The Technological Travels of One Indianapolis Home Stager

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Many times I have heard the old saying “It’s the journey that’s important, not the destination”.  Catchy little saying but I have to admit that when it comes to the technological travel that I have been on over the last 7 years, much of it is a blur.  Recently Gary and I went to the Isle of Palms, South Carolina to participate in our first Home Staging and Redesign (SAR) instructors retreat.  Being with old friends like Melissa Marro and Karen Otto, meeting new friends like Bernadette Flaim, Jessica Pirone and Michelle Molinari in which all of these people I knew by reputation as being some of the smartest and most successful business owners in the home staging industry today.  But I was really taken back a bit at how technological savvy this group is.  On the evening of the second day, after a full 9 hours of going through the updated SAR training program, the group started to spread throughout this very large living area of the beach house we were staying in.  Everyone was relaxed, and quite social, yet busily doing email, phone calls and other general computer duties relating to their businesses.  Everyone started discussing what they were doing.  Questions started popping up about all the tools that we were using;  Melissa was using a touch screen computer to post a blog on Active rain, Karen was updating files in something called the “Clouds”, Bernadette was busy updating her computer call list, Michelle was using her new Kindle reader and connecting to the internet to see what other books could be downloaded, Jessica was using her computer to update her staging management tool called basecamp and as for Gary, well he was on his laptop updating inventory in Darby and I was on my I-Phone catching up on facebook happenings of the day.  Soon the conversation turned to webinars and Melissa was talking about how you set them up, which quickly led to every person in the house being connected on line.  There we were, in the same house, we could all see one another via our computer cam and we could all talk to one another.  We connected via a webcam, yet we were physically in the same room and really all we needed to do was look over at the person and have a conversation.  You should have seen it from my perspective.  It was funny!  That’s when I realized how much of our lives today are so connected with technology at our fingertips and how far we have came with running our businesses.

When I started Home Matters 7 years ago, my tools which were located in my home office were a computer that was loaded with basic MS documents, templates of forms I used like quotes and contracts, some before and after photographs and internet access.  Other basic equipment like a fax machine, telephone with an answering machine and camera were my required resources.

Then in 2005, there started to be some pretty exciting things pop up on the internet, like Vista Print where I could, after hours of work, make some ok looking templates for flyers, sales slicks, brochures, etc.  Then I discovered several services sites where I could upload photos and make presentation books to show potential clients like Kodak galley and shutterfly.  This was also when we started adding inventory which we tracked via an excel spread sheet and man we were doing something great now. We were on the move…so to speak.
In 2006 came Real Estate Shows.  Wow, I could upload photos, match them to music and write text about the photos and it was in the form of a musical slide show.  Even though it was a program mainly for Real Estate agents, I could somewhat customize it and send to clients as a marketing tool for my business.  Boy, we were flying high now! 

In 2007, came our discovery of Activerain/SIF and RESA.  OMG (text language) I’m not alone!  These were tools of a different kind.   Not only was there a bunch of other Stagers that I could learn and share with, but there was a whole community of like minded people that I would get to know as we grew our businesses together.  This is also the first year I discovered my love for sharing what I know and have been blessed with what I’ve learned and realized the true meaning of stage –it- forward  and it took root in the form of me wanting to teach.

From 2007 until today it’s all still a blur.  My home office is long gone and is now part of a complex that houses my accessory inventory warehouse, (Furniture is at another warehouse location) and my training facility.  Our tools are now; 2 desktop and 2 lap top computers including the new touch screen which we use for our SAR training classes and is given out to students of our 5-day course.  At Home Matters’  our  computers are all loaded with all sorts of programs that are directly related to the management of the business, along with things like Drop Box, Evernote, Picasa and other photo editing programs, just to name a few.  I can literally store all of my files out in the “Clouds” which keeps my computers running fast no matter how much stuff I have saved. We have a Fax and phone/answering machine combos where we can retrieve messages and documents from remote locations.  A credit card terminal and a couple of printer/copiers and I have an I-Phone that allows me to make calls from my list of hundreds of contacts, check the weather, gain internet access, take photos, and have access to thousands of apps which I’m sure I’ll never live long enough to know about each and every one of them; an I-Pad that allows me internet access, it holds several presentations as well as my photo gallery which I show to clients and again thousands of apps.  A Sony digital-wide angle camera, a flip video recorder of which I really need to learn and use; and  a Kindle reader  which weighs about one pound, and holds our entire SAR training manual and related documents, which all of our students receive rather than a heavy book.  A Tom-Tom GPS, with a very nice English lady’s voice (named Juliet) which instructs me how to get to anywhere I need to go.  And Darby inventory management system along with a bar code scanner which allows me a quick and accurate assessment of our inventory.

 So, indeed this is a technological journey for me. After all, I still remember the typewriter and guess what…Now there is an app for that!

So, what has your technological journey been like?