How many times have you been certain something was true and it turns out it’s just a myth? It’s happened to me. Case in point: I definitely believed the story that you had to let your phone battery drain all the way before charging it back up again. Turns out, that’s not true at all.
There are a lot of myths floating around when it comes to real estate technology, and, in particular, successful adoption of new tools across brokerages. It can be hard to determine myth versus fact. Over the course of my 15-plus years in real estate and at dotloop, I’ve learned a lot about what’s true and what’s not — and how you can avoid falling victim to common misconceptions.
Here’s what I know:
You can lead a horse to water…
Myth: If you invest in new technology for your brokerage, your agents will use it.
Fact: You have to walk the walk first; training and continued support will be necessary for successful adoption.
As the proverb goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. That said, it’s your job as a broker to explain to your agents why it would benefit them to “drink.” You can’t expect your agents to jump on the new technology train without any training or explanation about why they’re doing it (or what’s it in for them).
The best way to explain the benefits and encourage groups of people to use new tools is through an extensive training program, which includes a heavy dose of inspiration, not just education. This will help your agents understand when, how and, most importantly, why they should be using this new offering.
My colleague, Karen Schlosser of Comey & Shepherd in Cincinnati, is a pro at implementing new technology. Schlosser says her company motto is: “Tell them. Tell them again. Show them. Show them again. Tell them again.” It’s all about consistency and repetition.
When Schlosser is implementing any new technology, she explains the benefits to her agents upfront and then engages them in six to eight training sessions. She’s found that’s how long it takes to make the material stick. It’s worked for her and it’s worked for her agents — their brokerage is one of the top firms in the Midwest.
Lead by example
Myth: Your agents will adopt technology whether or not you use it.
Fact: There’s a greater chance your agents will use new technology if you use it yourself. If leadership is committed, adoption rates will increase.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to set an example. I work pretty closely with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty and I can tell you that their leadership team has attended and participated in every training session they’ve held for their agents. Why? Because they are committed to the technology solution and understand that the best way to lead is by being a walking, talking example.
Encouraging your agents to adopt new technology can and should go beyond attending training sessions. Show your employees you value the new program. If you don’t take the technology seriously, why should they?
Peers can also play a large role in the adoption process. It’s crucial for leadership to show support, but when peers say they believe in something as well, that can have a huge impact on adoption rates, especially when their business has improved as a result.
You have to crawl before you walk
Myth: When it comes to new technology, you should dive right in.
Fact: Start small. Too much too soon can be overwhelming and will undermine your efforts.
New technology has a tendency to overwhelm (does anyone really understand how to sync their phone to their car’s Bluetooth system?) and that can cause agents to throw their hands in the air and give up before they are able to reap the benefits. But there is an easy way around this.
Start your most resistant agents out small. They don’t need to know how to use every aspect of a new technology right off the bat. Get your agents and staff to use the simple tools first or the tools most relevant to their needs. The bells and whistles can come later, once they get used to how the new technology functions.
For example, if you still have agents using paper and you want to move to paperless transactions, start by asking agents to submit transactions for office review by email. Once your agents are comfortable with this, continue to build confidence through a phased approach program that will make their lives simpler and more efficient. This doesn’t mean we aren’t asking the agents to change, rather just suggesting an approach and rollout schedule designed for success whether old school or early adopter. A strong technology partner understands this and will serve in supporting this customized approach.
A little goes a long way
Myth: It’s got to be all or nothing on technology use.
Fact: You don’t have to use it all to receive value. Using even just a piece of what any technology can offer will open doors to more in-depth use down the road.
My colleague recently shared a story with me about using Evernote. She knew about Evernote’s vast functionalities, but she just wanted to use it to take a few notes. It’s a simple use case, but for her, that was all she needed at the time. And that’s perfectly fine.
Your agents don’t need to use every aspect of a program to make the investment worthwhile. It’s important to remember why you adopted new technology in the first place. Likely, it wasn’t just to have high adoption rates and successful training programs. Instead, you probably took on the challenge as a means to making daily tasks more efficient and improving the quality of your business.
Encourage agents to use what they find helpful. And who knows? If an agent becomes comfortable with one aspect of a program, they may eventually expand their usage. Just like the colleague I mentioned before, who now uses Evernote for much more than just note taking.
Choose the right partners
A few years ago, I was basically forced to start using Salesforce by my company. Given my years of using another less comprehensive CRM, it was nothing short of a struggle for me. While change is really not easy for anyone, I decided to take small bites. I could appreciate Salesforce was successful and broadly used for a reason, and I needed to find out why on my own. It was a step outside of my confidence zone, but I came to appreciate what Salesforce was offering me and I’ve never looked back.
Whether personal or professional, the journey starts with choosing with the right technology partner for you. And once you’ve done that, acknowledging the myths and common pitfalls associated with onboarding will only accelerate the process. As you move forward, leading by example, maintaining technology support and celebrating usage will allow your brokerage to get the most out of your technology investments. The key is to find and use tools that are intuitive enough to innovate and evolve alongside you in partnership.
Joelle Senter is dotloop’s vice president of market development.