It’s a great time to be a small-business owner because of all the easy-to-use and inexpensive technology we have. Tasks that used to be time consuming have vanished. Work that used to belong to office administrative staff can be done using a smartphone. There is always something new, and one by one small pesky tasks are being eliminated so that time can be spent generating revenue.

  • With the advent of technology, we are now able to nix large parts of the business that agents used to have to do in real estate before smartphones.
  • Now we can work smarter not harder, which allows us to have more time for other things in life.
  • No brokerage has come up with an awesome technological tool that agents flock to; they flock to Zillow instead because that's where consumers are.

It’s a great time to be a small-business owner because of all the easy-to-use and inexpensive technology we have. Tasks that used to be time consuming have vanished. Work that used to belong to office administrative staff can be done using a smartphone. There is always something new, and one by one, small pesky tasks are being eliminated so that time can be spent generating revenue.

I don’t need to go to the post office anymore, and instead of heading to the bank for smaller deposits, I can use a mobile banking app. The process saves a errand, and I gain a half hour.

I don’t need to walk to the parking meter. I sit in the meeting and use an app on my phone to pay for another half hour.

No need for brick and mortar

As a small business, I don’t need to buy expensive copy machines, and I don’t need to pay for space to keep files in cabinets. Technology has taken care of all that for me.

Communication with agents is easy via instant messaging that works on any and every platform. I don’t need to sit next to people or even see them to work together in close collaboration.

Sometimes I need a pen and paper but not that often, and I don’t carry a laptop anymore because there are few tasks for which a computer is required. I use a tablet and a phone.

More time

When I have extra time at the end of the day, I remind myself that it’s because I work smart and that putting more time in isn’t necessarily going to result in making more money. My business isn’t about punching a clock; it’s about completing tasks and generating revenue.

There was a time long ago when I would have had to go to an office or my home just to read and respond to email. There was a time long before that when agents had to go to the office to get phone messages and make calls. That must have been time consuming.

I can complete tasks without even getting out of bed in the morning, and that extra time can be used for work or play.

Now that our MLS and my phone talk to each other and my phone has both a calendar and a GPS built in — even making appointments to show houses and finding the houses is easier than ever.

Agents used to hire assistants to take care of all of that and some still do. I get calls from assistants trying to help agents cancel or change appointments to see my listings. It’s a simple task that can be done with a smartphone and should not require assistance.

Relative ease

Running a real estate company is easier than ever before, which I believe is why there are so many independent real estate companies in my market. At least half of the agents are with small independent real estate companies, probably more.

There are agents who need the technology offered by the larger companies and agents who do not. But the largest group of agents might be the group that can’t use the technology that their companies invest in. These companies provide tons of agent training.

Training and tech

Real estate companies can invest heavily in technology, but it won’t help the bottom line if agents can’t or won’t use it. Sure, technology attracts agents, which can increase headcount and sell houses — but not all heads are equal.

That new cutting-edge software suite and agent business platform are not a game changer for most agents, which means they can not be game changers for real estate companies even though the real estate companies truly believe in their technology and use it as a recruiting tool.

I keep waiting for a big real estate company to launch something huge that will blow the rest of us away, but it just isn’t happening. Zillow is happening, and that is where agents are spending their money. Zillow is the big brand in real estate — not because agents know how to use it but because consumers use it.

It isn’t just real estate companies that buy or develop technology that agents can’t or won’t use. Agents do the same thing. They have the latest iPhone, but they only use a few of the features and apps that could become time and money saving tools.

Excuses

Agents have a ton of reasons for not using modern technology. Have you heard these?

  • “Electronic deposits are not safe.”
  • “I like to have contracts signed in my presence because it’s more personal than using electronic signatures.”
  • “Cloud storage isn’t safe; it could be hacked.”
  • “We still use a fax machine because it’s safer than email.”
  • “My clients won’t like it.”
  • “I tried that 10 years ago and had a problem, so we don’t use it.”

Technology for real estate companies won’t be a game changer until agents start using it. Most agents don’t get too excited about systems that make tracking and reporting easier for the front office, but they do get excited about products and services that either make their jobs easier or, at least, have the potential to generate leads even if there is a negative ROI.

Eventually, we might discover that real estate companies can make more money with fewer agents if those agents and the company exploit modern technology. Fewer agents should be able to do more business than ever before, and that can mean larger profit margins.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

Email Teresa Boardman.

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