Before my brother and I got into property we ran a digital marketing company with a remote global workforce. A lot of the time we were not in the same country; when we were in the same country we were at opposite ends of it.
When we moved into property we set the business up exactly the same way – paperless, cloud based and with the potential for us as co-founders to be location independent.
We have got a long list of apps, tips and tricks that help us run our property business and we love sharing ideas with people who have a passion for working digitally and people who want to make the transition. We have had many conversations over the years on this topic and we have realised that finding a place to start is key to a successful paperless business.
Our recommendation is always to start with G Suite (formerly know as Google Apps). G Suite is a collection of Google Apps, packaged up for business users that includes but is not limited to, email, word processing, spreadsheets, slides, cloud storage and forms. G Suite starts at £3.30+VAT per user per month. The apps work seamlessly on laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Today I’m sharing the top 5 reasons why we recommend setting up your property business on G Suite (as if the £3.30 price tag isn’t enough):
Although there are many other communication platforms, email is still an essential part of business and it is your email address that is used to sign up to all of the other apps you will use. Gmail is quite simply the best email service out there. You don’t have to rely on a cheap hosting provider to keep your email working, Google has your back here.
You get the power of Google’s search expertise to find emails, lots of cheap storage (we never delete emails), hundreds of third party plugins on the Google marketplace to help you run your business and the safety of Google’s advanced security features.
The best part though is how easy Google makes it for you to setup a professional email address, “Firstname.Lastname @ yourbusiness.co.uk” creates a great impression for anyone you are doing business with.
This is the Google equivalent of Dropbox. We prefer it because of the way it integrates with the other G Suite apps. By storing all of your files on Google Drive you always have them available to you wherever you have an internet connection.
The Drive app for iPhone or Android ensures that any document that is stored on your office desktop computer is also available on your phone, you laptop, tablet and anywhere else you need it as well. You can email it to someone from your phone or if it is a Google Doc you can edit it on your phone.
This includes word processing, spreadsheets, slides and forms. We rarely find ourselves using Microsoft Word these days, it is expensive, overly complicated and unless you get the “Live” version (Microsoft’s equivalent of G Suite) it is non collaborative. The collaboration is the reason why we love these apps so much, as members of our team can all be working on the same document at the same time, in real time, in different locations without getting conflicted copies.
We also make good use of Google Forms, which are very simple to use. We have got a viewings checklist form that we use to ensure we don’t miss anything important when carrying out viewings on new properties we are looking to acquire. We also have a Google Form for new tenants. You can take a look at the first page of this form here:
Tenants love this because they can complete it on their smart phone and we love it because all of the data from the form is inserted into a shared Google Spreadsheet which can be accessed by any member of our team that needs it.
This is an obvious one but it still surprises us how many people are not using a web based calendar. Google Calendar is great for you, your team and your family. Everyone can see exactly what is happening and when. We have shared calendars for time planning in our business, a shared calendar for key tenant dates e.g. moving in and out days, end of tenancy cleans etc. as well as our personal calendars.
Whenever we have a busy day of viewings or meetings we always make sure that the calendar entry has the full address. All we need to do to get to the next meeting is follow the link from our calendar which opens in Google Maps. We then use Google Maps to navigate us to the next viewing.
Multi Factor Authentication
This is a really important reason to use G Suite – in fact possibly the most important reason! Many people we talk to about working digitally are nervous about the security of their data. This is an important consideration, as we store sensitive information about our business, finances and personal tenant data (which also requires ICO registration and compliance) in the cloud. We don’t take any chances with this.
Multi Factor Authentication is currently the easiest and most powerful way of securing your data. We make sure that every G Suite account we have in our business has this enabled. This ensures that the only person who can log into the G Suite account is the person that it belongs to, as it requires the account password as well as the person’s Smart Phone.
This can be through the use of one of the Google Apps or simply by receiving a text message from Google with a code you use to log into your account. This means that a hacker would need to know your G Suite password and have access to your phone to get into your account. Not likely 🙂
Safe in the knowledge that you are protected by industry leading security, you can now use your G Suite account to sign up to many of the other apps and services available to you. We use Asana for example for task and project management. We all login to this service using our G Suite accounts, nice and easy and security is on our side.
We’ll be sharing more about Asana and the other apps we use in another instalment, but for the time being, feel free to get in touch with any questions about G Suite. You can discover more about our own property business at livingsmart.co.uk or on our podcast interview.