Tips for Automating Your Daily Workflow as a Real Estate Agent
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Did you know that you're wasting approximately one-third of your day doing the same task over and over again? And did you also know that by using the right tools (many of which are absolutely free), you can reclaim that waste of time and use it for higher-priority tasks that will grow your real estate business?
In this post, we'll explore automation, what it is, and how you can use it to build a stronger business for yourself.
Automation sounds like a futuristic and complicated process. But if you've ever asked Siri to set an alarm or Alexa to check the weather, you're already comfortable with the idea of automation.
Automation is a system of tools that performs tasks without human intervention. The goal behind automation is to reduce effort. If you unload all of the tasks that you would normally do to a computer program that is more than capable, you can then focus on other tasks that computers can't do, such as cold calling prospects and coming up with a creative marketing campaign for your latest listing.
Let's look at how automation can benefit you as a real estate agent.
One of the most obvious benefits of automation is that you will save a ton of time. Think of all of those little tasks that you find yourself doing but dreading. They may still be necessary, but they may also be a poor use of your time. Five minutes here and 10 minutes there can add up to a lot of hours wasted each week, especially when you can set up systems to work automatically with little to no input from you.
By taking advantage of task automation, you will save a ton of time. That time can then be reinvested into your real estate business. Instead of doing the same task, outsource it to computer software and free your hands so that you can get more done during the day.
Have you ever missed a deadline before? It's one of the worst feelings, especially when it is a small task that could have taken you five minutes to do, and now that it hasn't been done it's going to take you an hour or more to correct. But what if you automate those tasks? When you rely on a computer program you won't have to worry that you'll miss a deadline. The computer program will always follow through on the date that you've set.
In real estate time is money. And the best way to save money is to make sure you're not wasting your time. Don't waste your time needlessly on tasks that can be automated.
You're only human and unfortunately, no human is perfect. Humans often make mistakes because we are in a rush, distracted, tired, in a bad mood, or simply by accident. You're going to make mistakes. But by automating your tasks, you minimize the chance of making mistakes. An automation tool will do what it is set to do. It won't make mistakes. Automating tasks means that the software system will do the job consistently and perfectly.
Now that we've covered the many virtues of using automation to increase your productivity and efficiency, let's discuss how to automate your daily workflow.
The first step is to make a list of your daily tasks. Identify what you do every single day or every single week. Look for your most repetitive tasks. These are likely to be the best candidates for automation.
Now that you have a list of your daily tasks, it's time to introduce you to a workflow automation app.
Note: This article will focus on both workflow automation apps and tools that can be used as standalone automations. But it's important to know the difference between the two. A workflow automation app is a computer program that allows you to automate your day by connecting two programs or devices.
The two main players on the workflow automation scene are Zapier and If This Then That (or IFTTT for short). Both of these tools work in a similar way. You can set up a trigger that creates a workflow task. For example, you can use Zapier to set up the following workflow: If you start an email, it will be set to your To Do List as a task. Or you can set up IFTTT to send you a weather notification to your cellphone as a push notification during breakfast (to help you plan for what to wear).
Both tools offer a free version. Choose one tool, sign up for free, and get familiar with how it works.
Now that you've been introduced to workflow automation apps, it's time to look at the top real estate tasks that every agent should consider automating.
Did you know that you can write a to-do list and let a tool like Focuster help you figure out how to get all of these tasks done? This tool schedules your most important work (with your input) and puts these tasks on your calendar automatically. It will even find free time slots on your Google calendar if an appointment is canceled. All you need to do is make a list of the tasks you need to do and log how long it will take to complete. Then let Focuster do the rest automatically.
If you have a real estate website, you should have a way to capture your web visitors’ information. Why? The majority of your website visitors will only visit your site once and never return. However, if you are able to capture their information then you will be able to continue corresponding with them.
The easiest way to do this is by having a lead magnet. The top real estate lead magnets include home evaluations, market reports, neighborhood guides, and educational courses for both buyers and sellers. It may take you an afternoon to create a valuable lead magnet. However, once you do, you can use that lead magnet to generate leads from your website. Simply set up a landing page on your website and then offer to lead magnet to visitors who opt-in to your email newsletters.
Now that part was not automation, but the next part is.
Connect your CRM to your landing page so that when a visitor signs up to receive your lead magnet, they receive it automatically without you manually having to send it out. Then you will have all of their information stored in your CRM for future correspondence.
You can use a tool like Follow Up Boss to automatically import leads from your landing page via an email marketing tool like MailChimp as well as Zillow, Realtor.com, or 200+ sources.
Once you have built up an email list, you can also automate the process of sending out your email newsletters. You can use a tool like MailChimp or Drip to create emails to send to your real estate audience. Drip in particular is an email marketing tool that can automatically retarget people on your email list who didn't open your newsletter the first time you sent it.
Setting up email newsletters is also easy with the above-mentioned tools. You can take one afternoon to create several months’ worth of email newsletters and then schedule them to be sent out automatically when the time is right.
Another way to automate your workflow is by creating email templates. If you're like most agents, you spend quite a bit of time each day in your inbox. And you likely send the same types of emails over and over again. However, when you use an email template you don't have to write from scratch. You select the right email template, fill in the personal bits, and send it out. Email templates are major time savers.
Once you have prospective clients in your subscriber list, you can enroll them in drip campaigns. A drip campaign is a series of emails that you send out on a set schedule. Drip campaigns allow you to educate your prospective client and also build trust with them. These campaigns also allow you to stay top of mind and ensure that your clients don't forget about you. Your drip campaign can include any relevant information that makes the prospect decide to work with you. The campaign may contain five or more emails and can include anything from tips on pre-qualification to homes that you’ve recently sold.
One final note about emails: You can also send emails to every person on your email list. Consider these networking emails. For example, you can send happy birthdays, happy holidays, or happy moving anniversaries to your past clients so that you stay top of mind when the time comes for them to work with you again or refer someone else to you. And of course, you can use your CRM to automate these emails.
Did you know that you can automate open house lead collection as well? Using a tool like Spacio, you can capture contact information for people who’ve attended your open house. Spacio will also automatically send out follow up emails to open house attendees. This is a great way to start building relationships with people who may be interested in your services in the future.
If you are active on social media, you absolutely need to automate your time there. Social media can be an incredible time suck. However, if you are disciplined and set aside one afternoon a week or even a month to create a list of posts, then you can use a service to automatically post for you at specific times when your audience is most likely to be online. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to set up posts to publish on a schedule of your choosing.
Trying to schedule showings with clients but can't find the perfect time to do so? Going back and forth via email as you know can waste a ton of time. However, you can use a tool like Clara to automatically offer scheduling times that work with both you and your client. This eliminates you having to consult your schedule manually whenever a client counters with a different time.
Automating your boring real estate tasks is one of the best things you can do for your business in 2023 and beyond. Use the above tips to begin the workflow automation process. While not all of these tools will work for you and your processes, the good news is that most of them offer a free trial so you can test them for yourself. What are you waiting for? Let’s start automating.