There’s always something to howl about

The threshold of accountability is accounting for things: Is this, finally, the CRM I’ll use?

The iPhone screen shot is from a piece of software I’ve been playing with since Thursday. We got the gross idea from Redfin’s agent-monitoring software. Their stuff is simpler and prettier, but ours is robust and mission-critical.

What is it? Basically an automated tickler, the relationship-management part of Customer Relationship Management software. I’m still massively ambivalent about saddling on a big new piece of software like Salesforce, but I’ve been less than whelmed by cheaper products like Heap.

What I need, I realized, is this: Something to keep me on track every day. The records we’re showing are very brief, but they can contain every mission-critical detail we need to make contact with the client. The software runs on our file server, so it will work from any web browser and also from the iPhone. On a desktop machine, you can also do manual data entry, but typing on the iPhone is so painful that I left that feature out of the iPhone version.

But on the iPhone the phone number is “hot,” as is the ePage number if we have one. Likewise the email link, obviously. The Web Site link will take us to any URL we have linked to that record — with the most obvious destination being a cloud-based transaction-management page.

(I have plans there, also, with an iPhone-ready contact sheet for the entire transaction — agents, lender, title, inspectors, etc. On the iPhone, any PDF file is accesible, so the Web Site link will give us instant remote access to every live transaction.)

Here’s what it looks like on a desktop browser:

This doesn’t solve our larger CRM problem, but it’s built to harvest data from a real CRM system, once we have one. I have plans, too, to integrate it with Google Calendar — to calendar those events automatically — and with our existing web-based forms. Very soon, if you fill out a form on our web site, the form will create a record in this software automatically. I also want for it to tickle us by email on event days. Tickling us, too, to let us know when we’re not keeping in touch with people — which idea also comes from Redfin’s software.

But: This does not solve our total CRM problem, just relationship-management for live clients. Even so, the real deal, for Realtors, is making the best possible use of junk time — driving, waiting, etc. This is CRM minus contact management, just mission-critical relationship-management.

In fact, anyone could use this software for any business. All four pop-ups are done from separate initialization files. Change those files and you’ve changed the software. Lo-tech don’t mean no-tech.

Bottom line: The more accountability we build into our systems, the more we get done. This little piece of software could make us a lot of money — and keep our clients happier.


4 Comments so far

  1. […] A good workflow system for agents is important, but it’s got to actually be a good system and, in my opinion, there are not many out there. I used Top Producer 8i for almost a year and, although it was powerful, it wasn’t simple enough . I have also had WiseAgent for about a year now and while it is getting better all the time it still has room to grow. Now, Greg Swann thinks he may have finally found a CRM he will use. […]

  2. Alex Cortez April 19th, 2010 1:44 pm

    Ultimately, we have to become more efficient in how we conduct our day to day business (not only does it help us save time, but better serves our clients). Thanks for the post, Greg. I am still searching for a CRM that fully satisfies all my needs (specially when it comes to follow up). Thanks.

  3. Greg Swann April 19th, 2010 11:24 pm

    Today counts as Day One, I think. I input some live data yesterday, but I didn’t work with any of it until today. And before I started, I moved in everything I have live right now, from first-contact to post-closing. Then I started knocking them down, and they went so easy, so fast — a very productive day. That’s what I was looking for, so I rate it a win so far.

    But even this early in the game, the quantity of data is daunting, so as of tonight, adding onto the idea of filtering by agent, I’m also filtering, optionally, by urgency: No touch in seven plus days or an event is today (or before!), you’ll see the record. The rest are out of sight until you bring them back. That kind of suggests that we may someday want categorization.

    Still, a win. I got done everything I needed to get done, and I got all of my live work set up for the next step. I may not be in heaven, but the air sure smells good around here. And I keep wondering if I’m stupid, so I played with Daylite’s iPhone client tonight. Way more flexibility, you bet, but way more UI, too much UI, too much to bother with. I’m not building the arc. I just need to burn up a few headsets, and that’s what I’m doing.

    Praxis: Phone alone is very good, and the idea of having every live file a link away is too cool, but the best way of working with the iPhone is to use the phone — and the headset — as a phone, and interact with the software by desktop or laptop. The hot-linked dialing is fast and fault-free, and because we’re a Safari page, not an app, “End Call” puts you right back where you were, ready to touch the link for the next call.

    It’s pitiful and dumb, but today I got the job done. We’ll see how it does tomorrow.

  4. Robert Worthington April 20th, 2010 9:22 am

    greg, I am not aware of a perfect crm of any one program that does everything. I have experimented with a few crms and have found real estate webmasters to be the simplest yet most effective and customizable crm to date. Have you given it a try yourself?