Technology

Dizzle apps, oddly named and lacking value, aren’t ready for prime time — yet

True customization eludes the Dizzle app-building program

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The pitch

A few years ago, we sold a house.

We hired a multifamily property broker to sell it. Namely because I used to handle marketing for them. And I did some sales.

Most importantly, they had a proven, long-term marketing infrastructure. They could sell manhole covers just as well as they did 150-unit apartment communities.

While our house was on the market, I got a call from the buyer’s agent who helped us years before. She was wondering why we didn’t hire her to list it. Even though she was a terrific agent, we had no idea she was still in the business. We hadn’t heard from her since our closing. Eight years prior.

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If our one-time buyer’s agent had used an app from Dizzle, maybe she wouldn’t have seen our place listed under a different broker’s brand.

Maybe.

The sale

Software marketers use the word “custom” pretty loosely.

Here’s my question: How custom is an app that offers the same functionality to every agent who pays the $30 per month for it?

The only difference between a beige Toyota Camry and a red Toyota Camry is that the former is only slightly more boring to drive.

The process to get an app from Dizzle appears super simple. Set up an account, and they build you an app.

Dizzle_ssDashboard

It has your colors and logos and your Sears portrait. The primary thrust of the app is to list a number of local home services vendors under your name. Every time a user needs a patio sealed, they tap your face and scroll down to the company you prefer for such services.

The typical homeowner stays in their house for 11 years — that’s one more year than a decade. That’s a long time to have an app on your phone. Plus, I think it’s safe to assume that second-time buyers, if in the same city, may already have a trusted team of professionals from which to select for things like gutter cleaning and tankless water heater installation.

Dizzle_ssMetrics

Maybe Dizzle is an app best suited for first-time buyers, like the slow-to-commit millennials? Granted, these are people raised on Yelp. Their initial instinct is to see who the Internet recommends to install new countertops, and then argue with them. Unless YouTube helps them first.

Yes, millennials might be drawn to an agent with an app. Dizzle agents need to hope Trulia or Redfin hasn’t beat them to it, though.

I also wonder about how many home screen swipes it will take to find your app after a few months. Or after a phone upgrade or operating system update.

My fear is that if the house is in order for a number of months, outside of minor dents and dings, your face and logo could end up on the fourth or fifth screen, maybe somewhere between Duolingo (some day you’ll commit to that new language) and the outdated trial version of a constellation map.

Dizzle_ssServiceProv

There are features to Dizzle that could be of some use, like its push notification tool, which can send news and talking points to your entire contact list via text or email. “Share my new listing with your friends!”

This hinges on just how interested a customer is in notifications from their agent even a few weeks after closing.

It also depends on how tedious we allow our smartphone notification tirades to become. I know I can’t shut mine off fast enough, like playing Whack-A-Mole. I tend to ignore them out of spite.

If an agent can arrange discounts for customers with preferred vendors, or even leverage their market notoriety into paid advertising from said vendors, then a Dizzle app becomes significantly more valuable.

Dizzle_ssHandyman

If you’re already disciplined about staying in touch with customers through traditional means, like e-newsletters and maybe a phone call every six months, consider Dizzle a nice accoutrement to your overall outreach effort. It’s certainly priced right for such a use.

I see tremendous value in this app for agents who do a lot of relocation or vacation-home work. A great case for this is a would-be resident using the vendor partners to start setting up relationships a month before getting to town. Nice.

The close

All that being said, Dizzle has potential. I just don’t see a lot of added value right now.

I could envision scaled pricing models as the company flushes out better ways for agents to see a return on it. Maybe Dizzle builds an array of a la carte bolt-ons to offer true customization, not just a different paint scheme and some pinstriping. I was told features like click-through metrics of sent links and other analytic tools are in the works.

The app is less than a year old and has 6,000 downloads. That’s only OK. Plus, when you think about how much money an app of your own design takes to unleash, not to mention the cost of dealing with the economic politics of getting listed on the Apple and Android marketplaces, $30 per month is a fair price to pay … to say you have an app.

Do you use Dizzle? What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

Do you have a product for our tech expert to review? Email Craig Rowe.