Technology

Toby Boyce on Outlook, Contactually and the other digital tools that drive his brokerage

A broker's view of the tech assets that help him manage his workload

Inman is interviewing real estate professionals in every area of the field to talk about technology use. Here’s Toby  Boyce, a broker – and an Inman contributor.

What model phone do you use? Why?

I have an iPhone 5s. Sadly, my 4s reached a point where it was locking up, and I was due an upgrade, and the 5s was the best deal that our carrier offered at the time.

What are your top three apps on your phone?

1. Time Photo. I do a lot of pre-foreclosure work that requires date-stamp photographs, and this is an easy application for taking the photos.

2. My Fitness Pal. App has nothing to do with my real estate, but, hey this 300-pounds ain’t going to go away by itself.

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3. Contactually. Have been a big fan of this CRM (customer relationship manager) since introduced to it over a year ago. Use it now to track calls and notes.

How do you split your digital time: how much mobile, how much desktop?

Between the iPhone and the iPad, I usually spend about three-quarters of my time working from these applications. The rest of the time is on my laptop.

Describe your job. What do you do every day? How does technology support (or not support) your daily job description?

I spend the majority of my days working on networking and developing additional connections and contacts throughout the area. I made the switch from residential to commercial about eight months ago and have really used that switch as a way to get my name back into the cranium of friends and family. With application and email on the phone technology — at its most basic level — is allowing me to travel and keep track of calls. I am notorious for losing ideas that aren’t written down. With Evernote and other applications, I’m able to record these ideas even while driving without taking my eyes off the road.

Do you consider yourself an early adopter of technology? Or do you wait to see what’s working for other people?

I remember when my dad started listening to talk-radio and thinking “Man he’s old.” Well … I’m now officially old. I listen to my local NPR station and have moved from early-adaptor to more of wait-and-see model. I don’t care if I’m using the latest-and-greatest technology anymore.

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What’s the biggest technology-related challenge you face today? How do you solve it?

As I prepare to launch my own brokerage, I’m discovering the biggest challenge is balancing the agents’ perceived needs with financial practicality. Honestly, I’ve found a happy medium – for now – that I’m sure will be disrupted with the next agent that I interview.

What do you think is the biggest overall challenge facing the real estate industry? Will technology be able to address it?

The public is becoming more educated about the real estate transaction while agents continue with the status quo. Technology can address some of it but I think it will require a major shift in the thinking and activities of real estate agents.

How do you feel technology is changing the real estate industry? Are these changes making the industry better or worse? Why?

Technology is making real estate more transparent for the consumer. Which is a great thing – if real estate agents don’t screw around with it.

What email system(s) do you use? Which one is your favorite and why?

I use Outlook and iMail. Why? They do what I need them to do. Not too many bells and whistles that just result in additional noise as I seek out “inbox zero”.

Which CMS do you use? What do you like about it, and what feature do you wish it would add in the future?

Contactually. I really like the feature that it will automatically remind me to touch-base with people based upon the bucket I place them in. A great check-and-balance when I miss a few people. I would love for it to have a stronger Calendar application.

Do you use a calendar app? Which one? What do you like about it?

I use Outlook through an Exchange server. I’ve used it for years and basically everything I look at compared to it are working to match what Outlook does. I like the exchange portion so that all team members have access to the “schedule,” working well for planning and not having overlap.

Do you use digital documents, which one? Why?

Of course; real estate without them is essentially stone aged. I have blended several different forms but am a huge fan of Dropbox to share them.

Do you own a camera? What kind? What do you like about it?

Nikon D70. I love it. Having been an early adapter to digital photography this — now outdated — is a strong piece of machinery. Though I use my phone more than I’d like to admit.

What kind of laptop or tablet (or both) do you own?

I have a Toshiba laptop — with a “huge” 15” screen — and a first-generation iPad.

Do you have a Nest thermostat in your home?

No.

Do you play games on any of your devices? Which ones?

Two Dots. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Which websites do you visit every day? Why?

Working in real estate requires several key sites — MLS, xCeligent, loopnet, auditor sites, etc. — that are for being proactive and properly getting information out to my potential clients. Beyond those, on a daily basis I’m on Hootsuite and several sports ones for sheer fandom.

Which social media app do you use the most on your phone? Your tablet? Your computer?

Hootsuite is among my favorite apps and I’ve been using it a lot to pre-populate my feeds with information then throughout the day I use the native apps for Facebook, Twitter, etc., to fill in the hours and keep the feed from looking automatic.

What’s on your technology wish list — for yourself or for work?

With the new brokerage I have a very-very long list of “toys” I’d like to add to the office. However, we are just happy with the coffee machine working on Monday morning.

Where do you get most of your leads: portals or other sources?

The majority of my leads are coming from old-fashioned belly-to-belly work. This might be the difference between commercial and residential as I’m finding a lot of benefit from working the networking chains and finding more fruit.

What is your favorite technology, one you actually get joy out of using?

Right now, it’s probably the FitBit. Just got for Christmas and the constant “gaming” myself to get enough steps in during the day is something I’m really enjoying.

What is your favorite “unplugged” activity?

I don’t know that there is an activity that is no longer plugged in. I love to spend time walk through Ohio’s varied terrain. Used to be unplugged, but now the FitBit is tracking my every move. Even my sleep bi-pap machine is wirelessly telling them my data — and when I miss a few days they call — and making sleep a plugged-in activity.

Read Toby Boyce’s article: 4 reasons why money overrides safety in real estate.

Would you like to participate in Inman’s technology profile series? Email amber@inman.com.