Build a Better System for Tracking Appointments
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Smartphone calendars may be enough for your business, but interactive scheduling tools can provide more detailed information. Here’s what your colleagues are using.
August 21, 2018
If you hold to the wisdom that time is money, then managing this most precious asset is one of the biggest challenges in your real estate career. There are software apps and cloud services—ranging from electronic versions of yesteryear’s appointment book to specialized suites of interactive, automated tools—to efficiently organize your day, including meetings with peers, clients, and prospects. But before you shop more expensive options, consider scheduling tools you may already own. The basic calendar functions on your smartphone or computer may be all you need.
Tips for Shopping Around
Most scheduling apps and services are modestly priced, but you should still use other criteria to evaluate the best solution for you.
- Integration. It should work with other tools you use. Value-added functions include adding details from a contact database to appointment entries and linking a showing schedule to a listing.
- Access and sharing. Specialized solutions provide an interactive window in which team members or clients can request an appointment or revise a schedule. Deciding who should have access to your calendar will help identify your options.
- Flexibility. If you need to time-block, schedule group meetings, or create listing reports for sellers, you'll need a more robust solution.
- Support. Before you choose a vendor, make sure there’s a responsive support team. Call, text, or email with a question and evaluate providers based on how quickly they respond.
Steve Weiser, a sales associate with RE/MAX Evolution in Huntington Beach, Calif., taps the free Calendar app included with his iPhone to track appointments. “Wherever I am, if something changes, I’ve got my schedule right there with me in my pocket,” he says. The app also advises him of pending meetings with advance notifications, a benefit of all software scheduling tools.
Similarly, Ryan Huggins, associate broker at Huggins Homes in Thousand Oaks, Calif., takes full advantage of the calendar in Google’s G-Suite on his Android phone and Windows PC to manage his busy schedule. “It’s the integration of the calendar with other features that makes my phone so valuable,” he says. “If I create an appointment or send a meeting invite, it automatically enters information about that contact.” An address syncs with Google Maps for one-click directions to meetings. “Every morning I get an email with a to-do list of all the appointments I have for the day, and they can be color-coded based on priorities I set,” he adds.
But if you want to go a step further, CRM systems usually include a scheduling module integrated with the contact database. More specialized scheduling solutions include interactive online booking systems where others can set appointments, and systems for managing requests, showings, and feedback for a multiagent team or office.
The 25-agent office at Century 21 Gustafson, Krogman & Associates Realty in Brookings, S.D., uses Schedule Pro, a feature of the Pro Agent Solutions CRM, to coordinate listing activity. “I use it mainly for scheduling showings, inspections, and appraisals,” says sales associate Angie Pickering. “With a few clicks, you can schedule a showing and see all showings for that house.” The system will contact a seller automatically to confirm availability, generate requests for feedback from showing agents, and create reports for sellers. “If I still had to do all my scheduling on paper and contact everyone to coordinate showings, then track down agents for feedback, I wouldn’t have time for anything else,” Pickering adds. “This makes it so much easier to keep track of everything going on with our listings.”
Joy Daniels, ABR, GRI, broker-owner of Joy Daniels Real Estate Group in Harrisburg, Pa., keeps her personal schedule in the Top Producer CRM. “Every night, I check the calendar to know what I’ve got scheduled the next day. It tells me who I’m supposed to meet with, when, and what I need to do.”
At the office, she and her 28 agents rely on ShowingTime Appointment Center and the companion ShowingTime app. “We use Appointment Center all day, every day to create new showing instructions, accept or block showings, read feedback, and get agents’ contact info,” Daniels says. “Sellers can decide when they want to allow a showing, and we can easily update the calendar and make changes as needed.”
The feedback module automatically generates a request to showing agents based on what listing agents want to know. ”I can turn all that into a report that I can share with the seller to show them what’s going on with their property,” Daniels says. “Time-saving tools like this are essential to how we do business today.”