I've looked at a lot of "systems" that involve everything from lead generation to customer satisfaction. Some are good, some are a waste of time, all of them cost money. A lot of money. And none of them...absolutely none...are just right for me. I need to create my own "Ultimate System".
Start: A Vision
I've had a strategic vision for a long time...focus on luxury real estate. There has been some success but not as much as I'd like. There has to be more to what I offer, so that means focusing on defining a brand. What is it that I really offer and how different is that from anyone else.
To stand out, my brand vision is to offer a breadth of services on par with a five-star hotel. A highly personalized client experience that means whatever the client wants...within reason...they get. We do the job so well they don't want anyone else.
How do I define what that means? Easy - just make a list of everything I want to offer or do. Then segment the list into two categories - what I do now and what I want to do.
Foundation: Four Aspects of Business
I've determined there are four major areas of my business. They are:
- Lead generation
- Client/Transaction Management
- Customer Satisfaction/Retention
Within each of those are a set of processes that define how I do business. The way I do it may not be the same as the way someone else does it. It's not better, per se, just different. So, within each of those areas I need to write out all the things I do within each area. For example, in lead generation I might include online ads, print ads, and social mixers. I might do the first two and not the third. Documenting what I do in each major area begins to organize my system.
These four major areas are documented in a series of Powerpoint slides that start with the high-level major areas. I've started and will continue to create more slides that show the details of each individual area and their relationships to each other.
Details: Creating Checklists
The one thing I don't do well is track what I'm doing. I'm fairly organized and overall I have a handle on things but nothing is centralized. There's no clear method of tracking my clients, deals, advertising, expenses, and on and on. For me to improve my business, I need to take the things I do, organized in those four major areas, and create checklists.
The power of the checklist - a step-by-step list of everything you need to do - is a powerful tool. It cuts out the waste and makes things efficient. All I have to do is create it. So, I'll be using Microsoft Excel (or you could use Google Apps) to create a list of what each process requires me to do. Now I've got the core of "The Ultimate System". I can now check off every step of everything I do to run my business.
Execution: Implementing Technology
Depending on the process, I will need to implement a wide range of technologies. There is a wide range of software that can be used to accomplish these goals. Here's a list of the technologies I have already determined will be used:
- Lead Generation - Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, my own website, and others
- Client Management - E-Agents, MLS Listings
- Transaction Management - Transaction Point
- Digital Signatures - Docusign
- Virtual Tours - TourFactory.com
- Blogging - Activerain, Wordpress (TBD)
- Customer Satisfaction - Custom website (with call center backup)
- Online Storage - Google Drive
- Budget and Expenses - Expensify
All of these could be changed depending on how well they perform. Consistantly I'll be using Microsoft Office apps to create tracking spreasheets and checklists. Those are supported by Google Apps so anything I upload to the Google Drive can be shared by others as needed. Almost everything I'm using is free or very inexpensive.
So, that's the how I'm going to put it all together. As of now, this process has been started but it's a long way from completion. I expect the entire system to be documented and in place by the end of August. Some aspects are already in place and that's resulting in more business. For example, lead generation processes were updated and have resulted in a 400% increase in leads. Those changes included using bits from the IMSD program, Brian Buffini, and my own ideas.