In October 2012, I talked with Kerry Melcher about becoming a paperless agent and embracing that lifestyle. With the new year here, I thought I’d catch up with Kerry to see what’s changed.
Q: What have you been up to since we last talked?
A: In October I finished serving as the chairman of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service board of directors. My daughter turned nine and my son turned six, and I’ve had a great year in real estate.
Q: We were all about paperless when we talked last October. Tell me how your paperless life has evolved/grown since then.
A: It’s still a paperless world for me; this year I went back and bought DocuSign. I hadn’t always been a fan of the platform, but I have found that consumers have a comfort level with the brand and I’ve found it to be an easier platform than it was in the past. I also reinstalled a printer at my house, as my kids now have to print things for school. I swear I still haven’t printed from that printer myself.
Q: Are you still using your iDevices as your favorite go-to tools in both your personal and work life?
A: I am still using my iStuff, but about a month ago I became the proud owner of Google Glass, and so, for a very brief time, I tried out an Android phone (HTC One) because you can do more with Glass with an Android phone. Anyway, it was short-lived. I could write a lot about my seven long days with an Android, but I can sum it up with this: Android’s noisy, way too noisy.
A few other annoyances: You can have the same operating system as another phone but not be able to have the same applications as other Androids. I see why Androids are great but the former tinkerer in me no longer has an interest in tinkering with a phone. I don’t even jail-break my iPhones anymore. Much can be said about Google Glass, too.
Q: Any new toys you have your eye on?
A: I’m looking at a couple of transporters for cloud access and backup, in addition to Carbonite. We’ve gotten to a place where we all have so much media on our phones, tablets and computers that I don’t want to store the media on my devices at all. I’m doing a consulting gig for a couple of families and a small local business trying to solve their cloud issues, and it’s exposing all of my own. I couldn’t wait for Christmas and bought myself a second Nest — who knew a thermostat could make someone so happy?
Q: Any other big or new transitions you’ve had to face? Any big developments in your work flow?
A: I had a big revelation about my business in the last 60 days as I’ve been reviewing my year. I was really amazed by how much referral business I had sent out over the year, and I have been really happy with how happy my clients are that I referred.
I’ve niched myself into a small market, which I love, but I also think I want to spend a lot more time doing referral work. I’ve always loved being a Realtor and I’ve spent my entire life around them, and now in my volunteer capacity I know more and more great agents across the country (and out of the country). I think my business will change some this year as I focus more and more on headhunting/matchmaking for buyers and sellers around the country and here at home.
Q: How do your clients seem to be grasping the “paperless” lifestyle? Better? worse? Any big “aha” moments with them?
A: The biggest aha moment was really for me when I had a client ask for DocuSign by name. The brand has an identity that I couldn’t ignore, and I went back and became a user again immediately.
Q: You mentioned the apps that were at the top of your list last time. What are the ones that really stick with you now and make your process work most efficiently?
A: They are:
- zipForm: ZipLogix has improved its product line with zipForm Plus, and I no longer have to do any cussing about Java-related updates, which pleases me immensely.
- Sign-N-Send: This is still a great, simple, easy application that clients and I both love.
- Dropbox and Evernote: The search capabilities of Evernote make that an ideal paperless place to live. I am behind in my Dropbox file maintenance, and that’s not something I like to do. Who likes filing?
- Genius Scan: I’m using this more than JotNot Pro since the last update.
I’m playing around with Cinch, Klout’s new Q-and-A platform.
Q: What big trends will we see for the real estate industry as far as technology and social media go? What do you think will be the key things for agents going into 2014?
A: Wearable technology is coming, not just Google Glass (though if you are a developer you should definitely be looking through Glass) but simpler technology like Fitbit and Up; I can see how those can transform data. GPS tracking through devices can tell you where you were, how long you were there. The heat maps and data that come from that information (much like the traffic data we are seeing) are exciting to think about. Just imagine that your Fitbit or Up band was your lockbox access and it was recording which properties we showed, what times of day, which days, and how long we stayed at properties.
In the macro, that information is amazing for developers and small businesses, etc. In the micro, that information is almost better than any agent feedback you could get. And for that mom who is parked around the corner waiting to get back in her house with her toddler in the back seat while we are showing it, she gets a quick text telling her the agent is gone and it’s safe to go back home.
We, as an industry, are pretty slow to innovate, and because of our vast memberships, change is hard. I don’t foresee wearable technology anytime soon, but a girl can dream. I’m hoping that what we see as an industry is that our stalwarts (MLS, tax, forms, CMA, CRM, etc.) will clean up the offerings (my personal plea: Please make them prettier to look at) and step up the their game, thus helping everyone step theirs up, too.
As far as social media goes, I think Gary Vaynerchuk has the right road map for folks to follow: jab, jab, jab, right hook — aka give, give, give, ask. We are all our own media channel now, and we need to be cognizant of that which, in my mind, doesn’t mean to be politically correct or incorrect but be authentic. If you are in social media, use it to tell people who you are. Those who will be most successful at using social to convert to sales will be people who really do care and are themselves.
As social media manager, Meg helps manage all things social media for Inman News, Inman Next, Real Estate Connect and Agent Reboot. She brings with her a background in graphic design and an avid interest to gear all things social media, technology, apps and productivity to the real estate industry.