Faxing On the Fly for $10 a Month
Fed up with the reams of paper spewing out of his office fax machine, Todd Dockswell streamlined his business communications 18 months ago by signing up for an online fax service. Companies like Protus MyFax, eFax, SendtoFax and RapidFax allow business owners the luxury of sending, receiving, viewing and forwarding fax documents online via a desktop, laptop computer or personal digital assistant (PDA).
The services are fairly simple to use. After creating a username and password through a registration process, customers are assigned a unique fax number that they can distribute. When a fax comes in, the user is alerted via e-mail and able to access it online, save it to file or print it out. To send a fax, the user either scans a hard-copy document into a computer or attaches to a cover page a document that’s already in digital format, and hits “Send.”
For an investment of $10 per month, Dockswell, broker of Dockswell Realty in Jupiter, was provided a local fax number and password-protected access to the Protus MyFax Web site (www.myfax.com
). Without having to download software, Dockswell can send and receive faxes, view, print and digitally sign documents, and forward them to the necessary parties (up to nine at one time) and create real-time fax usage reports.
Dockswell says the service has helped him reduce the amount of paper he uses daily and has liberated him from his desk. Using his BlackBerry PDA, laptop and wireless Internet access, he can manage important documents while on the road, selling $10.5 million in properties annually in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties.
“If I’m showing a house in the morning and closing another sale in the afternoon, I can easily forward faxed HUD statements over to the mortgage broker from anywhere,” he says. “There isn’t anything I dislike about the service. It’s worked the way it should, since day one.”
Here are some of the benefits Dockswell derives from faxing online: 1. Speed to Market
Even the newest fax machines take time to do their job. There’s a call to answer, paper to feed and other processes that must take place before the final product emerges. Online fax services offer a more streamlined process, allowing you to receive faxed documents via e-mail. From there, you can view them, print them out, forward them or save them.
“I can view the fax on the Internet and then forward it to the customer, mortgage broker or other party,” says Dockswell, who saves travel time and fuel costs by not having to run back to the office to manage faxes.
To make faxing easier for their clients, these online fax services offer toll-free phone numbers (some charge extra for the service). Through this feature, those clients can send faxes for free and sales associates can gain a professional edge over their competitors. The fact that the online fax is “always on” also makes it convenient. Sensitive documents are filed in a private e-mail inbox and always accessible (via a password-protected system) for the client to view and manage. 2. Better Portability
Using his PDA, Dockswell can send, receive and forward faxes while on the road. He’s shaved several hours from his workweek as a result, and now he uses that time for more productive tasks, such as working with buyers and sellers. “I don’t have to run to the office to get a hard copy anymore. It’s all right here with me,” says Dockswell, who envisions a time when his BlackBerry will be able to handle any size of document received via the online fax provider.
“I’d like to be able to see all of those documents on my BlackBerry,” says Dockswell, who can currently view some, but not all, of the faxes on his handheld device. “That would be fantastic.” 3. A Professional Image
With an online fax service in his corner, Dockswell has been able to boost his professional image and further his goal of servicing every client and customer in the most efficient, expedient way possible.
With about 90 percent of his customer base having access to the Internet and e-mail, Dockswell likes being able to forward faxes in just a few seconds, rather than making people wait until he “gets back to the office” to send paper-based faxes. He can count on every page coming through clearly and within the time it takes to send the typical e-mail message.
“It makes me look better in the customers’ eyes,” says Dockswell, whose clients and customers once waited three to four hours for his faxes. “Between the fax service and my BlackBerry, I can [fax] in seconds.” 4. Time Is Money
Using the service saves Dockswell the cost of a fax machine, plus about $30 per month in paper, toner and a separate fax line. He says the time savings are even more significant. “Time is hard to come by, and if I can work more efficiently, it translates into more profitability.”
From floor plans to listing data to HUD statements, Dockswell can swiftly get information into his customers’, clients’ and business associates’ hands. “For the minimal investment, it’s something I would definitely recommend to other Realtors,” he says.
This column, designed to offer examples of how salespeople and brokers are using technology in their offices, won the Best Regular Column from the Florida Magazine Association for the past two years. The column is for general information only. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect an endorsement of the views by Florida Realtor magazine or the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR).