- To boost agent adoption of technology, brokerages should offer assistance at their level, industry pros say.
SAN FRANCISCO — Real estate technology vendors and brokers often complain about low tech adoption rates among agents in the real estate industry.
What do some of the industry’s heavy hitters do to encourage their agents to embrace tools that can help them?
San Francisco brokerage Pacific Union International has a tech adoption rate north of 70 percent, CEO Mark McLaughlin told conference attendees at Inman’s Broker Connect today in a session titled “How to Get Your Team to Adopt Technology.”
“The best way to do it is to turn the old technology off,” McLaughlin said.
Pacific Union also hires eight to 10 summer interns every year and divides them up between the agents to help train them on the new technology, he said.
His company’s favorite tech tool is a “Best Buyer Report” that uses artificial intelligence and demographic information to determine “the highest probability of who the buyer is,” McLaughlin added.
Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty in Marin County, north of San Francisco, has been focused on getting as much technology on a single platform as possible, COO Heidi Pay shared with attendees.
“Just the fact that it’s simple, it’s cohesive, it’s intuitive, makes the adoption rate very high,” she said.
Even if agents don’t adopt new tech, her brokerage has staff to take care of it for them, she added.
“The successful agents tend to find ways to avoid using technology as much as possible, whether it’s through using assistants or the services of the broker,” Pay said.
This is because at the higher end of the market, people tend to value privacy, she said.
Panelists seemed to agree that agents shouldn’t be forced to use new tech and that brokerage staff should be available to assist with those tasks.
“You might get a top producer that says, ‘I’m not using technology’ and you’re not going to kick them out,” said panel moderator Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
“Not at all,” said Scott Beaudry, broker-owner of Las Vegas’s Universal Realty, whose agents also have a tech adoption rate of about 70 percent.
“From my standpoint, the biggest thing I could remember is patience. I’ve got about 120 agents that work for me in my brokerage and I know that they’re not all at the same level,” Beaudry added.
Just throwing a bunch of tools at agents when they join your firm won’t work, he said.
“You may have to do some one-on-one training,” he said.
His firm is “doing heavy use of” the Realtors Property Resource (RPR) database, a customer relationship management platform (CRM), and electronic signatures, he added.
If there’s a tech tool that Decker Bullock Sotheby’s feels that its agents need to be successful, “then we adopt it as a brokerage” so staff can help, Pay said.
One thing the firm does to plan in advance is to assist an incoming agent in importing all of their data and contacts prior to giving notice to the broker that they’re leaving, she said. The firm also goes over all of the agent’s social network accounts.
“The biggest thing an agent has is their database,” Pay said. And sometimes agents forget their tech passwords.
Chris noted that was a common problem. “Does that mean catering to the lowest common denominator?” she asked.
McLaughlin noted that the Uber app isn’t dumbed-down for real estate pros.
“Just make your technology adoptable,” he said, quoting a colleague.
There is no “silver bullet” tool that will make brokerages successful, he said.
“Get out of your comfort zone,” he advised brokers.