Is Your Tech Effective? 7 Questions to Ask Yourself
All this month in Club Zebra we are talking about technology! No matter your relationship with technology, this is a great time to do an assessment of how technology is, or isn't, working for you. Take a few minutes and ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the technology I use in my business saving me time or costing me time?
This is a great question that you should be asking! Most agents have opted-in to technologically-based solutions and also have solutions they are required to use. While these solutions may be designed to be more efficient and environmentally-friendly, they can often take more time because the agent isn't comfortable with the process. Think about things like:
Ease of using your database
Closing an electronic transaction file with all the required emails, texts, and other communication from the transaction
Updating your website
Sending event invitations
Did these take more time than they did previously? If so, then make an investment of time to either learn the system correctly or see if that is something you can outsource. Unless you take this step, this will be a silent drain on your time and a source of frustration every time you need to perform that task.
2. Am I spending money on technology I don't need?
I call this spending your business to death! I hear agents talking about a service they ordered or something they signed-up for with the intention of using it down the road, but they don't take the time to learn what they need to know to put it to use. If you know you don't have time in the next 60 days to learn it, cancel it! Grab your credit card statement right now and track down those charges!
3. Does the time I am spending on technology equate to $$$?
Around 2008, as the housing market was seemingly spiraling out of control, agents were jumping on the social media bandwagon, convinced that email and social media was the wave of the future and anyone who didn't hop on board would be left behind. However, as the market picked back up, it was evident that there were winners and losers in the race to dominate the online real estate space.
What we have found that works is a dedication to posting blog and photo content that is relevant to the local market. That content must have its own personality and showcase your expertise to work well. However, if you are spending hours browsing social media without a plan, that is not an effective use of your time and is unlikely to drive business your way. If you are a content creator, be a content creator, but don't kid yourself that you are spending quality time generating leads if what you are doing is lightly contributing to the conversation. That might keep you somewhat connected to past clients, but it is unlikely to drive the income side of your business.
4. Is my technology-based communication style hurting my effectiveness with leads and clients?
Before you send a text or email - rather than picking-up the phone - make sure you ask yourself, "How does this client prefer to be communicated with?" If you're not sure, I recommend you ask your client. If they haven't spelled this out for you, use their leading communication as a clue. Meaning, if they called you, then you should call them back unless they have specifically asked you to send them information in an email. However, even then I would later follow-up with a phone call to see if they had further questions.
I have heard of so much conflict and issues happening over email and texting - issues easily solved once voice-to-voice communication came back into the mix. Don't let your business be a victim of miscommunication or missed communication!
5. What do I do if I don't have the time to learn a tech solution that will save me time?
It is ironic, but it's true. Sometimes we are so busy trying to stay afloat that we don't have time to learn something new that would really make our lives easier. Interestingly enough, this is also one of the arguments against hiring an assistant. "I can't hire someone to help me manage everything I have to get done because I don't have time to hire and train them."
Guess what? You are never going to get out of the time crunch you are in UNLESS you take the time to learn the technology or hire the assistant. This is an investment of your time in yourself and it is necessary to be able to leverage your time, to become more efficient and productive. A little bit of pain now can prevent stress later - remember that!
6. What areas of my business could I really use a tech solution for?
In addition to the technology your job requires - knowing how to use the MLS, knowing how to use an online signing program, email, creating the transaction file - there are also some areas that agents could really use a tech solution for. Namely, managing your schedule, tasks, and your database.
Any tech solution needs to fit your individual working style, your visual style, and your tech comfort level. For example, many agents like organizing their world with Google Calendar because it is available on the phone, desktop, and tablet. It also has useful features like viewing multiple calendars at once, color-coded appointments, and more. Others prefer the calendar in Microsoft's Outlook program. Both Outlook and Google Calendar can also help you manage tasks, but other agents use something else like Monday, Trello, or another solution.
If you feel like you are missing tasks or don't have a handle on your appointments, I encourage you to explore your options by watching how-to videos and demos before you commit. A search on YouTube for a "beginner guide" or "features" of a solution you are curious about can quickly tell you if it is the right one for you.
7. Is my email under control?
Spoiler alert - for most agents, the answer is a clear NO. How do I know? Here are some clues:
Most agents don't have rules for how to file emails so that they are easy to find and archive.
Most agents don't file emails at all and don't delete anything, leaving them with thousands and thousands of messages in their inbox. This makes it very easy to miss an incoming message. Doesn't that stress you out?!?
Most agents don't know how to even start to get this under control. Even worse, when mailboxes get too big without a system for deleting and archiving, messages can get corrupt and take down your inbox!
If this conversation is giving you stress, take a breath right now. I am going to tell you how you can start. If you have fifteen minutes right now, you can begin to take control.
Did you know that most inboxes will let you sort by sender, by date, by subject line, and so on? Start now by sorting by sender. That will group together all messages sent by the same person or vendor. Now look for emails from vendors or companies that you no longer want to receive. Since you have a group of them, you can unsubscribe and then delete them all at once. I bet you can delete thousands of unwanted emails in a matter of minutes with this method. Then it is just a matter of creating file folders and filing everything else. If you can spend 10-15 minutes a day on this for a couple of weeks, your inbox will be a different place by the end.
Don't underestimate the benefit technology offers your business - or the detriment that the wrong technology choices can have on your business. Do a "technology assessment" today and determine what is working and not working with your technology - then make the changes you need.
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By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.
MEDIC! - 3rd Part (Donald Malarkey x Fem!OC)
HELLO! HELLO! HELLO! Since it is my birthday I will treat you all to two parts to the next story. I know I'm very nice! Just a warning the story turns a bit when they head into Bastogne, like it does in the show. So it's less cutesy and more depressing ): It can't be helped Bastogne is brutal! I will try and get some cute fluffy moments in with all the depressing stuff. I will put some trigger warnings on the story when it's starts getting a bit hectic, cause don't we love putting the OC through some trials and tribulations hehe.
Disclaimer: No disrespect to the real men of WW2, this is based off the actors protrayal from HBO.
The sound of talking wakes me from my slumber, I raise my sleepy head, I’m in a field. I’m in a field? I bolt upright gathering my bearings. So it wasn’t a dream. I sigh moving to get up. Bull walks towards me, “Darlin’ good morning!” a boyish grin appears on his face. God these men are so young, I forget how young they were when they sent them away. A smile reaches my lips.
“Did I sleep in?” I ask looking around, everyone else seems to be awake.
“No, but we are moving out soon, stick with me today since it’s your first time on the front, I’ll tell you what you need to do.” Bull’s tone shifts to being more serious.
“I understand.” my stomach twists, I don't know if I am ready for this but there is no way to avoid it.
We sit on the tanks as they roll down the road. I sit beside Bull, my stomach turns, I refused breakfast this morning when I was offered, just sticking to water.
“So where are you from?” I hear from behind me. I turn to find who spoke, a man with kind eyes smiles up at me.
“I’m from Massachusetts, born and raised. How about you?” I reply, shifting to sit so I am facing the man.
“I’m from Oregon, also born and raised.” He smiles, “I’m sorry I am terrible at names.” he says grinning.
“Emily Lane,” I extend my hand, “and you?”
“Donald Malarkey, call me Malark.” he takes my hand in his, his grip firm he shakes my hand.
“Nice to meet you Malark.” I smile at him.
“You nervous?” he asks.
“Yes, I haven’t been on the front before. Bull said he would help me for my first time.” he nods in understanding.
“We were all nervous on our first jump, don’t let these men tell you any different.” I smile at him, grateful for someone to speak to, to help distract me from the upcoming events.
After a couple of hours of driving I had made friends with Malarkey and his friends Skip and Penkala. They share stories from their childhood and the most recent assaults they went through.
The tanks stall to a halt, a soldier walks in front of the tanks looking through binoculars.
“Lieutenant!” Yells Bull from in front of me. The man turns to look at Bull.
“Sniper!” someone else yells from the tanks.
A bang sounds from afar, the man in the road drops to his knees, collapsing to the ground. Before my brain can process what is happening, everyone is moving. I look around spotting another tank rushing down the road intercepting the path we are taking. My legs work before I know what I am doing, I surge towards the man lying on the ground. A firm hand grabs my arms yanking me back midstep.
“NO LANE.” Bull yells pushing me behind the tanks, “GET WITH WINTERS!”
“But…” I say.
“NOW! MOVE!” Bull points back towards where Winters and Nixon watch from the trucks, with the backup soldiers. I move ducking for cover from fire. I slide down into the ditch on the side of the road moving in the opposite direction from the rest of the men. A couple of yards down the street Winters and Nixon watch, I clamber out of the ditch.
“Emily over here.” He calls waving me over. I rise to my feet, following his command.
“Wait here, you can treat the men that Gene sends back.” He says not taking his eyes off the fighting in front of us. I flinch and jump at every firing gun and tank. My heart leaps into my throat everytime a sound rings out. My breathing is ragged like I have run a marathon, I can feel the adrenaline surging through my veins. I watch the fight in front of me, the men charging forward into the town. The fight becomes distant, still hearing the yelling and firing but not being able to see exactly what is going on.
“MEDIC, MEDIC.” I hear being called from the ditch by the road, I look around for the medic that was with me earlier, but he has disappeared. My heart pounds in my ears, I start running to the ditch, sliding down into it.
“Lane, where are you going?” Winters call for me.
“They are calling for a medic, I need to go Sir!” I yell back, not waiting for his response. I move.
I keep low to the ground, crouching as I run in the ditch. Men run past me in the ditch and on the street, “fall back.” I hear in the distance, it seems this operation isn’t going to plan.
I find Malarkey and another man I don’t recognise covering fire, I step over Malarkey as I approach First Lieutenant Compton who is lying on the floor. I bend down scanning his body for injuries, my eyes landing on blood. Four bloody spots soak into Buck pants, entry and exit wounds. I bend down putting compression on the injuries, “Hey Doc,” the Lieutenant mumbles.
“Lieutenant, it's Lane. It’s gone right through Buck.” I say packing the wounds with gauze to slow the bleeding. “Side to side, both cheeks” I yell over the booming, flinching and ducking at the sounds. An explosion goes off nearby showering us in dirt and debris as the ground rumbles beneath us.
“Malarkey, get ‘em out of here, go” yells Buck, wincing in pain.
“What?!” Malarkey exclaims.
“Just…leave me here for the Germans, ok?” he begs.
“What?! Are you nuts?” Malarkey answers confused.
“We can carry you.” I yell over all the noise.
“You kidding me! I weigh more than both of you two combined.” Buck grunts.
“I’m stronger than I look.” I say glancing over to Malarkey, who nods his head back at me silently agreeing to help pull Buck back to safety.
“Come on!” Malarkey jumps up from his crouched position. The other man who was covering fire also aids us to get Buck back to safety. Malarkey disappears over to the barn that is nearby, I continue to tend to Buck’s wounds as Malarkey reappears with a broken piece of panelling of the barn wall to help rest Buck on. We put him on the panel on his front, lifting the wood, together we drag him back to safety.
Other soldiers gather into the trucks. We manage to haul Buck on the floor of the truck still on the wood slab. I climb the side as Lip helps me in, “Come on, up you go.”
“One bullet, four holes.” I hear Guarnere tell Lip.
“Yeah! It’s almost a miracle.” Says Lip, slapping Buck’s foot.
I sit next to Malarkey in the truck, keeping an eye on Buck. Gene climbs in next to me. “You good?” He asks. I nod, not trusting my voice not to break if I answer. The trucks begin to go back down the road the way we came from earlier. We retreat. Operation Market Garden did not go to plan.
We make it back to the camp we were in previously by dusk. After helping Gene with all of the injured I was told to go rest. I walk around looking for a familiar figure, but the tall broad man is nowhere to be found.
“Excuse me?” I ask a soldier sitting on the ground, I recognise him as Hoobs. He looks up at me while chewing.
“Can I help you?” Hoobs replies firmly.
“Have you seen Bull?” I implore.
“They can’t find him, he didn’t come back with the rest of us.” he says curtly.
“What?” my heart sinks.
“If there ain’t no body, then there ain’t nobody fucking dead” Guarnere chimes in. “Understand me?” Not only addressing me but the other men with solemn faces sitting on the ground.
Hoobs stands, “I’m going to look for him.” he states.
Guarnere rises as well, “not by yourself you’re not. I’ll go with you, let me go get some ammo.” Guarnere starts to walk away, when the group around Hoobs stands with him, I hear a couple of me too’s from the men.
“Alright, go get him.” Guarnere replies. I stand, “I can come too.” I say to Hoobs.
“That’s nice of you Doll, but you need to be here. But we will bring him back.” Hoobs nods, patting my shoulder as he moves to gather his gear. I watch the men gather their things and start heading back to where Operation Market Garden took place.
I sit by myself picking at the grass, every scenario is running through my head of what could’ve happened to Bull. Rumbling sounds I stand looking at where the noise came from. The town that we were in previously is on fire as bombs are dropped from planes overhead. My heart crumples, a wave of realisation finally hits me. I am here in 1944, and possibly the only way I can get back to my own time is currently being burned to the ground and the one person I trusted and had started to care for is missing in action and could potentially be dead. I sink to my knees, a choked sob leaves my mouth as tears stream down my face. What I saw today is just the beginning, I was on autopilot the whole time, I didn’t even get to process what was happening. I bring my knees to my chest burying my face in them, rocking from side to side to soothe myself. I sob quietly trying not to bring attention to my situation. Caught up in my emotions I don’t hear the quiet footsteps of the person who sits beside me. They sit close enough for our hips to press together, I don’t bother looking up, too embarrassed of the state I am in. The person sitting beside me doesn’t utter a word, but their hand lands on the middle of my back rubbing small comforting circles. The action makes me cry harder, blubbering into my knees. The hand runs up my back to my shoulder pulling me into their chest. Letting my knees fall down, I use their neck to bury my face in to muffle the sobs. The hand moves, continuing the gentle motions. After a while my cries subside into sniffles, the weight of the day bearing down and exhaustion setting into my bones, I close my eyes and drift away.
I awake, my head pounding from the hours of sobbing I did last night. My eyes feel like they are swollen shut and it hurts to blink. I squint unsure of my surroundings, I am not laying out in the open field. A green roof is over my head. Confused, I look around to gather my bearings. I am sleeping in the same tent I treated Winters wound in, however the table that sat in the room is now gone, leaving enough room for three people to sleep. I sit up glancing around, I am alone in the tent. I throw the blanket off my body and go to leave, just at that moment Captain Nixon saunters in through the tent flaps.
“You’re awake.” He says with a toothy grin. I glance down at his hands, he holds two cups of steaming liquid. “Coffee?” He extends a cup in my direction. I smile sheepishly, taking it from him, sipping the liquid. Not the best coffee ever, but for right now it is.
“Thank you Captain.” I smile gratefully at him.
“Aw, please call me Nix.” he says, sipping from his own cup.
“How did I get into the tent?” I ask looking around.
“Well you were in a bit of a state last night, so I brought you in.” He chuckles.
My brain clicks, Nixon was the one last night who sat with me, who rubbed gentle circles on my back to soothe me. I blush embarrassed he caught on to my breakdown. No wonder he is the intelligence officer, I don’t think anyone else would’ve noticed.
“Well thank you, but also sorry you had to see that.” I say rubbing the back of my neck, cringing internally.
“It was a hard day for everyone, but I know it was the first time you had been on the front. It creeps up on you, you know. I understand that at a point it becomes too much, and you just have to let it all out, it’s healthy.” He says in an empathetic manner, his eyes kind and caring.
I go to answer when I hear the lively chatter outside get louder. We both turn our heads to the exit of the tent. I follow Nixon out and watch a car pull up into the field. “Bull!” Johnny yells. There in the front seat looking a bit worse for wear is Bull. My heart leaps, I hastily hand my coffee to Nixon rushing over to the truck. A crowd of men get there before me, I stand on my tiptoes to see over all of their heads. I can barely make out Bull as people gather around the man giving handshakes and hugs. I watch him speak to Hoobs and the men who set out last night to go get him. They chat smiling and grinning at each other, Bull concludes the conversation walking away talking to Johnny and Guarnere. Bull smokes a cigar, laughing at Johnny and Guarnere arguing as they walk towards me. I stand in one spot watching them walk past, a stupid grin plastered on my face, as Bull walks past he double takes. A smile spreads across his face as he notices me.
“Darlin’” he breaks from the group, rushing towards me. I smile and hold my arms wide. Bull reaches me, swooping his arms under mine, he picks me up into a bear hug. I wrap my arms around his neck tightly. After a moment he lowers me to the ground stepping back to talk to me.
I open my mouth to talk when I am cut off. “She has been crying her eyes out all night ‘cause of you Bull.” Nixon jokingly scolds the Sergeant as he wraps an arm around my shoulder. I scoff, elbowing him in the ribs. He groans pretending to be injured.
“Oh stop being a baby.” I roll my eyes laughing. Nixon grins happy with my reaction.
“Oh, did I scare you Emily.” Bull pouts in a mocking baby voice, stepping forward to pin me under his arm putting me in a headlock.
“Hey!” I yell, fighting off Bull who is giving me a gentle noogie. Bull lets me free from his hold letting me stand.
“But seriously are you ok?” I sober, concerned for the man’s wellbeing.
“A few cuts and bruises but I’ll manage.” Bulls give me a smaller smile. I know something must've happened but don’t push him for an explanation.
Before we can continue the conversation Lip’s voice echoes across the crowd. “Alright, mount up. Hup. Hup. Let’s move out.”
“Grab your gear, let's go!” another man standing on the tank next to Lip yells.
The platoon leaders call out for the groups to get moving, everyone moves following orders.