Bar codes are a staple of life around the world. Now a new kind of scannable code, already a very big deal in Japan, is catching on, too.
The QR (Quick Response) Code is a two dimensional assemblage of shapes and spaces that stores up to 4,296 alphanumeric or 7,089 numeric characters. Printed on everything from business cards to “for lease” signs, QR codes can be decoded quickly (hence the name) by a number of different apps running on the iPhone platform.
QR codes can be used by realtors or property management companies to share information with potential customers, to add a vCard contact to a smartphone or other device, or to open and compose an email message to the company on the user’s phone.
Android apps on other phones can do this, too, but with the overwhelming popularity of Apple’s iPhone, property management firms are jumping on this particular bandwagon in big numbers. Here are six property and real estate companies using the iPhone QR Code feature.
1. ERA WILDER REALTY
WHERE THEY ARE: Seven offices in South Carolina
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Making the QR Code part of the brand image
Photo source: common.ziffdavisinternet.com
The arrows and the yellow highlights
indicate lines and shapes used for alignment.
To increase acceptance and use of the QR Codes, ERA Wilder Realty in South Carolina is doing more than just dropping encoded listing information on signage for office leases or property sales. Management recommends that property managers and sales agents make the QR Code ubiquitous by placing it on business cards, flyers and brochures, and even the windows of their cars. Educating the public is an important part of any campaign using a new technology.
2. COLLIERS McCLOCKLIN
WHERE THEY ARE: Cities of Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Building relationships with interactivity
Photo source: artanddesign.careeredublogs.com
After a slow start, Canadians are warming up to QR Codes, too.
In mid-December 2010, Colliers McClocklin became the first commercial real estate firm in Canada to add QR Codes to all of their signage, city-wide. The firm’s president, Tom McClocklin, sees the functionality as being critical to the continuing empowerment of his firm’s customers. Marketing professionals know that drawing consumers into “the process” by use of interactive technologies is a powerful relationship builder, and relationships are at the core of a successful property management firm. The passive consumer is becoming extinct.
3. CLARK REALTY CORPORATION
WHERE THEY ARE: Six offices on the Big Island of Hawaii
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Leaving wet flyers and bad weather behind
Photo souce: clarkhawaii.com
Info on prime Hawaiian properties can be continuously updated.
Clark Realty Corporation is the largest full-service real estate firm on Hawaii’s Big Island. Over 150 agents, full-time property managers, and office staff handle all facets of real estate from sales to building/property management. Enlightened owners realize that QR Codes are another way for the firm to excel at serving its customers.
With QR functionality on employee iPhones (and a few BlackBerrys, truth be told), sudden rains or inclement weather will not result in soggy brochures or lost opportunities. The firm’s company-wide success depends on overcoming every adversity to serve its clients –and QR Codes are a big part of that.
4. THE HALSTEAD PROPERTY COMPANY
WHERE THEY ARE: Eighteen offices in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Customizing the Code and putting it everywhere
Photo source: halstead.com
Don’t fall for that insurance scam, folks!
With headquarters at 770 Lexington Avenue, Halstead Property has 18 offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and a staff of nearly 900 agents and property managers. In late 2010, Halstead Property debuted its customized QR Code technology called “H-Tags,” which are placed on sell sheets, postcards, flyers, every new listing, and even some display ads.
Photo source: halstead.com
Using QR Codes is another way of leveraging social media.
The H-Tags are also placed on every listing that is displayed in a Halstead office window, encouraging passersby to investigate properties that catch their eye. All relevant information, continuously updated and always “fresh,” is delivered to the potential customer’s mobile phone. The company website provides links for the iPhone apps, once again saving consumers time.
5. COLDWELL BANKER RESIDENTIAL BROKERAGE
WHERE THEY ARE: Twelve offices in Utah
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Continuing the transition to mobile devices
Photo source: utahhomes.com
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage introduced QR Codes in Utah because the region ranks very high in tech-savviness and the iPhone is ridiculously popular. The company is rolling out the high-tech squares in home magazines, newspaper ads, and other marketing materials. Further, the firm will work with its nearly 800 agents and property professionals to encourage the Code’s use on postcards, flyers and “for sale” signs.
Scan the code and get directions to the property!
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has long been a leader in deploying new mobile technologies, and in 2008 was the first full-service national brand to optimize Web pages for all mobile devices. By the beginning of 2009, listings in 28 countries were available at the company site for viewing on the iPhone and other devices. Over 200,000 people have viewed Coldwell Banker listings on their mobile devices.
6. PHOENIX REAL ESTATE GUY
WHERE HE IS: Phoenix, Arizona
WHAT HE’S DOING: Figuring out the very best use
Photo source: phoenixrealestateguy.com
It’s okay to poke a little fun.
His name is Jay Thompson. He is an agent and property manager, and writes about real estate marketing ? especially all the “latest and greatest” things that positively resonate with buzz and hype. He thinks the QR Code hype has hit “epic proportions,” as if it were the “saving grace for all things real estate.” While he understands why they are on business cards, flyers, and “for sale” signs, QR Codes have also turned up on Web pages, which Thompson notes “makes zero sense.”
Thompson agrees QR Codes are “amazing little pieces of technology,” but is wary of the “hysteria” that calls QR Code the “second coming of blogging, Twitter, and Facebook.” He sees the hype as deceptive, as if the technology makes property managers and agents rich “with no effort or work involved on their part.” Obviously, he does not speak for the industry, as adoption rates are increasing.
There is always a little hype, and a bit of smoke and mirrors, when any new technology arrives to offer new ways of doing things. Because the QR Codes are simple to create and distribute, there has certainly been a lot of them turning up, but this is normal with the advent of leading edge technologies. People are trying whatever they can think of, and that’s a good thing, actually, Thompson’s naysaying notwithstanding.
Every property management and real estate firm should be thinking about how this new technology can be integrated into existing strategies or connected to new ones just being created. Don’t get caught up in any hype, and don’t rely on any single thing, including QR Codes, to revolutionize your business just by “being there.” It will always take a lot of work to succeed, and QR Codes and iPhone apps are only tools in the process. Learn and adapt!