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The Best Xero-Integrated CRMs

How can you provide great customer service? Consistently?

IF YOU ARE LIKE most businesses, you’re probably communicating with your customers and clients via multiple touch points — email, social media, phone calls, chat bots. But how are you keeping track of all these interactions?

A while back I wrote a blog asking the question whether MYOB is, in fact, a CRM and which CRMs I found to be the best and why. It’s worth a read if you want to familiarise yourself with exactly what it is CRMs can do for you and your business.

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Is MYOB really a CRM and which CRMs are best for people in sales?

CRM = Customer Relationship Management

THE PURPOSE OF HAVING a CRM is so that when you call one of your clients or prospects, you know everything about them and can start a conversation based on what they’re looking for — their needs.

This might seem a little strange when you think about it because you could be out of date with your info (say you’ve entered old information on this particular client) but, casting this quibble aside, CRM’s are generally a terrific way to provide excellent customer service, on a consistent basis, and this is often the competitive edge that will you need to stay in business. (I’ve written a little comparison of real estate agent CRM’s but I wanted to add a couple other ones to the mix for good measure.)

Accounting Software and CRMs

Cloud CRMs that integrate with MYOB AccountRight - online training coursesIn the early days, MYOB used every aspect of their software to sell itself to small business clients.

The fact that the software enabled business to keep contact details and search for past orders was a good reason to call the software a CRM.

However, times have moved on and even with powerful and well known CRM brands like Salesforce, there seems to be dozens of CRM providers to choose from, with prices ranging from $15 per month/ per seat to over $150! In fact if you head over to MYOB’s Add-On Centre you’ll find plenty of CRM’s that now integrate with their software.

We are now entering the integration phase of software development – which cloud-based services integrate with other services you’re using – and we wrote an article at the beginning of the year about a home appliances technician who uses accounting software integrations on his tablet to run an efficient and profitable little business.

Real Estate Agent CRM’s

best-real-estate-agent-crmsOne thing that has become apparent to our team lately (we’re working on social media marketing for real estate agents) is the difference in mindset between bookkeepers and real estate agents and if you think about it for a second it makes sense.

Bookkeepers are usually people who just want to get themselves into their work and sort out the financial and accounting details whereas real estate agents want to find big shiny things to sell and earn a commission based income.

It’s the classic back office versus front office personality style, the salesy and bold vs the unassuming and detailed office admin person.

The thing that real estate agents are looking for in a CRM are:

  • Quick and Easy contact detail collection (do it once and get all the data) – ideally at open homes
  • Automated categorisation of contact (Who’s keen and what are they looking for) – often defined by the type of property they enquire about
  • Constant messages pinging prospects with their brand (like weekly emails about their open homes this weekend)
  • Great reporting to see what works (so they can repeat it) – like how many emails sent, calls, open homes etc

The relationship with a real estate agent is often brief and very intense because property owners (vendors) will be speaking sometimes every day with their sales agent to see how the selling process is going. With property marketing campaigns in the capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne only lasting a couple weeks in some instances there is a massive amount of information to be collected yet the reporting needs to be simple.

My Preference for CRMs is Simple

zoho-crm and cloud based integrationAlthough I’ve had some exposure to Salesforce when I originally spoke to that company (many years ago and much has probably changed) they only offered yearly plans (but showed them as a low monthly fee) and the upfront cost was too high so I didn’t go down that path.

Instead I found some great nimble tech startups (at the time, now they’re quite a bit bigger) who offered software that did all the basics very well and offered normal cloud-based pricing ie. low monthly fees: Zoho CRM and HighRiseHQ

I found that these two programs did many useful things. They:

  • enabled me to integrate with our form collections (no need for double entry)
  • gave me the ability to very easily make comments every time I spoke with them
  • integrated with my email marketing software
  • enabled me to use tags to categorise and find contacts
  • offered a low monthly cost!

The Dark Horse in Real Estate CRM’s is CreataCRM

CreataCRM integrates with MYOB Cloud and is used by top performing McGrath real estate agentsI had the pleasure of meeting Reece, the managing director of CreataCRM, at Cebit 2016 and was amazed I’d never heard of this company before.

When I took a look at their software I was blown away – here is an Australian based software developer who has worked with some of the top performing McGrath real estate agents to build a complete and thorough cloud-based CRM with all the integrations you could ask for, including:

  • MYOB AccountRight (live and even the old v19)
  • Xero
  • VoIP telephony
  • Email broadcasting
  • Workflow Automation

The most amazing part about their software is that it costs just $11 per user per month! Now that is a lot of software and a VERY low price. I’m thrilled to be able to share this information with you because here is a company with a great product that focus more on their product development and software features and less on making themselves look big and flashy.

If you have had any experiences with CRM’s I’d love to hear from you and add further depth to our conversation and study into CRM’s.


Xero online training course

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). 


 

 

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ATTN: Online Business Course FREE with Xero, MYOB, Excel & Bookkeeping Academy Training Course Packages

freelance or contract workers for your business small business management online training course

Online Businesses Courses are coming to our FREE Student Inclusions and they’re aimed at helping you work better online from home. 

We made the move online a long time ago and with it came great benefits but it wasn’t a simple case of doing the same thing we did in our Sydney training centres! We had to deal with the loneliness and disconnection associated with not being in an office with others!

Our new, updated online business courses are designed to give you tools to be confident doing your work online.

Continue reading ATTN: Online Business Course FREE with Xero, MYOB, Excel & Bookkeeping Academy Training Course Packages
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Remote Working? Remote Learning? What Will You Get Done This Week?

Work remotely and study from home online by setting goals and todo lists - Learn Xero, MYOB, Digital Marketing, Microsoft Office quickly and cheaply - EzyLearn

One of the scariest things about working remotely or learning remotely is that you’re more of your own boss. With no one glancing over at you or engaging with you face to face there are more of those moments when you think to yourself, “what will I do now, then?” 

The bigger question is what do you expect to achieve by the end of the week!? There are a couple tools that I use and here are some of the tips that I use to stay on track each week. 

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Xero, MYOB, ERPs and Supply Chain Tools

man-studying-xero-online

ERPs, or Enterprise Reporting Planning systems, are divided into three categories or tiers. Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks and other cloud accounting software used by small businesses, sit at the low end of the scale; they’re tier three ERPs.

Xero is using it’s 3rd party app integrations and its API to climb up the ERP food chain and some good bookkeepers are being dragged up along with it.

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Google Can Help You Make More Money – And It’s Not by Using Adwords!

Helping tradespeople, sole traders and contractors manage and keep clients

As a tradesperson or sole trader, don’t be one of the many who loses out on work opportunities because you’re not savvy online – for marketing and organisational purposes.

I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT how tradespeople can earn more money quickly and easily by using cloud accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks to quote, invoice and manage their clients. But this applies to anybody out there working for themselves; as a sole trader or contractor. 

In a recent home renovation I was involved with in Newcastle, NSW, I met many tradies with a lot of work on, and even more with plenty of work in the pipeline; but they had no system to manage it all. They frequently didn’t follow up on jobs they’d quoted for, didn’t get back to people enquiring about their services, and provided fairly terrible customer service in general. And they were losing money, as a result.

Increase your productivity with Google G Suite

There’s no reason for tradespeople, contractors or sole traders to lose business because they don’t have a system in place to ensure they remain productive. I work with lots of remote contractors, and I love it because we’re able collaborate on projects at all different times of the day, easily and efficiently.

When I owned a compliance management company called EzyAccess, I worked with lots of different contractors who were located all over Australia. There was Frankie in customer service, located in the Gold Coast, Queensland; Gary, our product specialist located in Goulburn, New South Wales; and our computer guys, Linus and Rodger, each from Sydney; along with three other women located in Sydney — Dulcie, Michelle and Angela — responsible for admin and marketing respectively. of course, then there was me: travelling between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Manage your time efficiently

To manage my team of remote contractors, I used Google G Suite (then called Google Apps for Work) — Google Calendar, in particular

We used Google Calendar to schedule time for particular tasks each person was working on so everyone knew what everyone else was up to, and could easily schedule time to collaborate on certain projects that required help from other team members — Linus and Rodger, for instance, frequently collaborated on projects. We also used Google Calendar to schedule meetings (internal and external ones) and sales calls. (More specifically, we’ve given a case study of a hairdressing salon doing this in a previous blog post.)

***

Set up your own Google G-Suite with our Digital and Social Media Online Course


If you need help setting up your Google G Suite account, and would like to learn how your business can become more productive and earn more money, we cover Google G Suite in our Digital and Social Media training course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.


 

 

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MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks and the Cloud Accounting Ecosystem

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How the cloud accounting ecosystem has paid off big time:

And how Xero has become the preferred accounting software for Aussies and New Zealanders (Part 2 of 2)

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Although Xero is enormously popular in Australia and NZ, Intuit QuickBooks is backed by a company that dwarfs Xero and MYOB and is huge in the US.

FOR YEARS, MYOB was the Australian market leader in accounting software. Small businesses and accountants spent hundreds of dollars to buy its clunky, obtuse software and load it onto their computers so they could mind their own business (hence, the MYOB) or the business of their clients.

In 2008, the tide began to roll the other way, when an upstart — and a Kiwi upstart, no less — entered the Australian market, two years after it was founded. That upstart was Xero, and it revolutionised the industry, with its software- as a -service approach to accounting systems.

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MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks and the Cloud Accounting Ecosystem

smart woman realising xero most popular accounting software program in australia and nz

How accounting is becoming more simplified:

And how bookkeepers and accountants can become a “one-stop-shop” for those needing help with their finances (Part 1 of 2)

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Intuit, the parent company of cloud accounting system QuickBooks, announced it had acquired U.S.-based time-tracker platform, TSheets, in a deal worth $340 million U.S..

This was part of Intuit’s strategy to expand its offerings to small businesses and the self-employed. (In the U.S. and Canada, Intuit also operates a cloud software package called TurboTax, which lets individuals file their own federal taxes.)

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MYOB Essentials Accounting, Credit Management & Payroll Courses COMBINED

myob-essentials online training course live logoYOU COULD CALL IT a New Years Resolution that we’ve managed to tick off already! Early January 2018 I promised that EzyLearn would make the MYOB Essentials Courses available with our traditional MYOB AccountRight Courses and that offer is NOW available as a COMBO OFFER — see our Bookkeeping Academy page for the details.

We have 4 MYOB Essentials Courses available (MYOB Essentials Accounting, Daily Transactions, GST/BAS & Reporting AND MYOB Essentials Payroll Course) and it’s a popular course for those wanting a good payroll solution without spending the earth.

MYOB Essentials seems to tick the boxes for most small businesses

Our MYOB Essentials course seems to cater to small business for the following reasons:

  • It enables businesses to keep track of quotes and convert them to sales invoices
  • It includes bank feeds for faster, more accurate and less stressful end of month/quarter reporting
  • You can work out the allocation of GST paid and received for quicker BAS reports
  • Included is Payroll to manage the sometimes complex compliance requirements faced by small businesses

And here’s an excerpt from the MYOB Essentials website:

Features of MYOB Essentials cloud accounting software in our income, expenses, GST, & Payroll Online Course

MYOB Essentials has a well-placed price

MYOB also seem to have the pricing at just the right level to not hurt the wallet of small business owners. Xero is now powering ahead with constant features updates (and that puts regular pressure on us to continually create Xero Course updates — which we LOVE doing!) to justify a higher price as they hurtle along on their journey of being a quasi-ERP system using integrated apps in their marketplace.

MYOB Essentials Pricing as of February 2018 - online training courses
Pricing as of 24 February 2018

QuickBooks Online, on the other hand, use an ongoing cheap price special offer to attract new users and use an Australian-based payroll services provided to provide very sophisticated advanced payroll features while keeping the total price low.

We’ve just completed the production side of our QuickBooks Online Advanced Payroll Course so subscribe to get notified of when this training course material is ready to view.

QuickBooks Online Pricing as of February 2018 - online training courses
Pricing as of 24 February 2018

Current MYOB training course students receive MYOB Essentials Courses FREE

When I first took EzyLearn online in 2006 it was a huge change in my life and I’ve always been grateful to every student who has chosen EzyLearn to do online training. I’m always looking for ways to help them learn more, do more and achieve better results in their career, business and life goals.

***

My commitment to continuing to keep MYOB Essentials courses and MYOB Accountright Course updated has never wavered.

The other recent commitment is that we’ve made is the Workface Career Academy and the Selling Academy programs available to ALL EzyLearn students via our new LIFELONG Learning Hub.


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At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). 


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Why Do You Want Xero and MYOB for Free?

If money is an issue there are alternatives when it comes to accounting software programs

WaveApps Transaction journal in the free accounting software competitors to Xero, QuickBooks Online and MYOB with receipt scanning built inWE’RE OFTEN ASKED whether Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks software is provided free with our training courses.

Unfortunately, we’re not given free access to accounting software, so we can’t pass free software access onto our students either. However, we do let you know where you can access trial or student versions while you complete our courses.

It made me wonder: Who’s driving the demand for these programs? It turns out, it’s usually someone’s bookkeeper or accountant recommending them. And this is usually because they’ve done a training course and learnt how to use one or more of the major accounting packages.

Does your bookkeeper or accountant disclose whether they’re earning a commission?

Some bookkeepers take a 15 percent cut of the monthly subscription fee because they’re a certified MYOB / Xero / QuickBooks consultant — and that’s why they recommend a particular package. I personally think that bookkeepers or BAS agents who do this should disclose that they are earning an ongoing commission — just as real estate agents need to make these declarations in their agency agreements.

Businesses don’t know any alternatives  

It also happens that a lot of business owners don’t know about alternative accounting packages. Therefore they simply choose the brand name they’ve heard about the most. I discovered this with real estate agents when it comes to who they choose for their social media marketing services — most of them ask what software or which person Joe Blow uses and then assume it’s good enough for them.

Selecting an accounting package to use is often one of the first things a new business owner does. At this stage, however, they may not even be aware of what they require from an accounting package; never mind what sorts of alternatives they should be looking at. When first starting out, they’re just anxious to be able to invoice and get paid by their first client.

Freshbooks, Zoho, WaveApps alternatives to Xero & QuickBooks Online

Three low cost alternatives to the “three brand names”

Zoho, Freshbooks and Wave are three other accounting packages that are either free or very inexpensive.

These three also include many of the same features you’ll find in the three big name accounting packages — MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks.

Zoho: Free invoicing software allows one user, invoice up to five customers; paid subscriptions from $7 U.S. per month; add extra features (expenses, subscription management, inventory management) as required. Pricing for Zoho Books, the complete accounting package, start at $9 U.S. per month for 2 users, 50 contacts, 5 automated workflows.

Freshbooks: Complete accounting software includes unlimited invoices, accept online and credit card payments, multiple devices, reports, payment reminders, notifications when clients have received, viewed, paid invoices; pricing starts at $15 U.S. per month for 5 active contacts (customers).

Wave: Forever free invoicing and accounting software includes unlimited estimates and invoices, generate reports, scan receipts, bank feeds (accounting package), and more; accept credit card and online payments for a fee (1.75 percent for ever 30 cents AUD); payroll $36 AUD per month.

Consider your business needs first

We recommend either Wave or Zoho for small but growing businesses, looking for a cheap or free accounting solution. Wave, in particular, provides a fairly robust accounting package that’s entirely free, and remains so if you don’t intend to take credit card or online payments (lots of businesses do, but many more don’t). In fact, they even have their own smartphone apps to capture receipts and create invoices while you’re at a clients!

If you anticipate you might want to add other productivity apps, like a CRM, inventory management, IT helpdesk, recruitment tools, or collaborate in a team project, Zoho is a good place to start, as these features can be turned on and off as required.

Of course, these accounting packages are rarely used or recommended by accountants or bookkeepers, who prefer to work with Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks because they provide the functionality needed to complete and lodge activity statements. If you’ll be working with a bookkeeper or accountant, it’s best to stick with one of the brand name three.

***

If you need training in MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks, our online training courses will show you how to set up and use various aspects of the software. More importantly, they will take you through detailed case studies where you can enter all the transactions performed by various different business types eg. professional services, trades and even the sale of inventory products. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.

 

Ref: #715

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The Best Xero-Integrated Document Management Platforms

best xero integrated proposal quote software learn xero online learning training course videos

‘Seal the deal’ with a beautiful proposal

best xero integrated proposal quote software learn xero online learning training course videos
Sometimes it’s all in the proposal: win over your clients by presenting them with your value proposition in a way that not only looks professional and competitive; but that you can also track online.

FOR MANY BUSINESSES sending quotes and estimates to prospects doesn’t accurately describe the work you’ll be providing them.

Sometimes it’s because you’ll be providing an ongoing service or solution to a business problem — property management, content marketing, bookkeeping — and other times it’s because your business will be competing with others in a public tender.

In these instances, you’ll need to send a proposal to potential clients to explain your value proposition and how you’ll solve their business problem. Rather than sending a proposal in a Word document that you can’t track, use a cloud-based document management platform.

Here are some popular Xero CRM Integrations.

Continue reading The Best Xero-Integrated Document Management Platforms
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What is Xero HQ?

Now you can do more with Xero

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Xero is adding to its list of features with Xero HQ so it’s no longer just for more basic bookkeeping, but can be used for analysis as well.

XERO HAS LONG POSTIONED ITSELF as the cloud accounting software for small-to-medium businesses. It’s one of the most popular of our online training courses; appealing not only to bookkeepers, but small to medium sized businesses in all industries.

What makes Xero so popular is that it is inexpensive software that’s simple to use and has lots of time-saving features.

In doing so, it’s basically left MYOB to hold the mantle of the accounting software used by accountants and bookkeepers.

Now, however, Xero is looking to close that gap, with the launch of “Xero HQ”; a data and insights platform for bookkeepers and accountants who are part of the Xero Partner Program.

Xero HQ wants to help you grow

To shake MYOB’s stranglehold on the accountant and bookkeeper market, Xero had to do something to differentiate itself and tempt accountants and bookkeepers away from MYOB.

And they’re betting that Xero HQ will be the thing that does it. Xero HQ will provide bookkeepers and accountants with data and insights tools so they can provide “advisory level” services to clients.

Xero’s focus on “advisory level” services is important here, because it reveals a couple of things Xero plans to do with the industry. The first is to continue to automate many of the tasks a bookkeeper would traditionally carry out — the introduction of bank feeds eliminated data entry, for instance — and the second is to up-skill junior bookkeepers, while simultaneously embedding them within the Xero ecosystem — which will fit nicely with their recently launched Xero Lifelong Learning platform.

What exactly is the Xero HQ platform?

If you’re part of the Xero Partner Program already, then access to the Xero HQ platform is free. The Xero HQ platform is essentially a separate workflow that you access online, which provides a number of features not available though your regular Xero software.

These Xero HQ features include the following:

  • Activity feed: When your clients’ GST or activity statements are due, a notification will appear in the activity feed to alert you.
  • Client list: This is essentially like a contact book, where you can store all your clients’ information in one place; even those clients who aren’t on Xero.
  • Explorer: This feature pulls data Xero knows about your clients to help you provide them with better advice, or help you up-skill in areas you know are important to them. For example: it will show you which apps are popular across all your clients, so you can learn how to use them.

Xero HQ app marketplace

The Xero HQ platform also has an app marketplace, which has a focus on apps that will help bookkeepers and accountants with their business. That’s different to the existing Xero app marketplace, which is geared towards small businesses in any industry.

The Xero HQ app marketplace is split up into three tiers, depending on the size of your bookkeeping or accounting practice.

Which Xero HQ app marketplace will suit you?

If you’ve 100 or fewer clients, then you’d be best suited to the “activate” package of apps especially “curated” by the Xero HQ team.

If you have between 100 and 200 clients, then you’re best suited to the “energise” package of apps; practices with 300 or more clients suit the “supercharge” package.

It’s up to you which apps you switch on, but Xero has eliminated the leg work involved in finding apps to suit your business needs.

Some common third party apps, recommended across all three Xero HQ app marketplace tiers include:

  • Futrli: A forecasting and reporting app designed to help control cash flow and accelerate growth. Technically, you can pull all these data out of Xero by running a number of different reports and exporting them into Excel, but this app does all that work for you, and just delivers the insights. Partner pricing starts at $399 per month.
  • Receipt Bank: Extracts relevant information from paper receipts and invoices, imports the data into Xero, categorises it, and stores both the data and receipt safely in the cloud. Your clients just snap a picture of the receipt using the Receipt Bank app on their smartphone or upload from their PC.
  • BOMA: Is a marketing and advertising platform that lets you export data from Xero and use it for your marketing and advertising campaigns. With BOMA you can create and broadcast marketing and advertising messages across five channels (email, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter), including sponsored advertising posts on those platforms. It also provides you with all the imagery, templates and other design needs to create your campaigns. It’s basically a one- stop -shop for digital marketing and advertising. Partner pricing starts at $49 per month.  

Xero HQ is where accounting meets CRM

In essence, the Xero HQ platform is where accounting and customer relationship management meet. Xero provides bookkeepers and accountants with a platform that enables high-level analysis and data management through integrating third-party Xero HQ partner apps.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles; and they can use the Xero Lifelong Learning platform to up-skill and provide those services.

“Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles…”


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses.


 

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The Best Xero-Integrated Project Management Apps

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Which ones are best for your business?

xero integrated apps to keep your business within budget learn xero online learning videos
We look at project management apps that integrate beautifully with Xero to keep your project within timeframe and budget.

FOR BUSINESSES WORKING on large projects spanning weeks or even months, keeping track of time, cash flow and profitability is imperative. This is even more so for businesses that work on fixed-rate contracts or tenders.

Such fixed-rate projects are common in the building and construction industry, but also the creative, engineering, and IT industries.

Many of these businesses manage a project’s workflow across a number of different documents (spreadsheets, their CRM, accounting software) — and many don’t manage it properly at all.

As a consequence, projects often come in over budget. A number of cloud-based project management and workflow apps aim to change that, however.

Continue reading The Best Xero-Integrated Project Management Apps
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Ray White’s Amber and LJ Hooker Compete with Purple & Jim’s Real Estate Play

Woodrising a sign for Toronto Ray White Amber Agent

Real estate agents are seeing purple!

Woodrising a sign for Toronto Ray White Amber AgentTHE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY IS undergoing substantial disruption. Only the real estate agents and agencies that decide to innovate will make it out the other side.

A big part of that means letting go of the traditional model and embracing a new, transparent real estate sales model, but many agents are still reluctant to change.

And that’s a mistake.

Disruption to the real estate industry coming from many sources

Although much of the disruption is coming from technology companies, such as REA Group and Domain Group in Australia, as well as the tech giants Facebook and Google, other established players, recognising that the timing is right, are entering the fray too.

Together, these businesses are changing the way real estate in this country and across the world is bought, sold and rented. If real estate agents aren’t proactive about this change, they’ll end up being reactive. And they’ll miss out.

One of the Case Studies in our Digital & Social Media Marketing Courses centres upon a McGrath agent based in Sydney’s Cammeray. This agent, Derek, comes to realise his own personal brand is as powerful with local residents as the McGrath brand because he is a hard-working agent and his vendors love him.

Via the virion Digital Agency we were able to help Derek create a website and social media campaign to further hone and build his brand as a property expert.

Jim’s to cut agents’ grass

Jim Penman's Jims Group getting into low cost low commission real estate agency model - tradies might pass on vendor sales leads - AFRTake Jim’s Group, the franchise group known for mowing lawns and fixing broken antennas. Last week, they announced their intention to enter the real estate fray with a new, low-cost service for both agents and homeowners.

The division, which is being headed up by a Jim’s Group veteran and the former sales director of low-cost real estate service Hello Real Estate, will charge agents a flat $1,800 a month franchise fee.

Homeowners will also be able to suggest how much commission they’d like to pay the agent to sell their home. (It’s understood there’ll be a threshold for how low commissions will actually go.)

Jim’s agents will work remotely from their home offices — or their cars — as most Jim’s franchisees currently do, and they’ll have substantially lower overheads so they can provide the same service to homeowners as a traditional real estate agent, only for less.

As an existing and trusted franchise group in Australia, they won’t have to overcome the same barriers like name recognition and trust that new entrants to the market — your Purplebricks, say — did. (Of course, the Purplebricks service is also quantifiably different to the proposed Jim’s service.)

Agents who don’t think Jim’s will make a serious dent in the industry may be right. But that misses the point; the franchise model is about giving business owners a cushion between them and flying solo. Plenty of people work in franchises — real estate is the most franchised industry in this country — but not all of them do. There’s plenty of room for independent agents to take this idea and operate their own agency the same way — and keep their $1,800 franchise fee while they’re at it!

Proptech sector friend or foe?

That brings us to the biggest source of disruption in the real estate industry: the proptech sector. In Australia, agents need to be cautious of

  • REA Group,
  • Domain Group,
  • Purplebricks,
  • BuyMyPlace,
  • Facebook and
  • Google.

But they also need to be wary of any new entrant that puts an “Uber” spin on the sector. (Domain recently opened up its developer APIs to encourage tech startups to use their data to create disruptive new services.)

At the moment REA Group and Domain are focussed on moving closer to the transaction, but they’re also heavily investing in tech to ward off any disruption from tech titans Facebook and Google, which they consider the biggest threat to the real estate industry in this country, and the world. (eBay-owned Gumtree also shouldn’t be excluded from this conversation.)

Would you advertise with a competitor?

Mortgages

Both real estate groups have acquired (or launched through partnerships) their own mortgage broking businesses — Domain’s Domain Loan Finder is a JV with online broker Lendi; REA Group acquired mortgage broker Smartline, and launched its own white label service in conjunction with NAB, called realestate.com.au Home Loans.

Trades & Everything Else!

They each also own stakes in tradie sites Oneflare (Domain) and hipages (REA), connection services Compare & Connect (Domain) and Beevo (Domain), property data and mapping firm PriceFinder (Domain), real estate CRM MyDesktop (Domain) [read more about the best real estate agent CRM’s], and property inspection app Homepass (Domain); Domain will also launch insurance comparison service Domain Insure and real estate agent training and education program Domain Academy.

And REA Group is busy building robots and virtual assistants, which can respond to customer enquiry — requests for Section 32 documents, schedule inspections, and so on.

Neither Domain nor REA are likely to bite the hands that feed them by introducing a real estate agency service or cutting agents out of the picture entirely — this year, REA Group posted revenue of $633.5 million from its Australian operations, of which $538.2 million was derived from agents advertising on its site.

Agents need to innovate NOW

But by owning the real estate “ecosystem”, they make the role of the real estate agent much less vital — and ripe for a new service to come in (like a Jim’s Real Estate) and say, “hey we can do it better.” Before long, that’ll become the “traditional” real estate model, just as the classified websites that usurped newspaper classifieds are now considered the “traditional” model of buying and selling stuff online.

To stay ahead of disruption, agents need to educate themselves. Continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory part of staying licensed in every state or territory. Provided agents undertake recognised training and keep their CPD points up, they can study anything relevant to the business of real estate.

Digital marketing is a fundamental part of real estate. Agents who understand how to market themselves online to get new business and demonstrate transparency about how the process works will stay ahead of the curve. Derek Farmer used educational videos and blog posts to explain the buying and selling process, and share market news and analysis.

This makes a sales agent an indispensable source of knowledge and a trusted advisor to buyers and sellers throughout the process, which can’t be replicated by a robot, virtual assistant or app. Virion also helps agents create a digital market strategy for their business, and to fill up their website or social media pages with content that provides information to buyers and sellers they’re currently getting from … Domain and realestate.com.au!

Agents should create their own property ecosystem

Domain and REA are doing their darndest to keep people on their sites for longer. They’re sewing up the entire property buying and selling process with complementary services (insurances, connections, mortgages) and they’re pushing more and more into content (videos, journalism, content marketing); Domain is particularly innovative in the content space, thanks to its Fairfax roots.

As a result, buyers and sellers are coming to agents forearmed, and again, the role of the agent is diminished. But agents can stay in home buyers and sellers minds by creating their own property ecosystem: start a website, fill it with good quality content, use a CRM to manage your lists of buyers, sellers, tradespeople — who have become one of the most important players in the sales process — and pump messages out your database regularly.

Finally, look at introducing a different fee or commissions structure for certain types of property or across the board. This is where the industry is heading and fighting it will only leave you in the same position the newspaper industry was in with the advent of online classifieds; cable TV providers with the rise of VOD services; music labels with streaming services, and so on.

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Visit the EzyLearn website to learn more about our continuing professional development (CPD) training courses. To create your own property ecosystem with a digital marketing strategy and content, visit Virion’s website for more information.


 

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Accounting Software or ERP System?

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Are you BIG enough yet?

I’VE BEEN IN BUSINESS since my early twenties but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I had any clue about how larger companies use and pay for software. I was going through the process of selling a water filter business that I’d been operating in Sydney’s Dee Why when I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Fountainhead Water Company, Mark Darling.

Fountainhead used a specialised accounting system for the bottled water business which did everything from receipts for each delivery to capturing bottle deposits, tracking rental coolers and more — and Mark was paying hundreds of dollars per month for this software. It was a far cry from purchasing the MYOB software for a couple hundred dollars and NEVER upgrading (no payroll at the time).

Continue reading Accounting Software or ERP System?
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Using Excel for Client Databases

Excel does great CRM

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Managing large amounts of client and business data is not only possible, but also something you can learn fast and with ease with the help of our comprehensive range of online Excel training courses – covering all skills levels.

MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely-used spreadsheet application in modern computing. It’s ubiquity means most people use Excel on a regular basis, despite never having had any formal training in its many, many, MANY functions.

While updating the content for our Excel training courses recently, we were reminded of just how powerful Excel remains, and in particular, how useful it is for small businesses.

With its 2013 release, Excel got a serious update, which made it the perfect application to create and manage client and customer databases. Although there are many CRMs available on a subscription that provide the same functions of a database created in Excel, just in a more visually appealing format, they often lack reporting and analysis functions, requiring you to export your data in a Excel sheet anyway.

Flat file databases

Excel’s original ‘flat file’ database still remains the easiest and most basic database to set up and manage, and depending on your business and how you’ll use your database, a flat file database may be all you’ll ever need. If set up correctly, a flat file database will allow you to easily import your customer data into Word, your accounting software, an email marketing service, and so forth.

Relational databases

A relational database is a database that’s structured to recognise relations among the information stored in them. Microsoft offers a relational database program, called Access, which is available with Microsoft Office Professional or higher, or can be purchased separately.

Alternatively, you can create your own relational database in Microsoft Excel, providing you have the 2013 version or newer. When Excel got its update in 2013, it became easier to link charts and cells and to perform searches — all essential features if you’re working with large amounts of business data.

Correct Excel set up is crucial

Once Excel has been set up, it’s as easy as it is powerful to use. Of course, the key is to set it up correctly, so you can avoid errors or having to re-enter large amounts of data to make the format suit another third party software application.

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Creating and managing databases is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


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Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available and our courses count towards CPD Points.