It’s the holidays, and while you’re out buying gifts for others, it’s a great time to consider some gifts for your business that can actually make you more money in 2006.

1. A tablet computer

Are you still married to your desktop computer? Are you lugging around a laptop that weighs over seven pounds without the case and the peripherals?

It’s the holidays, and while you’re out buying gifts for others, it’s a great time to consider some gifts for your business that can actually make you more money in 2006.

1. A tablet computer

Are you still married to your desktop computer? Are you lugging around a laptop that weighs over seven pounds without the case and the peripherals? If so, it may be time to seriously upgrade your business with a new tablet PC. If you’re working with a desktop or even a traditional laptop, you’re no longer using the most up-to-date technology. A tablet PC allows you to access Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listings using your wireless connection. Walk through properties taking notes in your own handwriting and automatically convert them into a Word file. Since no keyboard is needed, tablet PCs are also the cure for “Blackberry thumb.” The digital signature recognition feature allows clients to sign documents directly on your tablet. E-mail the documents to the clients and avoid the costs of having to send documents via messenger. Furthermore, if you purchase a docking station, you only need your tablet rather than your bulky desktop.

2. REDTablet (Real Estate Dashboard) software

The REDTablet software package is designed specifically for the real estate industry (http://www.vreo.com/solutions/redtablet.aspx). Download listings from your local MLS, map out routes for showings, and have clients sign all required MLS and disclosure forms directly on your tablet. If you need information about a new listing while you’re out with buyers, you can use the wireless feature to check availability, features, and price. In fact, you can also toss all that aggravating paper that keeps accumulating on your desk and in your file cabinet. The REDTablet software combined with a tablet PC allows you to become completely paperless. This program impresses clients and can eliminate up to 70 percent of the time it takes you to conduct transactions. REDTablet offers a complete package (a tablet PC plus the REDTablet software) or you can purchase the REDTablet software for your current laptop as well (please note that traditional laptops do not allow you to go paperless).

3. Dump your modem and/or your “air card”

Do you own a Treo smartphone? If so, there’s a nifty little program that can save you hundreds of dollars next year. You can dump your computer modem, since this software lets you use your Treo phone signal to access the Internet. This can save you a bundle if you do any traveling. Many hotels charge up to $20 per day for a wireless connection. Others charge exorbitant rates on phone calls made from your hotel room. Furthermore, you no longer need an air card (a card that lets you connect your laptop or tablet PC to the Internet using your cell phone carrier). Air card programs are usually about $50 to $75 per month depending upon the plan you select. The cost of the program for the Treo? Only $34 at http://www.junefabrics.com/palmnet/index.php.

4. A business planning vacation

I was really surprised when my Certified Public Accountant said this deduction was legal (check with your tax professional to make sure that he/she concurs). You can take a trip to a beautiful resort to construct your business plan for 2006. Your costs are tax-deductible. Use this time to review the income from each of your profit centers. Examine where you can cut expenses. Make three different plans for 2006: Plan 1 projects the same income as 2005. Plan 2 projects an increase of 20 percent and Plan 3 projects a 50 percent reduction. Plan 3 is the most important, because if your income drops, you can implement this plan and still survive a horrendous income decline. Taking time to “work on” your business by planning can make or break your year in 2006. An excellent tool to assist you in this process is www.CreateaPlan.com.

GIFTS TO GIVE YOURSELF THAT COST YOU NOTHING:

1. Translate your listings into multiple languages

Did you know that you can use the translation feature at Google.com to translate your listing information and your Web site into eight different languages at no charge? Just go to http://www.google.com/language_tools. Another Web site that provides this service at no charge is www.Babelfish.com.

2. Do you represent million-dollar listings?

If so, you can post them for free at www.UniqueGlobalEstates.com. This Web site currently has over 18,000 listings worldwide priced at $1 million or more.

3. Do you represent foreclosure listings?

With the number of foreclosures starting to climb in many major markets, carving out a niche representing foreclosure property could be a lucrative move for 2006. You can list your foreclosure listings for free at www.Foreclosure.com. Using this high-traffic site is an excellent way to differentiate your services from those provided by competitors.

4. Free places to post all of your listings

Don’t forget about the other Web sites that will post your listings at no charge, including eBay and Craigslist. Look for local service providers who may be willing to post your listing database in exchange for linking to their site.

While planning and implementing changes for 2006 may be challenging, in the long run, it will provide you with a competitive edge that will bring you the gift of more closed business in 2006.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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