Work is going Google.
Luxury Real Estate Company Improves Mobility, Security and Email Performance with Google Apps
Friday, April 15, 2011
Today’s guest blogger is Colleen Barry, Director of Marketing for Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, a luxury real estate company in Boston.
Gibson Sotheby's International Realty
joins other real estate businesses like Baird and Warner, Ray White, and Cadillac Fairview in switching to Google Apps. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our
or test drive life in the cloud with the
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We are the Boston-based franchise of an international luxury real estate company. To support sales and marketing, as well as 200 independent agents who are constantly on the go, we needed a more mobile, secure, and fast solution for communication and collaboration. We were providing email services centrally for 300 mailboxes using SmarterMail, but this solution’s capabilities were very limited. People only had 10MB of storage. The service was slow and somewhat unreliable. Everyone had to use an email client, and because many are independent contractors, they chose whatever they wanted to use. This ultimately led to complexity and a higher likelihood of data loss. With Google Apps for Business, the company now has a more secure, consistent toolset that is increasing sales productivity while reducing IT complexity.
Over the years, I have had so many agents call me on the verge of tears because their machine had crashed and they lost everything on their hard drive. If Microsoft ® Outlook is your record-keeping mechanism, you’re in trouble unless you back it up – and let’s be realistic – people rarely do that. They also lose their computers and phones. We wanted to move into the cloud so that we no longer had to worry about data loss or data back-ups.
Another motivation for change was the need for better mobile access. We were using POP mail so agents and others could see emails on their mobile phones, but the experience was limited and ultimately frustrating. Because the email wasn’t in the cloud, you couldn’t do much more than view it. In an industry like real estate, it’s essential that our agents can access their information instantly from wherever they are.
We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to deploy Google Apps. We worked with Google reseller,
, to purchase Google Apps, but two office administrators and I completed the implementation on our own. Because Google is so great at making information available, we didn’t even need to hire anyone to migrate our data. We brought 300 email accounts to Google Apps, without needing a partner for the deployment.
The ability to share and collaborate on Google documents and spreadsheets has saved us from having to do a lot of repetitive and manual tasks. For example, we can now share “show sheets” – brochures about a property listing – in Google Docs directly with our clients. We previously created PDFs and emailed them around to agents and then the agents downloaded them and attached them in emails sent to clients.
We’re also using Google Forms for requests for services that we offer to our agents. Instead of receiving countless email requests, we can now just circulate a survey, which populates instantly into a Google spreadsheet. That spreadsheet also lets us track trends and forecast. All of the essential data is there and accessible to the entire team.
With all of the snow we’ve gotten this year, Google Talk has been a lifesaver. People can work from home yet still preserve the connected, social aspect of their work while getting questions answered and discussions taken care of in minutes. These examples may not seem like much, but they add up to big productivity gains and help our employees feel connected and part of a team, even when we’re not physically in the same office.
Our employees are happier, and our IT costs are decreasing. With Apps we are dealing with fewer IT problems and are operating at a much quicker pace. Google Apps quickly begins to pay for itself. Our employees know that we’re investing in them and giving them the tools to do their jobs better and work together. We are providing a more valuable service to our agents and, ultimately, to our clients. We believe moving to Google Apps will be one of our great achievements this year.
Posted by Colleen Barry, Director of Marketing, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty
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