For brokers: 10 tools to increase productivity

4th October 2016

Do you occasionally find yourself wishing for more hours in a day, purely to get more work done? If you answered yes, then you’re certainly not alone! Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just click your fingers, and all the tedious documentation and compliance regulations would complete themselves? While there is no way to achieve this currently (though I’m sure there are tech-wizzes somewhere in the world working on it!) there are still several tools available to help you get the most out of your time and increase your productivity. Read on, my friends!


Task Manager

There aren’t many tools more effective in harnessing productivity than a really good task manager. We’re only human, and the human brain sometimes has a tendency to forget things (particularly important things with an impending deadline!). With a simple task manager, you’ll never forget again. Trello is a prime example; note down your upcoming duties on individual cards, and move the cards around depending on their status (to do, urgent, in progress, completed etc.). This tool is particularly handy if you work within a team environment, as you can assign cards to different colleagues, and keep track of each individual’s workload and progress. Trello is certainly not the be all and end all; task managers can be found in abundance, and which platform you use really depends on personal preference. Check out Asana, Jira and DaPulse, and perform a simple Google search to find a profusion of other options.


Relationship Building

A key ingredient to success as a broker (as I’m sure you are well aware), is the ability to build and maintain strong client relationships. An active presence on social media is essential in doing so; by sharing compelling, meaningful content on LinkedIn and Facebook, you will cement yourself as a trusted, professional source of information within your industry. And don’t just stop with content; interact with your clients, respond to any comments and start valuable conversations. Remind them that you are here to help, and ask them how they are going. Just because a loan has been settled, doesn’t mean your service should stop. By proactively continuing the conversation on social media, you will save from having to reconnect with clients in the future, thus increasing productivity.

Social Media also have fantastic advertising tools, that can be utilized to expand your clientele. Through paid media, you will be able to connect with completely new audiences, foster new client relationships, and have a genuine and positive impact on your followers. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on this topic.


Social Media Scheduling

In order to manage the multiple social channels mentioned above, you’re going to need a great scheduling tool. Why waste time logging in and out of each account, when you can locate them all in one simple interface? Buffer is a fantastic tool that allows you to connect multiple Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, and post to them all at once. Hootsuite takes it that step further, by allowing you to monitor all your news feeds, and quickly and easily respond to clients, as well as post content. If you have 3 different social channels, you can save 60% of the time you spend posting and monitoring, simply by employing one of these great (and free!) tools.


Time Tracker

Time. It’s an elusive thing. The more we need, the seemingly less we have. In order to enhance your productivity, you need to keep track of time. Now, that isn’t just as simple as glancing at your watch every now and again. Instead, you should be calculating how long it takes to complete each individual task, so that you can accurately determine your ROI. Toggl is the perfect time tracker; you can add unlimited clients and projects, use colour coding so that it’s easy to differentiate time spent on each step, and compare data to previous weeks to examine what has cost you, and where you’ve saved money. Once you visualize exactly how much (or how little!) money you’ve earned on a particular task, you’re sure to get a move on the next time!



Sleep tracker

Without a doubt, the most important ingredient in spawning productivity is sleep! We all know the trials of trying to focus on a screen full of numbers, while two double-shot lattes deep and running off a restless 2-hour kip. Downloading a simple sleep app is the ticket to improving your sleep habits and increasing productivity.



Sleep Cycle uses motion senses to track your sleep habits throughout the night; it knows when you are sleeping, it knows when you’re awake, and (unlike Santa Claus), it compiles your sleep data and presents it to you in a convenient graph, on which you can note down behavioral changes that may have impacted your sleep quality. And the best part? Instead of waking up to an intrusive, heart-attack-inducing alarm, Sleep Cycle will rouse you using soothing melodies when you are in your lightest phase of sleep, and will have you feeling fresh, rejuvenated, and ready to write some loans!



Online Storage

Being able to store all of your files online is one of life’s true blessings. While few may still prefer the security of a physical, tangible hard drive, online storage services now offer a viable solution for those wanting to stay mobile and agile, and still be able to access their important files on the go. Dropbox and Google Drive are perfect examples, and their benefits certainly don’t end at accessibility and storage; you can share your files quickly and easily without sacrificing quality through compression or rendering, and you can also work collaboratively with colleagues, editing documents simultaneously without back and forth emailing. This one feature in itself is sure to increase productivity, threefold!


Gmail

Though others try, very few email services can match the efficiency and usability achieved by Gmail. Having held the crown as arguably the best emailing platform since its public inception nine years ago, it is the go-to email service for individuals, consumers and businesses alike. Gmail stacks email threads, allowing users to quickly and easily locate past interactions. It also provides ample storage space, meaning that you don’t have to send 20 separate messages simply to forward your desired attachments. If your email platform is causing you grief, then trust me – after switching to Gmail, you will never look back.



Email Marketing

Email marketing is a whole different kettle of fish. If you are still emailing clients manually each time you want to inform them of the latest market news and trends, then you are living in the stone age. Email marketing platforms have simplified this entire process, and turned email into an infinitely more effective marketing tool. Utilise custom templates, add your own copy, and automate your snazzy EDM to be sent to your target market at a scheduled time (without having to sit behind your desk watching it!). With so many features and integrations, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve using an email marketing platform. Mailchimp is an industry frontrunner, with ActiveCampaign, GetResponse and Campaign Monitor also very competitive options.



Password automation

You know that feeling of trying to log into a website for the first time in a few months, only to be greeted with the message, “incorrect username or password”? Frustrating, isn’t it? You could always ‘save’ each password on each website, allowing you to log in quickly and easily, but of course – security becomes an issue. If only there was a way to maintain ease of use and security simultaneously?! Got it! Lastpass allows you to securely save all of your passwords, and easily access them when you need it. You simply click the icon that appears next to your password field, enter your Lastpass master password, and it will automatically pre-fill your log in details. While you still have to remember one complex password, it is certainly a lot easier than trying to recall 20 different ones. Refocus that brain power for more important tasks (like thinking of ways to fill your newfound free time!).



Chief

You expected it, and here it is! The shameless self plug. In all seriousness, Chief is one of the most advanced tools designed to increase a broker’s productivity. Consider how much time you spend uploading and managing your client’s data. Now, imagine how much time you could save if your client could complete this step for you? Chief allows for exactly that; you can work collaboratively with your client, managing and organizing compliance documentation, without hundreds of back and forth emails. When it comes time to validate the loan, the direct integration with NextGen means that you won’t spend time completing unnecessary rework, or trying to source the cause of those dreaded red X’s. Through this automation and innovation, the time you spend on each loan will be halved, allowing you to spend more time building and nurturing client relationships. With the Chief Digital+ package, you will also receive a plethora of marketing tools, curated to re-engage your clients and keep your leads warm. To try out the platform for yourself, please register for a 1-on-1 demo with one of our expert Chief trainers.

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