The World Is Your Office
During a recent vacation in the mountains of Montana, Andy Weiser was in the middle of negotiating a transaction with a client in London. Unable to get a broadband signal to use his laptop, he rode a horse to the top of a nearby ridge, where he picked up a cell phone signal. By using the phone as a modem, he was able to e-mail a contract to his client—and close his deal. Without the use of that Bluetooth technology, he would’ve had to make a two-hour drive into the nearest town.
Weiser, a broker-associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc., was successful long before the advent of the technology that has changed the way real estate professionals ply their trade. But computers and the Internet—wireless broadband in particular—have literally opened up a whole new world for him.
A sales associate for 27 years (the last nine in Fort Lauderdale), Weiser recalls the days when he was tied to his office, relying on wired telephones and listings that were published in weighty books. Today, however, his cell phone and wireless laptop enable him to work anyplace, and his listings come with him. Selected portions of the MLS automatically download onto his Bluetooth-enabled Treo 650 cell phone every morning at 4:15 a.m. He simply programs the phone with the name of his MLS and market area. Then a program called GE Security Supra eKey takes over each morning, wirelessly connecting to a network and syncing his phone with the updated MLS data.
“Technology has opened up opportunities for me that never existed before,” says Weiser. “It enables me to do so much more without being tethered to my office, plus it saves me time.”
In addition to his Treo, Weiser uses his laptop to access the Internet wirelessly. His mobile broadband connection card from Sprint allows him to send and receive e-mail, with attachments, as well as to check listings and surf the Net—all at broadband speeds. He pays $135 per month for the wireless broadband service, including his cell phone service.
Weiser, who closed $25 million in sales in 2005, at press time was projecting 2006 sales of at least $20 million. Here’s how he uses wireless connectivity to run his business more efficiently: 1. Listings on the Go
By downloading current listings onto his Treo 650 every morning, Weiser can take his complete database with him without lugging his laptop around. If he’s showing houses and his customers ask why he’s bypassing one, he can punch in the address, bring up the listing on his phone’s 320 x 320 color touch-screen display and explain that the house isn’t in their price range. Previously, he would’ve had to track down the listing agent listed on the sign to get the same information. 2. Constant Connectivity
Due to his laptop’s broadband card, Weiser can check e-mail or use the Internet anywhere on the Sprint digital network. But even when he’s in a remote location, off both the beaten track and the Sprint network, Weiser can stay in touch by linking his cell phone to his laptop via a Bluetooth connection, essentially turning the cell phone into a modem for the laptop. 3. Total Accessibility
Anyone who needs to reach Weiser—whether a customer, a client or another real estate professional—can do so in seconds. His cell phone number is listed on his Web site for easy access, and he receives voice calls, e-mails and even instant messages right on his Treo. But the communication goes both ways: Weiser can send customers pictures, floor plans and other valuable information from the Treo as well. 4. Bluetooth in the Car
Even Weiser’s car is decked out with Bluetooth; his Chrysler 300 came with factory-installed Bluetooth, which enables him to make and answer telephone calls hands free. He simply went through a one-time setup during which he entered his phone book into the car’s computer. Now, if a call comes in, the system will announce, “Incoming call from John Smith.” And since the system is voice activated, Weiser can make a call simply by saying, “Call Sam.” An added bonus: Phone calls are in surround sound. 5. Keyless Lockbox
Weiser can open new-generation infrared lockboxes easily and quickly. Ordinarily, the “keys” to open these boxes must be updated daily for security assurance. But Weiser uses his Treo to beam his code directly to the lockbox without the need for his key.
At 4:15 each morning, the time his Treo automatically downloads new listings, it also updates his lockbox code. “I don’t have to worry about losing the key or whether it’s updated,” Weiser says. “It’s idiot proof.”
Thanks to wireless connectivity, not only is Weiser saving time and money, but he’s also staying in touch with clients and customers, and closing transactions anytime, anywhere. “It turns my laptop and cell phone into a virtual office,” he says.
But while Weiser touts the benefits of technology, he cautions that it doesn’t take the place of hard work. “These tools make it much easier for me to run my business and service my customers by always having so much information available at my fingertips,” he says. “But they’re not the be-all and end-all. If you’re not committed, then you’re just wasting your money on this technology.” 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).