Recap: “Must-Have” Apps

“Technology and social media have brought power back to the people.” – Mark McKinnon

Nowadays, we carry technology around with us everywhere we go. Are you making the most of your cell phone? It can be a huge boost to your productivity if it is used correctly! In last week’s blog post, we suggested several apps that you can download. Visit that post for examples of these apps (and links to their Apple Store and Google Play pages).

  • Utility apps will make your phone more than just a tool for calling people. They can show you the weather, and help you take and edit photos on the go.
  • Keep productive and organized with apps like password managers and notes and reminder apps.
  • There are tons of apps to keep you entertained while you’re out, whether you just want to pass the time with a game or some music or broaden your mind with an informative podcast.
  • Stay connected when you’re on the go with apps like an email manager, social media, and instant messengers.

What are your favorite cell phone apps? Are there any that you couldn’t live without? If so, comment on this post and let us know what they are, because here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance we are always looking to leverage technology. To access Vargas and Vargas Insurance while you’re on the go, just use your favorite browser to access our mobile website. You can also always reach out via email or call 617-298-0655.

“Must-Have” Apps for Your Phone

Remember the days when a cell phone only made calls? Those days are long gone! Now, cell phones are good for so much more. They are tools that we can use to improve our lives, but first we must be able to leverage the possibilities of the tiny computer that we carry with us everywhere we go.

Are you making the most of your cell phone? Check out our app suggestions, and maybe download a couple that you’re interested in trying. We will provide the links to each app for Android and iPhone, so you just have to click and install.

Utilities

Weather: You don’t even have to look outside to know what the day’s weather is going to be with apps like Accuweather (Android/iPhone) and DarkSky (Android/iPhone). Know whether you need an umbrella or a jacket before you leave the house, and without turning on the news and waiting for the ‘every ten minutes’ weather broadcasts of yesteryear.

Photos: It seems like all phones nowadays come with at least one camera. Do you use your phone to take photos? It’s a great way to make memories! What many people don’t know is that there are many alternatives to the default camera app that comes pre-installed on your phone. For more features, try VSCO Cam (Android/iPhone).

Productivity and Organization

Notes and Reminders: Imagine this – you’re out running errands and remember something that you need to do when you get home. What do you do? Thankfully, you can use your phone to organize a to-do list so that you don’t forget the important tasks. Try Todoist (Android/iPhone) or Remember the Milk (Android/iPhone) and see what works for you.

Password Manager: It’s nearly impossible in today’s world to manage the accounts you have across a variety of platforms, especially if you’re trying to follow the recommended password practices of having a unique code for each of your accounts. Instead of fumbling with an infinite amount of papers to keep yourself organized, try a password manager. With Lastpass premium (Android/iPhone), you can even have your account information available on your cell phone. This service also makes it easy to create secure passwords and to share your passwords with others securely.

Entertainment

Music: Not only have cell phones replaced cameras, they have also replaced Walkman’s and iPods. Now, it is easy to play music from your phone with apps like Spotify (Android/iPhone).

Games: If you have a few minutes and need to blow off some steam, a quick mobile game could be the answer. There are new games coming out every day, and there is something for everyone at every skill level. Need a place to start? Check out CNET’s Best Mobile Games of 2018 list.

Podcasts: If you’re looking for mobile entertainment that’s a bit more productive, you need to check out the wide world of Podcasts. These are bite-size episodes that you can download and listen to anywhere, and they are available for people with any interest. Pocket Casts (Android/iPhone) is a favorite player of choice here at the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office. You can find Podcasts about improving yourself both personally and professionally, as well as tons of news aggregates, and casts about any hobby you can think of. There is definitely something available for everyone.

Connectivity

Email: What would you do without access to your email while you’re away from your desk? If you’re an email-aholic (like most of us) then make sure that you’re not missing out on features. There are plenty of upgrades available, depending on your email provider and phone. The possibilities include Airmail, Inbox, Mailbird, and more.

Social Media: Stay connected no matter where you are with social media apps. Everyone knows about apps for Facebook and Twitter, etc. But have you heard of apps like Hootsuite? They allow you to manage all of your Social Media accounts in one place. And let’s face it – the less fragmentation, the better. They even allow you to schedule posts for your social media profiles!

Chat: Text messaging used to be the best way to communicate with others on your phone if you weren’t able to call. Now, some people barely use texts anymore in favor of other chat platforms like Slack (Android/iPhone) or Google Hangouts (Android/iPhone). One of the best parts of having these apps is that they also have computer integration, so you can carry on a seamless conversation whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go.

If you’re looking for insurance information while you’re on the go, you can always visit the Vargas and Vargas Insurance website on your mobile browser. There you will find plenty or resources to answer any questions you may have. And if you have a more specific need and want to talk to a top-notch Massachusetts insurance agent, reach out via email or call 617-298-0655.

“Run Your Week Like You Are Dancing On The Edge Of A..

Everything is NOT important, right?. I’ll even go one step further, everyone is not important. At least not as it relates to you and your business, and your life as a whole.

Our son, Matthew just stopped by to spend a few minutes with Kathy and I before he leaves for his honeymoon in the morning. Before Matthew left our home, he told me a story that gave me the idea for this Message – before Matthew left his branch at #EnterpriseRentACar tonight, he had a meeting with his assistants and support staff and advised them to take some risks this week. He said that he left them with this message;

“Run your week like you are dancing on the edge of a razor blade while trying not to get cut.”

As business owners, you need to take some risks, and it’s the little things that make a big difference. That’s true in marriage, parenting, and in marketing yourself as a mortgage, real estate, legal or any professional. In truth, it’s important in every business. Too often we get caught up in the “thick” of “thin things” and we lose touch with what really drives success in our business.

As we all know, being a loan officer, real estate agent, attorney, solopreneur, or business owner is not easy, BUT having the knowledge and tools to succeed makes running a smooth sailing ship an attainable goal. How many days have you been at the office until 8 pm? How many weekends have you worked when you shouldn’t have? Do you feel like you’ve been running around all day but have not actually done anything you set out to do in the morning? As business owners, these are questions we have all answered “yes” to at some point. But why? Because we don’t have the right mindset to create the job we want vs. the job we have.

In every profession, there are cardinal sins that take you off track and derail your success. Over the next few emails, I will be sharing the marketing sins many of us commit and will help you implement some tips to turn your downfalls into productivity! My challenge to you is to take one or two sins that you’re committing and focus on improving them. When you’ve got them nailed, move on to another sin and overcome it. Business success usually results from the commitment to making small incremental improvements over a long time.

Sin #1: Working “IN” Your Business Instead of “ON” Your Business!
I was working with a friend that I mentor who was in a sales slump. He was putting in a lot of time at work, but was not seeing any results from his efforts. I decided to perform a very simple diagnostic: I asked him to email me a detailed list of all his activities for the next three days and then give me a callback. He did his homework and I received the email listing all his activities and how much time he spent on them. With an immediate glance, I could tell exactly what his problem was — he didn’t realize what business he was in. After reviewing his activities, it was clear that he had become a “Fireman” and was too busy “putting out fires,” because that’s where he spent most of his time. Rather than working “on” his business, he was working “in” his business. The key here is to concentrate on the “non-urgent — but important” tasks and NOT on the “urgent — but not important” tasks.

This mortgage professional (and, maybe you) should be spending more time working “on” your business doing things like proactive sales and marketing activities, which have a higher long-term payoff.

How can less be more when it comes to working? Well, that statement is true, and I would love to show you how to accomplish twice the work in half the time, and reduce your stress in the process. The secret is Pareto’s Law, or the 80/20 Principle – a core foundation of success in business, and in life for that matter.

Now go out and enjoy the rest of your week!

Carlos

Back to School Tips for Busy Families

Summer has flown by, and it may be hard to believe, but Boston Public Schools start on September 7th! If you’re like most parents, you want to make the transition from summer vacation to “Back to School” as seamless as possible. Here are some tips on preparing your kids (and yourself) for the new school year:

  • Start easing into new bedtimes and wake up times gradually – preferably over the course of a week or more. Nothing will throw a child off more than an abrupt schedule change.
  • If needed, make sure to schedule your child’s yearly physical ahead of time. This will help you beat the hoard of people that wait until the last minute to update vaccinations or get athletics physicals.
  • Before you go “Back to School” clothes shopping, go through your child’s existing wardrobe and donate or sell what doesn’t fit.
  • Make sure that young children have positive anticipation about the first day of school by setting expectations that include seeing and making friends and learning about fun subjects.
  • Discuss with your child the importance of homework, and create a distraction-free workspace together. Ideally, this is somewhere quiet and well-lit. Older students may need access to a computer. Younger students that don’t have homework on a particular night can be encouraged to read, or self-study about a topic that interests them.

If you want to continue to prepare your family for the year ahead, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a review of your Massachusetts home and auto insurance policies. A few minutes of your time and you will be able to update your policies and maybe even find a new discount – so call 617-298-0655 today!

Low Cost Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business

One of the most-asked questions from small business owners is this: How do I market my business without spending a fortune? Thankfully, there are lots of potential customers out there for you, you just have to know how to find them. Here are a few tips for getting the word out about what you offer without breaking the bank:

  • Word-of-Mouth advertising is free! Just ask your customers if they are happy with the service that you provided and ask them to let their friends, family, and co-workers know about your business, and the word may start to spread.
  • Leverage Social Media – depending on the type of business you have, you can consider using many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.
  • There are many local events going on in the Greater Boston area all year round. Ask to be an event sponsor or volunteer to help out in order to both aid the community and gain exposure for your business.
  • Running a contest could encourage your current clients to spread the word about your business – just make sure to spread the word both in person and on your Social Media.
  • Ask for reviews on Google and Yelp. If a customer is satisfied with your business, let them know that it would be a huge help to you if they would post a review of your business on websites like Yelp and Google. After all, those sites are a major influence on potential customers!
  • Leverage your friends, family, coworkers, really anyone that you have met in the past, typically referred to as your top 100, or executive 200, I call it working your Dunbar’s 150, leave a message below and I can share with you more details.

Here’s another tip on how to save your small business some money: talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your Massachusetts small business insurance. We can get you the insurance coverage you need while making sure that you get the discounts you deserve – so call 617-298-0655 today for your free quote.

The Best Business Networking Groups

If you are a small business owner, a solopreneur or in sales, marketing is an imperative part of what you do. How do you get your name and your business ‘out there?’ One of the best ways to spread the word about what you offer is to be a member of one (or a few) local networking groups. Here are a few examples of groups you could join, along with short descriptions from their websites:

  • Business Networking International (BNI) – “By joining BNI, you’ll increase your exposure to like-minded professionals, gain referrals from a global network and sharpen your networking skills with exclusive member resources.”
  • Boston Business Women – “Boston Business Women aims to provide women with a platform to build connections, support personal and professional growth, and gain the tools and resources needed to succeed in both business and life.”
  • Rotary International – “The collective leadership and expertise of our 1.2 million members helps us tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, locally and globally. We are united by common values and vision for the future as we sharpen our focus with targeted specific causes that will reach communities most in need.”
  • Kiwanis International – “We are passionate about making a difference. Helping kids grow and succeed is at the heart of everything we do. We believe our neighborhoods and our world are best served when people of all ages and different backgrounds work together to share their time and talents.”
  • Infinite Business Networking – “The mission of Infinite Business Networking is to help grow and nurture each other’s business through word-of-mouth referrals and professional development.”

Here’s one tip, though: if you are interested in joining one of these groups, make sure that you have enough time to dedicate to your membership. Just having the card isn’t enough – you need to be an engaged participant in meetings and activities in order to get the most of the experience. You also need to have a pretty good description of what you do, who your best customer is, and for best results, attend each meeting with a “story” or “drop” some knowledge on the others in the group.

In addition, when joining these types of organizations, it’s important to realize that the relationships that you build and the referral system in place are both two-way streets. It’s not enough nowadays to just give someone your business card. You need to build a relationship. And if you want to gain referrals, you have to expect to give referrals and don’t forget to follow up, follow up, follow up with everyone that you meet!

If you need some advice and guidance on joining a business group or just how to be a better networker, I am available to help.

And if anyone you know is ever in need of a great Boston insurance agent, please tell them to contact us at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We appreciate your referrals!

Carlos

Get The Recognition You Deserve With NAHREP’s Top 250 Award!

Get the Recognition You Deserve with NAHREP’s Top 250 Award! 

The Top 250 Award has become one of the most recognized and decorated programs in real estate. Honorees earn recognition from their peers and industry leaders as drivers who set the industry standard. Nominate a real estate agent or a mortgage originator for the Top 250 award before March 31.
Click here to learn more

Also, check out NAHREP Boston’s  1st Annual Business Rally #BETOP10

Topics Include:
– NAHREP 10: Principle 2- Be in the Top 10% of your profession
– How To use Social Media to promote your business
– How to Grow Your Business Through Networking and Referrals

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Registration starts at 2:30 PM
Networking from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Food will be provided, Performance by Pachanga Latina

Hilton Boston/Woburn: 2 Forbes Road, Woburn, MA 01801

MEMBERS: $39, MEMBERSHIP & EVENT BUNDLE: $69

ATTENTION MEMBERS:
Please click on “Enter Promotional Code.” Type in your email address used to register to NAHREP. Click on “Apply,” member tickets will be shown. Choose the number of tickets. Click on “Register.” For help, please call (857) 288-1493
For questions and sponsorship opportunities Email us at boston@nahrep.org or call (857) 288-1493
Click here to learn more

Hispanic homeownership increased for the second consecutive year, click here to read more.

We are here to help you or anyone your are working with, with their home or condominium closing. Whether it’s to review their current insurance policy or provide them with a quote, we would love to hear from you.  Just send an email to our team at quotes@vargasinsurance.com with your buyers’ information and we will do the rest!

Friends Are The Most Important Ingredient

“Friends are the most important ingredient in this recipe of life.”
– Dior Yamasaki

I thought this week I would give you a few Facebook tips that I have found very helpful in our business.

In the presentations that I do, I’m often asked for tips and strategies to create and connect with friends and customers on Facebook.

Here’s a few:

  1. When a person “likes” your Facebook post, always respond with a comment with their name in it. Use their name to personalize the comment.

If you start to type their name in, Facebook will fill it in, and it will tag them.  If you want to make it more personal, you can back out their last name, which is what I suggest.

Here are some examples:

Mary, I love that you enjoyed this.

Mary, I knew this message would resonate with you.

Mary, I love it when you like what I share.

2. In the beginning of the post that you do, encourage people to share it with others. What I do is simply write on the top of the post:
“This is worth sharing with your friends.”

Or

“Please share.”

Put a message either at the top of your post or at the end of the post encouraging people to give it away.

  1. When someone shares your post, send them a “private message” thanking them for doing so.

    Here are a couple of examples:

    Mary, thank you for sharing my post.

    Mary, I am so glad that you found my post helpful, thank you for the share.

    Mary, thank you for the share! I hope that you are well and business is going well, let’s meet for coffee soon.

  2. If a person comments, always “like” their comment and respond to it with a question.

For example, if a person says, “That is really cool”, you would comment and ask them what is it about his that you found to be cool?

Just have some fun with it.  When people comment, don’t let them hang, go back and say something about what they said.  You want to encourage and facilitate a conversation and therefore build the relationship with them.

  1. Don’t forget to wish your friends a happy birthday on their birthdays.
  2. Use the list feature to sort our your friends, clients, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.  Learn more about Facebook lists here.

Why is this Key?  I call it the “Law of Familiarity”, the more communication, in whatever form, you have with people, the more familiar they become with you.

The reality is that people love to do business with the people they know, like and trust, and they love to refer others to people they are familiar with. Facebook is the ultimate way to create a high level of familiarity with others.

I LOVE connecting with people. In fact, if there was just one thing I feel that I am THE EXPERT in, it is branding and marketing. I use what I have learned to work with a few local business folks on how to connect and grow their brand both online and offline.

I am so committed to these local business friends that we have a Monday accountability call each week. The good news is that I have room for a couple more of these Monday accountability calls. So, look at 2017 – if you’re trying to START or GROW your personal brand, let me know. We’ll spend a little time together, and I will give you an assessment and a clear direction on HOW TO CRUSH 2017 to BOOST YOUR PERSONAL BRAND. Want to meet in person? We can do that too. All you have to do is comment below now, and I promise to make time for you because you are important to me.

Must Have Apps for Real Estate Professionals

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A smartphone is a must in today’s world, especially for a Real Estate agent. You probably use yours several times a day to talk to clients and schedule showings, but are you using your phone to its fullest potential? Here are four areas where you may be able to leverage your app store to make your life easier:

  • Social Media – Social Media doesn’t rest, so you need to be prepared to post and interact with clients and followers at all times. Your phone is a key player in having your profiles at your fingertips. You obviously need Facebook, but also try apps like Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, HootSuite and (my favorite) Buffer
  • Organization – Staying organized on the go is a key trait for Realtor success. Apps like Dropbox, Tempo, and (my favorite) Evernote and more will help you have all of your documents and appointments at your fingertips, no matter where you are.
  • For Showings – Did you know that there are apps that you can use to help you with your listing appointments? Route 4 Me helps you determine an optimal route to get clients around town efficiently, and Supra eKey can turn your smartphone into a lockbox key!
  • For Listings – In addition to using your social media accounts to promote your listings, you can use apps like Camera+ to take and edit pictures of your listings for your social media posts, or you can use your iphone like I do.  There is also a DocuSign app to help you send, track, and sign documents digitally to help sales go through smoothly.

What are the apps that you can’t live without? Tell us about the apps that we missed, and we may use them for another app feature in the future! And, as always, stay tuned to the blog for more technology tips.