In every industry, we have tools for our productivity, contact management, note-taking, and calculations. The trouble is that there are so many out there, I wanted to provide my favourite tools. Some of them are odd and really handy.
CRM – Contact Relationship Management
These systems often come hand in hand with Productivity products. Sometimes, though you’re working in multiple places, and that drives me batty so I sought out some options. Keep in mind that if you’re using Google Contacts, a lot of CRMs do not have two-way sync and you need to remember to do all your updating within the product. You can tell what I’m excited about – because it’s FIRST on this list!
- Top Producer – Exclusively for Realtors and their teams. It’s a full real estate business manager if used correctly. It’s both a spider web and a rabbit hole. This is my #1 go to when agents ask me what I’d choose. This CRM connects to a lot of lead sources and tools, can be a beast to set up, and, seemingly, take forever to learn how to use. However! Once it’s set up, a few tweaks over the course of your future, healthy habits in your business, and a serious commitment to applying everything, Top Producer can turn your ho-hum business into a multi-million dollar enterprise. This program comes with drip programs and content built in. You can customize or create your own marketing products, link to MailChimp, and automate as much as possible. There is always the Top Producer Campus, but sometimes you need someone to ask who can quickly answer your question. For this, I offer a training program, coaching program, and retainer options. Talk to me, and we’ll choose something suitable for your needs.
- Agile CRM – It’s like Top Producer but without the Real Estate specific features and also provides some serious technical advantages if your lead generation is via your website. DIY drip programs, sales pipelines, and tracking what pages your leads visited on your website and how long they stayed. I was so excited by these features I decided to sign up. But first! Clean-up and prepare to import your database from every source.
- Insightly, Contactually, etc. There are hundreds of CRM programs on the market. Less is more, more is too much. Selecting a CRM means you personally need to decide what are your bare minimum requirements. If all you need is a Rolodex, the address on your phone linked to Google Contacts online is generally good enough – you can take notes on your interactions.
- Google, Outlook – These two most people have access to, and can be used for Contact management, but they don’t provide much in the way of automation for future follow-up, drip programs etc. Handy for the short term, but to move above and beyond, while they can be used for productivity, they don’t streamline many processes unless you get yourself into some great workflow habits. Currently, I use Google.
You can use Google Tasks and Calendar to give yourself deadlines for projects, but they aren’t all that efficient at streamlining when you have multiple steps, and sometimes multiple people. I’ve come across a lot of titles recently if you want to explore.
- Asana, Trello – These two provide visual sorting and managing of tasks and involve multiple people. Trello reminded me of using Post-It Notes to keep things straight.
- TeamWork – A beast of a program – designed for teams, tasks, projects and internal messaging. My group found it difficult to navigate and it was a bit too large for our needs.
- Slack – Excellent for team collaboration, chat, questions and offers file sharing too.
You’re at a coffee shop, your phone rings. It’s a client. You grab a napkin, steal the server’s pen. 10 minutes later – OOOPS! Napkin is gone, and FREAK OUT! Stop right there – there’s always a better way! (Really, I’m all about there being a better way).
- Evernote – Always my go-to solution. While many of my friends have it, they have no idea how to use it. The simplest question I ask is: Do you know how to use a notebook? Yes? Great. Evernote is the digital version. In fact, you can have a couple hundred notebooks, infinite tags, photos, PDF, Word and Excel files and reminders. Evernote keeps adding features and it’s hard to keep up. My favourite? Searchable handwriting! Yes, you read that right. Write your note on a napkin, create a new PHOTO note in Evernote, and take a picture – within a few hours, your note is now searchable text. Professional is $45 per year and gives you MORE upload space per month. If you’re a foodie like me, check out my Recipe notebook.
- One-Note – I know some who prefer this over Evernote, and like Evernote has it’s goods and bads.
Odds, Ends and Weirds
- Date Calculator – If you use Craigslist or Kijiji, you know that your ad’s days are numbered. Do you want to know when your ad will expire? Craigslist pulls ads every 45 days, whether you’re updating them or not. Using this handy tool, punch in the date, the number of days, and it calculates the end date.
- Merge PDF – You may not have access to a fancy Adobe Suite or PDF editing software. While Google Chrome has a feature that allows you to split your PDF files as you “save” them, you can’t easily merge files. With this website, you upload all the pieces, re-arrange the pages, then click Merge and Save. Done! Your separate PDFs are all in one.
If you have a unique or super helpful Tool that you love, let me know! I’d be happy to add something to this list for both small business entrepreneurs and Realtors.
I’m a tool-using, streamlining, make-it-go faster junkie.