MOBILE OFFICE MANAGEMENT
You are busy and always on the go so your car likely doubles as your office a lot of the time. The key to an effective mobile office is setting yourself up with the right tools in advance. Following are a few ways to make the most of your mobile office:
10 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL MOBILE OFFICE
Be safe! Your safety and the safety of your passengers is priority number one. According to the latest research, drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while texting. That’s a frightening statistic. So no matter how busy your day gets, how many details you’re juggling at once, or how many deals you’re trying to close, do not give into the temptation of texting while driving.
Go hands-free. In California drivers must use a speaker phone, wired handset or Bluetooth device while talking on the phone. Another effective alternative is to route your mobile phone through your car’s audio system if possible. Many voice-activated apps like Speaktoit Assistance are available to dial clients for you, read texts and emails aloud and allow you to dictate your response, all without touching your phone.
Power up. Battery technology never seems to catch up with the gadgets they power. Avoid surprise low battery warnings with a small, inexpensive adapter that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter. The three-pronged outlet and USB port keeps your devices charged and ready for use. Lighter plug-ins can generally handle a max of 200 watts, so for more power, you may want to invest in a power inverter. Inverters provide up to 10 times the capacity of small adapters but may require professional installation.
Printing and scanning options. While the goal of a mobile office is to be completely paperless, it’s smart to have backup options. An app like Document Scanner will allow you to create a PDF by using your mobile phone’s camera. For in-car printing, look for a wireless printer that’s small, lightweight, has a satisfactory battery life and does not draw too much power. If you do not want to deal with printing in your car, sign up for a remote service that allows you to forward your job to a designated printer for pickup at a later time.
Load up with the right apps. Some handy apps for REALTORS include HomeSnap which enables you to get full MLS information just by taking a photo of the property; Supra eKey turns your phone into an electronic lockbox, Dropbox enables easy cloud storage,; CamCard scans business cards and stores them in your Contacts list; and NeverLate broadcasts live traffic information, travel times and routes to your next destination. C.A.R. also provides an array of helpful apps including zipForm Mobile and My C.A.R., featuring market data, current loan information and other association resources.
Going car shopping? Some auto manufacturers now include office-friendly features in cars like automatic phone/audio system integration, multiple built-in outlets, WiFi, secure drawers for storing valuables and passenger seats that fold down to create flat desktop spaces. Some high=end vans also offer rear seat power outlets, DVD screens and work tables than can double as makeshift conference space.
Avoid paying for data overages. Smartphones, tablets, notebooks and business apps tend to consume significant amount s of data, especially when incorporating property photos and video. So pay attention to your rates and find out if your service provider offers an unlimited data plan that might save you money.
Be your own hotspot. In order to get online anytime, anywhere, setting up a mobile hotspot is a must. You can enable tethered internet access via your smart phone, or by purchasing a separate mobile router that works for laptops, tablets, or any other WiFi-enabled device. When shopping for a router, look for fast speed, long-lasting battery life and a microSD card slot.
Know where you are. If your car is not equipped with a navigation system there are a variety of apps to use on your smartphone. Be sure to look for apps that provide audible turn-by-turn navigation, driving directions and trip planning. When you are in unfamiliar territory, apps like Where, AroundMe, Urban Spoon, Gas Buddy and Bathroom Scout can help you find good restaurants, cheap gas and clean restrooms.
Pack it in. A trunk organization system can help store and organize files and equipment. Stock your trunk with a first aid kit, emergency road kit, bottled water and non-perishable snacks like nuts and dried fruit. Keep a stash of travel size toiletries for freshening up, and a backup set of clothes just in case you have an accidental coffee spill. Other items to consider packing are hand wipes, umbrellas, county maps, note pads and pens for clients, and a full sized tape measure.