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Technology is more affordable with more features every year. The challenge is knowing what you need and how to use it for your business. Below are several apps staffers at NEXT New Homes Group use daily, all of which are all user- and budget-friendly (in fact, many are free).

Formerly Google Apps for Work, GSuite is a collection of web applications created by Google for businesses. With the Basic version (as low as $6/user) you get Gmail and Google Drive (30GB storage) along with word processing (Docs), spreadsheets (Sheets), and presentation (Slides). Select the Business version for $12/user and get unlimited storage, additional controls, and so much more.

Most everything at NEXT New Homes Group lives within GSuite. Our documents are stored on Google Drive, and we can control who has access to which files and what they can do with them (view, edit, delete). Our sales and construction teams can connect via Google Meet or Chat—these tools have been especially great for remote employees. Teams are able to work on files simultaneously and chat back and forth in the document they are working on in real time. No more wasting time in meetings and afterward creating a chain email for additional comments or, god forbid, another meeting. We’re currently working on migrating our sales reporting into Sheets that will give us high level and microlevel data analysis of all communities in one central location to track over time. Integrating it with our Google Data Studio will allow us to have “big builder” analytics on a “small builder” budget.

Building homes is a complicated business and you take a lot of notes. Keep them all organized by project, client, lot—whatever concept you prefer. Turn a text, photo, audio file, or attachment into a note and save it to the app. That note is now synced across your devices and shareable with whomever needs it and allow them to add to it.

Google Photos
This app allows you to have on-the-go photo editing. It also backs up all photos and allows quick sharing of high-res photos from the sales team in the field to the marketing team in the office. Because of this, 90% of our social media posts start with this app.

Need a quick social media graphic or flyer? Don’t spend 30-plus minutes in Adobe Illustrator designing the “perfect” piece. Spend eight minutes in Canva, drag your brand elements from the saved folder of colors and logos into a pre-designed graphic, drop in the model photo you want to promote, and you’ve got a eye-grabbing graphic for social media or flyer for that last-minute sale you just decided to do on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

GoPro Quik
If you need a great app to make high-quality, short-format videos for social media, then Quik is the go-to app. Take a series of videos and photos with your phone (or GoPro), open the app, select the images/clips you want, then select the style you want. In five minutes, you have a great video with music and titles ready to load to your favorite social platform. Spend seven minutes and you can edit all the details you want, resulting in something even more custom.

Google Voice
Need a phone number for a new community and the lines haven’t been pulled to the community yet? Google Voice allows you to set up a full auto attendant to answer calls, take messages, and forward calls to a salesperson. The sales team can answer calls and send and receive text messages from their cell phones without having to give our their actual phone number. You can change assigned users at any time in case you change out sales people at a community.

Social media content can be overwhelming. Using a scheduler like Hootsuite allows you to sit down and create a schedule of your social media content for a week or a month, or more. Easily post different versions of messages to Instagram and Facebook and publish them at different times. View all your content in a calendar to make sure you haven’t duplicated something or missed out on a certain day or time. Sprout Social, Loomly, and Later are other good options.

Spark AR
Rolling out right now is Facebook’s leap into augmented reality. This will be a more user-friendly app to create unique AR environments. Image turning your brochure, price sheet, and models into AR environments that your customers can interact with using their existing Facebook app. This is still in the early phases, but we will see this develop in a big way in 2020, particularly in retail.

Find out more at IBS Education Session: Cell Phones That Can Sell Homes with Christopher Brown, principal at NEXT New Homes Group and NEXT Crafted. Jan. 23 → 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.