Empowerment with No Strings Attached
The Freedom that Comes with a Paperless and Mobile Office
One day a few years back, I was sitting at a title company. They did not offer courtesy Wi-Fi, and I got to thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice if I could work on a few to-do items and client files during the downtime of the closing." This began my adventure toward being as mobile as I could muster and as paperless as possible.
The freedom – to carry less and leave more at home – that came with each subsequent technology purchase has given me a sense of efficiency and empowerment that I love to share with my peers.
Simply having a laptop and wireless hotspot is enough to take one's business to the next level at a nominal monthly cost. It justified itself in the very next closing I attended, when I was able to write and submit an offer while sitting with my clients making their home-buying dream come true.
Now, many years later, my support tools have grown to extend my ability to work from anywhere I might choose – assuming my hotspot gets a strong signal.
Suddenly, I was off to the races. If the client was running late, no problem. Powered by my remote access, I had plenty to do while I waited. If a meeting was rescheduled, no problem. If family wants to meet up for a dinner celebration and I need to submit an offer during that hour, there's no need to choose work over family. The laptop whips open, offer submitted, laptop closed, and I'm still 100-percent present for my loved ones.
Sam's No-Strings-Attached Tools
My newest prized possession is my Apple Watch, which allows for a quick and easy glance at messages from clients, appointments on listings and reminders from my calendar. Another favorite gadget, my MacBook Air with a third-party extended battery pack, allows me a full eight hours of work time without having to find an outlet to power up before my next adventure.
One must-have tool is an extra battery for my phone/wireless hotspot. As I preserve my laptop battery life, I'm able to share power with friends, peers or clients when on the go. My iPad Mini comes in handy when I want to take up less space at the table. It not only allows me to travel light, but also suits my work style of listening to "Ted Talks" and similar "white noise" while I work.
With the onset of third-party apps, such as Duet Display, I am able to extend my laptop screen to include the iPad Mini, which increases work efficiency. Boogie Board Sync eWriter provides a solution for taking paperless notes. With this tool, I feel like I am writing and not typing. I like that it forces me into a different kind of space and puts a pen-like item in my hand from time to time – so I don't forget what those are!
At the end of the day, size matters. Being a paperless agent requires lightweight and portable technology and the ability to switch and change bags to suit my technology needs of the moment and scale down (or up) what I carry.
Many people ask how having a mobile office has worked in my favor. I've had a few powerful experiences with my clients that I'm able to share.
On one occasion, while traveling on vacation, I was able to pull into a rest stop and pull comps, write an offer, submit an offer and negotiate terms – all in less than an hour from the time the buyers saw a property with a peer of mine and fell in love with it. There was already another offer, so timing was critical to make this a success for my clients.
On a different occasion I was assisting first-time buyers who were about to have their first child. We viewed a listing that just hit the market – a gut-rehabbed, stunning home (the "one"). I knew it would sell quickly, and this become my "writing an offer on the roof of your car" story. I pulled out my laptop and set up my hotspot – pulled comps and set price expectations with the clients on the spot. I wrote the offer, engaged the “host in person signing” feature on DotLoop, and they signed the offer.
We already had a pre-approval on file. As they were walking out the door, I was hitting enter on an emailed offer to the listing agent. (Note: I always copy my buyers, as well as their attorney and lender, in the initial offer so that everyone is clear it has been submitted.)
Those are just a couple of the examples that make me feel like a rock star when I can act quickly when an opportunity presents itself. You can absolutely let your technology control your life just as we REALTORS® often allow clients to control our schedules. However, being a paperless agent, I feel the good has certainly outweighed the bad. Not having a strong Wi-Fi signal tends to be my biggest frustration.
Say "no" to cables and paperwork and "yes" to maximizing your technology options to better serve you and your clients!
A Chicago REALTOR® since 2002, Sam Powell specializes in buying and selling for residential and commercial properties, first-time buyers and relocation, among other areas. Sam was 2014 President of the Chicago Chapter of Women's Council. Sam is passionate about making the industry better, through education with consumers, peer-to-peer sharing and volunteer leadership.
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