The real estate industry is currently experiencing massive upheaval thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but according to Robert Reffkin, there’s one big thing agents can do to better weather the storm: take advantage of their CRM.

The real estate industry is currently experiencing massive upheaval thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but according to Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, there’s one big thing agents can do to better weather the storm: take advantage of their customer relationship managers (CRMs).

Robert Reffkin

In a letter to Compass personnel Wednesday, Reffkin explained that only 20 percent of agents actually use a CRM. That’s unfortunate because such platforms — which typically centralize numerous tasks ranging from lead generation to client follow-up — offer agents “a powerful way to set yourselves up for success and help you stay connected to your community.” Reffkin also argued in the letter that many agents do a great job working with clients, but have a hard time “staying top of mind” once the deal is over.

To solve these issues, Reffkin offered several CRM-related suggestions. First, he advised agents to connect their Gmail accounts to their CRMs.

“The moment you ‘sync’ the two, the system will save you time by automatically importing the contacts you email, surfacing people you should be speaking with and logging your interactions with clients,” Reffkin said in the letter.

Second, Reffkin said that agents should import their contacts from spreadsheets and third party applications into their CRM.

“This will ensure you have one single database of all of your contacts and don’t have to worry about maintaining multiple lists,” he continued.

Though Reffkin’s comments were addressed specifically to the Compass community, CRMs are widespread in the real estate industry — meaning the advice is likely broadly applicable.

Reffkin followed up the letter Wednesday with a video, shared on Twitter, in which he argued that the “two things top agents have in common is they optimize their time” and “perfected their strategy for managing their relationships.” He also said that virtually all top agents get “all of their business from their sphere of influence.”

“It’s a repeat and referral business,” he said.

Reffkin went on to say that the secret to deploying that kind of strategy is optimizing a CRM.

“Since we’re all working from home and there’s not as much to do, I’m going to have a moon shot that by the end of this work-from-home experience all of you have optimized your CRM,” he said.

The advice comes just days after Reffkin warned of an “economic standstill” due to the ongoing pandemic, and revealed that Compass had laid off 15 percent of its office staff — or about 375 people — in response to the turmoil. The company has also made a variety of other cutbacks, including to executive salaries and to its concierge program.

Reffkin also previously called on lawmakers to provide for agents in federal stimulus plans.

Compass additionally made headlines last year for scooping up CRM-maker Contactually, which had been popular among the company’s rivals. A number of Contractually clients ultimately expressed dismay over the acquisition and eventually said they were no longer receiving needed support.

In any case, Reffkin said Wednesday that CRMs are important for agents who want to succeed. And he advised real estate professionals to take advantage of the current moment.

“Let’s do this,” Reffkin said in his video. “A month from now, maybe a month and a half, maybe two months later, whenever we’re out of this work from home environment, let’s have our CRMs fully built out and let’s get ready for the rebound.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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