RE/MAX officially launched its proprietary technology platform Monday with the aim to streamline the day-to-day tasks of its agents from lead generation to post-closing nurturing. The new platform was announced at the company’s broker-owner conference in Chicago.
“The introduction of the booj platform truly represents a landmark moment in the long history of our company,” RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos said last week on the company’s second-quarter earnings call. “Never has the world’s most productive network been paired with such a powerful, fully integrated technology suite custom-built for our unique, entrepreneurial culture of highly productive agents and teams, supported by outstanding brokers.”
“The introduction of the booj platform is arguably the single greatest increase to our value proposition in our history,” Contos added.
Why did RE/MAX build the platform?
Jerry Modes, RE/MAX’s senior vice president of information technology, told Inman in an exclusive interview that prior to acquiring booj, the company that powers its tech platform, RE/MAX had already been eyeing four main industry challenges.
The first and second issues are that technology in the industry is fragmented and that often leads to it being expensive.
“There are pieces of tech everywhere,” Modes said. “Companies and agents are both kind of picking from a Chinese menu from technology and assembling stuff.”
“We know people that are paying $5,000 a month to support their sales environment,” Modes added. “That’s just plain expensive.”
Contos too, believes that agents spend too much time working with multiple systems.
“Our brokers, agents and teams currently spend too much time logging on and inputting information in their own patchwork quilt of multiple third-party tech systems, none of which talk to one another,” Contos said on the earnings call. “The booj platform is fully integrated with CRM, websites, marketing, communications and more, virtually everything our highly productive network of agents and teams need in one place.”
Modes said the company was also noticing that the use of multiple tech platforms was creating an inconsistent consumer experience, which ultimately led to a high level of consumer disengagement. At the end of a transaction, 74 percent of consumers said they would work with the same agent, but ultimately only 13 percent do.
RE/MAX was also following multiple industry trends: the increase of consumers looking for mobile solutions, the need for instant gratification, as well as the need for strong data and analytics.
How did RE/MAX build the platform?
After identifying the issues agents and the industry face, RE/MAX set out to find solutions, Modes said.
“We set out and did a lot of research about what kind of technology is available in the industry and what kind of technology was out there to deal with those kinds of problems,” Modes added, noting that it led them to booj, a company with 12 years of experience in the industry as an integrated broker platform.
RE/MAX acquired booj in February 2018 when the company had about 60 employees. Today, it has approximately 100, according to co-founder John Sable.
Contos said the company could have just taken booj’s product and rebranded it for RE/MAX agents, but instead, they opted to “supercharge” the tech stack.
“We took an already great set of products and supercharged it by collaborating with the most productive real estate agents in the business,” Contos said. “We engaged our network through exhaustive and iterative alpha and beta processes and customized the product suites for our unique culture while simultaneously building advocacy and cultivating strong word of mouth through our network.”
That process included 2,750 agent and broker interviews, 4,600 user stories, 1,600 alpha phase participants, 6,204 beta phase participants, 3,267 unique pieces of feedback, 35 subsequent enhancements and 80,000 interactions with the platform.
“We didn’t just build this,” Modes said. “As technologists, we didn’t just wander off and say, let’s build ourselves to apply. This is a collaborative event with agents and brokers in our network.”
What is the new platform?
At the heart of the RE/MAX platform, built by the booj team, is a proprietary customer relationship management tool (CRM) integrated with lead capture, client engagement and deal management products.
The rebuilt-from-the-ground-up CRM system acts as the core of the platform, with all of the other tools integrated into that center point. The CRM includes a customizable contact management system, pre-loaded action plans and a task-tracking system.
The platform includes a lead-capture system with a lead and sphere scoring system. The lead score tracks user engagement with an agent site, such as visits, property views, saving properties or narrowing their search down, to estimate which page visitors are most likely to convert to actual clients. RE/MAX currently distributes about 2.9 million leads per year, according to Sable.
“Over the years, we’ve seen the pendulum shift from the number of leads that agents want, to now, quality of leads that they want,” Sable told Inman. “When we talked to the network they said lead quantity is there. Quality is really what they’re looking for.”
A sphere interaction isn’t tracking the client, but tracking the agent. The score outlines 30 key touchpoints throughout the year that agents should be hitting, to see how often and successfully they are engaging with consumers.
It tracks logged meetings and calls, sent emails, texts and campaigns. It shows that connecting with a former client in the last 15 days is considered great communication, 15-30 days is not ideal and if it’s over 30 days you should contact that client immediately.
Agents can use both scores as a guide to more smartly target their marketing and advertisements – including a tool that integrates multiple automated valuation systems and market snapshots as touchpoints – to consumers with a higher lead score. Automated features from the platform allow agents to trigger email campaigns and other automated content based on a user’s actions.
“We want to keep that sphere interaction very high,” Sable said. “You’re going to be able to pull up, in our CRM, and see, what is the interaction? Is somebody opening your content? Are they clicking through your content? The idea is, over time, to keep that sphere interaction high and reduce that 60 percent fall off that we have.”
The platform also includes a deal pipeline – in pipeline and list view modes, the latter of which shows averages and gross commissionable income on each deal – where agents and their team leaders and brokers can get a comprehensive view of agents’ current transactions in many phases. As an agent moves the deal through the pipeline, the task management tool automatically marks certain tasks as completed and opens up new tasks for the next stage of the transaction.
“Consistently, throughout the network, people said they want more transparency to what’s in their pipeline,” Sable said. “Agents want to see it and when you get to the team level, if you’re running a big team, you want to be able to see out across all your team members and what everyone has in their pipeline.”
The platform rollout begins Monday and will continue through the end of 2019, first with franchises in U.S. company-owned regions. After full rollout to those franchises in U.S. Company-owned regions, it will expand to other RE/MAX territories and regions based on interest.
The next phase, including updates to the comparative market analytics tools, new RE/MAX brand websites and consumer-facing app, will start to roll out in the fall of 2019.
Sable explained that they took a “bubble up from the bottom approach,” where they want to roll out the back office stuff first, learn from more insight and make more adjustments.
The consumer-facing experience has also been tested with RE/MAX agents and one of the pieces of feedback the company heard was that page editor solutions on the market are too cumbersome. Agents said they found it almost impossible to add a page or a blogging platform to their website.
Instead, the company built its own proprietary page editor so agents can customize and adjust their websites with a simple click, drag and drop function. Booj leveraged eye-tracking technology to create templates where agents can then customize the site’s header, image, text, review blocks and more by just dragging and dropping.
“If you want to put content in, it’s super simple to add that content,” Sable said. “The idea is to encourage our network to add more content.”
The development team also built a new website and analytics tool, which has never before been utilized at RE/MAX.Each agent and each property will have individual websites, generating traffic never before harnessed by RE/MAX. Sable expects the company to improve upon the already 110 million web users the site gets per year.
RE/MAX isn’t alone in the space of building end-to-end technology platforms. Keller Williams has already rolled out its CRM system and its consumer-experience is coming next. Compass recently raised another $370 million to focus on platform development and is planning a revamped consumer experience, that’s due in August. Realogy, meanwhile, is focused on an “open-architecture” tech platform, to tie solutions across the market together for agents.