Developing the best agent-facing technology strategy for your brokerage is a lot like finding the perfect home. There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider, and once you commit, you’ve got to do everything in your power to make it work.
But when you’re searching for your dream home, there are professionals there to help you every step of the way. All too often, the same isn’t the case for technology implementation.
During my 15 years working in real estate, I ran a program called “Tech S’Cool Road Show” to inspire and train leadership, staff and agents on their existing technology services. Usually, clients needed us because they felt overwhelmed by the process of selecting and implementing different solutions or platforms. There are a lot of solutions out there! Plus, onboarding agents can be a time-consuming and challenging process.
The perfect solution for your brokerage promises increased productivity, improved customer experience and the potential to boost revenue. While there’s no foolproof method for picking the right technology for your business, following the steps below may make your decision easier and odds of succeeding much higher.
Step 1: Evaluate business needs.
Whether you’re looking for a system that will allow agents to communicate more efficiently, quickly process deals or stay organized, my advice remains the same: Take the time to think about what you need. What is the problem and why? What other inefficiencies could you address at the same time? Consider all aspects of a problem. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up with a solution that gets only some of the job done.
For example, I have seen several brokerages implement customer management system/customer relationship management (CMS/CRM) technology that failed to serve the “on-demand” nature of real estate. The program excelled at customer data storage, but agents could access that information only from their office desktop computer. Can you imagine having to go back to your office every time you needed to look up contact info related to a transaction? Needless to say, the companies retired these systems and turned to solutions that met their and CRM/CMS needs on-demand.
Step 2: Consider the technology you already have.
Out with the old and in with the new might be a good philosophy when you’re cleaning out your closet, but it doesn’t always apply to technology adoption. Bringing in new technology is a significant commitment. That means you need to make sure it will enhance what you already have in your technology stack.
Will the new technology complement existing platforms? Can the new technology replace old technology? Most businesses rely on multiple platforms to accomplish daily tasks — and many of these platforms don’t interact because it’s simply unnecessary. But that doesn’t mean the technology you already have shouldn’t play a role in your search for a new solution.
Step 3: Think about your user.
It’s important to consider your user when selecting a solution. Even if a system has every feature you want, if it isn’t easy to navigate, then your agents won’t use it.
I see it happen all too often. A broker I know decided to provide his agents with professional photography and video tour software. In theory, it was a great idea. He wanted his agents to be equipped to take quality photos and videos of listings, but the software and camera equipment was too advanced, and he had to hire professional photographers to use it. The agents didn’t have the time to allocate to editing nor were they able to maintain the necessary equipment. Had the broker selected a more user-friendly photo and video editing tool, it’s possible his agents would have taken advantage of the resource.
Step 4: Look to the future.
This is an important (and frequently overlooked) step. Your technology should meet your immediate needs. That’s a given. But what about the future? If your technology doesn’t have the potential to meet future needs and scale with you, you’ll likely be looking for a new solution before you know it.
So ask yourself, will your new system still be of value in the future? Unless you’re a fortune teller, it can be nearly impossible to foresee future hurdles, but you can evaluate a solution’s long-term potential by asking questions about its utility down the road. Does the technology have multiple functionalities? Can it do more than solve the immediate issue?
It’s equally important to select a system that is positioned to grow with you. Is the company you are considering dedicated to staying at the forefront of technology? Do they have a track record of being innovators and leaders in their vertical? Are they committed to meeting your needs and developing tools to meet future needs?
When my co-worker adopted Evernote a few years back, it was first and foremost a note-taking platform, which was what she needed. As her needs evolved, so did Evernote’s functionality. Now she uses Evernote for everything from note-taking to presentation preparation.
Implementing the right agent-facing technology strategy is not an easy task — which is all the more reason to pick a solution that solves your existing problems, has the ability to support your future needs, has multiple functionalities and will grow with you. With the right technology, your agents will have the tools they need now and a partner with the vision and ability to support them in the future.
Joelle Senter is the vice president of marketing development at dotloop.