As urbanites across the U.S. relocate to smaller cities seeking more housing space, lower taxes and more accessible amenities, the City of Portland, population 650,000, beckons as an arts and foodie (and amazing craft beer) paradise nestled an hour east of the Pacific Ocean and an hour west of the Cascade mountain range.
Since 2004, Sean Becker and his three-person team have been selling homes in Portland. Sean Z Becker Real Estate specialized in condos and new developments at first, but the team soon broadened out to single family dwellings. These days the homes are often sold to incoming newcomers from Seattle, San Francisco and New York who can still find a nice detached house for USD$700,000 or $800,000 – a third or less of what they would pay in what have become less affordable US mega-cities.
“Sales have increased year over year by 18%, and average prices are up by closer to 19%,” stated Becker. “Since supply of new developments has not kept up with demand, and mortgage interest rates are as close to zero as they’ve ever been, the trend to higher prices should continue into the foreseeable future.
Sean Z Becker Real Estate team members
Real estate has become a business of controlled chaos
Keeping up with increasing client demand is a recurring theme for Becker, who with his wife also runs a busy family with two young children. “Real estate used to be slower paced, but with the rise of nation-wide residential real estate sites like Zillow as well as the always-on utility of the iPhone, it’s become a business of controlled chaos.” To keep his company humming and that chaos under control, Becker relies on a Mac-based small business CRM and productivity app called Daylite.
The main value of Daylite is that it helps businesses of 1 to 100 people manage more clients, close more deals, and finish more projects. Daylite helps teams share communications, next steps, and details to keep everyone in the loop. This means instead of information silos, your teams can collaborate and get the context they need to respond and push deals, projects, or next steps with clients forward without wasted time or interruptions.
Every colleague he knows in real estate also runs on Macs
Becker discovered Daylite around 2009 from a friend who ran a financial planning business. “At the time I was trying to run my company with a combination of spreadsheets and I was trying out trial versions of three CRM software systems, knowing we needed something,” he said.
“I chose the Mac platform because I was running an independent real estate company with my name on it, and the Mac just fit in with my I-wanna-do-things-the-way-I-wanna-do-things approach. My buddy said Daylite was absolutely killer software and he was running his whole business on it.”
While he felt he was a bit of a lone wolf on the Mac, 12 years later Becker says that every colleague he knows in Portland real estate also runs on Macs. “I think it was the iPhone that hooked us. You just learn to love the Apple ecosystem and how things work, and before you know it you’re running a Mac-based business.”
Daylite Mail Assistant Becker’s number one feature
As he ran his CRM software trials, Becker found himself returning to the Mac-focused functionality of Daylite. It wasn’t long before he settled on it. “The number one Daylite feature we rely on is Daylite’s Apple Mail integration,” said Becker, “which I just haven’t seen in CRM software. With Daylite every email contact we’ve had with a client is organized and accessible in one place along with any attached action items. Right now I have an associate on maternity leave. Without bothering her I can see every contact she’s had with a client, what stage of a deal she’s at, and pick it up from there.”
An example of what Daylite Mail Assistant looks like in Apple Mail
Becker says that in an increasingly litigious real estate environment, Daylite’s Apple Mail integration has not just saved him time, but avoided legal costs. “One person called me up a couple of years after I sold him a property after a hot-water system failed and said it was going to cost him tens of thousands of dollars and it was my fault for not telling him to get an inspector on it before selling him the house. We categorize each real estate deal in Daylite by address as an Opportunity. So in a couple of minutes, I looked up the address, and found every email associated with the Opportunity, including the one where I advised him to inspect the system. Case closed. If that email was somewhere up in outer space instead of organized in Daylite, it could have been a time-consuming and expensive legal hassle.”
Make appointments with Daylite app on iPhone
“I also like that I can use Daylite to make appointments on my iPhone,” said Becker. Another feature we rely on is the ability to create a Group, add Daylite contacts to that Group, and then initiate a bulk email to everyone in that Group. It’s a great way to update a group of prospects who are all interested in touring the site of an upcoming development, as one example. Through a Daylite integration with Zapier, I can also populate new Opportunities directly from website inquiries. So from an initial lead to every client contact throughout a real estate deal, all of the information is in one place.”
An example of adding contacts to the Group in Daylite to send out emails
Timed “to-do” items ensure regular client contact
As with most CRM systems, Daylite users like Becker can also assign timed Tasks, or “to-do” items to his clients, like regular annual check-ins to see if there’s an opportunity to sell them another home or investment property. “Once it’s set up, Daylite ensures I do what I’m supposed to do to advance my business, then keeps track of everything that we’ve done,” he said.
Using Daylite’s Activity Set to ensure regular check-ins with clients
Becker also appreciates that as a native app on Apple devices, he has access to his Daylite data even if the Internet is down or he’s not connected to it. “If I’m on a plane for example, I can work on 50 Opportunities, and when I hit the ground and connect to WIFI again, all of the emails get sent and all of the Daylite data is synced in the database so all my colleagues have access. If it was just a web app, the ability to work offline wouldn’t exist.”
Whenever he’s needed customer support for Daylite, Becker says he’s gotten fast response. “I can think of two or three times over the last 10 years where we needed help with some kind of power user issue,” he said, “but the people at Marketcircle who make Daylite have always solved issues promptly. Day-to-day, Daylite just works.”
A better way to run a business than sticky notes and spreadsheets
Becker claims he still knows a few realtors who “live on sticky notes and spreadsheets” to keep track of their businesses, but firmly believes everyone in his profession needs a system to organize client information and track the progress of deals: “If you can’t do that, you’re not really in business. With Daylite, we’ve got it covered.”