(MARKETING) — Many real estate agents hardly spend more than a few hours a week in their offices. Much of your business occurs on the road: on the way to showings, open houses, and meetings with clients. Having items that ensure real estate success in your car is a must. From personal hygiene items to real estate marketing collateral, there’s a lot you’ll need to be ready for any issues that arise.
There are basics every driver should keep in their car, like spare tires, a tire iron, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit, as well as personal safety items for emergencies — especially with recent events related to violence against agents. (The National Association of Realtors offers several much-advised safety tips all real estate agents should take to heart.) But, what we’re talking about are things that can make your lives easier while out and about and conducting business away from offices and homes.
With that in mind, here are 18 essentials all successful real estate agents should have in their cars when hitting the road — whether it’s a meet-up right down the street, a closing an hour away, or a conference the next state over.
1) Your Smartphone and Tablet
This one should go without saying, really, but you can never underestimate the importance mobile devices have on your real estate marketing and sales efforts. There are seemingly endless uses for your iPhone, iPad, Android, or other mobile device, like:
- Calling clients and leads
- Showing listings on your real estate website
- Taking photos and videos of your listings for your site
- Having open house attendees sign in on your tablet
Basically, your phone should be on you at pretty much all times. If it can’t be when you’re traveling, keep it safe in your glove box or briefcase (unless it’s really hot or cold out, in which case you definitely don’t want to leave it to freeze or overheat).
2) USB Mobile Device Charger
Your smartphone and tablets won’t do you any good if they’re powerless. Keep them revved up and ready to go with a USB charger, which most modern cars have plug-ins for. Most of these devices run for no more than $10 — a small price to pay to keep what is essentially your lifeline for real estate success powered up.
3) Floss, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Mouthwash
You’re out to eat before meeting with someone interested in your representation. Everything’s going great … and then you show off your pearly whites — but they’re not so pearly or white, and you’ve even got some pepper mixed in. Not ideal, to say the least. Have a dental hygiene kit in your car at all times so you can freshen up before meeting with leads and clients.
4) Dog Treats
Kids play an obviously important role in homebuyers’ decision-making, but so do pets. In fact, some prospective buyers bring along their dogs on their home search. Accommodate searchers who bring along Fido by providing them with dog treats. They can also come in handy when visiting an occupied listing where the owners have a rambunctious or distracting pooch. There are numerous memorable ways to impress clients and leads, and this is undoubtedly one of them. It’s likely best to keep any treats in your trunk, however — unless, of course, you enjoy the aroma of dog food permeating throughout your mid-size sedan.
5) Skincare and Sanitization Products
No one has perfect skin, and working heavy schedules can lead to sweaty, oily skin (we know — not ideal). Having facial towelettes, sanitizing lotion, and any other skincare products that can help keep your face clean each day can be a lifesaver. Keep these items in your glove box so you can moisturize throughout the day, particularly during the cold, dry winter months.
Similarly, with all of the germs that can make their way onto your skin from touching doorknobs, countertops, and general home appliances during listing visits, holding onto plenty of hand sanitizer in your car is worthwhile. Using this several times a day will keep you from getting sick (and hopefully on schedule to meet your real estate sales quota).
6) Home Cleaning Materials
Cleaning your pores isn’t the only thing that’s important. Ever seen a listing that, when shown to prospective buyers, was a complete mess? Keep a small supply of cleaning products in your ride so you can prep accordingly and make them look as attractive (and spotless) as possible. It’s not a substitute for a thorough staging effort, but a quick once-over with some spray cleaner is handy for cleaning up some mud tracked in by the last visitor, or wiping fingerprints off those shiny stainless steel appliances.
7) Air Freshener
Many real estate agents live out of their cars (well, figuratively) because of their hectic schedules. That means lots of eating on the go and leaving old food and drink containers in their vehicles. Eliminate any “off” smells (and that’s putting it politely) with an air freshener.
Also consider the fact you may have to drive clients around from listing to listing. You don’t want to lose their business simply because of foul odors in your ride. They cost mere dollars at your local grocery store, so buy in bulk for the year — you’ll thank yourself for doing so.
8) Vacuum Cleaner and Paper Towels
Living (and eating) out of a car also means crumbs galore can fall all over, making a small, portable vacuum cleaner handy. A thorough clean once per week can keep your car looking like new. For liquid messes, like those countless times you’ve spilled your macchiato or green tea, having plenty of paper towels can be a godsend. On the plus side, the worst that can happen if you can’t clean up an entire coffee mess is getting that nice Starbucks aroma in your car.
9) A Change of Clothes
Ever get a last-minute opportunity to meet a prospective client or do some power networking? You’ll be ready to go if you pack a small bag with a few pieces of work attire. Presentation with clients is everything, so having a perfect-looking outfit as a backup certainly can’t hurt when you want to dress to impress.
10) GPS Navigation and Paper Maps
Seemingly all smartphones and tablets come equipped with GPS these days, but if you prefer having a dashboard GPS to guide your road trips, this can save you lots of time (and headaches). Pre-enter your destinations beforehand so you don’t have to dabble with your GPS mid-trip.
Having a backup plan for finding difficult locations is advised too. Few still refer to paper maps anymore to get to unknown destinations, but having one of your local market is the smart move. Technology fails us sometimes — mostly at inopportune times, like when traveling for important business meetings. Don’t let it fail you. Have an printout of your area to get around when your GPS isn’t operational. A printed map is also a handy way to orient prospective buyers to the area and point out a listing’s proximity to important landmarks.
11) Your Favorite (Healthy) Snack
Real estate agents don’t work the typical 9-to-5 job, but that doesn’t mean they don’t snack throughout the day like most office workers do. Having NutriGrain bars, bags of peanuts, or your preferred snack on your passenger seat can prevent you from missing out on at least some nutrition throughout frenetic work days. Avoiding bags of greasy potato chips and likewise snacks is recommended since they’ll only slow you down.
12) Pair of Sneakers or Other Comfortable Shoes
High heels may look great, but many women working in real estate will tell you walking in them all day will cause immense pain. When you’re in between appointments, toss on a pair of sneakers to ease the tension on your feet. An added bonus: Use those sneakers to run before or after work if you can’t make it to the gym.
13) Listing Photo and Info Printouts
Buyers often want to receive print materials related to homes they examine. Put together comprehensive packets for them that feature your listings’ key info, like sales prices, dimensions, core features, and new additions and upgrades — anything of interest that could influence their decision-making. Don’t forget to include plenty of appealing real estate photography in these packets either, as memorable shots of your listings could have a big impact on buyers too.
14) Electric Shaver
For guys working as real estate agents, having a rough-looking stubble may not be the best look for times when you meet with prospects face-to-face. Plug in your electric charger when you have 15 free minutes in your car in between home showings to put on a smooth face for your future clients.
15) Screenshots of Your Real Estate Website and Listings
Not everywhere you travel will have WiFi or even great data reception in general. That means no (or at the very least slow) Internet access and the inability to show clients and leads photos of listings that might interest them. A sneaky workaround to this problem is to take screenshots of your real estate website listings pages of specific properties buyers may be interested in.
16) AAA Card or Similar Service Card
Car troubles are inevitable for every driver. Hopefully, you’re able to pull over and deal with the dilemma at-hand with ease. Have a AAA card (or one from a similarly helpful service) on hand when driving. Having your vehicle towed can cost a pretty penny, but with services like these, you can cut towing and repair expenses significantly and get reputable maintenance crews to take care of your car.
17) An E-reader, Book, or Magazine
After all, there’s bound to be some downtime in between listing showings and client meetings. Take some time to unwind with the latest popular fiction novel or your favorite magazine. A stressed-out real estate agent is one who doesn’t relax when the opportunity presents itself and ends up burning the candle at both ends.
18) Local Business Flyers and Brochures
One of the best ways to prove you know a lot about your local real estate market is to collect information about the most popular businesses in the area — restaurants, movie theaters, retail stores, and mom-and-pop shops — and have them ready to share with leads.