How many hours a week do you spend driving? Commuting to work, zipping between open homes… it all adds up. You’re probably in the driver’s seat so much there’s a permanent butt groove. But the time you spend out and about isn’t ‘dead time’ - at least, not if you’ve got the right tools. Think about all the things you can’t live without in your regular office. Why not duplicate them in your car, and make it your mobile office? And, there’s a bunch of tech that, while not directly making you more efficient, will make your life a heck of a lot more pleasant and - dare I say it - the ride more enjoyable. (Seriously - you can even keep an office plant in there. We’re all about greenery here at Rex HQ.)Here are our top tech picks for turning your car into a working office on wheels, and get you even more effective (and comfy) on the road.
1. Voice activated everything
You’re probably familiar with Siri. Maybe you’re on speaking terms with Alexa. But, in reality, the untapped capabilities of voice-activated technology go far beyond looking up a phone number or checking the weather forecast. In-car speech recognition systems can make your drive a lot more enjoyable… and could perhaps even save your life. We all know you shouldn’t text and drive. Or email and drive. Or Snapchat and drive. But the truth is, that kind of disconnectedness just isn’t a reality. Plenty of voice technology was driven (see what we did there?) by the need to keep the public safe. Some car manufacturers have experimented with their own systems, but we prefer external systems - they’re much easier to upgrade. Apple CarPlay is a stripped down version of your iPhone. It replaces your car’s factory installed system with the familiar Apple icons and Siri’s perky voice. Siri will help you switch playlists, navigate to your next open home, send texts and emails etc. Need to let a vendor know you’re running 10 minutes late? Dictate a text to Siri. For those of you who don’t subscribe to Apple’s takeover of the world, there’s Google’s Android Auto. It works in much the same way.
These days, most cars have Bluetooth. But if you’ve just started in the industry, perhaps you’re still squeezing the last bit of mileage out of your ol’ faithful. So, let's say there's no Bluetooth in your car at all, and you don't want to fork out too much. The sub-$20 SoundSync Drive is all you need. It plugs into a USB charger for power, and the aux audio jack on your radio. Pair it to your smartphone, and you're ready to stream music or use it for hands-free calls.
3. Mobile CRM apps
In this day and age, your CRM needs to be mobile.When we were looking at developing Pocket, we surveyed 400 agents and found that on average, you spend a whopping 60% of your time out of the office. If your CRM isn’t mobile, you’re spending more than half your day flying blind. How can accurately log all the calls you’ve made? Where do you write notes? Please, for the love of all that is good, don’t say on post-it notes or miscellaneous scraps of paper that just happen to be in the glove box. What’s next, a serviette from the drive-through?Come on, people. Any decent CRM these days will come with a free mobile app, so you can continue being just as efficient as you would in the office. Why wouldn’t you use it?
4. Seat heaters and sun shades
Ok, this one isn’t about productivity, exactly… but you’ve got to be comfortable. If you were in the office, you’d be able to adjust the thermostat to keep the room at a pleasant temperature. You know, the sweet spot. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be just as comfy when you’re on the road.For those of you in the northern hemisphere, a seat heater is going to keep you nice and cosy in between appointments. Down under, we have the opposite problem - we need sun shades. There’s nothing worse than peeling yourself from a leather seat, or scalding your hands on an almost-molten steering wheel.
5. A charging stand
What’s the worst thing that can happen to a real estate agent?Their phone dies. Ok, maybe it’s not the worst thing - but it’s up there. A potential seller could call you at any time - and it doesn’t instill much confidence if you don’t answer. The next agent they call might pick up on the first ring, and you could be out of a listing. A charging stand is a simple solution to an all-too-common problem.
6. Smartphone unlock
You’ve got 10 minutes to get from one open home to another on the other side of the suburb, so you haven’t got much time to spare. There's an open home flag wedged under your left armpit, and a sign under the right. You're balancing a stack of brochures in one palm, and clasping your phone with the other. You’ve got your hands full. The last thing you need is to search your bag for those darn keys. Enter Viper SmartStart - which unlocks your car with the tap of a (smartphone) button. It also locates your car (handy for those days when you find yourself lost in a car park), alerts you if your vehicle moves without permission, and so much more.
7. Dash cam
Dash cams are designed to record the road ahead of you whilst you drive. Some of the newer models also have a built-in microphone to record audio, and additional cameras to record as many details as possible about the surrounding area. Many also have park mode - so even when you’re away from your vehicle, the dash cam continues to record. That means if you’re ever the unfortunate victim of a hit and run, you’ll likely have footage of the perp. You’re not an Uber, but with all the crazy drivers around these days, it can’t hurt to have a dash camjust in case. This is especially true if you work for a franchise and drive a branded vehicle, as you’ll want to show your boss (and the insurance company) you’re not at fault.Plus, dash cams are such good quality these days, you might even snap a great shot driving up to your latest listing. Who knows, it might make a great opening shot for your property video!Being a successful real estate agent means being productive. You want to accomplish things in the shortest possible time. You want to work smart. This is the stuff you need to do it, comfortably - at least, until self-driving cars become affordable (and, more importantly, legal). When that day comes, you’ll be able to do everything you would normally do in the office, on the road: research listings, hold a meeting, put together ad copy, make a sandwich… whatever you want!