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Technology Advances that Ain’t

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Photo Courtesy of Freshwater2006


Technology Rules

I know that as an active Blogger and a participant in Web 2.0 that technology is the center of the Universe.

I love great places to find things to do on the web, and agentgenius has been a source of some of those great places. Like Vicki Moore’s recent blog about DocStoc or when Vicki introduce me to Makeuseof in another blog or the blog about free real estate sites written by Nick Bostic, or some many other great, useful applications that have been shared here.

As a long time gadget freak I need to have every piece of technology, from my Ipod to the distributed sound system at my house I need it bad! My cars both have built in GPS and yet I own a Garmin Nuvi 660 for use in rentals. My wife and I each have PC laptops, and we’re currently thinking about adding Macbooks. I use four different desktops for my personal use, and at one time carried two phones AND a palm pilot.

I Have a lot of History

I am ready to advance the technology I use as rapidly as it comes out. My first computer was a Commodore Vic 20, which I upgraded to a Commodore 64 in my first real estate office . My first mobile phone needed a satchel, my first smartphone was the size of a paperback book, and my first digital camera used a floppy disk for storage. My first videos of houses were taken 20 years ago, and I run to the Trade shows at every meeting I attend to see what new and inventive and what the rest of the world thinks we should own or be using. And some of it is just plain disappointing.

So What is Silly Technology?

I don’t think that a solar powered light on a sign is a significant marketing advance. In my market area we have street lights in most areas, and in those truly rural areas, the only thing you would be able to see would be the sign, since the house would be shrouded in the dark.

Talking houses are another piece of technology that leaves me cold, though they have been around long enough that somebody likes the concept. I think that if the buyer has gotten close enough to read the sign directing them to whatever the frequency is, and they are going to make a call, I want them to call me! If the exterior of the house has them interested I would rather not give them the opportunity to rule it our because of the description my sign provides them with. It is a basic rule of advertising that consumers make calls for information so that they can eliminate properties not so they can see even more properties.

I feel the same way about large displays of photos in a broker’s window where the consumer presses a button to hear property information. What the heck happened that we think that people prefer speaking to a recording instead of a person. And when did we decide we woud rather buy a machine to do that for us?

Recently at the NAR Mid-Year meetings I saw a piece of technology that was touted as the latest greatest technology. This company provided an agent with buyer information if the consumer dialed a specific code to get property information. Of course to get the number to dial, the consumer had to be sitting in front of the property looking at the sale sign. In 1988, I was an investor in a company that had a similar product. The consumer called a phone number dialed a code and was provided with information about the house. Of course the new technology provides the agent with the caller ID information, but they need to be in front of the house first. And what got them there? A sign, or maybe a website, but it had nothing to do with their cell phone

While there are great technologies available for us to move forward with, sometimes the technological advances are just plain silly. I guess that’s why they say that you can always tell pioneers – they’re the ones with arrows in their backs.

So how about it? Have you run into silly technology? Tell me about it.

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Gotbob

    June 12, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    There’s a lot of silly stuff out there. If it ain’t free it ain’t me. Everyone wants in a REALTORs Pants Pocket wallet. “It only takes one transaction to pay for itself”

    My first computer was a RadioShack TRS-80 with cassette tape back up. Oh those were the days.

  2. Roberta Murphy

    June 12, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Canned websites.

  3. ines

    June 12, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I think this goes hand in hand with Rudy’s post on using snail mail – we use technology but sometimes forget to focus on the basics like answering your phone or face to face contact.

  4. Barry Cunningham

    June 12, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Not Sure If It’s Silly Technology by I second Ines, there is nothing worse than erroneously utilized voicemail in a sales business.

    Want to increase your business?

    ANSWER THE PHONE!!

  5. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 13, 2008 at 4:48 am

    I personally find the individual domains for specific properties to be silly (i.e. you list 123 Main Street, so you register 123mainstreet(dot)com and create what essentially amounts to a brochure online). The new domain isn’t going to have immediate new exposure in the search engines. You could have just as easily done a featured spot on your main website, or placed a subpage behind your main site i.e. .

  6. Bill Lublin

    June 13, 2008 at 6:57 am

    @GotBob That is one of my favorite statements. With average brokerages posting 10% prifits, any new expense only breaks even when there are 10 transactions. And that’s not to make a profit, that’s to breakeven. So it takes 11 transactions for a new expense to even remotely interest me.

    @ Roberta – Not nuts about them either – get something the consumer wants to interact with – Otherwise its the same as databases used to be. Every broker had one, they just weren’t doing anything with them 🙂

    @Ines – Amen – I can’t even amplify on that – Its like chocolate – just perfect!

    @Barry – I don’t know if its silly technology either, but I agree with you 1–% its just plain silly! Stop whining and start working!

    @Jennifer – Me too- and if you do a large volume of business, that gets really expensive, and you have lots of domain names that you only needed for a really short period of time. So it has the twin benefits of dong little AND costing a bunch

  7. Matt Thomson

    June 13, 2008 at 9:19 am

    My new favorite is our local cable company, Comcast, having their “Northwest Real Estate On Demand.” For only $150 per listing, agents feature their houses on the TV. So somewhere, there are buyers who would rather sit in front of their TV watching photos of houses spin by to soothing music (sorted in $100k increments by county) than sit down at their computer and search for houses they actually want. If they have Comcast cable, 99% sure they have Comcast internet, too.

  8. Bill Lublin

    June 13, 2008 at 10:48 am

    @Matt- Oddly enough I owned a company that was doing videos of house 20 years ago. And we had slide shows of properties on television way back when 1200 baud dial up was quick – And even then people found that b-o-r-i-n-g. Me, I have DirecTV 😉

  9. Elaine Reese

    June 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I’ve questioned the value of the programs like RealPing or Call Me Now where an agent can pay and install on their web site. If the prospect is sitting at their computer, my phone number or email icon is right there. The phone number I provide on my web site is always forwarded to my cell phone, and my cell captures the incoming number. In order to use these buttons, a prospect has to give up certain info that they may not wish to do. If that’s the case, then I think they’ll probably send an email.

  10. Eugene

    June 13, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I think buying google ad words or targeted keywords is silly. There are very cost effective methods of organically increasing your natural search ranking. One of them is utilizing video and uploading them to video sites like (Google Video, Yahoo Video, AOL Video, YouTube, etc.).

    #4) Answering your phone and great customer service will set you far ahead of your competition. That’s what sets us apart from our competitors

    #5) I think the individual address domain (123 Main Street.com) can have some value. The URL is so different that it can be ranked if you are proactive enough to get Google to pay attention. But I do agree the agent’s main site should have a featured spot.

    #9) Displaying phone number, or a Grand Central Number is far more reliable.

  11. Paula Henry

    June 14, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Is there another group of professionals as targeted as Realtors?

    The “silliest technology” I have seen/heard is the cable spots. Who really watches cable to find a home? Another, the narrated slideshow, verbatim of the property description:

    This lovely three bedroom, two bath home is……..blah…..blah…..blah.

    I guess I have something against those dry, passionless voices trying to sell a home.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

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Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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