Are you still using a pen and paper at your open houses to collect information about prospective buying clients? If so, I’d like to share some ideas on how you can get more out of your next open house using your mobile device, whether it is a phone, a tablet, or both. Even if you’re already using mobile at your open houses, you may want to browse the list to pick up some additional tips.
- Prepare by testing coverage
While your phone or tablet may work great at your home or the office, the coverage at your open house may not be as good. Make sure you test your mobile phone at the property a couple of days before your open house so you can make arrangements if the coverage is poor or non-existent.One way to address poor coverage is by using your client’s Wi-fi, so make sure your phone or tablet is setup on their network. If the client is not comfortable letting you on their network, or if the property is vacant, find out if the coverage is better with another carrier. For example, if you use Verizon, but AT&T’s coverage is better at the property, you may want to investigate a pay-as-you go phone plan, especially if you expect you’ll be doing multiple open houses at the property. For as little as $30/month with no contract commitment, you could get a pay-as-you go plan with plenty of minutes, text messages, and data for your temporary needs.
Bonus tip: Test your mobile device throughout the house. Sometimes, your service (or the client’s Wi-fi) will work outside or in certain rooms, but may not work in all areas such as a basement or interior room on the first floor. Know where potential “dead spots” might be so you’re not surprised when working with prospects.
- Invest in a 4G tablet
To avoid running into issues connecting to your client’s Wi-fi, invest in a tablet that comes with 4G. The 4G option typically adds about $100 to $150 to the up front cost but is worth it for peace of mind. In addition, most carriers allow you to add a tablet to your existing mobile phone plan for as little as $10/month in some cases, and you can turn the plan off if you know you won’t be hosting an open house for a while.Bonus tip: If you don’t want to spend the extra money for 4G, you can get around it by turning your mobile phone into a “mobile hotspot”. In other words, your phone acts like a Wi-fi router and will allow other devices, such as your tablet, to connect to it to access the internet. This isn’t a straight forward procedure, but you can click the following links for instructions:
Note: Hotspot functionality may not be supported by all carriers or on all devices. If you are having problems following the instructions in the links above, you may need to contact your carrier for further assistance.
- Install useful apps
Apple’s famous tagline, “there’s an app for that,” applies to open houses, too. One of the best is Open Home Pro for the iPad. The app allows you to collect prospect contact details, automate follow up, create listing pages, create surveys, and export contact data to the CRM of your choice (unfortunately, there isn’t a great equivalent for Android). Even if you don’t have a tablet (or don’t want to buy Open Home Pro), using an app like Evernote, or the built-in note taking app on your device, is better than trying to interpret the scribbles prospects make on your “old-school” paper register.Bonus tip: Hand your tablet, or mobile phone, to the client and have them write in their own details. You’ll be surprised at how much more accurate the data is when the prospect is entering the information on a mobile device versus a paper register.
- Promote your, or your brokerage’s, mobile app
The chances are extremely high that the prospects coming to your open house are using a third party portal app like Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia to search for properties. Why not show the prospect how to use your personal mobile-optimized website or app, or your broker’s if you don’t have one? In addition to being connected into the MLS for the most accurate search data, your mobile-optimized website or app may contain other local information that the portals do not. Above all, when the prospect has questions about any other properties they see that day, they’ll have a way to contact you easily with their mobile device.Bonus tip: If your mobile presence is a mobile optimized website, show the client how to access it, use it on their phone (not yours), and bookmark it to the home screen. If it is a native app, have them download it on their phone and show them how to use it. You can also give them a card with instructions on how to access your mobile website or download your app. For example, here’s a card that Village Properties uses to promote the mobile website we built for them.
- Put a QR code on your business card
Even though I may consider QR codes “gimmick marketing,” it still doesn’t hut to put them on your business cards. I would recommend having one QR code on your business card that contains your contact details, and one that is a link to your mobile optimized website or app. One of the great things about having a QR code with your contact details is that people can add your contact information to their address book by simply scanning the code.One of my favorite sites for generating QR codes is http://goqr.me. It’s simple and easy to use. For example, to create a QR code with your contact details, click on the vCard tab, enter your information, and presto! The QR code appears on the right side of the screen. If you want to create a QR code for a URL, then try using a URL shortener such as bit.ly or Google’s version (goo.gl). Just shorten your link, and then look at the details to grab the QR code. The best part of using the shortened link is that you can see how many times it’s used. The downside is that some people may be wary of following a link that is hidden behind a shortening service, but the ability to track scans could be worth the small trade-off of lost traffic.
Bonus tip: If you’re feeling really adventurous, help your client install a QR code reader on their phone and show them how to use it. My favorites are RedLaser for the iPhone and Barcode Scanner for Android. Having them scan the QR code with your contact details is a great way to get added to your prospect’s address book.
- Consider a personal safety app
Personal safety and security isn’t something we enjoy talking about, but it is something that we should take seriously, particularly when it comes to open houses. There are two apps that you should consider that allow you to share your location with others – Guardly and Moby. Guardly, as the name implies, is the more advanced of the two. In addition to allowing for remote tracking of location, it also allows you to discreetly alert others if your personal safety become compromised. Moby doesn’t have quite as many alerting features, but it can still be used to allow people to track your location in case of emergency.Whether you chose to use an app or not, you should have someone available during your open house that you can check-in with over mobile. It can be as simple as sending a text after you’ve arrived and finished setting up, another text (or two) during a slow point in the day, and one last text when you are leaving. As we all know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
To summarize, here’s your mobile open house checklist:
- Test the wireless coverage at the open house location, inside and outside
- Invest in a tablet equipped with 4G (or LTE)
- Research and install useful apps so you can ditch your paper register
- Under how to use and promote your (or your brokerage’s) mobile website or app
- Have business cards made containing QR codes with your contact information
- For safety and security, consider using an app that allows you to alert someone in case of trouble
Remember, today’s clients are becoming more and more tech savvy, so using mobile at your open house will build confidence in prospective clients that you understand technology and know how to use it. It will also help you with follow up and make sure that you don’t lose prospects due to sloppy handwriting or misplacing your open house registration list.
If there are any other mobile open house tips that I left out, or that you’ve found particularly useful at your open houses, please leave them in the comments.