The way we do business has changed more dramatically and more swiftly in the last five years than it did in the previous 25 — mostly thanks to communication technologies.
This has certainly created some new challenges for all of us, but it’s also creating tremendous opportunities. It’s vital that we take advantage of them, or we’ll find ourselves left behind and outcompeted.
One step we can all take is to commit to going completely paperless.
The idea of doing so is overwhelming (or downright terrifying!) to a lot of us as we think about how much we rely on paper every day, and how useful it is, and just how much valuable information we have on paper, in our files, stacked on our desks, in notebooks and so on.
But having made the leap myself, I can report from the other side: It’s worth it. Here’s why.
Is there a better way?
First, let’s think for a minute about what paper does: It stores and transmits information.
Now, have we come up with anything better, anything more sophisticated and capable, for storing and transmitting information?
We sure have. The combination of cloud storage and always having your cell phone, tablet or laptop close at hand gives you an infinitely better way to store and transmit information.
What makes it superior?
So, why is it better?
For starters, it’s much faster, more convenient and more efficient.
When you go paperless, your documents are non-locational: Literally every single document you could ever need will be with you at all times and in all locations, instantly.
I just can’t even imagine anymore needing a file or document and having to go get it. I’m carrying all of them around in my pocket.
It’s also more secure. You can’t lose electrons.
Plus, it’s more professional. You don’t have to be a real tech whiz to look like one!
There are simple and convenient ways to function paperlessly. However intimidating it may seem to you right now, going paperless is actually one of the easiest ways to advance yourself technologically.
What will clients think?
Here’s the thing: When your potential clients, convinced that technology and their listing’s digital presence are paramount, see you walk in with a sheaf of notes, some notebooks, binders, a briefcase and so on, and then they see your competitor walk in with nothing but a single electronic device, you’ll have already lost round one.
The consumers are vastly more sensitive than they’ve ever been to how up-to-date and cutting-edge we are. And don’t forget how many of them are living and working near the cutting edge themselves; what will someone think if they can see that in important ways, they are more savvy than the agent they’re interviewing?
You can’t afford to linger behind anymore; you need to get ahead and stay there.
It also improves client service. That efficiency we mentioned makes you a better and more capable agent, one with more time to devote to profit-making and result-generating activities.
We don’t want our competition to be doing better work than us. But if they’re more efficient than us, they’ll be more effective than us, and that won’t do.
Finally, going paperless will shrink your physical footprint from gigantic to almost nonexistent, making you more nimble and lighter on your feet.
It provides a feeling of liberation so immense as to be reason enough in itself to take the plunge.
I really mean it — it’s like taking an awkward and heavy load off your back.
It also means you can reclaim lots of physical space — like that area in the office, basement or garage with boxes of old files — for other uses.
Today the only thing I need in my office is a work surface of some kind. It’s very zen.
And there’s more, but you get the idea. The tools are all there for us now, and the advantages continue to multiply. They are advantages our competition can use to outpace us, if we let them.
It’s imperative that we all think hard about how we’re doing business, and ask ourselves the question: If there are demonstrably better ways, why aren’t we using them?
It’s normal to have some fear or complacency when it comes to going paperless, but when it comes to the vitality of your business, fear and complacency probably aren’t what you want in the driver’s seat.
Next time we’ll start to look at some paths to paperlessness that I think are easy and painless enough for us to overcome our fear and complacency. Until then, happy selling!
Brian Walker manages a top-producing Indianapolis branch office for Indiana’s largest independent real estate firm, the F. C. Tucker Company. Connect with him on LinkedIn.