Inefficiency? Who's Got Time To Be Inefficient?
So Active Rain and DocuSign put together this challenge to talk about dealing with inefficiency. Which of us REALLY has time for too much inefficiency in our lives? Helter skelter for any number of reasons. Maybe it's two jobs, maybe it's a passel of kids, maybe it's umpteen buyer and seller clients all after a piece of your time. You've got a few choices, either eliminate some inefficiencies or start hiring people to take care of work for you. Now maybe the kids won't care if someone else besides you shows up to shuttle them to the soccer game, but I suspect this is a part of your life you won't want to delegate!
So what's next? How do you get control of the situation? Just like Dalmatians, there's at least 101 different gurus out there with advice on time management. Time blocking, ABC prioritization, GTD, you name it, someone is more than happy to take your money. Personally, there's no one "system" that we subscribe to. Just like most of our real estate business, we listen, consider, and implement what & when it makes sense. But here's a sampling of what's helped us:
- Checklists. Why reinvent the wheel? We've got a one page list of the tasks involved. Honestly, it's all 2nd nature by now, but it doesn't hurt to have that list so we don't forget to ask the seller what utilities they have, why they bought the home, posting to websites and all the rest that comes with it.
- Prefilled forms. Again, most listing contracts have certain sections that don't vary. We use a PDF editing software to have templates for listing and purchase contracts. Same thing for our bulk mailing form. Saved file, pull up, adjust for date, count and cost, print, sign, head to post office! Net proceed sheets, also templated in Excel and ready to be customized.
- Flyers and brochures. Again, templates. Add pictures, add marketing copy and save. For each year, save all the Ohio School Report cards for our service area into one folder as PDF files. Ready to pull from that folder rather than a separate pull from the Ohio website each time we take a new listing.
- Preventive measures. It might be as simple as ALWAYS having a backup set of batteries in the camera case. Not cool to be at a new listing and have the camera give out. You're either asking the seller for batteries or leaving to go to the store.
- Clear definition of duties. There's two of us working together. We each have defined roles. We're cross-trained, but we do have specialties. When one's an engineer and another an artist, which one should do the number crunches and Excel charts and which one should do photos and marketing? That's an easy call for us.
- Organized files. Seller & buyer folders, both paper copy, Outlook & general computer. All ready to pull what we need quickly.
- Organized photos. Especially for blogging. Indexed by place, event, subject, but some manner that allows us to readily find what we need without spending more time looking for the photo than it did to right the post.
- Task scheduling. The first day of the month we pull MLS information from 13 area zip codes. Sliding even a day or two corrupts the data integrity.
- Combining trips. This is just for saving gas, but time. If we know we need to take pictures of three patio home communities, restuff a flyer box and go by Trader Joe's, if at all possible we're going to plan a combined trip and make it as efficient a route as we can make.
- Equipment. And certainly not least important. You need the right tools for the job. Software, laptop, smartphone, and a HUGE plus for us was buying a commercial copier/printer/scanner for our home office. At $4,000, this was easily our biggest single expenditure, but the convenience has paid for itself time and again. A few steps from laptop to printer, no waiting on an inkjet to run a simple job, and at LEAST 10 hours a month saved not watching the printer in our main office run. 10 x 12 = 120 hours minimum saved per year.
So obviously, we've learned a "few" lessons over the years about effectively managing our time & business. No reinventing the wheel, so a little more time to pet the dog and kitty!
Keep on Blogging,
Liz and Bill aka BLiz