• If something breaks and it cannot be repaired, I won’t mention it on Facebook. There's no technology standard across the real estate space, and not every solution works everywhere.
  • I have seen big, ugly problems that can bring a business to its knees -- and most are created by people using systems they don’t understand that are cheap or free.
  • When I can't find an answer to my problem on Google, I have paid and I will pay for technical support.

I can totally understand why someone would want to see what a peer in the industry thinks about an idea, a challenge selling a house or even a company logo — but should a real estate professional be relying on peers for technical support through Facebook groups?

We use a lot of technology in the real estate industry. Much of it is the same technology other businesses use, like the internet, email, text messages, tablets and smartphones.

As self-employed mobile professionals, our ability to make money is impacted by the technology we use. If an app we need in the field runs too slow, then we run too slow.

There are plenty of people in the industry who are happy to give technical advice. They are sure they know how to fix things, but they really don’t. Taking their advice will delete a database or render an app useless.

If something breaks and it cannot be repaired, I won’t mention it on Facebook. I’ll get a bunch of comments that start with “did you” or “you should have” from people who mean well.

There is no standard or universal technology across the real estate space. Real estate is local, and that impacts the technology we use.

Sometimes there are proposed solutions or agent “must haves” recommended by real estate professionals that are useless in my market and won’t work with the tools I already use. There are solutions for problems that I don’t have, and solutions looking for problems to solve, and Facebook groups dedicated to both.

Any real estate coach will tell real estate agents that they need a coach. Consultants will tell real estate companies that they need to hire a consultant so they can grow.

Most real estate professionals do need help with some aspect of the business at some point, and technology should at least be on the list of things we can get help with, learn more about or, in some cases, outsource.

Real estate professionals often prefer free technical support from their peers, to the point where they will take advice and crowdsource solutions. I have seen big, ugly problems that can bring a business to its knees — and most are created by people using systems they don’t understand that are cheap or free.

If you don’t understand it and it is too hard to use, then your business might be better off without it. That free software can be very expensive.

Maybe the router in the office isn’t working or maybe a non-functioning computer is holding data hostage and there is no back-up. Maybe an agent who could be out selling real estate is trying to figure out how to get her listing presentation from computer to iPad and ends up wasting an afternoon working on the project with the help of a bunch of other agents who could have been doing something that produces revenue. Maybe a manager spent all day fixing something himself and he screwed it up and ended up paying even more to have it fixed by an expert.

There are some free, often-overlooked sources of technical support. Like online help and software and hardware manuals that have valuable information and can be found on the manufacturer’s website in a nice, searchable PDF format.

If the manuals and online support fail me — and if I have not done so already — I turn whichever device I am having problems with off and unplug it, count to 10, swear once for good luck, and then power it back on. If I am having an issue with an app I may delete it and then re-install it after I have stopped it and rebooted the device it is running on.

If that doesn’t work, I am ready to call technical support. I have my 20-digit serial number handy and am ready to be put on hold and then answer a bunch of personal and irrelevant questions before I am given the chance to ask my questions.

Some of the products I use have a lot of useful information on their website, and Google sometimes knows things, too.

I have paid and I will pay for technical support when I hit that wall and cannot solve a problem.

I give myself a time limit for fixing things that is short because it really isn’t the best use of my time. Getting technical support from an expert saves time and money, and about 75 percent of the time they come up with the right solution the first time.

There are some real estate agents who need a lot of technical support, and some real estate companies provide it. Some of those same companies also supply products that require a lot of support.

We cannot be good at everything, and we cannot do it all. We have business plans, financial plans and vacation plans. Why leave technology to chance?

Have a technology plan that includes a replacement plan, tech support and a plan to learn about technology and best practices.

I like to read and take classes. I also like to research mission-critical solutions and see what kind of technical support I can get before I buy.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

Email Teresa Boardman

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