I have compiled a list of tools that I use and I feel are a must have in order to run a successful apartment locating business. You can probably still run an apartment locating business without them, but it probably does mean that you are spending more time on tasks that are not time consuming, or you are not providing the best service to your clients. The order in which I present them are from must must have to just must have.
First and most important is a good listing service like Smart Apartment Data. They are the leading data provider in the Texas to freelance apartment locators, and their data is pretty reliable in comparison to most of the other providers like apartmentdata.com, which is free by the way. It offers other benefits such as invoicing, taggable properties, and a client management tool, however it is not very sophisticated and can cause you to waste more time managing the clients than an actual CRM seen in the next tool.
A good CRM can be a bit pricey but if you are managing a lot of clients then it is worth the price in some cases. The amount of time an effective CRM can save you can equate to being able to take and additional 20-40% more leads. Which means more deals and more money. It will also help you manage your clients more effectively by having the data more readable and readily available. Here at Spirit Real Estate Group we have developed a CRM specifically for apartment locating. It includes: a list of status options, contact reminders, date stamped notes, custom email forms, and much much more. It was designed by a locator, who has been in the industry for over 10 years, specifically for apartment locators. Also the CRM is free with our sponsorship.
You will need a quality computer & scanner/printer. A computer should go without saying but it does need to be reliable, backed up, and well protected. As far as a scanner/printer that could be a matter of preference. I use mine daily for one reason or another, but if you are wanting to be able to mail out invoices, which is required at times, or print checks, then one is required. A good PDF software may be able to get you around most needs of printer, but eventually you will wish you had one.
An office line and a fax line may also be looked at as a preference but I like to be able to differentiate my cell from my business. Clients do not need to be able to reach you 24/7, that is no life to live. A service I use is called Nextiva. They provide a whole business suite for just around $20 per month, which includes a fax line. Sometimes it is easier to get those lease verifications back if they can just fax it to you rather than having to scan and then email it.
Lastly you have additional software that did not necessarily require a full explanation. You will need a solid bookkeeping software to maintain your money. A PDF reader like Adobe can allow you to view, fill, and sign PDF’s you receive from properties or other services. Then a great software to have is a PDF writer which allows you to print to PDF like Cute PDF Writer. Google Drive for document storage and online accessibility is vital. Also an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird is going to make you life easier by helping you organize your emails better and give you more customization.
With all of these tools you should be getting through your work faster and more effectively which will translate to more closed deals and more money in your pocket. I know some may cost money and you may have to determine whether or not it is a cost you are willing to burden at this time, but all of them together should pay for themselves for anyone running an apartment locating company.