How Important is your Database? Think Inside the Box!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

How could I resist a post about such an important factor of our business.  How important is your database?  Might be the most important tool you have.  A database is nothing more than "Text-in-a-box" if you're not using it properly.  There are so many programs out there today, the question is, which one is best for you?  Here's my take on the different database applications and what they can do to help or hurt your business!
Here's a link to (ALL Real Estate Contact Managers)

Let's start with a few of the common one's we are all familiar with:

 Outlook - Now if Bill Gates would have known how Big this application was going to be, he probably would have named it "Lookout" instead.  I personally use Outlook as my database manager for all my contacts, appointments, email, tracking, follow-up, and mail merges and marketing campaigns. It does what I need, and more.  I use the Journal for keeping all my notes, emails, and correspondence tied to an individual contact.  I currently have over 2035 contacts, but that's 20 years of business in two different states. I like that Outlook works seamlessly with Word, Excel, Access, and Power-Point as well.  From a Realtor or Lenders perspective, it's a great contact manager, but was not created for Loans or Property information. There are ways to create and modify Outlook, but might be a little time consuming and costly.
MEMBER POST -
Secret to Real Estate Success

 Top Producer - A great "All Around" database and contact management system, but I think it's a little to complicated and expensive for your standard Agent who has little or no technical skills.  $30-$40 dollars a month, every month, and there is a whole lot to learn.  I am a certified trainer for Top Producer Systems, and I still can't get my arms around everything that it can do. Then you start adding all the other modules like Top Connector, and Hot Marketer, and the next thing you know, you're on the computer all day learning instead of out selling and helping your clients! One of the many key benefits to TP7i is that it was designed for REALTORS® by REALTORS®.
MEMBER POST - Contact Database in Top Producer

 ACT -  Used to be my favorite application.  I used Act and Q&A from 1991 to 1998 and was very pleased with it's performance. I liked how you could modify your views and screens to be exactly how you wanted them to look. You could even modify the field names and import data from public records with little or no effort at all.  I also love the alarming tool in ACT.  It's like a hand would reach out of the screen, grab your neck, and start shaking your head to prompt you of any appointments that day. (ok I exaggerate a lit'l) 
MEMBER POST -
Keeping a database



 AgentOffice - Like Top Producer, Agent Office is a feature rich application that has so many tools that most agents never even use.  I like that you can multi-task with multiple windows open at the same time, but unless you invest the time to really learn it's features and all it can do, you might want to consider something a little more simple. It really depends on your needs and your business.  Many agents have assistants who whiz right through this stuff so the "Whys" and the "How-to's" are not really an issue. It does have a great graphical user interface and is fairly user friendly. 
MEMBER POST - You Are Your Database


Goldmine
- In the early 90's, many of the loan officers used to work with Goldmine.  In fact the whole Bank of America in my geographic area used Goldmine because of it's interface with their loan origination software. I only know a few REALTORS® that were using it, and as I recall, it came up a little short of their more simplistic needs.  I like that Goldmine has stayed in the game, their website shows some great stuff which tells me they may still be a player in the race to be the best. 
MEMBER POST -
A Different way to Build your Database

 

The power and credibility from any good post really comes from the comments of members like YOU! :-)  What database do you use? What features do you look for and use the most?  Do you mail merge, create postcards and flyer's, schedule appointments and create marketing campaigns with follow-up plans?  Do you just put Birthdays and Anniversary's with an occasional farm area or geographic neighborhood?  Are you using your database to cross reference sellers and past clients to potential buyers?  What about your referral business? 

If the goal is to ultimately work by referral, which database gives you the most return with the least amount of effort or learning curve? Are you building your database to sell one day when you retire and can collect a pension from it the rest of your life? If so, better pick a good one, maybe even update from what you're currently using.

I would always recommend that you do a thorough needs analysis before spending any time or money to learn a program  that you're not 100% happy with.  I hope readers can come away with a better understanding of what they want in an application and why?!?  Just look at some of these members posts!!  Many need our help and not just with their databases either!!  I'm here to help, are you? 

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Comments 115 New Comment

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Anonymous #96
Anonymous
tom Braatz

hey Jeff,

did you ever write for NASA? this is a great post but I think I will have to come cack to it a couple hundred times. Every page something justs out at you that you can use. I am in the beginning of all the SEO, and REO and any ointers or help you mave have to give srart think move be very much appreceaited. isn't it great where we can all get toghether all talk about how to better our selfs. My hat is off to you sir.

Sincerely Yours

Tom Braatz

October 23, 2007 03:04 PM
Ambassador
735,482
Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

hey Brad,

did you ever write for NASA? this is a great post but I think I will have to come cack to it a couple hundred times. Every page something justs out at you that you can use. I am in the beginning of all the SEO, and REO and any ointers or help you mave have to give srart think move be very much appreceaited. isn't it great where we can all get toghether all talk about how to better our selfs. My hat is off to you sir.

Sincerely Yours

Tom Braatz

10/23/2007 by tom Braatz   Delete Report as Spam
October 24, 2007 04:02 AM
Ambassador
735,482
Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

Tom - AR is a great place to share ideas, network, and refer business.  There are great members and great information here.  You'll get out of this place ONLY what you put into it though.  Many come ad go because the just don't grasp the essence of social networking and how to utilize such a powerful tool that they don't understand.  That's part of what I love to do.  I love to help others, I love to network, and I love the business I get because it enriches those relationships, and it feeds my family! LOL! 

No, I never did write for NASA!  :-) 

October 24, 2007 04:06 AM
Rainer
50,520
Kim Carpenter
Lake Winnipesaukee REALTOR -Lake Winnipesaukee Real Estate, NH
Coldwell Banker

I use Outlook and it works for me!  It syncs easily with my Blackberry and I am good to go... In fact, I didnt realize there were so many alternatives out there.  Thanks

October 24, 2007 04:51 AM
Rainmaker
1,844,556
Gita Bantwal
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel
RE/MAX Centre Realtors
I had read this post a while back and came back today to get some more tips from comments. Thanks for the post.
October 24, 2007 06:27 AM
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Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy
Kim - I too use Outlook and it syncs seamlessly with my TREO.  There are many applications/databases out there, hopefully this post and the comments will help those who are researching which one is best for them. Thanks for your comment. :-)
October 24, 2007 11:20 AM
Ambassador
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Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy
Gita - Glad you came back, hopefully all these comments will help you find what you're looking for.  I have received numerous calls and emails since posting this, regarding the best database to use.  It's totally a matter of preference and the dialog here has helped many.  I am very pleased with the value this post has brought to other members and outside readers. :-)
October 24, 2007 11:24 AM
Rainmaker
278,443
Melanie Ross
Benicia CA & Vallejo CA Real Estate, 707-319-2828
Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Brad,

I am inspired to look closely at Outlook for contact management.  I multi-manage my contacts from too many sources......blue line, palm, MLS, phone,....oh YUCK I gotta get going on this NOW!

How about a class on Outlook, Brad???? I would be the first to sign up.

October 25, 2007 12:02 AM
Ambassador
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Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy
Melanie - for you, anything!!  :-)  Nice to see you out writing in the rain again.  I know so many people who are getting business and benefiting from their efforts here, if only I could convince more in your area!  Oh well, Joe has finally started a Blog for your office, let me know if you really want an Outlook Class.  My TecKnowBabble Team now has an Online Conference Capability.  We have a sample calendar posted there. check it out. Nice to hear from you and I hope all is going well. :-)
October 25, 2007 03:35 AM
Anonymous
Rob

Hi.. I'm curious if anyone has used the Pinpoint overlay for Outlook yet and what your take it on it?

Thanks,

Rob 

December 03, 2007 12:03 PM
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Brad Andersohn
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Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy
I have heard a couple people mention it outside the blog, but they felt it was a bit slow and cumbersome.  I'm only going from here say and so be that as it may, I don't have any real feedback from direct sources.  Maybe someone who reads this comment will share their two cents!
December 03, 2007 09:04 PM
Anonymous
Anonymous

Good feedback on software I have heard a lot about Top Producer but I use Outlook Business Contact Manager and when I get my own internet connection I should like it more.

June 19, 2008 12:09 AM
Rainer
17,967
Leeshay Wright
Keller Williams Realty

Good feedback on software I have heard a lot about Top Producer but I use Outlook Business Contact Manager and when I get my own internet connection I should like it more. For whatever reason was not signed in but now I am thanks again for the info Brad

June 19, 2008 12:16 AM
Ambassador
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Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

Leeshay - it's really a matter of preference and comfort levels, you have to work with the programs you understand and not the ones that consume and frustrate you trying to learn them. :-)

June 20, 2008 01:06 AM
Anonymous
Michael

Still using Outlook 2003 and loving it. Anyone found if Outlook 2007 is worth upgrading to?

July 11, 2008 09:34 PM
Rainer
138,958
Jay McGillicuddy
Real Estate Broker
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty

We upgraded and I love it. It is different and some of our friends don't like change and can't handle some of the new feature designs.

Maybe you can take it for a test drive and see if you like it.

Only flaw I have is I sometimes get duplicate emails and once in a while I can't change profiles. I usually have to end task and then it will work. Our IT person at our office is working on a fix.

July 12, 2008 06:16 AM
Ambassador
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Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

Rob - regarding pinpoint, I'm sure there are many who have, but they may not find your comment here, you might consider doing a post, or if you're not a member here, use the search option at the top of the screen. Hope that helps you out.

July 12, 2008 03:48 PM
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Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

Michael - I would say yes. I use it sometimes and love it.

July 12, 2008 03:50 PM
Ambassador
735,482
Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

Jay - let us know if you do find a fix for that, I'm sure other readers here have experienced that as well, not sure, but it's always great to know fixes when they're available....you know me!  lol~  :-)

July 12, 2008 03:52 PM
Rainer
332,937
Paul Gapski
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty

wow ur a tp trainer and u still dont know everything? making me lean away and go with a easier system.

June 26, 2011 08:11 PM
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Brad Andersohn

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