CCIMs find these devices are essential for a healthy business.
By Stephanie Bell |
High-tech gadgets now are a part of commercial real
estate professionals' everyday work life. "I am able to work more
efficiently because of today's technology products," says Brett Haynes,
CCIM, associate broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial in Winchester, Va.
Thanks to technology, Carol Rockhold Shoemaker, CCIM,
CPM, a sales associate with NAI Latter & Blum Commercial in New Orleans, even was
able to continue working through the devastating aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina. After her home in Saint Bernard Parish was destroyed and covered in 15
feet of water, "we bought an RV ... I work from the RV with ease using my
laptop," she says.
Like Haynes and Rockhold Shoemaker, other CCIMs find that
having access to high-tech gadgets such as smartphones, notebooks, digital
cameras, and global positioning systems helps manage their time and keeps them
organized in and out of the office. From closing deals on the road to sending
high-quality images to out-of-state clients, CCIMs depend on these products to
get them through the day.
Smartphones for Smarter Business
No longer used for just making phone calls, mobile phones
have turned into pocket organizers, also known as smartphones. These wireless
devices feature e-mail, Internet access, contact organizers, instant messaging,
and digital cameras so commercial real estate pros can conduct business without
lugging around too many gadgets. "It's like a portable office in my
purse," says Barbara K. Hokel, CCIM, a sales associate with NAI Ruhl &
Ruhl Commercial in West Des Moines,
Iowa, of her Palm Treo 650
smartphone. "[It] allows me to have all my contacts hot-synced from the
Outlook program on my computer, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses as
well as business, personal, and other addresses and numbers. I can send and
receive e-mails from my phone," she says. The Treo 650 also includes
Bluetooth wireless for hands-free conversations - especially convenient while
in the car.
Brands such as Palm and BlackBerry have made their
devices easier for business professionals to stay connected from any location.
Aside from being a mobile phone, the Palm Treo 650 features an organizer, text
and instant messaging, and a digital camera. With a full keyboard and screen,
users easily can see what they are working on and take clear pictures of
properties without having to use a digital camera. The newly released Palm Treo
700p has greater speed and a slightly larger screen at 2.46 inches. Users can
work on files with built-in support for all Microsoft office applications. It
also includes a PDF viewer and 60 megabytes of storage.
BlackBerry's newest devices, the 8700c series and the
7100g series, also provide a number of functions to help commercial real estate
pros stay connected with clients and each other. The 8700c series features a
phone, multimedia messaging service, wireless data access, address book,
Internet browser, memo pad, and access for up to 10 supported business and/or
personal e-mail accounts. It also includes a full keyboard, built-in speaker
phone, and Bluetooth, and can be used in the U.S., Europe, and the Asia Pacific
region. The 7100g series has similar features but is smaller and does not have
a full keyboard.
Kenneth J. Carriero, CCIM, broker-officer with Marcus & Millichap in Tampa, Fla., would
not be able to do business while away from the office without his BlackBerry
since he depends on the device for e-mail and calls forwarded from his office.
"Recently, I received an offer via e-mail for a property I listed. Without
my BlackBerry, I would not have been able to review it and forward it to the
sellers until I returned to the office two days later. I kept the lines of
communication open with this service and successfully negotiated the contract
while on the road," Carriero says.
William Hugron, CCIM, CPM, senior vice president of
Ashwill Associates in Newport Beach, Calif., keeps his BlackBerry with him so
he can close deals at all times - even while skiing in Europe.
Power of the Notebook
Even though smartphones can function similar to
computers, many CCIMs still prefer to have a notebook to take with them on the
road. "I really love my IBM ThinkPad," says Donald G. Arsenault,
CCIM, president of Arsenault Realty Advisors LLC in Tacoma, Wash. Arsenault
likes the flexibility of having docking stations at work, his Tacoma home, and
his other home in Sun City Grand, Ariz. "I just plunk [the Think Pad]
down, and it's the same everywhere I go," he says.
Dell and Toshiba design their laptops to be more durable
and portable so commercial real estate pros like Arsenault can take them where
ever they go without worrying about breakage. The Toshiba Tecra notebooks
specifically are designed for corporate and small business sectors and now
incorporate Intel Centrino Mobile Technology to provide users with advanced
power. The Tecra series also features extended battery capability, high-speed
wireless LAN, and Microsoft Windows XP Professional.
Dell Latitude Notebooks stand up to wear and tear and are
tested extensively to help ensure durability and reliability. The newest
Latitude models also contain mobile technology including the Intel Pro/Wireless
mini card and Intel Pentium. These systems feature integrated mobile broadband,
a Wi-Fi Catcher, and an optional Bluetooth module for cordless accessories.
Carriero's Toshiba Satellite goes everywhere with him,
and he logs on to his desk computer when he is out of the office through a
virtual private network. "I can use everything, it's like never being away
from my desktop computer," he says.
To organize his notes, Haynes uses his tablet PC rather
than having legal pads and Post-It notes scattered around his office. He also
incorporated new software to sync his e-mail and files so he can conduct
business almost anywhere and maintain accurate and up-to-date information.
Digital Is Better
"A picture is worth a thousand words," Hugron
says, explaining why he likes to take pictures of his properties to send to
clients. While the Sony Mavica digital camera with recordable compact disc is
too large to fit in his pocket, Hugron chose this model because it is practical
for his business and one of the only digital cameras that offers a recordable
feature. It has a 20-1 optical zoom and a wide-angle lens so he can take a
range of photos. Hugron takes property photos and copies them onto small CDs
for his clients, packing a marketing punch with personalized CD case labels.
"People want their own stuff," he says. "It also makes me stand
out, and that's what you want in the business. It gives me a slight edge to
stay ahead of the competition."
Sony makes sleeker, pocket-size cameras such as the
Cybershot DSC T30, which is about the size of a credit card. Haynes says that
his Sony Cybershot DSC-P100 is invaluable and he chose it because it struck the
right balance - it's compact, starts up fast, has a quick shutter speed, and
takes high-quality photos. "I do a great deal of electronic marketing and
blast e-mails, and photos are an integral part of that marketing. I also do an
increasing number of targeted direct mailings that feature photos of the
properties I represent," he says. The Sony Cybershot DSC-P100 comes
equipped with video recording features.
Never Get Lost
With portable built-in or portable GPS, paper maps are
becoming obsolete. "I don't have to waste time looking up maps and
directions. Having a GPS makes my time more efficient," Carriero says of
his Garmin C530 GPS. Carriero drives all over Florida for his business and having
a GPS ensures he gets where he needs to be quickly.
Hugron also has GPS in his sport utility vehicle and
would not buy a car without it, he says. "The advantage of GPS for land
deals is that it shows the names of all streets, even if they are dirt roads,
making it easy to find the location," he says. Users also can plug in the
coordinates for raw land to identify exactly where the parcel is, Hugron adds.
Aside from GPS,
Hugron also has a device called Traffic Gage, which tells him the traffic on
freeways in Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif. "It shows the traffic on
each freeway in both directions and is updated every four minutes by the
California Department of Transportation," he says. The device is a must
for brokers living in Southern California, Hugron says.
Since not all cars offer preinstalled GPS, companies such
as Magellan and Garmin offer a wide range of portable systems. The Magellan
RoadMate 360 North America has preloaded detailed maps and a 3.5-inch color
touch screen. Turn-by-turn voice prompts and visual directions help to guide
users. The RoadMate 860T North America has the same features and includes live
traffic incident reports with automatic re-routing around trouble spots. The
860T also features SayWhere text-to-speech so users can hear street names. The
RoadMate 760 North America, includes the same features plus SmartDetour to
avoid freeway traffic congestions and has a 3.75-inch color touch screen.
Several other GPS models include Bluetooth technology and
built-in microphones for hands-free calls. Garmin StreetPilot c550 also
includes integrated Bluetooth and real-time traffic information while
StreetPilot 7200 comes with a remote control, verbal signal capability, and a
While some commercial real estate pros may not want to give up their
conventional business methods, those using high-tech products stand out among
their colleagues and get business done more efficiently, even when away from
the office. "Every one of these items is a timesaving device leaving me
with more time for those activities that place me directly in front of buyers
and sellers," Carriero says. "My gross commission during the last 12
months was $870,000. I am not 100 percent sure I could have achieved that
without my high-tech gadgets."