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Why You Should Replace Paper Checklists With Workflows

This blog post is the 2nd in a series of 5 articles demonstrating the impact templates and workflows can have on your real estate business.

When you become a “paperless agent” and use a CRM with workflows, your day runs much more smoothly. 

Real estate agents are the conductors of the most complex retail transaction in the world.

We are the masterminds behind every prospect acquisition, special event, listing, and transaction. We may get the praise if all goes well. We will hear the grief if it does not.

That means a ridiculous number of details day in and day out, many of which are critical to our successes, and many that can cause our failures. A good organization system is crucial.

Here at Realvolve, we work closely with Paperless Agent, a company whose purpose is (among other things) to teach agents how to use tech to reduce paper and stay organized. They created workflows in Realvolve. They get it.

Paperless Agent and Realvolve both believe that paper checklists are flawed in many ways, but there is one drawback in particular that you rarely hear talked about. That’s what I’ll be talking about today.

Paper checklists: Making unnecessary, redundant decisions on a daily basis

Most agents have some kind of checklist for each listing and transaction, whether it’s a whiteboard on the wall, a sheet of paper inside the file jacket, or a spreadsheet they can reference.

When you use a paper checklist, this is how you start your day:

  • You hit the files to see what needs to be done for each contact/listing/transaction that day. (And of course, these are not visible from the road. Need to know if that home inspection was scheduled? That’s another call to your assistant.)
  • You pick up the first file, open it, and look at the checklist.
  • You look at each item on the checklist and make a decision.
    • “I have to do this today.”
    • “I don’t have to do this today.”
    • Should I do this today?”

(How many tasks are on that checklist? How many decisions did you just make? How much time did it take? How many files are you doing that with?)

  • Now you come in the next day and you look at those same files and you make those same decisions yet again. The same ones!
    • Do I need to check for the mortgage commitment? Not for this closing today - no.
    • Do I need to talk to the seller about an extension on the listing? No. Not yet.
    • Is it time to call that prospect back yet? Yes. Should have been last week.
    • When did I decide to send out the invitation for the client appreciation party?

It’s the same redundant process all over again. Day after day, you are making dozens—if not hundreds—of the same decisions over and over again on those files.

Decisions take time, and when you’re busy, they add stress.

Workflows: The end of redundant decisions

When you become a “paperless agent” and use a CRM with workflows, your day runs much more smoothly. Instead of creating and consulting lists all the time and deciding which tasks have to be done today, you can create a list once and tell it when those things need to be done. Then you can sit back and relax while your system reminds you only of what you need to do today, not what you need to do for all of your pending processes for all of your contacts, listings, and closings. 

Another bonus: You don’t have to open a physical file, so you don’t have to play “who’s got the file” in the first place, and neither does anyone else! That saves everyone time, stress, and mistakes.

Additionally, if you have an assistant or transaction coordinator, their day is automatically laid out for them step-by-step. All of those tasks are visible to the extent that you can see who is responsible for what and whether each was accomplished or not. This is readily visible accountability for your entire operation, in the office or on the road.

When you use Workflows or Activity Plans, this is how your day starts:

  • You open up your CRM, in which you have created each kind of checklist/workflow once, and you have already chosen the timing for each activity.
  • You get a listing, you start a workflow.
  • You sell a house, you start a workflow.
  • Time for your annual client appreciation day? You start that workflow.
  • You look at your calendar or your automatically generated To-Do list and you see only what you need to do today. No decisions. You already decided, back when you created the workflow, that this is what you need to do today for that Event/Prospect/Transaction/Listing/Contact.

Welcome to the end of redundant decisions!!!

Nothing will ever fall through the cracks again

One of the reasons I never had a closing/settlement not happen on time (okay, once) was because I never assumed that all the other parties to the transaction would do what they needed to do. Workflows kept me on top of that.

With workflows, you are reminded when to request and distribute the right docs and the right information at the right time with the right parties—automatically!

The following is an excerpt from a past client in my former life. He goes into much more detail, but I think these few sentences sum it up nicely:

“...we have for some time been operating with extensive manual ‘checklists.’ The checklists we designed were created with two main objectives. First, to enable us to work as a complete team, and second, as a complete management tool for our client’s entire real estate process.

...we were able to fully automate our own 432 step process into the Contact Management/CRM system. Having used the system now for over a year, I can attest to you the success it has had on our business. Being able to launch plans (not checklists) has made our operation much more efficient and complete.

Those in the office responsible for managing client files no longer need to improvise and second guess the process. Each step is automatically set up on their desktop with step by step procedures as a reference if they need it.

It has made a world of difference to all of us and, most importantly, helped our clients receive a thorough and completely managed real estate process.”

If fully servicing a client is important, I recommend the real estate professional automate their process. No more handwritten notes, no more “to dos” falling through the cracks, no more embarrassing phone calls of what was forgotten, no more sleepless nights wondering what was done or left undone. It is all there, in the system, documented and professionally managed.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Gary David Hall

VP of Customer Success


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