I would like to give a very special thank you to Leslie Kilpatrick and her team at Willis Allen Real Estate in Coronado for inviting me to speak to her office this past Wednesday for their ongoing seminars to educate and share information. Today’s presentation was much different than some of my previous presentations at the Realtor Caravans which I attend each week. Rather than focusing on becoming everyone’s preferred mortgage lender, I was there to deliver a presentation on Free Online Tools to Increase Productivity, that our team currently utilizes.
Here is a little recap of the tools I spoke about and these tools are beneficial for business.
Google Voice allows anyone with a Google account to set up one number that can forward to one or multiple phones. It kills me when I get someone’s business card and they have their direct number, their cell number ,home number, 800 number, cat’s phone number all on their card – which one should I call? Wouldn’t it be easier if you had one phone number that forwarded to all those phones?
A few other features included with Google voice worth mentioning:
- Voicemail transcription
- Personalized greeting for callers – Allows you to set up different voicemail for different callers. For example, you can set up one greeting for your boss, and another greeting for your wife, and yet another greeting for your buddies.
- Screen phone calls – Remember the days of the answering machine, where you could listen to a caller leaving a message and pick up the phone if you wanted to? Ever since people started to use cell phones, we lost this simple luxury. Google has brought it back and it is possible to listen to your voicemail and cut into the call if you feel like taking it.
- Unlimited text messages, with the capability to send text messages directly from your PC
- Conference call capability
While Google Voice is a part of Google Apps, I find it to be so useful and take advantage of its features that I like to focus a little deeper on that one. However, Google Apps is one of the greatest cloud based online collaboration tools available anywhere. Here are a few tools available free of charge from Google that can make your life a little easier:
The majority of people these days are using gmail, and if you’re not, consider this recent study, Gmail users consume less electricity than Yahoo! Mail users. But I digress; Gmail is a simple email program with what seems like unlimited storage. Google Apps for Business Gmail users are allotted 25 GB of space – plenty of storage for business use. One of my favorite features of Gmail is the search capability as well. And, if you’re an Outlook user, you can read all your gmail in Outlook but also access your email anywhere you go.
Google’s Calendar feature is a great online calendar that is accessible from anywhere. In a business setting, Google Calendar gives members of the same organization access to each other’s calendars. Administrators can set the permissions for each user to allow view access or grant permission to modify others’ calendars. One of the most useful features is the appointment suggestion tool. The Calendar will suggest times where all meeting attendees are available which can save time searching for an available appointment slot.
Drive is the newest addition to the Google Apps family. Drive is Google’s answer to Dropbox. Both are online storage drives that give the user the ability to store files in the cloud. One of Drive’s greatest features is the ability to open and read files on the user’s PC regardless if the user has the software to read the file on their PC.
Simply put, WordPress is the most popular and user friendly content management system. As a matter of fact, 16 percent of the web is powered by WordPress. Most people think abo0ut blogging when they think about WordPress, when in fact, a lot of people use it as their main website. WordPress gives the user the ability to choose from hundreds of free themes and also some templates with more pizzazz for a premium. One of the more popular features in WordPress is the plugins. Plugins are tools for WordPress sites that give the user the ability to add different functionality to their site, such as SEO tools, email subscription tools, and many other features.
There are two types of WordPress sites: WordPress hosted sites (available at WordPress.com) or self hosted websites (available at WordPress.org). The main difference is the flexibility in the self hosted sites and search engine benefits. Additionally, self hosted sites give the user the ability to use more custom themes and utilize the plugins. With a self hosted site, the user must have a little knowledge of FTP, and pay for their web hosting.
There are tons of tools out there that can help increase productivity, and these are a few free/low cost tools that are readily available. With a little time to set these programs up, these will help streamline your business.