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Contact Sport: Get Your Act Together

Nick Burrafato called a prospect who couldn’t talk because he was heading out to a hockey game with his son. A few days later, when Burrafato called back and asked how the hockey game went, the prospect was astonished that he had remembered. “You can hear the surprise in somebody’s voice,” says the broker-owner of Florida HomeGallery in Lake Mary.

Burrafato credits his contact management software program with helping him remember important details. Each time he speaks with a customer, he opens his ACT! software, pulls up that person’s record, hits the “Notes” button and enters what they discussed. “I keep an accurate record of the conversation because when I get back [with that person] tomorrow, next week or three months from now, I won’t remember [off the top of my head] what we talked about,” he says.

There are comparable programs on the market, but Burrafato, who has used Sage Software’s ACT! ever since he was in the pool construction business in the ‘90s, prefers to stick with what he knows. “I’ve tried [others] but plugging in all the required information was too time-consuming. This system helps keep me on top.”

Burrafato paid less than $200 for the program. “[The company] offer[s] optional upgrades, but if you want to take advantage of [newer features] it’s probably important to upgrade. I went years without any—I’ve done one upgrade in the last five years, and I doubt it cost $75.”

Burafato says other benefits of using the program include:

1. Keeping Motivated
Most people start their day with a strong cup of coffee. Burrafato starts his by opening up his contact management program and checking his to-do list. This might sound like a tedious ritual but he says it provides exactly the jump-start he needs.

“It makes you that much better than your competition because you know what your day looks like when you get to the office or open up your laptop,” he says. “You’re keeping track of what’s going on while your average competitor is winging it and waiting to see what’s going to happen. The biggest challenge I see for [sales associates] is that they’re just not organized and ACT! forces you to be organized. What I love most about the program is that every morning I can press the button that says ‘Task List’ and it shows me all the people I need to call.”

If he didn’t finish his calls the day before, the leftover calls will appear at the top of the list. “It’s a motivator, it really is,” he says. “You don’t want to fall behind. There’ve been times I’ve fallen behind because I was out of town or had an emergency, but when you have to do all the things that a top agent must do and now you’re faced with making 30 calls, it’s a bear to catch up. My personal daily goal is that I don’t go home until my last call is made; I just don’t.”

2. Acknowledging Events
It’s hard enough to remember relatives’ birthdays and anniversaries, much less those of clients and customers. Burrafato doesn’t let special days slip by because he color-codes the items on his callback and to-do lists. When he sees a specific color he instantly knows whether to call someone or acknowledge a special occasion.

“Remembering anniversaries, move-in dates, escrow transfers, surveys, home inspections and when your listings are up to be renewed or when they’re going to expire, is very important,” he says. “You might make your buyers red and your sellers blue, and if you’ve got a closing you might make that green because it’ll remind you of money. Or you could make expireds yellow because it’s a caution.”

He also uses a specific color for anniversaries. When he sees that color he knows he can save the call until last because it isn’t as critical. “If it’s one of the 11 calls I need to make, I know that even if I don’t [acknowledge their anniversary] until 8 p.m. I still made a call that most agents will never make,” he says.

3. Sticking to a Schedule
Using an Internet-based program called, Burrafato can “call” his computer from anywhere and work on his files as if he’s in the office. He says it gives him flexibility and helps him prepare for upcoming projects—or the unexpected.

“Let’s say that one week prior to the expiration of a listing I set up a task [in ACT!] so that I know to call that client and discuss whether we’re going to reduce the price, continue the listing or take it off the market,” he says. “I’d rather do it that way than to have my office call and say, ‘Oh by the way, Nick, your listing expired yesterday.’ It’s horrible not to follow up with the client because if you don’t, the day the listing expires you’ve got 200 competitors telling your client how lousy you are.”

4. Build Relationships
When Burrafato has a client coming in, he can print out a copy of their conversation record so that he’s clued-in on everything they’ve discussed.

“I think that’s important not only for specific areas where they may want to purchase but also for common communications when we’re together because I know [which] subjects they’ll want to discuss,” he says.

“If someone wants a home with an orange tree in the back yard, and [when they come in] you ask how big they want that tree to be, they’re just so amazed. They think you’ve got the best memory on the planet, and you’re just doing your homework. I want my clients, [customers] and prospects to feel like they’re my only ones. 

“It’s the little things that make the biggest difference,” Burrafato continues. “There isn’t any Olympic race that was won by more than 1/100th of a second. If ACT! can put you even 1/100th of a second ahead of your competitor that makes all the difference.”

This column, designed to offer examples of how salespeople and brokers are using technology in their offices, won first place in the 2006 Best Column category from the Florida Magazine Association. The column is for general information only. Opinions expressed here don’t necessarily reflect an endorsement of the views by Florida Realtor® magazine or the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR).
Burrafato’s Tools

Desktop: Dell
Digital camera: Sony
GPS: Garmin
Laptop: Toshiba
Printer: HP
Software: Act!, Google Desktop,, Microsoft Office

Contact Management Choices
  1. ACT!, Sage Software—$199, (866) 333-0990;
  2. Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2003, Microsoft—$109, (800) 936-4900;
  3. 360 Agent, Quadrant 2—from $34.95/month, (800) 372-3195;
  4. Top Producer® 7i, Top Producer Systems Inc.—from $37.95/month, (800) 444-8570;