How could I resist a post about such an important factor of our business. How important is your database? Might be the most important tool you have. A database is nothing more than "Text-in-a-box" if you're not using it properly. There are so many programs out there today, the question is, which one is best for you? Here's my take on the different database applications and what they can do to help or hurt your business!
Here's a link to (ALL Real Estate Contact Managers)
Let's start with a few of the common one's we are all familiar with:
Outlook - Now if Bill Gates would have known how Big this application was going to be, he probably would have named it "Lookout" instead. I personally use Outlook as my database manager for all my contacts, appointments, email, tracking, follow-up, and mail merges and marketing campaigns. It does what I need, and more. I use the Journal for keeping all my notes, emails, and correspondence tied to an individual contact. I currently have over 2035 contacts, but that's 20 years of business in two different states. I like that Outlook works seamlessly with Word, Excel, Access, and Power-Point as well. From a Realtor or Lenders perspective, it's a great contact manager, but was not created for Loans or Property information. There are ways to create and modify Outlook, but might be a little time consuming and costly.
MEMBER POST - Secret to Real Estate Success
Top Producer - A great "All Around" database and contact management system, but I think it's a little to complicated and expensive for your standard Agent who has little or no technical skills. $30-$40 dollars a month, every month, and there is a whole lot to learn. I am a certified trainer for Top Producer Systems, and I still can't get my arms around everything that it can do. Then you start adding all the other modules like Top Connector, and Hot Marketer, and the next thing you know, you're on the computer all day learning instead of out selling and helping your clients! One of the many key benefits to TP7i is that it was designed for REALTORS® by REALTORS®.
MEMBER POST - Contact Database in Top Producer
ACT - Used to be my favorite application. I used Act and Q&A from 1991 to 1998 and was very pleased with it's performance. I liked how you could modify your views and screens to be exactly how you wanted them to look. You could even modify the field names and import data from public records with little or no effort at all. I also love the alarming tool in ACT. It's like a hand would reach out of the screen, grab your neck, and start shaking your head to prompt you of any appointments that day. (ok I exaggerate a lit'l)
MEMBER POST - Keeping a database
AgentOffice - Like Top Producer, Agent Office is a feature rich application that has so many tools that most agents never even use. I like that you can multi-task with multiple windows open at the same time, but unless you invest the time to really learn it's features and all it can do, you might want to consider something a little more simple. It really depends on your needs and your business. Many agents have assistants who whiz right through this stuff so the "Whys" and the "How-to's" are not really an issue. It does have a great graphical user interface and is fairly user friendly.
MEMBER POST - You Are Your Database
Goldmine - In the early 90's, many of the loan officers used to work with Goldmine. In fact the whole Bank of America in my geographic area used Goldmine because of it's interface with their loan origination software. I only know a few REALTORS® that were using it, and as I recall, it came up a little short of their more simplistic needs. I like that Goldmine has stayed in the game, their website shows some great stuff which tells me they may still be a player in the race to be the best.
MEMBER POST - A Different way to Build your Database
The power and credibility from any good post really comes from the comments of members like YOU! :-) What database do you use? What features do you look for and use the most? Do you mail merge, create postcards and flyer's, schedule appointments and create marketing campaigns with follow-up plans? Do you just put Birthdays and Anniversary's with an occasional farm area or geographic neighborhood? Are you using your database to cross reference sellers and past clients to potential buyers? What about your referral business?
If the goal is to ultimately work by referral, which database gives you the most return with the least amount of effort or learning curve? Are you building your database to sell one day when you retire and can collect a pension from it the rest of your life? If so, better pick a good one, maybe even update from what you're currently using.
I would always recommend that you do a thorough needs analysis before spending any time or money to learn a program that you're not 100% happy with. I hope readers can come away with a better understanding of what they want in an application and why?!? Just look at some of these members posts!! Many need our help and not just with their databases either!! I'm here to help, are you?