How I run a Real Estate Business from a Virtual Office

I recently completed a deal where the client was in Southern Alberta, Seller was in Phoenix and I was traveling between other listings I have in Drumheller, Calgary, Taber, Stettler, Hanna and Strathmore.
My system allows me to be very efficient, and complete deals on a timely basis, but allowing me a global reach to work on deals all over the province with clients all over the world.

To achieve this:
1. You need to be impeccably organized.
2. You need someone to be available to assist you 12 hours a day from a computer even though you may only need them for an hour or so. You need your faxes and delivered documents scanned and emailed to you.
3. File all of your documents in the cloud. If you don't want to use Gmail, you'll need to synchronize all of your data somewhere so it is available on your laptop, cell phone(s) and office computer, updated in real-time.
4. Build in a redundancy into your plan. Have 2 ways to phone clients (more about this later), have a primary and spare computer for accessing documents, find ways to access your documents from your mobile device, have internet at home, at the office, AND carry a USB aircard that works on all of your computers. Today, we can't afford not to be connected to the internet 24 / 7. Have an extra set of phone and laptop chargers in your vehicle permanently, and buy a 75 watt 2 x 2 inch vehicle power inverter so you can't run out of power.
5. Reduce bottlenecks and do-overs. I quit using the MLS web form links a couple of years ago, because only 60% of my clients could reliably open them. I quickly realized that PDF's were the only reliable standard for both me and my clients. It maybe takes 3 minutes longer to convert the forms to PDF, but saves me tons of time knowing that I won't have to resend the documents.
6. Label your incoming emails by resending them to yourself with the Subject line that you know will help you recall the email in the future ie. "Executed Offer to Purchase on Smith to Johnston 2010"

7. Carry a mobile printer and paper. We still need to sign documents so I recommend you always ensure you have the ability to print when needed. Carry a blank set of contracts in your vehicle as backup.
8. Always answer your phone, and when you check your messages, call your clients back first.
9. Stay in touch with your team via email. Even though it is sometimes easier to call your team, make sure they know that email is the accepted mode of communication.
10. Minimize distractions. We all know what it is like when we are talking to someone on the phone and we can tell they are distracted. Either there is something going on in the background, or they have call waiting beeping in their ear. I recommend you evaluate whether you need call waiting or not. I personally think it is a bad service. I pull over my vehicle, open the client's file on my laptop, and then make the call.
11. When I show up early for client meetings, I open my laptop, open the listing and client files, and keep the windows open on my laptop so the files are on screen when I open my laptop.
12. Carry two cell phones. I would argue, if you were running your business from a home office, you would need two phone lines. Cell phones are notorious for breaking down temporarily. You don't want to interrupt your day by trying to solve the issue. I find that if I'm talking on one phone, I can use the other to write down contact info, or create a new calendar appointment that doesn't conflict with my schedule. I find it costs about 10% more to have a second phone as long as I share the minutes between them on a "share" plan.

Bob Sheddy

Bob Sheddy

Broker of Record
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