Jeff Aughey of AlphaHomes.com has been selling real estate for 17 years, and has been specializing in homes in Alpharetta Georgia since 1994. He says that he discovered in college that sales was much more interesting to him (and was a better fit for his personality) than the engineering career he was pursuing at the time. After “doing the math” he decided that he could do what he enjoyed most, and could make a good living at it. He prefers to be his own boss and likes commission-based sales because they keep him motivated and busy.
Anyone who knows Jeff knows that he lives by his cell. It’s never out of arm’s reach. He even admits (sheepishly) that he keeps it on his bedside stand at night – just in case of emergencies. He uses his Treo exclusively and considers the home phone the ‘property’ of his children.
Professionally, Jeff prides himself on his quick response times and his ability to stay constantly available to his clients and prospective clients.
Why do you like the Treo?
“Because it’s my telephone, calendar, contact management database, lock-box key and financial calculator. It also offers me mobile access to my MLS database, and allows me to be instantly advised when I receive email from my website, www.AlphaHomes.com. That notification means I can instantly respond to both new prospects and existing clients. And, it integrates seamlessly with my Top Producer so I keep my client database information up to date – no matter where I am.”
Why did you buy it?
“The integration features and the ability to respond to emails sent from my website. That’s critical for me. It never ceases to amaze people how quickly I respond to their online inquiries. That’s the primary reason I wanted the Treo in the first place. It just so happens that upgrades increased its value – like mobile MLS access, the Supra eKEY, then my Top Producer ® and other programs were introduced (or made compatible with the 650) which made it even more essential to my business.”
How do you use the mobile MLS system?
“The Treo allows me to download every home that is for sale in my Alpharetta-specific market. When I’m out with a client and they express an interest in viewing additional homes, I can look up listings for them immediately, rather than getting back with them later. Clients love the high-definition screen and are usually surprised that I can get comprehensive information about any listing from my ‘super-phone.’ If we find a home that interests them, I can look up the specifics on the spot without a trip back to the office. I never have to say ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that.’ I can even call the listing agent and set up a showing the moment my client expresses an interest.”
“My Treo 650 makes it possible for me to be instantly responsive to my clients’ needs and wants. In today’s market, it’s an edge that keeps me ahead.”
Tell me how you use the Treo to access lockboxes
“In the Greater Atlanta market the Supra eKEY lockboxes have in place for less than a year, and while other agents are carrying around a cell (for phone calls), a PDA (to unlock the boxes and keep their schedule), a laptop (for documents and MLS searches) and financial calculators and other essential tools, I only need to carry my Treo.”
“The Supra eKEY software is resident on my Treo. The lockbox is unlocked when I type in my agent code and beam it to the Supra eKEY via IR.”
“The best part of using the Supra eKEY is how much time it saves – for everyone. When an agent unlocks it, the lockbox stores critical information. The device records which agent opened it, the time it was opened, and it offers the agent the opportunity to leave feedback at the time of the showing.”
“In the old days, we had to run around and collect the cards or have our clients call us. Now, I can handle it all from my office – saving an enormous amount of time. It’s particularly nice for vacant listings, as you might imagine.”
“Now, I don’t have to field evening calls from agents, they will have my showing comments when they download their daily lockbox reports. I don’t have to chase down agents that show one of my listings either. I get my own full reports on all of my listings that have been shown during the course of the previous day. Since I assign the lockbox to a particular listing, it keeps all the information about that listing readily available in my online account and I can simply print off a report for my files or to share with my listing clients.”
“Every day, the key codes are changed for security purposes – I have my Treo setup to automatically update the code by downloading my new codes from online (via my computer or wirelessly).”
I’m not an agent, so I don’t use Top Producer. What can you tell our readers about this software for the Treo?
“Basically, I keep my schedule in Top Producer ® and my Treo 650 will sync and alert me to appointments. I also keep my current and past client database as well as my prospects and their complete contact information. All that is synced up with my Treo to allow me to have immediate access – from the road, from my office or onsite with a client.”
“With the Top Producer ® product on my Treo 650, I can just ‘tap’ any phone number to automatically dial it and my email addresses to automatically send an email to any client – past, present or future.”
“It permits me to effectively manage my database, without having to double-enter any information. I put it in once and it stays in – and it syncs with my online account automatically when I hotsynch my Treo at the end of the each day.”
You mentioned calculators earlier, do you have special real estate calculators on your Treo?
“I used to drag around a HP financial calculator everywhere, but now the Treo has eliminated that extra baggage.”
What program do you use?
“I use Loan Pro, which came with my Supra eKEY software.”
Where would my readers learn more about that product?
“Visit www.infinitysw.com/products/loanpro.html. (Update 4/2011 – this link is defunct.) It’s really a pretty basic program, but it lightens my load and there’s one less thing I have to carry.”
What’s your favorite Real estate application?
“I use Top Producer ® for scheduling dozens of times a day, but my lockbox function is also essential to the way I do my business. These two programs, along with email access and, of course my phone; make the Treo 650 my indispensable tool.”
Personally speaking, what’s your favorite application?
“Do I have to be honest?”
But, of course!
“Ok, ok, Aces Texas Hold ‘Em — if I have to be honest. I love it.”
Any other purely personal uses?
“The one thing that I use constantly is the ability to go online to look up phone numbers, restaurants, movie times, and even the weather. I use the mobile search function from Yahoo! It’s great to have the Internet at my fingertips everywhere – during work and on my own time.”
“Text messaging is something I use daily, but it’s primarily for staying in touch with my teenage daughter, rather than communicating with my clients.”
What’s your favorite accessory?
“I’m not a big accessory guy. I keep things pretty light. I don’t even use a case with my Treo, I just keep it in my pocket. I have a headset that I use religiously to keep both hands free and to keep the cell phone away from my head – just in case some future study decides that there IS an issue with cell phone use.”
What’s on your Wish List?
“A good portable keyboard would be helpful. Do you have any suggestions for that?”
I use the Think Outside Bluetooth Stowaway Keyboard. I’ve tried several and this one is the best bluetooth keyboard for the Treo 650.
“I’ll look into that one.”
Any advice for other agents considering a Treo?
“I think you absolutely need a Treo, because real estate is rapidly becoming an essentially technology-driven service industry. You are putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t use tools like the Treo to keep in touch, to enable sending and receiving email anywhere. You need to keep contacts to vendors, attorneys, mortgage specialists, contractors, with you — it’s essential for staying one step ahead of the rest.”
“Also, when you buy your Treo 650, buy the extra battery. That’s the essential add-on in my book. Unlike the Treo 600, you can change out the 650’s battery and keep talking. Since I log about 5000-6000 minutes a month, the battery is essential.”
What would you say if I told you that I was going to take away your Treo? Just for a week?
“I better be on vacation when you do it! And, I think you may have to pry it out of my cold, dead fingers at that! Seriously, I’d be lost without it.”
Is there anything else that I’ve not asked you that you would like to share with my readers?
“Well, it’s critical that you buy an extra card for data storage and that you do regular backups. When you depend on something as much as you will quickly learn to depend on your Treo, you must MUST have a good backup!”
Are you willing to answer reader’s questions about the Treo?
“Sure! I’d be happy to answer any questions, your readers can give me a call at 770-329-4495 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Thanks for your time, Jeff!