Ted Blank, S.E.C., CCIM, EMS
How do you use the technology available today to manage
your business? I was looking for a new way to manage
my contacts so I sent a message out to the Society members
about how our members use technology to manage their
contacts, clients, investors, vendors, and consultants,
etc. We all need to be organized to effectively manage
the information flow typical to our real estate business.
Following are some of the responses I received from
Society members that I hope might assist you in using
technology to manage your business.
Chris Dischinger, S.E.C.
For my part, I have used ACT contact management software
since the early 90's (my database is that old and many
of the contacts date back that far). It is a great program
and I am sure I don't use 20% of its capabilities.
The reason I like ACT is that it is simple to use, it
is an industry mainstay which means they keep updating
it (I first started using it in the old IBM 286 DOS
computers, before windows was even available), it interfaces
with Microsoft WORD, and I now have it synchronized
on my phone (2,000 contacts complete with notes on my
cell phone wherever I go). ACT also works with OUTLOOK
so that I can e-mail straight out of ACT.
ACT creates a record of phone calls, e-mails and faxes
so that I have a record of interaction with contacts.
My assistant shares the database with me so that we
can schedule appointments with or for each other and
I can review the tasks that she completes when I am
out of the office.
I could go on and on as to the many benefits of this
software to my daily business and personal needs. One
piece of advice I will share is that whatever program
you chose, start slow and don't try to do everything
the first day. The basic operation of ACT is easy to
learn. Your database and expertise will grow over time.
Ted Blank, S.E.C., is owner of Ted
Blank and Associates based in Denver, Colorado. Active
in the real estate business since 1979, he specializes
in syndications, note acquisitions, REO properties,
and client based counseling. He is past President
of the Society, a past recipient of the S.E.C. Counselor
of the Year Award and the 2002 recipient of the "Jack
Hunt Excellence in Education" award; and serves
on the Board of Governors. Ted holds the CCIM designation
from the National Association of Realtors.
Don Dobroski, S.E.C., CCIM
I started out with outlook but found it too cumbersome for
communications and history. Now I use outlook (2003 version)
for my master database but when I start working with a contact,
I transfer the name to ACT for the same reasons Chris gave.
I like the ease of writing documents, the ability to easily
create a history for documents and other communications and
the ease of finding people. I have over 500 contacts in my
database. Have not lost anyone yet. I have the ACT 6 for 2004
version. I have found good compatibility with Microsoft Office
2003 so far. Another benefit is that you can set up your own
e-mail groups within ACT
If you are not already using outlook, my recommendation is
to go directly to ACT. They will give you free set-up help
for the first 30 days. If you want to export all outlook names
to ACT, you can do that also.
Steve Eustis, S.E.C., CCIM
San Angelo, Texas
I have been using "Ares for ACT!" for a couple
of years now ACT!, in association with CoStar (a nation commercial
real estate information provider) to specifically design an
ACT data base format for commercial real estate. It is call
ARES for ACT! and it has not only the people part of contact
management but also a module for your property listings, comps,
etc. It does flyers, everything you can imagine - and more
- to run a paperless commercial real estate office.
You can learn more about it by going to the web site for
Costar: www.costar.com click on products then choose Ares
6.0. It is a great system (I've been using just the people
part for several years and probably only about 10% of its
capability). Jeff Latimer was an expert at it and is who introduced
it to me. I have thought about seeing if CoStar would make
a presentation to S.E.C. on not only Ares (the ACT contact
and property software that you would buy for your in-house
use), but also all of CoStar services and what they can offer
us. CoStar has data on millions of properties all over the
county -comps, rent rolls with lease expiration data, web
marketing, exchange info and many other services. I am not
a CoStar member although I have considered joining (they do
not have the data on any building in San Angelo like they
do on every building in every major city in the U.S.). I do
however really like their "Ares for ACT!" software
for my contact database.
Society of Exchange Counselors
I used to use Access and loved it. Our online database is
designed to work off line with Access. Since Access is part
of Microsoft Office, I never had compatibility problems. It
is my understanding that ACT sometimes doesn't integrate well
with other programs.
William E. Stonaker, CCIM, SEC
Like Chris Dischinger, I have used Act for years, since an
earlier DOS version. I agree with what Chris said. However,
I think the Microsoft system and Act don't always work perfectly
together. I would also suggest that you look at using Outlook
for the same reasons and it obviously will work so well with
all other Microsoft programs. There is one more plus: you
don't have to buy another program - you already have Outlook.
But you might want to look at the newest version of Microsoft
Office that should include Outlook
I agree with Jackie that Access works seamlessly with Microsoft
and Act doesn't always. One of my investors is a certified
Act specialist and he agrees. But, unless Access has gotten
much easier, Ted doesn't want to go there. Besides, it is
way too much for what Ted (or I) would ever want. Access is
probably the most powerful relationship database in the market
In short; my only problem with Act is the compatibility with
the Microsoft OS and Office programs.
Try using Outlook for your needs and see how you like it.
You might take a class on it. The next time I upgrade, I am
going straight to Outlook and ditching Act
In total, I received 11 responses from Society members. Three
preferred Outlook; five used ACT with one managing 11,000
names, and others recommended Gold Mind, Palm 7 or PalmTreo
600, and Access.