence which is could help in recruiting agents to work for you. Continue reading »
By Jonathan Osman
Eight months ago, I started investigating the idea of buying my own telephone system. With my mobile number on every sign that I owned and in every ad, I received calls at all hours of the day and night, which got old fast. The idea of simply turning off my ringer at night was not an option either since I no longer have a land-line at home.
After discovering how expensive it would be to purchase, install, and operate my own phone system, I discovered a number of virtual phone systems that are currently available; the most popular being Google Voice.
For the solo agent or for personal use, Google Voice is a must-have. Google Voice is free to register (although you must be invited) and you can order a “local” number to receive voicemail and text messages. You can even dial out using either the Google Voice website or the free mobile app. Both the app and the website will mask your real phone number with your Google Voice number. I love using voicemail through Google Voice because the voice-to-text transcription allows me to read an e-mail of a voicemail even though the translations are hit or miss.
For groups or agents demanding more robust features, I would highly recommend a paid virtual phone system through a service like RingCentral, Grasshopper (formerly Got Vmail), or Phonebooth. All have the capabilities to provide you with a local number, a toll free number, e-fax, company directory, VoIP, and more. When a client dials in, a recording directs them to the department or extensions which are available. Continue reading »