The Database vs. the Rolodex
J.D. Parker Sept. 30, 2013, 2 p.m.
Long gone are the days of the Rolodex, at least for most of us
I’m sure there are a few dinosaurs left out there from the Triassic period, but most of us have moved on and come into the 21st century. Around the turn of the last century, there was dramatic upheaval in the real estate world, particularly around the use of databases in an agents business.
Back in the Stone Age, real estate agents would keep a Rolodex on their desks with note cards and business cards usually organized by the alphabet. Once technology started becoming accessible and more efficient, younger agents who were trained on new technology or older agents who were computer literate decided to try to keep things in a more organized and powerful way.
When I started in the business, Real Estate Executive Assistant, otherwise known as REA, was a top program that commercial agents were using in the early 2000s. Other programs that became somewhat commonplace were ACT, Real Hound, Simple Remote, Microsoft Excel and even just the contacts in Microsoft Outlook. REA was probably the best of the bunch, but it was not that intuitive to use if you were not well-versed on computers. Most users that were less computer literate migrated from the Rolodex to Microsoft Outlook, which is basically a glorified Rolodex that is stored on your computer.
In 1999, SalesForce.com was founded and along with it, another change in the industry. It has taken some time for the growth of cloud computing to be accepted by the industry, but it’s here now and needs to be embraced. The benefits of cloud computing far outweigh the old desktop database programs from even five years ago.
Some of the more popular options that are out there today include Sales Force, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, ZohoCRM, Nimble, SugarCRM, Sage CRM, Net Suite, Highrise CRM and Goldmine.
Most top brokers I know would not fall into the category of database wizard, but the majority of them understand that a good, clean database that can be filtered and categorized is essential to running a major brokerage team. Almost all of them have someone either on the team permanently or that they subcontract with on a regular basis to maintain their databases.
Knowledge is power in real estate, and those that have their knowledge in the most organized fashion tend to make the most money. A powerful database allows for increased prospecting efficiencies, powerful targeted marketing and branding capabilities, and even fully integrated communication logs with clients. The leading platforms in the market today are even completely accessible through your smartphone and are entirely Web-based.
I would encourage you, if you are still living in the Triassic period, to get onboard and upgrade to the 21st century by upgrading your capabilities to a cloud-based CRM today. Dinosaurs have been extinct for some time.