Engel & Völkers announced Monday the launch of a new, free app to help agents affiliated with the global franchisor in the U.S. manage their client databases and track their business. The company unveiled the platform at its Exchange event in Southern California.
Engel & Völkers has long been a tech-focused company, according to Anthony Hitt, the CEO of Engel & Völkers America — even in the 1980s, there were computers at every desk in the company’s Hamburg, Germany office — and the company has taken a three-prong buy, build and rent approach to its technology offerings for agents. This new app is a center point of that technology ecosystem.
“What we started doing about two years ago is really working on this integration concept that allows everything to talk to each other,” Hitt told Inman. “So the ultimate dream, and we’re really coming close to fulfilling this now, is that when an advisor or licensed partner logs in, they only have to log in to one place, and they can move around freely and seamlessly throughout the different platforms they’re using.”
“And most important, the data that feeds all of those platforms comes from a single source of truth,” Hitt added. “That’s what we’ve been rolling out, and this particular app is just one piece of the way we will show that single source of truth to our advisors.”
In the app, agents, which Engel & Völkers calls advisors, can track current performance, closed transactions, and status with the company’s Elite Club, a sales volume ranking akin to a flight miles tracker for airline awards. Agents also get instant lead notifications — even if they come from a source outside the company — so they can respond faster, as well as performance data for all of their listings and all the marketing associated with those listings.
The app also acts as a communications platform for agents, so that they can talk, text or chat with other members of the network for referrals, which can be crucial for luxury real estate.
Agents can also manage and communicate with their client base in the app. Engel & Völkers agents own all of their own data, according to Hitt, who said, even if an agent leaves the company, they’d take all of their contacts with them and Engel & Völkers wouldn’t retain those contacts.
The company built the app with agent involvement every step of the way. In the alpha phase, the company slowly rolled it out at headquarters and to select VIP agents and brokers in search of honest feedback. Then they expanded it to a beta phase that included more brokerages.
“Every step of the way was built for the advisors with the help of the advisors,” Nathan Kimpel, the senior vice president of technology at Engel & Völkers Americas, told Inman.
For Kimpel, it was a dream to get to work with a network as large as Engel & Völkers, which has more than 200 brokerage offices and 4,000 agents in the United States.
“When I got here, we had so much data that it was like a kid in a candy store,” Kimpel said. “I’m a big data guy. There were so many transactions and so many things that we could pull from and calculate and manipulate that we had a great time being able to do it.”
With Engel & Völkers Americas being its own subset of Engel & Völkers, the company also has really fresh data sources, according to Hitt, which he believes gives them an advantage over some other companies. He also explained that, from the start, the way the company was built, all data has flowed into a shared system.
“I think we came at it from a very unique position of having a pretty clean data source to start with, that we can build on,” Hitt said. “I think that allows us to come to market with something a lot faster than our competitors could.”
Overall, like many of Engel & Völkers’ competitors, agent recruitment and retention is the key piece of this drive towards building and investing in more proprietary technology offerings.
“Of course, anything that we can build, whether it be technology or marketing or anything else that’s going to help [agents] attract the buyers and sellers they want to attract and raise their price points, is going to be something we’re going to invest in, and without question, good, smart technology that they’ve been a part of creating, is something that’s going to help us drive that,” Hitt said.
He added, “You’ve got to keep the people on your team who are out there serving clients as up to date as possible, and that’s part of the reason we’ve gone this route.”