- Confer with selected agents before introducing a new system so they alert you to any potential problems.
- Find incentives that you think your agents will appreciate rather than what you, the broker, appreciate.
- When teaching agents new technology, do it in groups of similar technical abilities.
At a recent home inspection with a client, Allen Quinn, regional manager of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices NorthEast Prime Properties, was struck when his youthful client asked the inspector if she could “PayPal” him.
The inspector was taken aback, saying a check would be fine. In the end, they worked out a deal — she could pay him with her credit card on his website.
“Going back seven years ago, who would have known this would be what the consumer was expecting?” Quinn said. “Now we know where it’s heading.”
Making the paperless office a reality
Quinn spoke at today’s webinar “Beyond eSignature: How Market-Leading Brokerages are Going 100% Digital” hosted by DocuSign’s head of marketing for real estate, Justin Engelland.
The majority broker audience was most interested in the blow-by-blow methods Quinn was using to get every one of his 250 agents onboard (across 19 offices in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island) with adopting the integrated DocuSign Transaction Room system.
Quinn, perceived as an early mover for taking his brokerage digital in November 2014, said his office was rapidly approaching 100-percent real time adoption by his agents.
He said he had been driven to achieve 100-percent digitalization because he wanted to improve the customer experience — with customers being both consumers and his agents.
For Quinn, one big motivating factor for adoption was assuring compliance standards were met across the board, but he acknowledged this wasn’t always a priority to agents.
“We focused on agent benefits, really how it helped their customer, also what it meant to pay attention to compliance, explaining their role in compliance,” he said.
Request feedback, relay info, revise plan
When considering implementation of the integrated transaction system, Quinn and his team took a close look at the brokerage‘s current workflow. The business has close to 1,300 transactions a year.
Then, before rolling it out to all the offices, Quinn sat down with 15 to 20 selected agents to invite their thoughts.
“We spent one month getting their feedback on processes, on how we expected it to be used. We revised the user manual constantly,” he said.
Then he got in the car with his CFO and went out to the offices, talking to agents in groups of around 15 at a time, walking them through the process as they would in the real world.
“We … [showed] them how this system could enhance their efficiency and speed,” said Quinn.
They were selective about the agents they grouped together for the training. “We didn’t want lots of different skill sets,” he added.
Engelland summarized Quinn’s methods: “So best practice is around engaging agents early on in the process to help define it, engaging them in the training as well and constantly revising the approach based on agent feedback.”
Advantages over requirements
What did Quinn wish he’d known when he started out?
“We should have started earlier but there’s never a bad time to start — we have learned so much about the brokerage and our own needs. We always thought agents wouldn’t care about the compliance conversation, but it’s really helped.”
And how did he break it to his agents that the new process was mandatory?
“We focused on the positive side and the benefits for the agent and downplayed the mandatory side,” Quinn said.
“We tell agents, you are getting a straight line service, you’ll have better customer retention — and this is the nature of the business.
“The business is changing and most brokerages are using some kind of system. If you go down the street to another brokerage, they will be using something similar.”
His brokerage also promotes its digital prowess in its listing and marketing information.
Meanwhile, there is no sense in rushing the process, added Quinn, who said it took the better part of half a year to implement.
Some agents closing a handful of transactions a year might need more help than those doing 30 or 40 a year, he said. Web training is also ongoing.