It’s about Time, not Tech for Tech’s Sake

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An article by Alister Maple-Brown, CEO, Rockend Technology

Life is busy – and getting busier every day. It’s a constant battle to get everything done. But it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, we all have the same 24 hours in our day.

How good would it be be if you had more time?

Technology can help. While it can’t magically create more hours in a day, it can help you do more in the same amount of time and provide a more focused and valuable experience for your clients.

But there’s no point simply using technology for technology’s sake. It has to be the right technology. It’s all too easy to get caught up with the next shiny new thing. But does that shiny new thing save you time? More importantly, does it save you time repeatedly? And not just your time, but also everyone else’s time – your team, clients and stakeholders?

The value of implementing the right technology lies in its ability to save everyone time, over and over and over again.

Here are three ways technology can help you save time.

1. Automating personalised communications

No one wants to feel like they’re just another faceless person in a crowd – and that includes your clients. We all want to feel special and we all want to be communicated with in a way that’s personal.

Gone are the days when a letter or email addressed to “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” will cut it. These days we expect to see our name (spelt correctly!) and we expect the message to be personalised. We expect the businesses we deal with to understand our needs and provide desirable information, products, services and solutions. And we don’t pay attention if there’s no effort to communicate with us in a meaningful and pleasing way.

While providing the personal touch may seem time consuming, it doesn’t have to be. Technology can save you time by making your communications more efficient and personal.

Thanks to the sheer amount of data that’s generated every day by digital processes and social media exchanges, you can develop insights into individual client interests and needs – and, using this data, you can generate a personalised communication experience in a bulk, automated way.

Take PropertyTree. You can easily tailor and personalise the statement you provide to landlords, so every client is receiving the information they want, in the way they want it. And you can create clear lines of communication by automating tasks such as late payment reminders and more.

2. Controlling the online experience

Let’s face it, we all like to be in control. And we’ve been conditioned by the online tools we use to expect this control in our everyday lives. Consider social media. When we set up our social media profiles, we select our preferences – what type of posts do I want to see, what kind of alerts do I want to receive and who do I want to be connected with. It’s all about ‘me’.

It should be no different when it comes to business. You don’t need to control every bit of information that flows to your clients. They shouldn’t need to call or email you every time they want the answer to a simple question.

Implementing the right technology can ensure your clients have access to the information they’re after whenever they need it. From online knowledge bases and training videos to self-serve preferences and user portals, the options are endless. And every time a client engages with one of these tools, it saves you time because they’re not dialling your number or filling your inbox.

PropertyTree’s Landlord & Tenant portal is the perfect example. Landlords and tenants always have lots of little questions. Whether it’s a question from a landlord about the status of a repair or a tenant asking when their rent is next due, it all takes time. With PropertyTree, all they need to do is log into the portal and find the information they need. It allows landlords and tenants to take control of their online experience and, in the process, saves you time.

3. Maximising every minute

These days, we live 24/7 lives. Whether it’s business or personal, we’re always ‘on’.

Out of the office, out on the road and out of business hours, we all need the right technology solutions at our fingertips to get the job done. You want on-the-spot access to the information and data you need, no matter where you are. You can’t afford to be chained to a desk. That’s why it’s essential for your business to implement cloud-based technology tools.

PropertyTree is a cloud-based property management solution that helps property managers make the most of every minute of their day. You can access everything you need whenever and wherever you are. Think about it. If you’re out and about and a client asks a question, you don’t need to wait until you’re back in the office to provide the answer. All you need to do is pick up your mobile device and everything is at your fingertips. No down time. No time wasted.

Time to build relationships

Think of technology as your helpful sidekick. It’s an important tool you can use, but on its own it isn’t the answer to everything.

Why? Because real estate is a people business.

Real estate has been and always will be about relationships. People want to deal with people, and property managers are dealing with what is often one of their clients’ biggest investments. While technology can help facilitate a transaction it will never be able to completely replace people.

The value of technology lies in it’s ability to save you time. Good agents need to be able to give good advice and positively influence interactions with clients. So by letting technology do what technology does best – which is a lot of the more routine and mundane tasks – you can get back to building stronger relationships with your clients.

Developed by Rockend, PropertyTree is Australia and New Zealand’s first cloud-based property management solution. You can experience PropertyTree firsthand with a free demonstration by calling 1300 778 733.

Time Management

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An article by Michelle Kathopoulos, Absolute Real Estate, NT

Everyone talks about time management. Let’s face it – it’s important. But what is equally integral is finding the time management method that suits your personal organisational structure.

The “ideal week” has been practiced and preached for years, and with a little flexibility there are people that make it work well for them.

With technology evolving and the need for immediacy being paramount, is the ideal week enough? What happens if this particular style is not for you? Are there other ways to improve time management while staying true to your personality traits and strengths?

Many of us are highly organised but there is always room for improvement.  Tim Duncan said: “Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” 

There are four key methods I use to provide enhanced time management while reducing the stress involved with the almighty “to do” list.

1. Maximise your Calendar and Reminders

Schedule routine and repeated tasks to reoccur. While in essence this may be an ideal week – exact times are not followed but used more as a guideline. Diarise what is needed daily, weekly etc. adding as required.

The reminders will continue to prompt with the list of actions. Don’t dismiss until it is done, Snooze for a certain timeframe or move it to another time if it isn’t fitting in with the priority at that time

2. Don’t be a slave to your Inbox

With emails available on any device, phones, tablets, remotely – it seems that we can’t escape the increasing “number in red” next to that email envelope on our screens.

There are two things you can do with the email. Move or delete.  At the LPMA conference 2016, Gihan Perera suggested some alternative time management options – particularly on how to manage emails.

Gihan suggested using pending sub folders – Today, Tomorrow, Next week, Later, Tasks assigned and Follow up.

I adopted it to suit me personally and I found that this not only reduced the number of emails in my inbox but subsequently lowered the stress I felt with always having to be at my emails. It also refined my priorities.

The following sub folders were what I implemented: Today, This week & Next week.

You will note that while there are still plenty of emails that need actioning, they just don’t need to be done immediately.

Michelle Email In box

3. Have a follow up system

No one wants to lie awake all night thinking about what needs following up, or feel the repercussions when something is forgotten. Don’t rely on others replying to your email to be the next reminder.

A suggestion that works: Checking SENT items and sub foldering regularly ensures that nothing is missed, or picked up quickly if it has been overlooked.

If there is a quick turnaround needed, try ccing yourself and drag it to your calendar as a reminder.

4. Quiet time.

Gihan Perera also discussed the Pomodoro Technique - a time management method dedicated to allocating specific tasks in specific timeframes - usually 26 minutes with a 7 minutes break. The technique uses a timer to plan, track, and record the progress. A Pomodoro is the interval of time spent working. For more information on this visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Pomodoro

Personally this didn’t work – so we collaborated and adopted “Quiet times” for our office instead. It’s great!

In an office with almost 20 ladies, quiet time is almost impossible. Quiet time is two hours every day – 9am to 10am and 2pom to 3pm.

Quiet time promotes no interruptions during these times. Emails are acceptable, as are appointments and making calls. This time is allocated for tasks requiring focus and concentration.

Our Property Managers do their Notices, insurance claims etc. The assistants prepare documentation and reconcile marketing. Management isn’t distracted with regular interruptions. It has really worked for us.

I believe that we take something from everything and adopt it to suit. Time management is no exception. Hopefully you have some time to refine your processes.

O, H & S. - Is it time to review your policies?

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An article by Peter O'Brien

One of the most important tasks I have taken on in almost every Company that I have worked is looking over the policies and procedures of Occupational Health & Safety.

I have always considered this area of responsibility to be extremely important.

Besides the legislative requirements that business’s need to ensure that are in place, implemented and reviewed, it is at the top of my list because I do not want my staff to face any danger or unnecessary risks whilst they are working for me.

O, H & S has become a priority in not only real estate businesses, but many companies and different industries throughout Melbourne and indeed Australia. Unfortunately in most cases many Business Owners don’t focus on this area in their day to day working responsibilities and O, H & S elements are generally only reviewed when we come across an actual problem or an issue has been reported. We must ask ourselves the question - Why do we wait until an incident occurs before we take a look in our “Own backyards?”

I can still remember the chilling incident way back in October 2005 in which an agent’s representative was murdered in Victoria. It was at a private property inspection. This was a terrible tragedy, and I actually know of several other events equally as disturbing that have occurred in the real estate industry and it is frightening that sometimes we get caught up with what work we have to do and our busy lives both professionally and privately we potentially are putting ourselves and others in danger. – I am sure that all of us would like to be able to do everything we possibly can to make sure we are all safe as we attend to our day to day work.

1st January 2012 marked an historic event for our jurisdiction with the commencement of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(Cth) (WHS Act) for the Commonwealth jurisdiction.

The WHS Act replaced the now retractedOccupational Health and Safety Act 1991.

The WHS Act initiated a new era in the harmonisation of health and safety for all Australian workers. A number of other legislative instruments that support the document also commenced on that day:

  • Work Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential) Act 2011 (Cth).
  • Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth).
  • Work Health and Safety Approved Codes of Practice 2011 (Cth).

The legislation offers an opportunity for a person conducting a business or undertaking to review, refresh and renew how we manage health and safety through governance, policies and procedures. It also provides the opportunity for all workers to consider their role in health and safety at work.

The new WHS laws maintain the following important safety obligations:

  • the health and safety of people must underpin all operational decisions
  • appropriate consultation, training and safe systems of work
  • workplaces free from harassment and bullying
  • agencies and organisations remain subject to enforcement action for non-compliance.

When we look at out OH & S policies we can’t just look “within your own office”.

Although it is important to create a safe working environment within the office premises, we must also look at other locations that we as Real Estate Agents need to visit to fulfill our employment duties.

The Act defines a workplace as ‘any place indoors or outdoors, where employees or self-employed persons carry out work, for eg: a block of managed apartments, where maintenance work is carried out.

When staff inspects a managed property, this managed property is defined as the “workplace”.

It must be safe. We all need reminding that we should not take on the management of any property that we feel is not safe.

This topic is sometimes so easily forgotten so I am begging you all please to take a look at your O, H & S responsibilities and make the decision that it is time to review this area in your business! Life depends on it.  

If you would like any assistance in this area in your business please do not hesitate to contact me peter@bwt.com.au

Perfection, or a Waste of Time?

Peter OBrien cropped

An article by Peter O'Brien (Victoria)

Over the last two years I have been working on three very large projects and I can tell you that I have spent hours and hours and days, weeks, months working on planning, setting up structures, documenting processes, due-diligence reporting and the list goes on and on forever and forever.  This has been a non-revenue producing task that has significantly affected my income over the period of time and has cost me a few opportunities that I have regrettably had to turn down because of the limited time I have left myself after slaving away on what sometimes has been an administrative nightmare.

 

Have I tackled this project work the right way?  Probably not! However the projects and the journey along the way have had a huge impact on me personally and now is important to me not only on a business level but more so on an emotional spiritual level. Which are words that I have never used to describe anything in my life before? So,… yes… it has had an effect on me!

 

It would certainly not be the way I would recommend and set guidelines and projections to a client if I was to offer my Consultation Services for a situation that mirrors what I am doing with my projects. I am like a Builder with the worst house in the street at the moment. I have spent so much time on items that are not important. So much time on low priority tasks and procrastinated with tasks that are labelled high to urgent priority.  There have been many times throughout these couple of years that I have had to shake myself and re-focus.

 

I have been known to spend a number of hours on selecting a font and font style for a document. Absolute waste of time!  I shudder every time I think about it. Why do I do this? Is it because of my determination to make sure whatever I am working on is the best I can do at the time, or because I get obsessed with consistency of products, services, materials, and processes? While I am confessing my sins, another ridiculous exercise that I can tell you that I have been guilty of is changing a template. You are probably thinking that updating a template is not a bad thing to do from time to time?? But I have done it not once or twice, but every single time I open it to send it to a client!  What is a Template for? To save us time, to provide consistency of policies and documentation, to create awareness about the content that we send out to our clients, etc etc etc…  It is not to be changed all the time, if it was it would not be a template it would be a letter!!!!! 

 

One of the most important recommendations that I include in most of my business consulting services is suggestions on how time could be utilised in a more efficient way. After I have spent time with an organisation, generally there will be certain tasks that someone in the team is responsible to complete that are costing the business time, money and efficiency. It could be a task that takes John from accounts 4 hours to complete when Jane at reception could complete it in 1 hour because she knows the system better!!  I have to constantly remind myself of this advice I share with my clients. Before taking on a project I always ask myself if I am the best person in my organisation to complete this work or will someone else be faster or have a better skill set then I do with this type of project?

 

Life is precious. We should always be conscious of our time, so we can devote more of us to the people we love doing the things that make us happy.  Make it a golden rule to ask yourself if the new task you are about to start, is a good use of your time? Or, is there someone else much more suitable to complete this task? Ask yourself if the tasks need doing at all!!!!  And the time saver that I have implemented in every job I have had is not to touch things twice! Touch it, do it, complete it, file it! This is a procedure that I still do today with almost every task I attend to.  You will be surprised of how much time you will save to spend on more important tasks, and remember there is a difference between striving for excellence and striving for perfection. The first is attainable, gratifying, and healthy.

 

Striving for perfection that is unattainable is frustrating.

What are some of the options for training or upskilling your knowledge? (NZ article)

 

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An article by Hamish Turner (NZ)

The easy answer to this is that there can never be too much training. There are a range of options year round with 2 national property management conferences each year, namely Leading Property Managers of New Zealand and REINZ’s annual conference.

There are several training groups that provide a range of different options from general property management training through to business management training. There are several consultants working within our industry that provide a range of training options.

There are loads of audio and visual training packs that can be purchased online from varying property management professionals – both training groups and consultants. The decision regarding what financial investment can be made into training often comes down to cash flow and in part it should. Training a larger group can be much more cost effective than smaller teams and where a smaller team exists, there is often a lot less cash flow and as such a lower training budget.

As noted above, there are varying options available, but perhaps the simplest and most cost effective training tool involves either building or buying a Procedures Manual, then setting aside training for the team each week. Continual learning in repetition really is best practice. If your team is already doing this, that is great. If not, then perhaps your team can meet on a weekly or fortnightly basis to visit a different section of your Procedures Manual.

As new things come up during the course of business they can be added to the Procedures Manual and act as a “living” resource that continues to get better. The key is the use of it, and this starts with staff and management alike isolating set times within their schedule to train.

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