- When it comes to office-wide software decisions, having the right culture is the best place to start.
Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.
InsideTech is a new agent interview series in our Select Tech Review space that highlights how agents are using specific technology products and gadgets to better their business.
Go School is directly affiliated with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate – Go Realty, of which Hellman is also a team member.
Inman readers may be familiar with Hellman, who’s been named to our Top 101 list, as well as Realtor Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and the Swanepoel Power 200/Top 20 Social Influencers in Residential Real Estate.
Is that popularity warranted? Let’s find out.
Craig Rowe: Thanks for joining me Alyssa, and congratulations on your recent recognitions. The education component makes for a unique real estate model. Can you describe it a little?
Alyssa Hellman: Absolutely. The Go School is technically a sister company of BHGRE Go Realty. We offer pre-licensing, post-licensing, continuing education, as well as a variety of training events. Our focus at the Go School is to help agents be better at their craft.
We aren’t limited just to Go Realty agents, we are a truly private real estate school that is open to any licensed agent (or soon-to-be licensed agent).
Whether it is the Go School or Go Realty, we all really believe that “you learn something new everyday,” and regardless of your success, we all can stand to invest in ourselves and our clients by continuing to learn and grow — whether that is a class at the Go School or a training class at Go Realty.
As your team instructs aspiring agents, beyond laws and best practices, do you integrate insights or recommendations about leveraging technology?
Yes! We are really focused on our student experience. Who wants to pass a test or learn a skill by reading a book? Not me.
We hire instructors that ooze passion and have an innate ability to teach through storytelling of their experiences in the field. This allows our students not just to hear a concept taught, but to find a relatable element to help them retain that information.
We are also big on leveraging technology at the Go School. Most schools offer you thousands of pages (I’m not exaggerating) of paper with formal, stuffy language. Not us.
We believe in speaking to our students as adults and people. I am personally communicating with our students and we exchange a lot of content electronically to help students access materials without lugging around 20 pounds of notes.
Your office(s) uses both BoomTown and Contactually, is that right? Why both?
We do! We consider BoomTown and Contactually two very different products for two very different purposes. BoomTown is a big source of value for our agents in terms of website solution, lead generation, lead capture and management and long-term follow-up.
BoomTown’s analytics help us use consumer activity to better serve consumers. Contactually is very different. Contactually is used far more for our agents’ active clients or people they know.
‘We consider BoomTown and Contactually two very different products.’ -Alyssa Hellman
This hits on a huge issue in our industry. Everyone is seeking that magic tool. The one CRM that perfects lead generation, lead management, client follow-up, even transaction management.
We don’t believe you need to be an expert at everything and we definitely don’t believe that one product will have it all. If as agents, we’re never done learning and growing, why should a product be any different?
We landed with our technology solutions because we wholeheartedly believe that they are the best solutions for our agents to effectively manage their business and provide value to consumers.
When did you know you needed an office-wide technology solution?
I wouldn’t say there was one “light-bulb” moment for us. Go is a really special place. We’re a brokerage that is filled with independent contractors, but our agents don’t act like it. They act like a team. A family.
When we adopt solutions company-wide, we’re able to create a culture of the systems. We often refer to the “culture of Contactually,” which is merely emphasizing that we believe that this product offers a really efficient and effective way of doing business in the way that we believe business should be done — personally.
Company-wide solutions allow a company-wide magic to happen where our agents are working together to learn and leverage the tools we offer as a brokerage.
There’s a lot of ‘follow-the-leader’ in the industry, did you look at other systems before deciding on the two you use?
Yeah, but it was short-lived. To us, culture is everything. It guides our decision-making, our spending, our people. We don’t shy away from it when it makes things complicated or tough, and we rely on it when we are unsure about something. BoomTown and Contactually were culturally driven decisions.
Are there cheaper solutions? Yes. There might even be better solutions, but for us, they were the only solutions. Both BoomTown and Contactually have a company culture that is aligned with ours — they make decisions in the same way, they treat their customers the way we treat ours, they believe in the same goals. We value that.
When we call about a problem, they’re on top of it because they know that we’re betting on them. When they need help, we’re there, too. When we make a partnership, you get adopted into the Go family. You aren’t just a vendor anymore. You become one of us.
Because of their culture, prior to adopting either system, both BoomTown and Contactually worked really hard with us to ensure there would be a smooth transition, seamless service and high levels of adoption because of the ease of the product. Both systems are adopted by our agents at an extremely high rate company-wide.
BoomTown does a lot to encourage adoption. What were the unseen challenges during onboarding?
Anything that is work it has its challenges, right? Adoption of systems is the same thing. There are glitches as agents get used to things like “why does this appear this way here, but that way there?” type things. Still, a big part of why we believed (and continue to believe) in both systems is their commitment to their customers.
Like us, they don’t stop until they have an answer or solution. Our agents aren’t left hanging with some impersonal ticket number that never gets called. Our agents are hearing back both personally at the company level and by the system customer service teams with BoomTown and Contactually whenever they have an issue.
‘To us, culture is everything.’ -Alyssa Hellman
We believe that a big part of why we have seen such smooth adoption and implementation of these systems has everything to do with the time that we invested upfront to ensure the relationship was there. With both BoomTown and Contactually, I have personal relationships with their teams.
I’m friendly with them. I know about their lives. When you get to know your vendors like that, they aren’t vendors anymore — they’re part of your story. And you know what? If they drop the ball, they’re all over fixing it because it is a personal letdown if they’re not.
These companies are Go-People. We’ve got each other’s backs.
Is the same technology deployed in all four regional offices?
Yes. We treat all things equal at Go. Some things we will beta test, but everyone (from any office) would have the opportunity to join in. It is tiring being a pioneer, and at Go, we try a lot of stuff, so the beta group won’t always be the same.
That said, both of these products were rolled out to the entire company without beta testing. We went with our gut.
If both systems stopped working entirely tonight, how would tomorrow’s day go?
Well, s@#$. My phone would probably ring a lot, my inbox would see a lot of questions, and I’d get a lot of questions on our Go Facebook group, but it also wouldn’t be the end of the world.
I’m knocking on wood as I say this, but part of why we chose to partner with both BoomTown and Contactually is because we have trust and faith in them. Do systems crash? Of course.
But, whenever there have been any sort of “system down” periods, both systems do a really wonderful job of communicating what is going on and giving you an idea of the fix and the timeline of when they will be back up and running. That’s all you can really ask of anything, right?
I assume you’re in touch with management quite often, how does their outlook on tech differ from the agents’?
Ha, well, I’m technically part of management here at Go — although we call it a leadership team. To us, there is a big difference between leadership and management, although that is a conversation for another day.
Our leadership team is all about systems that we believe can provide value to our agents. Any of the products we even consider for our agents, someone has used or seen in action. We know what we’re signing up for.
But I would say that the outlook is very similar. It isn’t about dollars and cents. It is about value. If our agents can consistently provide value and effectively communicate with consumers, the dollars and cents work themselves out. Don’t believe me? We’re watching that happen.
Are you active in offering user insights to the tech vendors? Do you see it as valuable?
Absolutely. I’m consistently providing feedback to all of our tech partners, as they ask. And they do. That’s part of what I really respect about them. They’re constantly working to not just roll out cool features or programs, but to refine them and continue to get better.
Do you envision any future technology needs, to handle other aspects of your operation?
None that I see at the forefront, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Things change daily, so our needs may change, too.
What has been so fun about partnering with companies like BoomTown and Contactually is that the needs were so present that the decision was basically, “We need to address this point of our business. Let’s evaluate who to use.” Both were natural choices for us. I’m sure any future adoption would be similar.
Thanks again Alyssa, anything you would offer new agents about technology?
As a new agent, focus on your business first. Utilize whatever your brokerage offers before you go spending your money on your own products. Don’t play “monkey see, monkey do.” Be you. Find what works for you and run with it. Trust me.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.