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Starter Kit for tech savvy agents: 2014 edition

(Business News) Tech savvy agents aren’t born, they’re made through endless fine tuning. Are you up to date on how to use technology in your own practice?

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2014 Tech-Savvy Agent Starter Kit

In an ever changing real estate market, where realtors have to constantly be on their game, it seems like answering the “what is new- now- next” is a question that savvy agents and brokers constantly have hanging in the balance.

Going into the new year, take look back at some of the amazing things that the AG staff have brought to the table as insight to keep you on the top of your tech-savvy game, and seek to discover new things whenever you can.

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Prepare for the boom of the beta-broker

You’re here now, so it looks as if you might be looking for some information on what beta-brokerages are doing to stay on the up and up in the 2014 Market. Good for you, that is already a good sign, because there are still agents out there who are sticking to the old school methodology of waiting for things to change and come to them, and well, you know the saying… if ya snooze… ya lose.

If you follow me online, you probably already know that I’m up here in the DC Metro area, Northern Virginia to be exact, and I happen to be a part of a boutique brokerage that I like to say, we may be small, our combined knowledge and savvy is quite powerful.

Having been a part of the Better Homes and Gardens Beta-Brokerages to watch, at Arbour Realty, we’re always seeking out what we can do to stay on the forefront of technology. Our firm is interesting because we’re not a team, we are actually a small firm that just so happens to be competing as the top in the Virginia market in terms of volume and transactions, which is pretty darn nifty considering that we are in the running with firms that can boast having over one hundred members to their firms.

How do we do this? Well, the individual knowledge-base is solid, but we also like to mix it up with our software and hardware, such as making sure we have some of the most useful apps that will keep us and our clients in the know, as well as constantly linked.

For instance, I take my iPad (you can get a tablet of your choice) with me on all of my appointments now, I email the client their listings before we go out, so they know what we’ll be touring, but then we utilize the iPad to stay as paperless as possible. I’d love to get to the place where I can give my clients their own iPad for tours – maybe 2014 is the year for that? We shall see.

For those of us who are design-impaired

The iPad (or a tablet in general) also allows the free-flow of ideas and creating projects on the fly… It is also great tinkering with some of the lovely marketing tools out there that designers create and put out there for those of us who might not be the most design-centric. The fellow amazing staffers here at AG clued me in to the Canva site a few weeks back, which allows for awesome presentation design and and even more wonderful… simple social media background design.

Since you’re already reading AG, you probably have an inkling of this, so, not to beat a dead horse, but having a supremely strong social media presence in 2014 is going to be something that tech-savvy agents really need to be on top of their game with; my broker can attest to this. He has utilized some of the wonderful tools such as Canva to produce the sleek header and background designs.

Recently, I also found the app for making my presentations stand out (simplified, yet beautiful) Haiku Deck. Consumers want the details, but they want them broken down and easily accessible.

Make yourself available

We have found that accessibility on our sites through tools such as home evaluations direct from our website has been a hugely powerful tool this year, and we will continue to hone in on that this year. As a savvy agent, you can expect to spend six to twelve thousand dollars on an a totally brand new site and between two to three thousand dollars on an updated website with the home evaluation (smart)tools.

Speaking to accessibility, having a website, but not having a mobile enabled website is a huge misstep. Get your website up to speed with your developer and even if it is a wordpress based site, get it looking sharp on mobile.

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Any way you cut it, the latest stats show that home buyers and sellers are starting their search for real estate professionals online these days. Not in the “majority” percentile… but in the full scale, nearing 100 percent. Interesting. In the past, the stat had been in the high nineties, but now, consumers are starting their search completely online. If that is truly the case, we best all be on our game.

Quick tip for some of our “old” favorites for apps:

Since you’re in the mood to be tech savvy, be sure to check out Takes (short videos put to music for listings), Capture (your videos straight to your youtube channel), Glympse, Magic Plan, HomeSnap… The list goes on.

We look forward to seeing you up your game while we up ours – tell us in the comments what tech tools have been added to your toolbox to improve your practice.

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. sedonakathy

    December 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks Lani and Genevieve! Great article! I’ll post it and teach it…. we were just talking about how many of the RE agents still need help finding the right tools.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Kathy, thank YOU!

      • sedonakathy

        December 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm

        🙂

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Business News

What COVID-19 measures do workplaces have to take to reopen?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employers can’t usually do medical screenings – but it’s a little different during a pandemic.

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COVID-19 temp gun

Employers bringing personnel back to work are faced with the challenge of protecting their workforce from COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have issued guidelines on how to do so safely and legally.

Employee health and examinations are usually a matter of personal privacy by design through the American’s with Disabilities Act. However, after the World Health Organization declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic in March, the U.S. EEOC revised its guidance to allow employers to screen for possible infections in order to protect employees.

Employers are now allowed to conduct temperature screenings and check for symptoms of the coronavirus. They can also exclude from the workplace those they suspect of having symptoms. The recommendations from the CDC also include mandatory masks, distant desks, and closing common areas. As the pandemic and US response evolves, it is important for employers to continue to monitor any changes in guidance from these agencies.

Employers are encouraged to have consistent thresholds for symptoms and temperature requirements and communicate those with transparency. Though guidance suggests that COVID-19 screenings at work are allowed by law, employers should be mindful of the way they are conducted and the impact it may have on employer-employee relations.

Stanford Health Care is taking a bold approach by performing COVID-19 testing on each of its 14,000 employees that have any patient contact. They implemented temperature scanning stations at each entrance, operated by nurses and clinicians. The President and CEO of Sanford Health Care said, “For our patients to trust the clinical procedures and trials, it was important for them to know that we were safe.”

Technology is adapting to meet the needs of employers and identify symptoms of COVID-19. Contactless thermometers that can check the temperature of up to 1,500 people per hour using thermal imaging technology are now on the market; they show an error margin of less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. COVID-19 screening is being integrated into some company time-clocks used by employees at the start and end of each shift. The clocks are being equipped with a way to record employee temperatures and answers to a health questionnaire. Apple and Google even collaborated to bring contact tracing to smart phones which could help contain potential outbreaks.

Fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing are the three most common symptoms of COVID-19. Transmission is still possible from a person who is asymptomatic, but taking the precautions to identify these symptoms can help minimize workplace spread. This guidance may change in the future as the pandemic evolves, but for now, temperature checks are a part of back to work for many.

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Business News

Technology that may help you put the “human” back in Human Resources

(BUSINESS NEWS) Complicated application processes and disorganized on-boarding practices often dissuade the best candidates and cause new hires to leave. Sora promises to help with this.

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Even in a booming economy, finding the right applicant for a role can be a drawn-out, frustrating experience for both the candidate and the hiring manager. Candidates submitting their resume to an automated HR system, designed to “seamlessly” integrate candidates into their HRIS accounts, face the interminable waiting game for feedback on whether they’re going to be contacted at all.

Ironically, this lack of feedback on where a candidate stands (or even if the resume was received at all) and a propensity for organizations to list roles as “Open Until Filled”, overwhelms the hiring manager under a mountain of resumes, most of which will not be reviewed unless there is a keyword match for the role. And if they do somehow manage to see the resume, studies indicate that in less than 10 seconds, they’ll have moved on to the next one.

The problems don’t end there, however. Once the candidate and hiring manager have found one another, and the HR team has completed the hire, the dreaded phase of onboarding begins. During the first few days of a new job, a lack of effective onboarding procedures—ranging from simple tasks like arranging for technology or introductions to a workplace mentor—can be the cause of a significant amount of employee turnover. Forbes notes that 17% of all newly hired employees leave their job during the first 90 days, and 20% of all staff turnover happens within the first 45 days.

The reason, according to Laura Del Beccaro, Founder of startup Sora, is that overworked HR teams simply don’t have the bandwidth to follow up with all of those who are supposed to interact with the new employee to ensure a seamless transition experience. Focusing on building a template-based system that can be integrated within the frameworks of multiple HRIS systems, Sora’s focus is to set up adaptable workflow processes that don’t require the end-user to code, and can be adjusted to meet the needs of one or many employee roles.

In a workplace that is becoming increasingly virtual, out of practicality or necessity, having the ability to put the “human” back in Human Resources is a focus that can’t be ignored. From the perspective of establishing and expanding your team, it’s important to ensure that potential employees have an application experience that respects their time and talent and feedback is provided along the way, even when they might not be a fit for the role.

Take for example the organization who asked for an upload of a resume, then required the candidate to re-type everything into their HRIS, asked for three survey responses, an open-ended writing task, a virtual face-to-face interview, *and* three letters of reference—all for an entry-level role. If you were actually selected for an in-person interview, the candidate was then presented with another task that could take up to two hours of prep time to do—again, all for an entry level role.

Is that wrong? Is it right? The importance of selecting the right staff for your team can’t be overstated. But there should be a line between taking necessary precautions to ensure the best fit for your role and understanding that many of the best candidates you might find simply don’t want to participate in such a grueling process and just decide to move on. There’s a caveat that says that companies will never treat an employee better than in the interview process and in the first few weeks on the job—and that’s where Sora’s work comes in, to make certain that an employee is fully supported from day one.

Bringing on the best to leave them without necessary support and equipment, wondering at the dysfunction that they find, and shuffled from department to department once they get there creates the reality and the perception that they just don’t matter—which causes that churn and disconnect. Having your employees know that they matter and that they’ll be respected from day one is a basic right—or it should be.

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Business News

Trader Joe’s doesn’t want to change its controversial brand names

(BUSINESS NEWS) Branding has gone through a major change recently and many companies are agreeing to shifts, but Trader Joe’s thinks its names are fine.

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In the last few months our country has gone through a complete re-evaluation of their societal impact with their branding names. Companies that have been strong for neigh on a century are changing their names to accommodate more socio-intelligent content. Whether its from real change or from following the societal trends, the gambit of following the socio-economic climate is becoming a common theme. However the world turns next, the changes we are seeing now is creating a new world of products and status quo.

One company, though, is standing strong with their branding. Trader Joe’s, a grocery store chain, is sticking to its guns, despite some rather vocal push back. A petition aimed at the stores “racist” branding name habit has started making its way through the internet. Currently the petition has crossed the 5000-signature threshold and is getting close to its 7500 goal on change.org.

The habit of using phrases like “Trader Jose” or “Trader Ming’s” in their international food products is the main point of contention. The people behind the petition state that using names like this makes those items appear to be exotic or out of the norm like the original/traditional brand Joe – which at its very basic definition is truthful. The branding technique brands something as different than the original.

Initially a company spokesperson stated that the names were in the process of being changed, but less than a week later their tone changed. Trader Joe’s now states that while they “want to be clear; we disagree that any of these labels are racist.” They will not be changing things based on petitions. Also they report that “decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc.

We thought then – and still do – that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures”. According to their current reporting they have also reached out to their customer base and supposedly many customers reaffirmed “that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended – as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing”.

Personally, I see two major issues here. First, they are literally talking about a branding that is decades old; habits that were comedic then are now seen in a very different light. Just like an organism, society grows and changes too. If they can’t come up with new gimmicks to make themselves more popular and fresher, then they’ll most likely fall by the wayside as it is. The other issue is that their polling was specifically geared towards their current buyers; they asked their own customers whether they found this offensive. Can we all just take a collective deep breath and say biased please? Whether or not they decide to stick to their guns here is going to lay some groundwork in the future.

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