Picking a Database for Your Mac (Part 1)

How do you organize your leads and marketing campaigns, and keep track of response rates and other business stats?  I’m glad that I’m at least doing those things, but I have to admit that I’m doing them very poorly.

From the beginning this is how I’ve done it:

Every person who called or emailed me got a Property Information Sheet.  It’s actually a pretty great form.  I fill out all of their personal and contact info, along with information about the property, their motivation and mortgage.  I have a space to note all conversations with them.  I write down comps and calculate the ARV on the back.  My sheet is a tweaked hybrid of Vena Jones-Cox and Sharon Vornholt’s info sheet.  If you’d like a copy of mine, just email me.  I’d be happy to share!

Then I go enter their response on my Marketing Stats worksheet in Excel.  The first tab is my summary page, where I can see in one glance the total number of mailings I’ve done, total pieces mailed per campaign, number of responses, offers and deals and I have a formula that calculates the response rates.

I used to also keep close tabs on the cost for each campaign (broken down into category), along with time spent to prepare it (also broken down by category).  I haven’t done this in a while, though.

I have a tab for every single mailing I do.  I copy and paste my leads each time I mail them, and they get a new tab.  I delete the ones who have been removed.  When it’s time to do a mailing, I copy and paste the list onto a new excel sheet and manually remove the ones who need to remain on my list but who are follow-ups (and get a different letter or no letter from me).

It’s just not working for me.

You can see how quickly this can get complicated and waste time.  I have 20 tabs on my marketing worksheet (including my Summary tab), meaning that I have done 20 mailings this year.  It’s really hard to keep track of, and a near disaster each time I want to update my list, access information or do a mailing.

I’ve been looking for a change.  I mentioned in my interview with Sharon that I’ve been inspired lately by Tim Ferriss to set up my business and my life to reflect my values and goals: to make my life simpler in order to have more TIME for me and my family.

If I want to go to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble to get some work done in the evenings, when my husband is watching the kids (and this happens 2 nights a week, usually), here’s what I need with me:
-my Macbook laptop
-my Actives binder (with property info sheets)
-my Follow-Ups binder (property info sheets organized by which months I’m scheduled to follow up with them)

Seriously!  It’s so heavy.  It’s at least as heavy as when I was in high school toting around 5 textbooks!  It’s pretty ridiculous to be doing the same thing in 2012, especially considering that my little brother’s high school has phased out textbooks in favor of laptops. o_O

So, even though there might be tons of investors out there with a great paper or Excel system, mine just isn’t working.  And I want to get rid of paper anyway.  Just keeping my papers organized wastes a lot of time.  Add to that how often I’m hunting for papers and well, going digital will help me a lot.

Also, since I’m trying to simplify the workflow process, I’ve been hiring other people to help complete tasks, and I’d like to have a database that other VA’s (Virtual Assistants) can access as well, since that will hold basically all of my business info.

So not knowing anything about databases (what is a given, what is doable, etc.), this became my wishlist for a database:
-Can be in the cloud or have mobile access
-Multiple people can access it
-Leads are separate from their group, and can be in several groups at once
-I can attach files and documents to a lead
-It can sync with Mail Merge (or a similar program)
-It can sync with Gmail
-Works just as well on Macs & PCs
-It’s not expensive

In the next post, I’ll explain what my options are and the advantages/disadvantages of each.

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1 Comment

Filed under Marketing, Planning

One response to “Picking a Database for Your Mac (Part 1)

  1. Bruce

    I look forward to your research findings, I suffer with this organizational challenges also.

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