Driving for Dollars: Small-business guide to finding opportunity while driving.

It’s proven: Driving for Dollars – D4D – will better acquaint you with your market and reveal opportunities – opportunities that riding a desk and scanning data will never divulge.

Why Drive Your Market?

The physical condition of properties and the visual characteristics of a neighborhood offer insights not accessible from a spreadsheet. Boarded up or outdated windows, worn out roofs, cracked driveways, code enforcement tape in the front of the house, mailboxes filled to the brim… these visuals can indicate a potential new customer or client. Subtle observations like children’s toys on the front lawn or a bumper sticker on a car in the driveway may be the nuance you need to get your foot in the door and connect with the resident. Hunting for these observations and clues make Driving for Dollars – D4D – an effective strategy for exposing new business possibilities in your market.

Driving is active marketing.

Think of driving as active new-business marketing. You’re gathering invaluable information in a way that staring at a laptop and studying demographic data will never reveal. If you’d rather limit your carbon footprint, we know many folks who chose to combine their exercise with biking or walking their markets while touring a neighborhood.

Be efficient.

PropertyRadar’s features were developed by working with many of our expert users who have been Driving for Dollars for 10 or more years. PropertyRadar helps you plot an efficient D4D’ing strategy that makes the best use of your time.

So what are those strategies?

Driving for Dollars Strategies

Download and install PropertyRadar on your smartphone.

First things first, make sure you have the PropertyRadar app on your smartphone. Smartphones are equipped with GPS, and PropertyRadar’s mobile app takes advantage of that functionality while you’re driving. Plus, any list you’ve created on PropertyRadar’s web app is easily accessed from our mobile app.

Download PropertyRadar to your iPhone or your Android here.

When driving your market, always pull over to a safe spot, come to a complete stop, and then use your smartphone to access the PropertyRadar app. Never use your smartphone while driving. Not only is it dangerous, but it’s also illegal.

Start with Explore.

Once you have PropertyRadar on your smartphone, it’s time to hit the road.

Many customers say that our Explore feature with data visualizations on their mobile phone is addicting and provides far more insight than a spreadsheet could ever hope to offer. Explore lets you “see” your market or neighborhood with patented heat maps.

For instance, a foreclosure specialist may want to see how many properties in a neighborhood are underwater, in foreclosure, or owned free and clear. A roofing contractor may want to explore homes with roofs that are 20+ years old. The fitness facility marketing manager may want to target homeowners based on their net income. You get the picture. Explore lets you set the parameters and displays them on the heat map. It gives you answers to questions you did not know you had in easy to understand visual context.

By leveraging your smartphone’s “center of the map” and “compass,” the Explore map moves with you as you drive. Zoom into a street-level view and toggle one of the many visualization tabs to quickly identify properties by that tab’s color. Simply tap or click a property to go to that property’s Property Profile and select back to return.

Take photos.

“I wish I’d taken a photo!” is a regret we hear from inexperienced D4D’ers. Take at least one photo of the property and upload it to the Property Profile. It’s not a bad idea to shoot more rather than less. Photos can highlight something that catches your eye and can trigger an opportunity flag later during a review.

Uploaded photos can be used to help re-qualify a prospect, as support within a proposal or estimate, or as part of a direct mail postcard or letter as “proof of interest” when you indicate to that owner or client that you drove by and visited the property. We’ve very rarely heard an experienced drive-for-dollars pro regretting snapping too many photos.

Make notes AND set a status.

While a picture is often worth 1,000 words, a few notes about the property and its surroundings may be helpful later when working through a qualification or purchase process. Jotting down bulleted highlights, like recounting conversations with residents and neighbors, can be invaluable down the road.

Take advantage of your smartphone’s microphone dictation feature to take copious notes and give your thumbs a break.

Minimally, we suggest using the Set Status feature on the Property Profile page to help organize and maintain a workflow.

Drive opportunistically and find the missing data.

While driving your route, there’s still an opportunity to find opportunity by keeping a weather eye for visual cues about properties not on your researched list.

Whenever you see a property that catches your interest, open Explore, zoom into your location and then tap or click the property to access its Property Profile. These properties may not be on your researched list, but since you’re in front of the place, there’s never a better time to take a photo, add a note, set a status and add it to a list. OR, strike while the iron is hot and knock on the door. As the great Wayne Gretzky said, “You can’t score if you don’t shoot.”

Finally, whether you’re looking at pre-researched properties or just stopping by for a quick, opportunistic look, it’s important to compare what you see with the public record data that makes up most of the Property Profile. Public records may not be current or accurate, and that can be a significant advantage to you. Knowing something about a property that would be missed by competitors searching only a spreadsheet is the awesome story of how many of our customers have gained incremental new business.

After driving…

After you’ve driven your market, it’s common to sort your original driving list into qualified and unqualified lists. Or by using the Set Status to determine your next action. Whether your next step is to send direct mail, attempt to reach the owner by phone, email, or social media, you’re now organized. From within PropertyRadar, you can send direct mail, print mailing labels, or export to a .CSV file to mail-merge or import into a CRM.

Sometimes, after consideration and further research, the next action is to revisit certain properties with an aim to door-knock and leave a door-flyer. Then it’s the same process once again by moving those properties to a new list, or simply relying on the Status you set.

Looking for something specific?

Do your research in advance (Web app).

Before you hit the streets, do some research in advance. Become familiar with the characteristics of the properties and characteristics of your market using the “Explore” and “Make a List” features on the Web app. You can save the prospective properties you intend to drive-by to a List. Try sub-dividing your market into Lists of 30 properties or less that can be driven by in a day or evening.

For example, you might choose to focus on only Absentee Owner properties, where the owner lives in another county, is owned free-and-clear, is a Single Family Residence and is in a specific neighborhood. You can define this specific area by using the polygon tool. You can also use the polygon tool in Map View to geo-fence the specific area you intend to drive in an afternoon, evening, or day-long excursion.

Optimize your driving route.

Once you have a targeted list of properties to visit, use the Route feature from the Web app to optimize a driving route. Select the specific properties you wish to visit, click route from under the Marketing options, and then enter a start and ending address. The PropertyRadar app then produces the most efficient turn-by-turn driving route for you. Print this route, or save to your laptop or smartphone to access while on the route.

Conclusion

As with any skill, driving for dollars is something you get better at the more you do it. While this is a fairly comprehensive overview of how to succeed, as you do it more often, your experiences will eventually turn you into a Driving-for-Dollars expert.

And should you bike, run, or walk your market, may you live to be 100 years old and die skinny…and rich.

Happy hunting from your friends at PropertyRadar.