As a real estate investor, time is everything. That is why it is absolutely critical to maximize your time spent in the industry. Every minute you can dedicate to income producing activities gives you an advantage over the competition. Our partners at CT Homes have found that automating simple tasks around the office cannot only increase your productivity, but also enhance performance. If you are finding that you need more hours in the day, try automating these simple office tasks:
1. Paying The Bills
Bills, for all intents and purposes, are the most polarizing aspect of owning a business. On the one hand, you are expected to go into debt in able to provide a service. After all, it takes electricity, a place of business, and many other things to run a company. On the other hand, enlisting the services of others, whether it is the electric company or a lease office, is often instrumental in providing your own service. Quite simply, it is nearly impossible to make money without spending money. Irony at its finest. However, just because bills are important, doesn’t mean they should take up too much of your time.
Instead of allocating your already limited time towards paying the bills, use a service that allows you to manage all of your payments. Bill.com, for example, is a bill management system that can integrate seamlessly with perennial management systems such as Xero and Quickbooks. It is entirely possible to manage bills from every department of your business in one place, and with more accuracy. Some suggest that a management system such as this can cut your bill paying time in half. Think about how much more you could get done without the stress of paying bills weighing you down. This particular automation not only saves you time, but worry as well.
2. Customer Support Issues
Today’s real estate landscape has become increasingly customer-centric. A distinct movement has been initiated to connect with people on a more personal level, especially with the advent of technology having taken personal interaction off the table. With that in mind, it has never been more important – or easier – to keep in touch with your consumer base. Instead of wasting precious time scouring emails and social media platforms, employ a tracking system that provides a central location to access customer issues – a communication hub, if you will.
As your business grows, it will become more difficult to maintain business-friendly interactions with your clients. That is why you want to automate your customer support issues. All it takes is one negative issue for your reputation to take a hit. Stay on top of potential problems by setting up a contact form on your website, and route communications by type to central inboxes, where assigned individuals on your team can answer them. In doing so, you will quickly learn some of the most commonly asked questions. Once you have an idea of said questions, dedicate a page on your website to answering them. That way, you will not be inundated with as many customer support issues, and you can go about your business. In short, be proactive and head off problems before they become a bigger issue.
3. Marketing Communications
Real estate marketing is perhaps one of the most important activities to a real estate investor, or at least those looking to maintain a sustainable business. If that is you, you already know the importance of a proven funnel. But did you know that there are even some marketing strategies that can be automated? Done successfully, automated marketing is almost like having another employee at your disposal.
There is software, readily available might I add, that is specifically designed for this specific purpose: automated marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software like Infusionsoft and Hubspot gives you a way to automate large portions of your online marketing, by establishing a series of steps for generating leads on your website, and then designating follow-up activities. An email campaign is the perfect example. Don’t get stuck spending time on something that can take care of itself.
Also, the use of real estate apps can help streamline marketing efforts. Having access to apps via your mobile phone will enable investors to not only streamline processes, but improve efficiency along the way. For beginner investors, these tools can produce significant results.
4. Filling Out Online Forms
This strategy is relatively simple, but one of my favorite, nonetheless. I am sure you have filled out a form or two in your day-to-day business operations. It is almost impossible to get anywhere online without filling something out. Whether it was signing up for new software or applying for a loan, there are countless registrars online. There is one problem, however: each of them requires the same fields to be filled out. How many times have you had to type in your name or address in the last week, or even a password? Inputting your name, company, address, and contact information time after time in online forms can be tiresome.
Fortunately, as I said before, there is a simple solution. A software program like Roboform is capable of storing your data, as to save you the agony of having to manually enter it each time you come across one of those pesky online forms. Not only will you be saving time, but you will also be ensuring accuracy.
5. Backing Up Company Data
Data is inconceivably important to a thriving company. In fact, some companies are in business solely because of the importance of data. Of particular concern, however, is how easily data can be lost. Negligence on behalf of one person can result in lost or irretrievable data. Most of the time it is unintentional, or even computer error. Either way, the loss of important data can cripple even the strongest of companies. That is why it is so important to back it up.
There are so many inexpensive tools on the market that automatically back up data at scheduled intervals, that there’s no excuse for data loss. Google Drive is a perfect example: it automatically saves any changes made to a document or spreadsheet, just in case the unexpected happens.
6. Scheduling Meetings
Meetings are an integral part of any business, but they can certainly eat up a lot of time. However, those in the real estate business may find that more time is wasted just trying to establish a proper meeting time in the first place. Coordinating meeting times between numerous parties sounds simple enough, but everyone is on a different schedule. What may work for one person one week may not be optimal for another. The simple task of setting up a meeting can become daunting before you know it.
I know what you are thinking: “even this can be automated?” The answer is yes. ScheduleOnce, or other similar scheduling apps, can help you align your available times to meet. ScheduleOnce allows users to connect their existing calendars from sources like Google or Outlook. When you need to set an appointment, you can easily see everyone’s availability and work from there. It eliminates the back and forth redundancy that has hurt so many business in the past.
7. Inbox Management
It is no secret that the inbox has become a part of our daily routine. It has become habitual to check your inbox as frequently as possible, even when you aren’t working, and for good reason: email is one of the best ways to keep in contact today. However, if you aren’t careful, it can certainly be a waste of time. Sifting through email can waste a lot of time on its own accord. Get organized!
It is entirely possible to set up labeled folders for different types of emails, like newsletters and communications with clients. It is very simple to organize your inbox, which the first step towards automating it. Designate labels and folders for every aspect of your business. Know where things are if they need to be found on a moment’s notice.
Responding to emails is an entirely different animal, however. Some emails can be responded to with a canned response. As their name suggests, these automate your responses to unique inquiries. If you know where an email is coming from, you can respond with a preconceived response. It can be as simple as letting someone know that you will get back to him or her as soon as possible.
Of course, saving time is only part of the equation. What you do with the time you save is equally important. Make sure the time you save is dedicated to income producing activities. You want to be maximizing the best use of your time.
Now that you have some extra time in your day, what will you do with it?