If you found a great way to do something or maybe found a feature that you didn’t know existed, share it!

Roles in Workflows for Teams

Building a team is a challenging and dynamic effort

It may be possible to keep everyone long term, but it’s not likely. When you add your first team member it’s not exactly rocket surgery. The question of who is wearing what hats (who is responsible for which role) is pretty straight forward. You do what you do and give the rest to the assistant. Hats/roles are pretty easy. From the beginning though, roles on your team are something that you want to put some thought to define roles in workflows for your team. 

If your long term plan is to add more than one more person, you’ll want to define your roles up front.

This will of course keep you on track whether your business is on paper or you are using a CRM. The issue here is that if you use a CRM that enables roles, it’s much easier to deal with personnel changes and procedural changes.

When you use a CRM to organize your business, the better ones have the ability to create Activity Plans or Workflows. These plans or workflows consist of any number of individual activities!. Each activity has the option of assigning it to someone. The purpose is that when you start the activity plan, those activities are assigned to each person automatically and added to their to-do list. They are the only activities that person will see on their to-do list. Everyone on your team knows what they have to do as soon as that plan is launched. 

If you assign all of the tasks to your assistant by name, what happens if that person leaves?
You have to go back to all of those activities and re-assign them to the new person.

When you are creating these plans, some of the CRMs have the option of assigning those activities to a role in lieu of assigning them to an individual. This is huge! Consider that you may have only one assistant and they are doing all of your listing and closing admin. Then you hire another person. Now you’ll probably have one be the listing and marketing coordinator, and the other would be the transaction coordinator. Let’s say you have all of the tasks for both assigned to Judy. Since you now have Team Consultingtwo people splitting those tasks, you would need to go back through all of the activities and re-assign some of them to the new person, John. If you have several activity plans/workflows of 50 or more activities, that’s a lot of work.

Alternatively, if you create your activity plans/workflows with the roles in mind, you can assign each activity to a role such as Listing Coordinator or Transaction Coordinator. This way, while you are still a two person team, you would still start the activity plans, but the plans would be assigned to roles. When you start it, it asks you who the Marketing Coordinator is, and you tell it it’s Judy. When you hire John and it asks you who the Transaction Coordinator is, you select John. No need to re-assign anything. You’ve already established that John will be the Transaction Coordinator and you’ve assigned the activities to the appropriate roles. If you create all of your activity plans/workflows with roles from the start, you’ll never have to go back and re-assign everything.

Without doing a live demo what I’m saying here could be difficult to understand. If your plans include developing a team, let me help! Free half hour call here!

IXACT Contact does Social Streaming!

Social Media Lead Generation Made Easy

IXACT Contact integrates with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. That’s great, but it’s just the start. You can post curated, tagged, current, relevant news and magazine content straight into them automatically, on a schedule, all of which is editable.

This add-on to IXACT Contact completely automates the process. All you do is select and schedule the real estate-related topics you want to post. Social Stream does the rest. It’s like having a social media marketing team working for you, regularly posting exclusive and engaging content from top tier publications.

Social Steam is truly set-it-and-forget-it, taking just minutes to set up. And that includes your very own branded landing page and lead capture form.

Here is where you choose when to post!

Enable content auto select to automatically choose selected content when you don’t have anything queued. Several levels of automation are offered with varying degrees of intervention required. You then see the publishers to choose from. You can brand your posts and even limit how old the articles are!

Here’s the biggy! If someone clicks to Read More, they are taken to a landing page asking for their contact information. This is something most social media posting services do not offer.

…and here are some sample posts

Interested? Schedule a free call!

Which Calendar Should I Use? Part 6 of 6

Easy answer! Your CRM’s Calendar!

You use your CRM’s calendar exclusively to originate activities and calendar items. Why? Because it’s the only way to build a consistent, cohesive history of your interactions with your contacts and properties. You can view them anywhere you like, but you need to originate them in the CRM.

One of the most important aspects of a CRM is that you are building a relational database. What that means is that contacts, properties, appointments, To-Do’s, emails, notes and more, have relationships with each other. The goal is to have all of your information on a contact, listing or transaction in one place. This makes retrieval, dissemination, and reporting easy and fast. In most cases, the state requires that you retain all your emails, notes, correspondence, and other information with regards to a transaction. Do you? If so, how many places would you have to go to get it? Can you find it all?

The information in your relationships is built over time.

It starts when you add the contact information. Then you get your first email from them and you store it in their contact record. Eventually you make a note in their record about a conversation you had with them. Hopefully at some point you sell a house to them or for them and that creates a whole new set of information. That information is stored in the Transaction or Property record. but is also stored or linked with the contact record.

Let’s look at other kinds of activities. A To-Do reminder comes up on your To-Do list in your CRM. Because you cited this transaction and contact in the activity when you created the activity, it will automatically be stored with them. Note the ability to relate the Contact and Property or Transaction on the left. It’s the same every time you create a calendar activity in your CRM and associate it with something. It is automatically stored. It will be in the associated contacts and properties for future reference and reporting. By contrast, every time you create that calendar activity on your existing calendar, that’s as far as it goes. That appointment never displays as completed. It doesn’t get stored or associated with anything else in your CRM. It just sits there providing pretty much no help for future reference. 

This is the point of the whole post.

If you use Google, MAC or Outlook calendars versus your CRM’s calendar to create your appointments, they will not be associated with the contact or transaction. That ability does not exist in those calendars because that is not what they were created for. You always want to originate the CRM’s calendar activities.

Most people are very accustomed to adding their appointments and reminders to their existing Calendar. You’ll need to get into the habit of creating the activities in your CRM.

Change! We do tend to have a problem with change in our daily habits don’t we? If you have, or are planning on getting a CRM, you want to be aware of this. It’s really not that bad. You just get used to a new habit. If you want to use a CRM, there is really no point in continuing to use your other calendar. If you want to continue to use your calendar to view your day, that’s no problem. It’s likely that once you get used to your CRM’s calendar, you’ll realize that if you have no need to share your calendar with others outside the CRM, there is no need to continue using it. The one in your CRM will do just fine.

If you have a team, that adds twists to this whole topic. If you’re interested, contact me!

1) Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM?

2) How long will it take to learn?

3) The pain of growth

4) Mobility with your CRM

5) Efficiency with organization and consolidation of data

6) Which calendar should I use?

Realvolve Workflows Define Power

My first CRM in 1988 was Real Estate Specialist. It was DOS!

It had something called Activity Plans, which are a set of automated reminders to do things such as send an email, make a call, send a letter, etc., You can sell a house and start this plan, and the reminders come up on the day that they are due. This was a new concept but as basic as the capabilities of those activities were, I was sold on CRM from that point forward. They transformed my business life and I was hooked. My stress levels dropped off the bottom of the chart and my customer service was consistently top shelf, not to mention things not falling through the cracks any more. Then I found Realvolve. Realvolve Workflows Define Power!

Realvolve workflows define powerNow you have companies like Realvolve taking Activity Plans to the next level – Workflows. Realvolve Workflows Define Power! What’s the difference? Activity plans are simple yes/no reminders. Workflows give you choices about what path to take with that reminder. In other words, they work the way you work.

An Activity Plan puts a reminder on your calendar/to-do list that today is
the day that the mortgage commitment is due on 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

It turns out that you get a call from the lender and they have been declined. In an Activity Plan, all you have is a reminder that the commitment is due. You have to either Complete it or not. The problem is that it is not complete. It requires a different action. It requires a decision.

With a Workflow versus an activity plan, you have options. Realvolve Workflows Define Power

When the activity comes due, it can have several options versus just complete or incomplete. You can click one of the options it presents to send a form email to the client, congratulating them on their mortgage commitment. But in this case, that’s not what you want to do. What you need instead is maybe a different email, a different option. This one allows you to send a different email. This email says, you are sorry they were declined but you’ll be happy to get them on the road to fixing their credit. In a workflow, you can have both of those options available in one activity, with one simple click that sends the appropriate email based on the situation.

In Realvolve’s case there are some other incredibly useful aspects of workflows. Realvolve Workflows Define Power!Realvolve workflows define power

You can have one activity that is a checklist where you can list all the documents you need from someone. The activity keeps coming up until you have checked all of the docs that are due. If they still owe you some docs, an option comes up that will send an email that says you still need the following docs, and it auto-completes the list foryou in the email based on the checklist items that are still unchecked. When the checklist is complete, it offers the option to send a different email thanking them for the docs.

Yet another feature in Realvolve’s workflows is to automatically assign Tags when an activity is complete. This allows you to never forget to change the Tag on someone, from Pending Buyer to Past Buyer for instance.

Incorporated into these workflows is an industry best selection of merge fields for your template emails as well as actually being able to use them in many places within the CRM. You can add a contact name or property address to the title of the Activity instead of it just saying Call him, it would say Call Herman Munster.

Not everyone needs this much power. How much power is it? Do you need it? Let me show you more than just the tip of the iceberg and help you decide if it’s right for you!. Let’s do a demo!

Where is your business’s information stored? Part 5 of 6

Where is your business’s information stored? If it takes time to find it, time is money!

Before I got a CRM I had a Daytimers, Post-its (lotsa Post-its), envelopes, a desktop calendar blotter, napkins,  a notebook, an address book, etc. That was in the early 90’s! Now it’s even worse! Now you also have information on your phone, maybe Google or Outlook contacts, Google or Outlook calendar, the MLS, lead capture sites, spread sheets, and who knows where else!

As discussed briefly in an earlier segment, it can take a little longer to enter your contact information into a CRM versus on paper. That’s pretty much the only downside, such as it is.

Where is your business’s information stored?

Fortunately, you can enter it into your CRM on your phone, Google Contacts or Outlook Contacts so you do not have to be in front of your computer. Everything is available everywhere, but you only have to maintain one database, in your CRM! Part of the extra time is also because you’re adding information you wouldn’t normally add. When you add a contact to your phone or address book, you’re not able to use tags or notes or anything else to find them. It’s all dependent upon your memory. When you digitize your information in a CRM, you can find everything quickly, in many ways. Just a few are:

  • Tags, Categories, Groups: You wouldn’t add these to your address book on paper because It would serve no purpose. In a CRM, you can use these tags to accomplish a myriad of things you couldn’t do. For you and anyone on your team, this opens up an entire toolbox. It’s one full of ways you can market to and follow up with people that you wouldn’t be able to do easily, when they are in disparate places. 
  • Hobbies: You see an ad about a discount at Bucks County Country Club for greens fees for the summer. If you have hobbies associated with someone, like golf, you can do a quick email to your golf peeps about it in about two minutes. Personalized marketing is the creme de la creme of marketing!
  • Transaction Status: Track where your listings and closings are because they are in a system that enables you to monitor them based on other information you have added to the contact record.
  • Document retrieval: Have everything in one place, associated with contacts, listings or transactions. Now you don’t have to find the file for the docs because they are in your CRM, already associated with the transaction/listing.
  • Notes: Your notes are searchable, so when you list that horse farm, you can find the person that wanted one by searching the notes.

The information you use now, without a CRM, does not allow you to do very much at all. Where is your business’s information stored?

When you add it to a CRM, everything can be found faster and easier, forever. it increases speed of recovery making you more efficient. That efficiency reduces your costs. All of the previous insure higher quality and more consistent service out of you and/or your team.

Another benefit – the information continues to build. Your emails, text messages, property associations, appointments, and calls, are all recorded in one place for ready access and statistics evaluation.

You can schedule a drip campaign to individuals or groups with automated emails going out without you having to do anything, all based on how you have Tagged them. You can follow the status of their progress and so much more. 

As an individual agent, all of this makes you far more efficient and organized than on paper. If you have all your information digitized in a spreadsheet, it does make it easier to find things. That said, you still have to move them to something to take action on that information. Whether it’s an email blast utility like MailChimp, or an online transaction management platform such as DotLoop, you have to do additional work. The bottom line is that it forces you to maintain redundant databases in multiple places. The more you can get away from that, the better off you are for many reasons. Primarily, it’s an easily avoidable waste of time.

If you have a team, The efficiencies are far greater. Different team members have need of information on a daily basis. Very often at the same time. Without a CRM, much of the time it’s about playing that age old favorite game, “Who’s got the file?” When your information is all in one place in a CRM, the paper file becomes something that you keep for legal reasons. On a day to day basis, with everything easily retrievable by everyone at the same time, with no searching for files, that is a game changer! 

Having a CRM is all about being more efficient and organized. You can do it all without a CRM, it just takes much much longer to do what you do on a daily basis. So what are you waiting for? 

1) Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM?

2) How long will it take to learn?

3) The pain of growth

4) Mobility with your CRM

5) Efficiency with organization and consolidation of data

6) Which calendar should I use?

Mobility with your CRM. Part 4 of 6

One of the biggest misconceptions when people consider a CRM is that they will be tied to their computer. 

This may have been the case some years ago but at this point, most real estate CRMs have a mobile version.

The mobile CRM versions don’t do everything the desktop versions do, but they shouldn’t. Some people love to do a lot on their phone and that’s fine. But consider that at Phone consultingsome point doing some things on your mobile phone takes longer than doing them on the desktop. For instance, creating a template email in your CRM on your mobile device would take much longer than to do it on the desktop. For this reason, no CRM enables creation of email templates on the mobile version. What they do contain is everything you need to be mobile and not tied to your computer.

That said, there is no reason you can’t run your business on the road with the mobile version. Email, appointments, calendar, listing and transaction tasks, all of which can be accomplished on the mobile.

We are approaching a time when mobile versions will allow you to talk to them as you would with an assistant. Asking it what’s next on the schedule, who called, who emailed, just like an assistant. We are already at the point where a CRM is mobile and it will only get better, faster and easier. Check this off the list of reasons why not to get a CRM!

1) Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM?

2) How long will it take to learn?

3) The pain of growth

4) Mobility with your CRM

5) Where is your business’s information stored?

6) Which calendar should I use?

The Pain of Growth. Part 3 of 6

It seems that by and large, nothing significant is accomplished without the pain of stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s no different with CRMs. You currently have methods and procedures in place and they work for you. You’ve reached a level of efficiency, you know what you’re doing and things flow well. But, given that you’re looking at CRMs, you know that what you have is not good enough. It works, but it’s slow compared to what a CRM can do versus your paper lists.

This transition forces you to change those procedures. That makes anyone uncomfortable, but more importantly it slows you down and that makes it even more frustrating. Be aware that in the beginning, it will cost you time you don’t feel you have and it will throw everyone into a sense of losing control. You want to be ready for this so you can take it in stride. You’re making this decision after careful consideration. Stick to your guns when the going gets rough and trust that you will come out on the other side after you get over the hump in the learning curve.

When first learning a CRM you’ll notice that in some cases, that initial entry of the data takes longer than just writing it down in a paper address book, or popping it into your phone. This confuses people into thinking using a CRM requires more work than paper and it’s easy at that point to re-consider. It does take longer, but one reason it does is because you are typically putting more than just the name, email address and phone number in, as you probably would if you’re using paper. What you may not realize though, is that although the initial act of inputting the data may take a few seconds longer, it will now be far faster to find information, and there will be more to find. You’ll be able to group people for mailings, search notes made in the contact record, do quick bulk emails or bulk postal mailing labels, have the contact info ready for when they sell or buy, and on and on. The efficiencies are woven into everything you do in the CRM. It’s called a relational database for a reason. It ties everything together for you to make it possible to do a host of things you can’t do on paper, such as easily sharing information with your team members without having to play find the file.

When I started doing this in 1999, it was a topic of debate whether you needed a CRM. Now pretty much everyone agrees that it is necessary and helps your business in more ways than can be counted. The dollar price is what people tend to focus on, but the investment of time and effort is the real cost. The question is whether you’re willing to pay it.


1) Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM?

2) How long will it take to learn?

3) The pain of growth

4) Mobility with your CRM

5) Where is your business’s information stored?

6) Which calendar should I use?

How long does it take to learn a a CRM? Part 2 of 6

The only correct answer to this question is – it depends. But I’ll see if I can narrow it down a bit for you.

Generally speaking, if you spend time with your CRM every day for at least an hour first thing in the morning, you should be able to conquer the more simple aspects of the CRMLearn about real estate crmin a week or two. If you’re going to be building Activity Plans or Workflows, that’s where the real time comes in. That’s the part where you are literally setting up game plans with automatic reminders to track all the various processes you have going on, such as listings and closings. You didn’t build your system for closings on paper in a week. This won’t happen in a week either. If you want the incredible consistency and peace of mind of a system to keep you on track, you have to invest some time. Depending upon how many plans you want to create, it will take a a few weeks to a few months to build them and fine tune them. It depends upon how much time you can put into it every day.

If you’ve had, and actually used, a CRM before, it should take a little less time to learn the new one. Having a head start in understanding the various common features in general can make learning a new a little faster and easier.

If you are comfortable with software in general it will, of course, be easier/faster.

If you are not, you want to look at CRMs that are more basic. It doesn’t make any sense to get a CRM that you’ll never understand or use to any significant degree. You won’t find a CRM that is no more than a glorified address book. If that’s all you want, use Google Contacts. But I don’t advise it. you need the tools of your trade and CRMs are maybe the most important tool in the box.

If you are only getting a CRM because you know you need to, but you really don’t want to spend the time, you’re starting at a huge disadvantage. You need to have the right attitude or you’ll likely drag it out forever and eventually give up. If you want to be successful implementing a CRM, you need to be okay with the fact that it’s going to take some time, slow you down, and make your life generally uncomfortable for a little while. You’re going to be changing the way you do things, which makes everyone uncomfortable. You have to be mentally prepared for this. If you are, you’ll be fine. Just keep the end goal in mind and keep pushing that I Believe button!

If you really want an advantage in getting your CRM set up and being used efficiently, contact me and let me show you how I can help!

1) Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM?

2) How long will it take to learn?

3) The pain of growth

4) Mobility with your CRM

5) Where is your business’s information stored?

6) Which calendar should I use?


Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM? Part 1 of 6

First and foremost is that you need to make CRM a habit.

That’s the part where most people fail right from the get go.

It’s 32 years that I’ve been in this business and 20 years of selling and coaching people on CRM. I’ve found that there are some consistent reasons why people don’t stick with their CRM. Here is the first and most important reason of six.

What doesn’t work is spending hours with it on one day and none the next, and the next. What does work, is to use it every day without fail, until you are in the habit of using it every day.

Now the question is how to do it.

What does not work for the vast majority of people is to schedule time at varying times throughout each day to spend with your CRM. In this business, we get distracted by every day issues and keeping that appointment with yourself to learn your CRM usually loses. I’ve found what worked for me personally and for hundreds. Work on your CRM for at least one hour every day, first thing in the morning before you get into your email and voice mail. If you start answering those first, what will happen? You’ll end up blowing it off.

Spending a lot of time on it for a day or two or three is a great way to start, as long as you don’t let that be the only day that week. You have to use it every day so you don’t forget what you learned the day before. When you are learning new software, It’s very difficult to remember what you’ve learned if you don’t build on it every day. It’s all too new and unorganized in your mind. Once you get that foundation and perspective going consistently, you’ll start to internalize it and then you’re making progress.

What does this mean? That you have to spend the first hour of every day for the rest of your life learning your CRM?

Not at all. Eventually you’ll be using your CRM to run your business. Once you learn it enough, you’ll be in it every day because it will be the hub of your business for staying touch with your people and tracking your transactions.

When I started doing this many years ago, the average agent was not concerned about organizing their business with a CRM. Now it’s widely accepted that to not have one means to simply run a sub-par business, wasting a great deal of time that is unnecessary. If you’re one that has put it off, this is the first step to finally implementing a CRM. The next thoughts for consideration are:

1) Why is it so difficult to stay with a CRM?

2) How long will it take to learn?

3) The pain of growth

4) Mobility with your CRM

5) Efficiency with organization and consolidation of data

6) Which calendar should I use?

I’m back!!!

After over three years with a startup Real Estate CRM, I’ve decided to change directions and relax a bit. Being in a SAAS startup is a very time and energy consuming effort. I’ve decided to slow down a bit and do what I enjoy most, this web site! I started providing unbiased reviews and consulting here in 1999 so it’s now been 20 years!

Just prior to joining the company over three years ago, I had literally spent nine months building this new site. I had a great many plans that I was never able to put into place. Now I get to do that, BUT, I now have new and different knowledge and perspectives that I did not have before.

Initially as Vice President of Customer Success I was responsible to provide technical support and to build, organize and staff the tech support department. We achieved consistent high praise for our support. This showed me the internal workings of a CRM with respect to when things break, and how they get fixed, as well as why and when features are implemented and how. I was then also responsible for training new employees as well as to train new users of the CRM. I built extensive workflows and content in the CRM to aid in on-boarding new users, making and following up on appointments, training schedules, class content, follow-up content, etc.

I was the fourth person to join the company and being in the leadership meetings from the beginning gave me a great many insights into how SAAS CRM organizations run, develop and grow. It was a fascinating experience that completed my crazy education in “All Things Real Estate CRM” in every sense of the meaning of the phrase.

The bottom line is that I have now:

  • used Real Estate CRMs starting with a DOS CRM called Real Estate Specialist since 1988
  • been a residential agent who after only five years in the business, was selling and closing 45 – 55+ homes/yr. with an assistant and a buyer agent
  • was a new construction agent for a large builder
  • was a mortgage loan originator
  • was Vice President of Customer Success for a very successful Real Estate  CRM

Prior to real estate sales, I was in Cryptographic electronics and then Computer and Print Production Operations Manager for a direct mail house.

My point? I not only understand computer hardware, I then gained experience in operations management and have been in every aspect of Real Estate. This truly unique set of skills enables me to help you organize and manage your business in every way possible, with insights not possible by most. It’s what I do best and what I enjoy most. Contact me for help learning and implementing your CRM and organizing your processes with activity plans and or workflows.

Please bear with me as I continue to refresh the information here, update the CRMs, as well as adding a few, and expand on the services I offer. I’m excited to get out there and help agents and teams again and very much looking forward to it!