Ryan Rodenbeck had a vision for a new kind of real estate brokerage when he founded Spyglass Realty in Austin, Texas, ten years ago.
It was a vision of something bigger than listings, sales, and revenue. “At Spyglass, we focus on the company culture. We want to be unique. We want to have a family atmosphere.”
Rodenbeck knew he had to compete with larger brands that had full stacks of technology at their command. At the same time, upstart brands with deep pockets and shiny, new tech were calling. So how does a brokerage grow its book of business while not losing that commitment to culture?
Using the right technology to attract and retain top talent
When positioning your brokerage to be attractive to top performers, it’s critical to demonstrate what sets you apart.
Technology is often a differentiator, but only insofar as it helps agents do more in less time. If a technology solution requires hours of training to learn and assistance to maintain, it’s more likely to be considered a hindrance than a benefit..
Rodenbeck kept that in mind as he sought a solution for his brokerage that fit the vision he had set forth..
“It’s not your typical work environment,” he said. “Some people work in the office, but most of them are constantly on the move. In order to have an efficient place to work together, we needed a tool that could be versatile, nimble, and everywhere all at once. And we needed something that was easy to use.”
For ease of use, versatility and efficiency, that tool should also be on every agent’s mobile device.
According to the 2018 REALTOR® Mobile Usage Report, Realtors stated that using a mobile device to accomplish day-to-day tasks during the work day is very important, growing to 85.28 percent – up 10 percent from 2017.
One such mobile-friendly workplace collaboration tool is Workplace by Facebook. Rodenbeck immediately appreciated the familiar interface, as his agents were power users of Facebook for social media already.
“The first thing I noticed is that it was very similar to Facebook but without any of the distractions. Being able to put our team into this standalone system that was completely ours was great. Not just for the training and the communication — it helped us create a company culture that we just didn’t have before.”
Get out of the inbox for training, communication, and collaboration
Email is still the workhorse within real estate, but its efficacy for communication and collaboration is severely lacking.
When new agents onboard, the issue of email is key. Does the agent use an existing account? Does the brokerage create a new internal ID?
But instead of email, workplace collaboration tools like Workplace help create communities for agents to jump into quickly.
“Before, we would have a new agent come into our office and go over every different aspect of the technologies we use. That would take a lot of time,” shared Rodenbeck.
“With Workplace, we can upload a series of videos to a group, which the agent can watch in their own time before they even set foot in the office. So by the time we arrive, we’re really just giving them a personalized recap of stuff they already know.”
Show agents you’ll empower them with more time, not just more tech
When evaluating solutions, brokers should measure the impact in terms of time saved, allowing agents to be more productive. Collaboration tools should streamline processes such as onboarding and information-sharing, helping agents focus their energies on client service.
Rodenbeck estimates that their onboarding process and collaboration tools save around 32 hours of agents’ time every month.
Rather than sending company-wide emails, brokers can use live video from anywhere to better stay in touch. From policy changes to market information, video can help deliver information faster, but in a personal, relatable way.
That means no more waiting around to get everybody together in the office. Rodenbeck reckons it saves an additional four hours a month by removing unnecessary team meetings.
“In one word, the difference that collaborative tools have made for our company is ‘efficiency’,” says Rodenbeck.
Enabling agents to do what they do best
Technology tools and solutions can promise the world, but if agents don’t understand and adopt them, they’re useless.
Brokerages that want to compete against juggernauts and investor-fueled startups can win by adding tech like collaboration tools that attract the agents who want to get up to speed quickly, share information easily and collaborate seamlessly.