By Ian Shaw
In today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, your cell phone may well be the most important tool you use in your business. All three of the major carriers have special plans for real estate professionals…you may just have to do some digging.
Rogers (who I work for) offers a 30-per-cent discount off your primary line, which shares data with up to nine other devices. Bell and Telus typically offer special plans or some discount off on their share plans.
The most popular plans are known as share everything plans. They allow you to share one data plan with up to 10 different phones, tablets or wireless internet devices. About half of all sales reps typically only have one line but it is worth investigating whether it is more cost effective to bring your family members or teammates together to share the cost of data.
All three carriers also offer small business share plans – these require an HST number. These plans often offer flexible data plans, which can be advantageous if your data usage is quite variable. I suggest you compare both consumer and small business options before you decide.
What is a tab?
We at the carriers have done a wonderful job of confusing everyone lately! With some phone prices hitting close to $2,000, the ability to actually afford a new device has been impacted significantly…and device prices keep rising. This is why the carriers came out with the tab concept.
It allows you to pay more on your monthly service fees so that your up-front device costs will be less. There are typically four tabs. Ultra or Platinum (Rogers, Telus) are the top tier and by selecting this you will pay the least amount for your device over the 24 months of your contract, in most cases.
There are then Premium Plus, Premium or Smart or standard tabs. Each of these tab levels are usually about $10/month less, with the device prices approximately $150-$200 more the lower you go. On a primary line at Rogers this difference is $7 after the 30 per cent discount, which makes it beneficial when buying expensive devices on the higher tabs. An example right now would be the apple X – $99 on Ultra tab versus $349 on Premium plus. Here you’re paying $168 more (24x$7=$168) to save $249 – which makes sense.
If you’re bringing your own device it is referred to as smart tab…or BYOD (bring your own device).
How much data do I need?
The easy answer is more. Average data usage for Realtors has gone from about 1GB to over 3 GB in the last two years. If you have teens or young adults on your plan it is safe to factor at least 5 GB per person. Ask your carrier if there are any data bonuses – right now all three are offering 2 GB for primary and secondary lines. Also, make sure you plan for a small cushion. Data overages are really costly…about $7/100mbs or $70/GB.
Minimizing data usage
Streaming music or videos, using navigation apps, social media apps and leaving apps open all tend to increase your data usage. As a sales rep, sending photos or videos in hi res, or looking through listing info on your phone or tablet will also skew your usage higher. If you are an Apple user, be aware of the Wi-Fi assist setting – in most cases it should be turned off. If turned on, this feature will automatically use your cellular data if the signal is stronger than your home or office Wi-Fi signal. I have recently seen overages of $6,000 to $23,000 because of this feature. If you do an IOS software update it usually will turn back on so be cautious.
Bell, Telus and Rogers all offer plans that allow you to use voice, text and data throughout Canada or the U.S. These plans are great for frequent U.S. travellers. The new Rogers plan is $10.50/month on primary lines and $15/month on secondary lines and this gives you unlimited talk and text and the use of whatever data amount you’re signed up for. You don’t pay roaming fees while in the U.S. on this type of account. I highly recommend it for those who use over 500 minutes of U.S. calling each month.
All of the big three offer roaming while travelling…the number of countries varies by carrier and can be confirmed on each of their websites. Cuba is one of the rare exceptions – you’ll need to buy a travel plan here simply because the service on the island is so poor that none of the big three will support it.
The major differences between the big three are really the cap on roaming charges. Rogers is capped at 15 days in any billing period while Bell and Telus are capped at 20 days.
Travelling as a couple? If one of you is less busy on the phone than the other, save money by call forwarding that number to the other person’s device. Leave that SIM card at home and then you’ll only pay one daily roaming fee instead of two. You can also buy a local SIM card in the destination country for $1 to $5 and that way you can always stay in touch, while only paying one roaming charge.
Phones for Realtors are often an extension of their persona. Currently the market is equally split between Android and Apple – two years ago it was 80 per cent Apple, so there is a firm trend. Realtors tend to be choosing the higher-memory phones now, mostly to store more photos and videos. I strongly suggest you search for Google comparisons of models, such as the Samsung s8 vs s9, Apple IPH 8 vs X, or Google Pixel 2 vs Apple X. Do your research and pay attention to what you need, not what your office mate has. Most people want the newest of the new, and often the features added with each device iteration don’t bring enough added value to truly justify the cost.
With today’s phone prices I highly recommend device protection, whether it’s Apple Care or Premium Device Protection. All carriers offer it and there are some major differences. At Rogers, Apple Care does not cover lost or stolen devices…whereas our premium device protection does for just $1/more/month. Broken screens on new larger devices can cost over $300 and many plans offer one screen repair for free. This is a no brainer in my opinion.
Many groups like TREB and OREA have member benefits sections on their websites that detail both plans, and who the carrier reps are that serve Realtors. I recommend that you work with a specialist. We only serve Realtors and brokerages, so we have a better understanding of your needs. We offer personalized service and most of us are on call 24/7, just like you. After all, we’re 100-per-cent commission too!