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MCL Nov/Dec 2013 - So Much to Do, So Little Time
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So Much to Do, So Little Time

How Technology Can Help You Become More Efficient

by Lon Bencini, MinuteBids

Are you feeling the pressure? You’re not alone. In an increasingly competitive real estate market we’re all doing a lot more, managing more properties and working longer hours. There are solutions. Technologies are now available help us become more efficient when dealing with our day-to-day tasks. These technologies can allow more time to spend with our customers while improving our bottom line at the same time and maybe, even spend a bit more quality time with our families.

We need to take advantage of the new stuff out there; here are a couple of technologies that we’ve used and that you should consider to help better manage your time.

Mobile Applications
Mobile technology is changing the property management business. From sales to maintenance and everything in between, there are mobile applications for your smart phone and tablets to manage all of it.

The growth of mobile usage is phenomenal. In 2011, mobile traffic was 12 times the total internet traffic generated in 2000 and it’s estimated that there will be 10 billion connected mobile devices by 2017. Most consumers are using their mobile devices to find apartments, condominiums and townhomes. In 2012, ninety percent of consumers began their search on the web, according to a study by National Association of Realtors, and more than 80% are accessing this information on their smart phones and tablets, according to the California Association of Realtors. These are huge trends.

Today, many property management companies are allowing their managers to do more on their smart phones. Many are using them to make notes and snap pictures of their properties, make payments, map directions to meetings, communicate with their team and other important applications. It’s amazing, but today all of this is possible on smart mobile devices.

Maintaining important documents and conducting inspections on rental properties, apartment buildings, and homes is crucial for property management companies of any size, big or small, and it can be difficult to manage this process. Property managers can now use their mobile devices to help them manage their properties, saving them time when doing their regular inspections, checking on projects and capturing data while on the go.

There are many property inspection applications available for your smart phone and tablet, though they can be expensive. Here at MinuteBids, we’ve just launched a free mobile application that property managers and management companies can use on the iPhones or iPads they already have, to inspect properties using touch check boxes, auto text comments, and photos to create an organized professional report. This report can then be accessed anywhere online when they need to view, print, or email the report directly to the property owner on the spot. Property reports take very little time when done from the property being inspected.

Local Information
The amount of information on the internet is beyond our abilities to access it. The amount of data stored in the cloud is now measured in zettabytes, sounds big. The amount of data we can access is something less than that but still an inconceivable amount of information. While the internet has made a lot of what we do more efficient, finding the right answer is not always made easier. For example, I just did a Google search for roofers in Minneapolis and got 1,160,000 results. I know it’s not very helpful but easier than what we’ve done in the past.

Over the years, looking for local service providers has evolved from paper based yellow pages to Internet directories and Google searches. Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and other online directories provide lists and ratings of various service providers. It takes time and sometimes additional cost to go through these long lists and it requires some faith that the ratings are meaningful. Once you’ve built your list then you have to hope that the service providers you’ve selected are interested in bidding on your project or that you’re not barraged by phone calls and emails. And, the service providers usually have to pay somebody something to learn about your project.

What we all end up doing is working with the same list of trusted service providers. It would be nice if we had the time to check out new ones, to review the whole pricing thing and to have all this activity stored somewhere easily accessible and really easy to use. It would be nice if we all had a lot more time to do this.

MinuteBids has taken this to the next step by creating a database of properties and services, all voluntarily registered on MinuteBids because the properties are managed and the service providers work primarily with property managers. It’s not for homeowners, it’s all B2B. Using our database, we’ve created an online marketplace, an eBay, if you will, for buyers and sellers of property services.

Property managers simply request bids on projects they have on their properties and service providers are matched to the project, based on the specific project and location. This saves time by ensuring property managers get the bids they need and only from those service providers interested in the work are bidding on the project, including your trusted and preferred ones.

The opportunity to become more efficient through technology isn’t so much that it’s available and plentiful, it’s how to use the tools intelligently to get you the answers you need and to do the reports required for your job.

We’ve learned over the past few years that there really aren’t enough hours in the day to do what needs to get done. We need to work smarter and we need to use the tools available to help us.

Published by Community Associations Institute — Minnesota Chapter, copyright 2013. All articles and paid advertising represent the opinions of authors and advertisers and not necessarily the opinion of either Minnesota Community Living or CAI–Minnesota Chapter. The information contained within should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, accounting, or other professional services by the CAI–Minnesota Chapter, or by Minnesota Community Living, or its authors. Articles, letters to the editor, and advertising may be sent to Chapter Staff Editor Joanne Penn at joannep@cai-mn.com, or at CAI–Minnesota Chapter, 1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114.

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