Winter eGavel 2015 Pg8
Welcome to the MAA’s Winter 2015 eGavel!
Download entire issue in PDF HERE.
Gmail for your Business by Brandon Harker, Auction Flex
In talking to auctioneers I’ve found that most think that if you use Gmail your email address has to end in @gmail.com. For example XYZ Auction Company would have email@example.com as their email address. While this is certainly an option, it’s not the ideal one. With Gmail your email address can be branded to your existing website domain name. For example if your website is www.xyzauction.com Gmail can handle your various @xyzauction.com emails (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.). It’s important to note that it doesn’t matter where your website is actually hosted, Google can still handle the email for your domain.
More Than Gmail
Google has an entire suite of products that is collectively known as Google Apps for Business (GAB). This suite of products includes:
- Gmail – email
- Calendar – calendar
- Drive – cloud file storage
- Docs – word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.
- Hangouts – text, audio, and video conferencing
- Sites – internal websites for your company
- and more
- Here’s the best part about GAB: it costs $50 per user per year. That includes 30GB of Gmail and Drive storage! To sign up for Google Apps for Business visit https://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business/
Introductions Are in Order
- Gmail – When a new email shows up in your inbox you have two options on what do with it; you can either archive it or you can delete it. If you archive the email you will always be able to go back and find it. If you delete it, it will go to your Trash folder; after 30 days in your trash folder it will then get permanently deleted. Gmail has two ways to archive: you can click the archive button or you can assign a label to the email. A label is like moving the email to a named archive folder. You can then browse that named archive folder. For example, any time I book travel I label the confirmation email as Travel. Now, any time I want to retrieve any travel info I simply browse my Travel folder.
- Calendar is an absolute pleasure to use. As you might guess Calendar allows you to set and keep track of your appointments. Each appointment, in turn, can have one or more reminders scheduled (I really like this feature). Let’s say I have a meeting next week that I will need to prepare for. I can set an email reminder 24 hours before the meeting which serves as a reminder to prepare and I can have a second Pop-Up reminder 15 minutes before the meeting which is a reminder to actually get to the meeting. Google Calendar also makes it easy to view the calendars of your other team members which is very handy when you need to coordinate with your team. One of my favorite tricks with calendar is that I use it to email myself future reminders; here’s how: Let’s say next Wednesday I need to remind myself to publish a blog post. I create a zero minute calendar appointment for next Wednesday at 8 in the morning, and set a single email reminder for it. Now, next Wednesday morning at 8am an email reminder magically appears in my inbox reminding me to publish a blog post. I use this trick constantly!
- Drive is GAB’s cloud storage which serves as a central place to store your files. Regardless of what device you’re currently using (Android phone/tablet, iPhone/iPad, Windows PC, Mac PC, etc.), everything in Google Drive is accessible. Google Drive even has an off-line mode so that you can make certain documents accessible even when you don’t have internet access.
- Docs is a lightweight replacement for the Microsoft Office suite. Docs includes word processing (think MS Word), spreadsheets (think MS Excel), presentations (think MS Powerpoint), and more. These are all light versions of what Microsoft Office offers, the advantage being that they’re often easier to use because they don’t do as much.
- Hangouts allows you to group chat with your entire team simultaneously. This could be text chat, audio chat, or video chat. It’s very slick and works very well for group video conferencing.
- Sites allows you to create simple websites that are only accessible by your team. Imagine that you’re coordinating an auction with your team. You could setup a site for the auction and keep the master check-list, schedule, etc. on it.
- And More – GAB includes other features and capabilities but these are the big ones.
All of the GAB features and data are available no matter what device you’re using. Windows PC’s, Android phones/tablets, Mac’s, iOS devices, etc. GAB essentially works on everything. For Android users: Since Android is a Google product you can guess that Android phones and tablets work very, very well with the entire GAB suite of products.
Admit it, you’re bad at making backups. With GAB the days of remembering to backup your data (Outlook, Word, Excel, etc) are over. You can rely on Google’s extremely reliable infrastructure to keep your data safe and secure. One of the unique features about working with GAB is that everything is saved automatically as you’re working. You never have to explicitly click a save button! This takes some getting used to.
One of the more overlooked features is the ability to easily share documents. Say I’m working on a spreadsheet to estimate the cost of doing an on-site auction for the Smith Estate. I need to collaborate with an associate who lives down the street or across the country; it doesn’t matter. I can simply share my spreadsheet to the associates email address. I have the option of granting read-only privileges or I can allow my associate to modify my spreadsheet directly. We can even modify the spreadsheet simultaneously and the changes will show up in real-time on both computers!
I left this part for last on purpose. Warning, tech jargon ahead (don’t let this part scare you)! To make Google responsible for handling your domain’s email (firstname.lastname@example.org) you have to setup an MX record on the DNS server that handles your domain. For this part you probably want to hire some technical help. If you are tech-savvy this is something you handle on your own; a little Google-Fu will yield the requisite information.
Reasons to switch:
- If your email is currently handled by your Internet Service Provider (email@example.com) switching to GAB will give you better branding and allows you to easily switch internet service providers in the future.
- If your email is not branded to your website (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) switching to GAB will give you better company branding.
- If you’re a road-warrior switching to GAB will give you an easy central place to store nearly everything.
- If you have trouble collaborating with your team switching to GAB will give you tools to work better together.
Google Apps for Business is good enough that it’s worth the effort of switching. I switched Auction Flex to GAB about a year ago and while there are a few things I miss from our old Exchange solution, I’m definitely happy with all that GAB offers.