-ORGANIZE OR AGONIZE-

Think about it. What really are we talking about when we say we are very organized in our business? In today’s high-tech business world, the answer is simple. It means we are taking advantage of the tools available to allow us to not worry about losing a piece of paper somewhere, or missing a meeting somewhere, or remembering what to do about an issue with a customer or client somewhere…. Those tools are far different from the office tools of yesteryear….

In today’s business landscape, you won’t find rolodexes, or typewriters, or file cabinets, or a library of books, or even a secretary to keep your calendar. Instead, you will find a laptop computer, a smart-phone, and a portable scanner. Not only allowing for incredible efficiency, but complete portability and mobility. Oh, and did I mention that the internet is another indispensable tool that can benefit anyone’s business? It is no longer the norm to be tied to an office in order to achieve one’s workday goals. With the right tools, including the right software, virtually any office environment, i.e., desk, can be transformed into a very efficient and organized profit center for its owner. Have you noticed more and more of your neighbors working their jobs from home?
Many years ago, a very wealthy man once told me that if you owned a business, there was only two ways to make money in our capitalist society. The first was to keep your business small and ferociously efficient. The other was to grow the business into a huge entity and let the economies of scale create the dollars…. Over the years I have grown to appreciate this ideal, but with a slight twist. Because of the way modern technology has made its way into the fabric of our society, I no longer completely agree with the latter part of his statement. Today, any business can be ferociously efficient, if they commit to employing the tools available to make it happen. This includes companies both small and large. Businesses committed to providing superior products and services can now deliver them with efficiencies unheard of in years past, while achieving even higher profits.

No longer is pricing based upon hours worked to achieve the goal of the project, but rather on the value of the project as a whole. Some industries or businesses have coined the phrase, “value based billing”…. As an example, in a law office setting, the norm has always been the billable hour for every aspect of the legal work done. Whether that was transactional based, research work, or litigation and support, a client was always “on the clock”. Now however, it is being rapidly replaced by flat fee pricing for many services. Because the tools of the trade are now electronic in nature, the attorney’s monthly costs, including, labor, have been significantly reduced. This leads to greater profitability coupled with the ability to now produce more work. And that means more revenue….

In late 1983, I first became involved in the Real Estate business as a Real Estate Agent. Shortly thereafter, a new invention came on the market. The Cell phone. It was expensive, but I knew it would help me be more efficient. How expensive? My first portable phone was basically a car battery with a handle on top, a phone hanging off on one side, and the antenna attached to the other side. It weighed about 10 pounds and if I remember correctly, I think I paid $1,500.00 for that monster… However, the cost was miniscule compared to how much better I was able to do my job, than my competitors. Again, shortly after the cell phone came out, personal computers started to hit the market in droves. And I had to have one. Knowing nothing about them I consulted with my sister in law, who was already well versed in the difference between PC’s and the Apple products. I bought the Macintosh Plus. It was expensive, small, but worth every penny. I could now produce flyers for my listings, and keep track of lots of information. My customers thought I had them printed by a third party vendor. I also went ahead and purchased a “dumb terminal” computer to access the Multiple Listing Service information at the local Board of Realtors. Now, I could get property details, comparable property information, and show that to my customers right in their homes. Getting a new listing was a piece of cake… It was incredible. It made me a lot of money and allowed me to be competitive with Realtors that had been in the business for many years, and I was a veritable rookie. I was organizing while they were agonizing!

Since my early childhood, my father, who was a lifelong carpenter, had always said “there was a tool for every job, and if you have the right tools, you can get more of those jobs, than the next guy”. He was right. We had competitors and friends that didn’t have 40-foot ladders. Consequently, they couldn’t bid on roofing jobs that high in the air. Guess who got them?

Now, let’s roll forward again. I heard Ted Turner once say on TV, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise”. That is a quote I have always liked. However, in my world today, I say, “Early to bed, Early to rise, Organize or Agonize”.

Today, the newest buzzword to effect the business world is “paperless”. Since 1994 when I purchased my first portable scanner, I have been running my businesses in a paperless fashion. It is incredible how easy it is to be totally digital. My customers enjoy the benefits of efficient, superior service, at competitive prices. All the while, I have competitors who still have multiple file cabinets filled with files, secretaries who keep calendars and schedules on large desk mounted paper books or wall calendars, multiple rolodexes, and typewriters. Competitors that are just now using email and are still married to their fax machines…. It is scary when I enter their offices and see all the paper, bodies, clutter, and confusion... All because a total embrace of the technology is either feared for its expense, or feared for its complexity.

I am hear to tell you that neither of those are true. If they were, I would not be involved at all. Today, an individual can outfit themselves with incredible tools for relatively short money. Sometimes, it only takes someone to point out how to start using what you already have in a manner that makes more sense, for the processes of your business. Most folks however, will need to spend some monies to pull themselves into the new technology driven business world. Believe me, if you are serious about your business, it will be money well spent…!


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