With several holidays coming soon, minds are already wandering toward side dish recipes, the best way to cook a turducken and…PIE. Some people start preparing for their holiday meals months ahead, ordering turkeys and hams from nearby farms. Others race to the grocery store the day before the big dinner in hopes of scoring that deadly combination of sweet potatoes and marshmallows.
For the best result, cooking a holiday dinner, or any large meal for that matter, takes time, preparation and the right tools – a lot like using technology in real estate. Here are 4 things cooking teaches you about technology:
(1) ‘Mise en Place’
In cooking, there’s a concept of ‘mise en place,’ which is French for ‘putting in place.’ Basically, you get everything you’re going to need to cook a recipe or set of recipes together before you start cooking. Vegetables get chopped, ingredients laid out, measuring tools located and set handily nearby. Why is mise en place important? When you’re in the middle of a recipe, especially for a large dinner, the last thing you want to discover is you don’t have enough of (or any of!) an important recipe ingredient. Or, while your gravy is burning on the stove, you can’t find your whisk anywhere.
In the real estate business, people often use technology as an afterthought - no plan in place, no idea whether they’ve got all the right ‘ingredients’ for their business plan. With a little bit of ‘mise en place’ forethought, however, this can be rectified. Don’t just fall for any bright and shiny technology that falls in your lap. Before buying new technology, consider exactly how you’re going to use it in your real estate business. (This goes for apps and programs as well as hardware.)
And, before you embark on your 2015 business plan, make sure you have all the elements you need in place. These can include: a contact management system, paperless technology, security, storage systems and mobile capability. It may even include an assistant or two to help with everything!
Once the elements or ‘ingredients’ are in place, all you have to do is what you do best – real estate.
(2) Respect Your Tools
Top chefs carry their own knives with them wherever they go. They treat them with respect, carefully cleaning them and making sure they stay sharp. Oftentimes, they have specific knives for specific jobs, and they wield them accordingly. Having such a close knowledge of and trust in their most important instruments ensures that a chef can do their best job possible, each and every time they step into the kitchen.
Do you treat your technology tools with respect? Do you keep them updated, secure and free of malware? Do you know how to use each and every program and device to the best of its ability for your business, or are you scrambling to remember which app does what? Are you duct-taping together technology solutions for your real estate business, or are you using strategic, specific systems?
Be the master chef in your real estate business. Use the best tools for the job. Respect them. Keep them sharp.
(3) Test and Measure
A good chef doesn’t just throw a lot of ingredients together and pray it all comes out OK by the time it hits the plate on its way to the dinner table. Instead, throughout the entire cooking process, a chef is smelling and tasting everything, making sure all the ingredients are coming together the way they should, adding or modifying as they go along to ensure the best-quality meal served.
Similarly, real estate agents and brokers should be continuously testing and measuring what they’re using and what they’re doing. Are those Facebook ads really working? Are people finding your website? What do they do once they’re there – is their information getting captured before they leave? A/B testing and Google Analytics are just two ways of testing and measuring your technology tools’ performances. Are you prepared to test and measure your 2015 efforts?
(4) Keep it Clean
Every great chef uses the clean-as-you-go technique. Even before they get started, the workspace is inspected to make sure everything is clean and ready to use. Then, as they continue through preparing the meal, they are constantly cleaning their workstation, preventing messes and clutter from becoming distractions. Finally, after everything is finished, they don’t just sit back and rest on their laurels. They clean the kitchen and everything they’ve used so it’s a ready workstation once again.
In the same way, your technology should remain relatively clean and uncluttered. Make sure your devices’ software is up-to-date, all apps are updated, and the devices are fully charged and ready to go. Clean up your desktops – use folders (they’re your friends!) to organize your documents, arrange access to cloud storage for documents you may need on the go, and manage your email and voicemail so you’re not faced with 300,000 unread messages every time you pick up your phone.*
You want to provide yourself an easy, updated, manageable space from which to conduct your business each and every time you use your technology.
Even if you’re hopeless in the kitchen and your idea of ‘cooking’ is heating up a frozen pizza, with these four concepts, you can still be top chef of your technology.
*If you don’t know how to keep your tech clean, I’ll be covering some techniques in future blog posts on this site. Subscribe by checking ‘follow blog’ in the comments below so you don’t miss a post!