This past week we had an article titled How Advances In Technology Made The Broker’s Fax Machine Obsolete published in Forbes. The premise of the article was how far technology for commercial real estate brokers has come in the past decade. It took taking
pen to paper finger to ipad to highlight how the tools we use today make us better at our jobs. In this article we’re going to discuss a few of the main ones we use, some are specific to our industry but others are applicable for any business.
Costar: Prior to last year, we manually maintained a database of commercial properties. This included all the other brokerages and general landlords. It was a remarkably time-consuming process but it was all that existed. Costar, which is the largest global database of commercial real estate information, recently entered the Edmonton market and our office was one of the first brokerages to subscribe to the service. We now have current and leading edge data on Edmonton commercial real estate for sale and for lease listings.
VTS: This is our client relationship management (CRM) software. We have cloud access to all of our listings and current clients. It’s a robust software platform that runs on salesforce but is catered exclusively to the commercial real estate industry. Our day typically starts and ends with VTS.
Drone / Aerial Photography: We recently received our SFOC from Transport Canada and secured 5x the recommended insurance to commercially fly a drone (UAV). We have a professional grade drone and have taken some remarkable pictures and videos of our listings.
Dropbox: We feel Dropbox is an absolute necessity for business. While there are alternatives, Dropbox is simple to use and has become a cornerstone of our data. We store all of our documents on Dropbox so we can access any document at any time. We could be standing in a warehouse and pull up an offer to lease on our phones that was done 5 years ago. We also use Dropbox for large files. Instead of risking a 20 mb file from being rejected by an email server, we upload the document to Dropbox and send a link.
Evernote: An advanced note taking software platform which all three of us use on a daily basis. You can categorize notes into notebooks or tag to allow for easy searching. It works great at creating to-do lists and filing notes, pictures or audio files that you want to access later.
Social Media: We are huge proponents of social media, including our profiles on Facebook, Instagram and this very blog. We find it’s a great way to stay in communication with a wide number of people at a minimal expense. It also shows our fun side (yes we work hard, but we have a lot of fun doing it!)
It’s amazing that all of these tools were unavailable to us a mere 10 years ago. We use each of these on a regular basis and they have undeniably had a huge impact on our business.
It begs the question, what does the next 10 years have in store?