Utilizing technology maximizes communication
“Location, Location, Location” is a real estate mantra. Now, more than ever, mine is “Communication, Communication, Communication.” Occasionally, clients who are building elsewhere want to hire me. The challenge becomes: How do we work together when I am in Santa Fe and you are somewhere else?
It used to be that the answer was mailing documents back and forth, having some phone meetings, but mostly relying on whatever face-to-face interaction I could get. This is still the most ideal of all architectural processes, but technology has now given me a decent, second-best option. Faxes followed by the blossoming of e-mail was a great step up from snail mail. Now, however, there’s Skype.
I can now, for free, video conference with my clients and then share my desktop. The critical part is being able to look at my desktop and see exactly what I see in real time. This means I can share my CAD designs, look at wall materials, suggest plumbing fixtures, surf the Web, and view satellite maps of the site as though we were sitting at a table with my laptop propped open between us.
Over the year or so that I’ve been using this tool, there’s been a very interesting side effect: I thought I’d always been good at presenting ideas and listening to my client, but now I had to become even better at communicating. I still get to watch the face of my client as I present an idea, but the biggest limitation of video conferencing is that the natural hand-off of the pen to someone sitting across the table can’t happen, not easily at least. Now, when the person on the screen has an idea, words have to show the idea and I have to listen harder.
It’s also transitioned into documenting meetings as we go. I photograph images to portray ideas that I think are interesting and pertinent, creating online presentations of images for final inspiration image files. It’s meant that instead of meeting once every few months with a long distance client, we can schedule weekly meetings, thus creating weekly goals for myself. It has made me work harder than I have before to overcome the flatness and the anonymity communicating primarily via technology can put on any relationship.
Article selected from Sotheby’s International Realty Santa Fe's "All Things Real Estate" newsletter.