You are your database....

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Home Team



Bill Gates, in his book called "Business at the Speed of Thought" said "How you gather, manage and use information to serve the needs of your customer will determine whether you win or lose in your business."   I happen to think Bill Gates is a pretty smart guy.  I know he has more money than I do, so I try to pay attention to what he has to say.

Whether you are a single agent or have a team, whether you use Top Producer, Online Agent, Outlook or something else for contact management, you should spend some time each week on your database.  You'll need a system of categorizing your contacts. I have a number of categorize in my database which is shared by my whole team:


Clients:  Clients are anyone who we have done business with and collected $$$$.  I also include my "sphere of influence in this catagory.

Prospects:   Prospects are people we hope to do business with in the future.   This list includes:

     CMA prospects - anyone I have completed a CMA for including those "thinking" about putting their home on the market. 

    Orphans - those people who bought my listings. They will most likely be ignored by their own agent so I adopt them.  When it comes time to sell their home, they will remember me because I will be in touch.

   Movers and Shakers - Political leaders, Organization leadership from groups like the Rotary, or Chamber of Commerce. 

Leads:  This category is used by team members for their active leads including those from the internet.  Each team member has a field of their own so they can sort by categories under their own name.

Family and Friends:   They should be on your mailing list too!

Out of Area:   These are clients who have moved out of the area.  Because I live in a military community, this category is a great source of referral business and I keep in touch several times a year.

I have other categories including attorneys, appraisers, mortgage professionals, home inspectors etc. as well as local agents and out of area agents.  I also have a category called vendors, for people like painters, cleaners etc. 

We include the obvious under each contact:  Address, phone numbers, email addresses.  And maybe the not so obvious like birth dates, children's names, favorite dessert, pets names etc.  How do we get this information?  For all of our clients, we send a VIP form in a self addressed stamped envelope. I'd say we get 95% of these returned.

The notes section under each contact, is where I tell each person's story and comment on recent phone calls or correspondence.  For instance, I like to send my clients articles they may find interesting.  I make a note of it in this section. 

As I develop my business plan and more specifically my marketing plan each year, I decide what I am going to send to each group in my database.  I plan how often I am going to make contact, whether by mail, phone, email or in person. 

The overall benefits of having a well organized database are many, including efficiency, time savings and continuity in communications. 

My database is my future business.  I try to take good care of it.

Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL

We also put the clients DISC into our ACT! records (no we don't make them take the test, we just judge by their actions) which helps other members of the team know how to respond when they get a phone call from one of them.

You don't have the time to NOT have a database. 

Dec 15, 2006 11:01 PM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT
Very good idea Sharon!   That is something we never thought of!!  We have our office meetings on Monday and will have to discuss that idea.
Dec 15, 2006 11:56 PM
Leigh Brown
Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive - Charlotte, NC
CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC
I may add a DISC category to mine as well-it will be helpful when they sell again to jog the old memory.  Would also like to add that your database is what you have to sell when the time comes to get out of the business.  Nothing else in your real estate business is saleable!
Dec 16, 2006 05:33 AM
Travis Campbell

Very well written post.  I especially liked the three tier approach to categorizing prospects.

For those interested, you can hear regular review teleseminars complete with video tutorials of a particular contact management system.

Thanks again Linda, for a great post!

Dec 16, 2006 07:26 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
Linda~ This activity cannot be stressed enough! It's the foundation to your business! Bookmarked, sweetie!
Dec 16, 2006 11:26 AM
Jaclyn Erwin
Jackson Erwin Realty, Inc. - Charlotte, NC

What database program do you use to keep organized and why? I am in the process of re-organizing by database and I want to get a better understanding of what others are doing/using. I currently have Top Producer, but I believe that I probably can get the same benefits from programs such as Outlook, without the additional monthly charge. The money that I would save can be used to fund other areas within my practice. I would love to hear your suggestions/comments on this. Thanks in advance! You All Are Fabulous---Active Rain is Surely Addictive!

Dec 17, 2006 01:58 PM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT
Jaclyn, I am currently using Agent Office.  I prefer to use this over something webbased with a monthly fee.  If I were a single agent, I might consider just using Outlook but I need to have the whole team access the calendar and plans etc.
Dec 17, 2006 02:02 PM
Jaclyn Erwin
Jackson Erwin Realty, Inc. - Charlotte, NC
Linda, Thanks so much for your comment. Does the program, Agent Office have a website to view additional product info?  
Dec 17, 2006 02:35 PM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT

Try here Jaclyn


Dec 17, 2006 10:35 PM
Kerry Tetreault
RE/MAX Realty Group - Gales Ferry, CT
Our database is very well organized and very easy to use.  I can't imagine anyone in our office not taking advantage of it.  
Dec 19, 2006 01:41 AM
Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station - College Station, TX
College Station, Texas Real Estate


Now there's a New Years Resolution I intend to keep.  I rarely take notes on my conversations and sometimes put off adding people into my database.  Frantically searching for numbers isn't fun!!!

Dec 20, 2006 09:42 PM
Jennifer Walker-Derby
Re/Max Westside - Marietta, GA
Real Estate Extraordinaire
I really need to follow your steps.  I am horrible with my database, at best they just receive a XMas card (although I do believe in adopting orphans!)
Jun 14, 2007 03:01 PM
Sarah Moore
Southern Homes of the Carolinas - Charlotte, NC
We Open More Doors!
Love your suggestion that you are your data base.  I am newer in Real Estate and I have been very successful at working my data base of potential clients.  I spent weeks writing down the information of everyone I knew or had ever met that might remember me.  As a result, I have been able to get business from the most unlikely referrals.  It does work... stay in touch... keep your name in the front of the pack.  Do it every week to stay fresh and on top of what changes there are in your data base.
Feb 25, 2008 12:05 AM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
Linda - I think it's great that your blog post from more than a year ago continues to reach out, thanks to jeff Belonger, thanks to Marti. It's all about connections, isn't it?
Feb 25, 2008 12:36 PM
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate
I've been really slacking on my mailings. I haven't sent anything since Christmas =/ And I have way too many to call all the time. I guess I'd better get to work on a mailing!
Feb 28, 2008 03:07 PM
Brian Kreick
Willinger Real Estate - Wenatchee, WA
What program do you actually use to keep in touch with your database?
Feb 29, 2008 12:11 AM
Jaclyn Erwin
Jackson Erwin Realty, Inc. - Charlotte, NC


I reviewed many products to effectively meet the needs of my team. The winner for us, hands down is the  Personal Marketing Database, by the Personal Marketing Company. I was introduced to this system and got to see it's benefits at last year's annual NAR Convention. It is easy to use, extremely affordable, and provides both a drip email system as well as direct mailing. This has been really successful for us thus far. There's also a free trial, so let me know if you are interested and I can send it to you right away. With this system, I never forget to keep in touch. It's simply plug and play and we're on our way to success! My team also uses this system to document communications for each of our clients and prospects. We divide our database into groups, which is very, very easy to do and keeps us organized. The program is accessible from any computer, as it is online-based and no software is needed. We simply love it.  

Feb 29, 2008 12:35 AM
Brian Kreick
Willinger Real Estate - Wenatchee, WA
I use a program called Goldmine.  I don't think they make it anymore.  It does pretty much everything you talk about in your response.  I still use it because it is paid for and I don't have any ongoing monthly expense with it.  The bad news is that it has a very high learning curve.  I don't use half the features of it.  This is probably the reason they don't make it anymore.  I have been thinking of switching to Act!  They have been selling it at Costco but I still haven't made the investment.
Mar 01, 2008 01:37 AM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT
I am one of the orginal users of Agent Office (at one time called Agent 2000 for RE/MAX).  I have researched a few others and actually liked a program called Wise Agent which is an online product.  Because I've been using Agent Office for so long (at least 15 years) I have 1000's of contacts and notes.  I feel moving all that data at this point in my career would be a daunting effort and one I'm not willing to make.  I wish they would move to an online version but they seem to be resistant.  Agent 2000 requires us to sync information and it does work well.  I'm really not unhappy with the program but it seems like old technology. 
Mar 01, 2008 03:31 AM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT
Another important criteria for me when selecting a database management program is the ability to "launch plans".  For instance, when we take a new listing, we are able to launch a plan which syncs to our calendar with a to do list of items/letters etc. that take place on specific days in the future.
Mar 01, 2008 03:58 AM