Do you run a business in real estate or property services and struggle to manage a team of mobile workers, such as those who conduct inspections, surveys, or property management?
According to a recent Skedulo study, deskless workers outnumber desk-based workers 4 to 1 yet very few companies have the appropriate resources to manage them properly.
This includes all aspects of the work scheduling process, which is a common challenge for companies in the property industry. From lawn mowing to window cleaning and real estate sales to real estate photography, the lack of workflow efficiency and oversight without quality scheduling software can be incredibly costly and time consuming.
Let’s take property appraisal companies as an example. Many property valuation firms contract their services to banks under SLAs, with strict deadlines for valuation turn-arounds which demands maximum scheduling efficiency. Failing to hit those SLAs can have real financial consequences.
Another area of real estate that demands efficient scheduling is property inspections. Inspectors and building certifiers spend their days in the field and require real time access to job information, and the ability to log notes and take a high volume of pictures which can be used in property reports.
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With such specific scheduling requirements covering a broad set of work scenarios, it pays to properly evaluate your options when deciding on the perfect scheduling software to support your real estate business. This is especially true in that yours is a service industry with mobile workers rather than traditional field service (such as equipment maintenance) – so it’s not enough to just send a technician with a truck full of tools whenever it’s convenient.
Having worked with several businesses in the property industry to implement Skedulo, here are 9 features we know you won’t want to do without…
1. Skills matching
People are different and have different levels of experience, so you can’t always just send anyone – you have to find the right or best fit person to deliver the specific service. It’s difficult to schedule the right person for a job when you’re unsure if they have the proper credentials or experience.
In small companies, it’s easy enough for scheduling staff to get to know your team on an individual basis. But when you’re managing 30 or 100+ mobile workers and want your new schedulers to be able to hit the ground running, you need scheduling software that can automatically recommend staff who have the appropriate qualifications to do a job.
Think about exceptions, like when someone is off sick and you need a suitably qualified replacement at the click of a button, and the alternative is a lot of phone calls and running around.
The same applies to staff who may be better suited to a particular job based on customer preference or because of other soft skills, such as communication or resilience. The ability to add tags for each worker essentially enables the creation of optimised schedules at every level.
2. Certification alerts
Valid certifications are a compliance requirement, such as working with heights certifications, valuer certifications, auctioneer licences, and so on.
When you’re managing 50+ staff it’s tough to keep track of when those certifications will expire.
Ideally, your scheduling software will record certification dates and alert you when each one needs updating.
3. Location pairing
Consider the inefficiency of sending a field worker to a job that is just 3 streets away from where another field worker is already completing a job.
Great scheduling software should be able to provide location-based scheduling suggestions so you can effectively allocate staff based on cluster jobs, jobs near where they usually work, or jobs that are close to home.
4. In-built photos and storage
If you work in property or real estate you’ll often need to take photos on site – either for use in a report or as evidence that a job was completed to a high standard.
Ideally, your scheduling software will have the capability to take photos via its mobile app and store them with other job details. This ensures everything is kept together, rather than on a digital camera where they may get mixed up with photos from other jobs. If you are working with customers, being able to forward those reports and photos quickly, even automatically, can be a major customer service advantage.
From a security perspective, the ability to store photos within the app rather than on a person’s device carries much less risk. Skedulo, for example, automatically associates images with a job and syncs it with the office in real time. These photos are then available online and offline so job information can be accessed anytime and from anywhere as it’s needed.
5. Fit for purpose forms in the field
As a Skedulo real estate client recently told us, the ability to add notes and comments about what happens onsite is critical to their operations. Having context-sensitive or job-specific forms completed in real time, digitally capturing information about a property or service, streamlines the workflow and enables faster customer turnaround or billing.
These notes help plan future jobs, add specificity to reports, and act as evidence if any customers complain in the future.
Customised form fields also assist with the standardisation of data which is particularly important for franchises or any business that operates across multiple branches.
6. Safety features
The safety of workers in the field is paramount, and for property and real estate professionals in particular, there is a reasonably high degree of risk with entering unknown homes.
For this reason, some organisations have “check-in” and “check-out” practices so head office knows where they are at all times. This is a lot more effective when the feature is integrated in a scheduling mobile app, and the worker only needs to click a button when they arrive and leave.
Other handy features include a distress button if something goes wrong, and in-built tracking so office staff know where mobile workers are during work hours. These help to mitigate risk, ensure duty of care, and keep people safe as they go from property to property.
7. Virtual meetings
In 2020, the requirement to make in-person services available virtually has impacted almost every business in the world. In the real estate and property industries, this has translated into virtual property tours, inspections and sales consultations.
At Skedulo, we responded quickly to these changing needs and introduced virtual meetings. Customers can now choose the virtual option and Skedulo will automatically set up a video conference and send the details and reminders to their customers.
If the person hosting the virtual meeting cannot make it, the scheduler can automatically reroute the meeting to another host without having to send new invite links to customers.
8. Self-service bookings
One of the most resource intensive activities in property sales is wading through potentially hundreds of email leads sent to a central mailbox and forwarding them out to agents.
For agents themselves, the back and forth to set a time for a seller consultation or buyer inspection can also be incredibly time consuming.
Advanced scheduling platforms, such as Skedulo, make this easy by offering a self-service function.
Skedulo’s self-service booking feature can integrate with the company website and require prospective customers to answer select pre-qualifying questions before immediately booking and confirming their appointment.
For agents, Skedulo makes it easy to allocate available time periods so prospective buyers and sellers can choose and automatically book in a time that suits them: locked in and confirmed!
9. Ability to customize and integrate
No scheduling software can account for all the specific nuances of your business, and we know you have other systems for property data and processing, so having a deep and rich integration capability is critical to maximising efficiency.
Whether you require an extra custom field, a specific form for completing the service, or integration with other software (including proprietary software), aim for a scheduling platform that allows advanced customisation so you can truly streamline your business operations.
This means as your vision for delivering services evolves, so does the technology. For us, taking a best in breed approach means 98% of customers require us to integrate with a system of record. We don’t try to be everything, but we do this and do it very well, and will work with you to help maximise your investment.
At Skedulo, we are proud to offer all these 9 features and many more.
We have previously worked with clients in the real estate and property services space and would be excited to show you how Skedulo can help solve your business’s biggest scheduling challenges.
To see if Skedulo is a good fit for your real estate or property valuation business contact us for a free demo.