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Relola, the public networking platform that encourages agents to share listing and marketing insights with colleagues and home shoppers, is set to launch a major new feature.
The company’s “Reloladex” is a service provider recommendation tool, or in Relola’s words, “your digital network of everyone you trust to help people buy, maintain, and eventually sell their home,” that’s been in beta mode on the site for the last year. The official reveal will go down at National Association of Realtors (NAR) Midyear Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo.
Come May, the feature will expand its functionality to allow agents to share and embed their provider network on Facebook business pages and individual agent websites.
Moreover, as of now, the limited Reloladex is not specific to an individual agent. The new version will change that, allowing agents to curate their team of home service professionals, as well as accountants, attorneys, financial advisors, etc., directly from Relola.
Non-members can be invited in, and home pros will have Reloladexes of their own.
The more networks a professional is part of, the higher his or her ranking within the Relola network. It should be noted the score isn’t necessarily a direct reflection of the person’s quality of work, merely their number of connections.
Recommended professionals are provided profile pages complete with bios, testimonials and contact information.
A person’s Relola membership level determines the number of pros that can be in a Reloladex. Trade groups and professional organizations can sign-up, too.
The real estate industry is adamant that a network of “verified” service professionals for a client to access during their years in a home ensures an agent repeat business.
I asked Ryan Mathys, Broker-Associate at Coldwell Banker La Jolla (recently with Berkshire Hathaway), about the value of such networks.
“You still have to be proactive about it and remain engaged, the list alone isn’t enough. I have to provide more value with my recommendation than Google, or Yelp,” Mathys said.
Relative to software or apps adding value to the process, Mathys added, “They can be good tools, but I know that my painter, or my lender, will put my clients ahead of others because of how much business I send them, not because they’re on a monthly email I send. That’s the real value of your network.”
Mathys’ point is valid when considering the number of ways a person can find a reputable service professional these days. A short list of sources includes:
- Angie’s List
- Pro Referral
- Better Homes & Gardens Home Services
- Same Day Pros
Because there are so many ways to find someone, a personal recommendation adds credibility.
Relola CEO and co-founder Heather Sittig Jackson told me via email that, “Vendor validation by professionals who use their services on a regular basis gives homeowners an extra level of comfort when selecting a service provider.”
Relative to the traffic of popular referral sites, Sittig Jackson thinks the Reloladex will allow agents to compete, saying, “By redirecting some of [their] traffic to the Reloladexes of our members, we are confident that agents and others in the network will benefit from high-quality organic leads.”
Nevertheless, relative to tools like the Reloladex, I want to know: How many of those networked home pros has my agent actually done business with?
Would that professional put me ahead of someone else as a result of being in that agent’s network?
Remember that the Reloladex is set up to rank people higher based on how many networks they’re a part of.
This means that plumbers, financial advisers and the like could be driven to improve their ranking by connecting with as many agents as possible instead of relying on their ability to offer “above and beyond” service.
If a painter is part of 25 agents’ Reloladexes in a single market, whose clients get priority? This is something an agent should inquire about before linking up with them online.
These questions don’t at all diminish my overall stance on Relola, a product on which I remain bullish, and have been since its launch.
I’m a firm believer that the real estate industry can only benefit from increased transparency, something that Relola clearly champions.
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