When making a cocktail of any sort, the key is balancing the flavors. Each ingredient serves a purpose to make the drink as a whole satisfyingly delicious. When one of the ingredients is wrong, or used in the wrong amount, the end result is a drink that just doesn’t taste very good.
With the cocktail analogy in mind, I want you to think about the systems you use to run the operations side of a real estate business. The executive assistant in this case becomes the mixologist. Essentially, you get to choose which ingredients you add to your systems cocktail to create an outstanding operations department.
Now, you can buy pre-mixed drinks off the grocery store shelf, and they do a pretty decent job of making a drink that is easily consumed. However, the best drinks are by far the ones you customize yourself. The same is true in real estate. You can purchase a CRM (customer relationship management) system that says they do it all, but I’ve never seen a clear winner in the “we-do-everything” category. They may have the components, but those components rarely do as well as the companies who specialize in the individual components.
Let me get very specific here. The way I see it, you need the following systems in place to run a real estate business:
- a database
- a listing and closing transaction management system
- email drip campaigns
- a way to capture leads (typically integrated into a website)
- a blog (works best when integrated into a website)
- a telephone system
- an email system
- a calendar sharing system
These are the bare minimum essentials.
Something you may want to consider as your team grows or begins to integrate circle prospecting (calling the people around your listings to tell them the house is on the market, under contract, or sold) is an auto dialer. In the past, we used Cole Directory to find the phone numbers and then exported those numbers into Vulcan 7.
We use Top Producer as our main database. It it comprised of many of the components in the list above. In fact, I think the only thing it’s not is a telephone system. We specifically use it for the two things it does extraordinarily well and that’s database management and listing and closing transaction management.
I like Top Producer specifically for managing current and past clients. I get to assign plans that I’ve created myself (checklists if you will) to each current client as a listing plan or a closing plan. I then get to manage past clients using an action plan. These plans tell me what to do and when to do it. I can create and print home purchase anniversary letters, remind myself to send an email, or remind my agents to text a client on their birthday.
For leads who have yet to become clients, I like to use the system that the lead came in on. If you have an eEdge website, or Boomtown, Kunversion, CINC, or any other number of attract-and-capture websites, they often have a database and email drip campaigns associated with them. I like to let the agents work the leads inside those systems.
Other lead-capture websites may be bringing you leads that don’t have an integrated follow-up system. Realtor.com and Zillow are two that come readily to mind. For those leads, it’s important to create your own email drip campaigns and manage the leads on your own. That’s why I like to have a separate system for email drip campaigns.
We use Happy Grasshopper for email drip campaigns for leads. No matter where the lead comes from, I can create a custom drip campaign and manage it directly out of Happy Grasshopper. I also use it to send out our weekly e-newsletter which goes out to everyone in our database. And that’s why when we close business with someone, they also get added to the Happy Grasshopper database.
While everyone gets the weekly e-newsletter, I can create custom emails to send to only Zillow leads, or only past clients. I can also see who opened the email and the open rates that each mass email gets. While Top Producer allows me to send mass emails, it doesn’t allow me to see if they were opened nor the open rates.
Unfortunately, I don’t like Top Producer’s email and calendar system. That’s why I don’t use them. It’s much easier to manage those things outside that system. And Top Producer does integrate with Gmail which lets me sync the two. So when a client calls, I can answer it on my computer or cell phone and the person’s name comes up in the caller ID without me having to add the client as a contact in my phone.
That’s why I’m telling you to find the right mix of systems for your business. I hear executive assistants say they need a CRM that does everything. Do you want the pre-mixed drink that just tastes ok, or do you want the custom cocktail that everyone at the party raves about because it’s just that good?
Here’s the recipe for our own custom cocktail:
- Database – Top Producer
- Listing and closing transaction management system – Top Producer
- Email drip campaigns – Happy Grasshopper
- Lead capture – custom website, Zillow, Realtor.com (these are our primary)
- Blog – WordPress (.org not .com) integrated into our custom website
- Telephone system – cell phones for agents, Google Voice for admin staff
- Email system – Gmail
- Calendar sharing – Google Calendar
What’s the recipe for your custom cocktail? Copy/paste the list below into the comments and add what systems you use to manage your real estate business. I bet there are some deliciously good systems out there!
Listing and closing management:
Email drip campaigns: