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Put Your Money Where Your Tech Is

Rosamelia Lecea
When Rosamelia Lecea entered real estate in May 2005, she was determined to start on a firm footing. “I set aside some money to put all the systems in place that I would need to do my business effectively,” says Lecea, a sales associate with Bosshardt Realty Services in Sarasota. “Technology was critical. Young[er] and older people are doing their homework and starting off on the Internet before they talk to a [sales associate]. They’ll check to see how [tech] savvy you are.”

Lecea couldn’t afford to hire anassistant, but she couldn’t afford to get slowed down by paperwork either. A fellow Realtor® who holds the ePRO designation—the Internet certification program sponsored by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)—recommended that she give Top Producer® 7i a try.

There are comparable software programs that integrate word processing, e-mail, comparative market analyses (CMAs), database, contact management, marketing and financial software, but Lecea was sold on Top Producer from the start because it’s Web based. “I can quickly access it [from] anywhere, and I’m not concerned that I’m going to lose [my data] because if my computer crashes, it’s still there,” she says.

She paid $300 up-front—$150 per MLS board connectivity for Sarasota and Manatee counties—and pays about $38 per month. She uses the program on her wireless laptop and her Palm personal digital assistant (PDA).

Here are some of the ways Top Producer keeps Lecea productive:

1. Put a Stop to Chaos
“Real estate is a very reactive business,” says Lecea. “Half the time we don’t plan our days—they’re planned for us—so, if you’re not structured, you’re all over the map. Top Producer helps me keep track of what I have to do.”

If it weren’t for the program, she’d risk missing important deadlines. “One time I was able to go into Top Producer and see that I had a commitment letter due in three days,” she says, adding that she had almost forgotten about it. “When I get a listing, I enter all the data into Top Producer—price, commission, buyers, sellers, when the inspection report is due, when to call the lender to make sure everything is OK—and it tells me what has to be done from the contract to the closing. I also track all my signs, my lockbox and profile sheets for our MLS input. If I have to go to an appraisal, I go into my scheduler and it asks me if it’s related to a closing and it automatically puts it into my activities that must be done in my closing page so I don’t have to retype it or add to it three or four times.”

Lecea recommends updating the program frequently. “I go into my listings at least every other day, to make sure I’m [caught up] because if you let it go, it becomes a backlog and there’s no point in having it. If you want something just [to keep track of] names and addresses, you don’t need Top Producer.

“It’s also important to personalize the program,” adds Lecea. I know other [sales associates] who use Top Producer, and you’d never know we were using the same program.”

2. Manage Communications
Whenever Lecea sends or receives an e-mail, Top Producer cross-references it with her database of buyers, listings and closings so that she has a record of all her communications. “If it’s from a client, it’s tagged accordingly and cross-referenced by date,” she says,adding that she gets e-mail through both her Bosshardt company e-mail account and her individual Web site, www.FunLivingInFlorida.com.

Top Producer still won’t let me type an e-mail in Spanish,” adds the bilingual Lecea. “I have to create it in [Microsoft] Word and paste it in.”

3. Better Listing Presentations
Using the program’s Top Connectivity feature, Lecea can create CMAs. “It imports data from the MLS,” she says. “Let’s say I have five listings. I can enter [each] MLS number, and it will download the five properties and create a CMA for [each of them]. Then it allows me to edit based on adjustments, and there’s even a page that explains them.”

The program also lets Lecea import photographs of each listing and tells her the location and whether it’s active, sold or pending. “The presentation also [includes information] about my company and me, my commitment to my sellers, my marketing and tips for preparing the home [for sale]. And there’s a brand-new feature called a community report, where you key in the ZIP code and address and it creates a community report for the area. I [have just done this] with one of my listings.”

4. Track Leads
“I have a Web site, www.FunLivingInFlorida.com, with a [real estate Internet marketing] company called Z57 out of San Diego,” says Lecea. “Top Producer has an area called ‘Leads,’ and I’ve set it up so that it messages me on my Palm [handheld device] when I have a lead that’s come in to my Web site. If I need to call or e-mail [a prospect], I can do it [ASAP].”

Lecea’s Web site has an automatic 30-day drip program that sends personalized e-mails from her. “They think it’s personalized [just for them] because I’ve gotten [thank yous] for responding. Being able to communicate with them and moving everything to Top Producer hopefully keeps me from missing out on leads.”

Dockswell’s Tools:
Cell Phone: Palm 650
Laptop: Gateway Centrino(wireless)
Laser Printer: Samsung 500
Software: Microsoft Office, Norton Antivirus, Picture It, Spy Sweeper, Top Producer

Integrated Software Programs

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).