I took a personal challenge to reduce my footprint on the planet in 2008 when I realized that I was spending thousands of dollars on printing costs for my small Eastvale based real-estate brokerage. Along the way, I've implemented electronic faxes, electronic signatures, GPS techology for mileage tracking, online transaction management & storage to eliminate paper files and receipt scanning to tame the chore of expense reporting. I was even featured in a short blurb on REALTOR magazine in spring 2010 about becoming paperless which was a thrill for me. But alas, the link no longer works and I didn't keep a HARDCOPY of the article (!!) but read my blog about it as I summarized the main points of what was in the article so all is not lost! :-)
There are huge financial payoffs in the quest to go paperless. In addition to reaching a more zen-like stake in my office without having huge piles of paper, I am seeing an improvement on the bottom line to boot. In 2008 I spent more than $5,000 on 'printing supplies' which improved to just over $3,000 in 2009. I'm just about finished with my year-end accounting for 2010 and I'm finding that the total is now less than $1,500. While it's true that I was sidelined for a little while late in 2010, I still doubled my commissions from 2008 to 2009 and was flat in 2010 so I was still pretty busy so my cost reduction is not related to sales volume reduction but rather better business practise.
In looking at my desk-office space currently, there's still room to reduce clutter as well as improve the bottom line. The biggest problem I'm having is client management and quite frankly, this has been a problem for a while. In addition, I have a ton of business cards from people I've met both as potential clients and as business connections. To solve this I'm going to be working on the following technology tools to improve my organization and provide better customer service:
1. Top Producer - It's time. I am getting too many good leads and too many contacts to try to manage it all within Outlook. I have a stack of little notes on random pieces of paper like litter at the bottom of my computer screen. They must go into a management system, period.
2. Business Card Scanner - I've used Neat Receipts for years for receipt management and it's a FANTASTIC product. It's time to enter the business cards into the business card module - and very important here so pay attention - BACK THEM UP. I had already tamed business cards in the past but lost the whole thing.....
3. Online Listing Presentations - I'm thinking that a 3x5 index card is the goal for my leave-behinds for listing presentations. This year is the year in which I'm going to really work on getting my listing presentation online and customized for the client. All I'll need to do is leave them a 3x5 with the url to their presentation.
I'm not 100% paperless (nor do I ever expect to be) but I'm probably closer than most of my peers. But even I can improve and reduce even more!
This post is written as a submission to the ActiveRain & Kodak Paper-less Challenge contest. I have the chance to win the high speed KODAK SCANMATE i1120 Scanner, great for helping real estate professionals reduce their stacks of paper by scanning contracts, photos and business cards in seconds.