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Brown Harris Stevens is an independent brokerage based in New York City. It has offices in the Hamptons, Miami and Palm Beach, and through BHS Partnering Worldwide, it leverages partnerships in major cities around the globe.
To say BHS has some history would be an understatement. The original company was founded in 1873. While it underwent a number of name changes and various leadership structures throughout its tenure, the company remains a steadfast brand in urban and coastal market luxury real estate.
But don’t think that tradition holds down innovation.
Brown Harris Stevens recently launched a companywide agent productivity platform called MAIA.
Under the guidance of Chief Marketing Officer Pablo Marvel, the new web-based software rests on Salesforce and gives BHS agents access to a portal of internal and marketing resources that were previously delivered in a fractured, email-based back-and-forth.
“We’re not trying to build the best thing,” Marvel told Inman over the phone, “just the right thing.”
Simple in concept and professionally delivered, MAIA is divided into compartments accordingly: Marketing Center, Listing Tools, Company Resources and Create Listing.
Agents use the Marketing Center to order collateral for print and digital outreach, including magazine campaigns, property fact sheets, postcards, window displays (common in urban markets), and display ads for Facebook and Instagram. Agents can select templates and enter basic property data.
Projects are tracked according to case number, and all communication, runs via the Chatter window, chat and messaging within MAIA, a smart way to consolidate creative feedback and project intent.
This is also critical for marketing staff, as there’s never been a worse vehicle for creative project back-and-forth than traditional email. Agents know exactly who is working on what, when, and when it should be ready to go.
MAIA also includes access to reSource, Brown Harris Stevens’ listing management suite that was already deployed, and it’s used in agreement by sibling company Halstead (both owned by Terra Holdings) as well as by Corcoran and Douglas Elliman.
Listings in the NYC-based portal are fed to MAIA for quick integration with marketing projects and to facilitate actions under the My Listings module. Agents can use it to manage their properties, search for others and see a breakdown of all new leads from multiple sources.
Groups is an internal categorized message board for everything from organizing team happy hours to discussing marketing tactics and referrals. Specific groups can be made private when necessary, and they can also be used to post quick polls for office feedback.
Other components to MAIA include Broker Services, where agents can access disclosure forms, submit commission slips, make IT requests, or even order a messenger.
Vendor and Media Requests allow agents to request photographers and virtual staging services as well as order signs and even office supplies.
Marvel said adoption by office is monitored by him through a central administrative panel.
The dashboard offers looks into open tasks and activities, contacts, reports generated and other general user numbers. The not-at-all-subtle Login Wall of Shame is a block of metrics indicating which offices are slow to engage with the software.
Marvel said he made sure to fold in agent feedback as MAIA was under development, ensuring a sense of ownership and clearly identifying daily pain points the software could solve. For example, it had to be as easy in the mobile environment as it is on a browser.
He said he agrees that real estate is a relationship business, but that doesn’t mean it has to be without technology.
“I feel like that idea has affected people’s idea of the usefulness of technology, because it [makes technology] an ‘either or’ instead of an enabler,” Marvel said.
Technology adoption, however, takes more than overtly named dashboards and message boards. Leadership and internal champions make a big difference — the biggest difference.
Bess Freedman, chief executive officer of BHS, took an active role in the company’s decisions along the way, and that launching new software in a pandemic poses its challenges. In an email to Inman, Freedman gave a lot of credit to the company’s agents.
“Because we engaged a focus group of agents to help us build MAIA from the very beginning, I believe their instrumental feedback and support will help us to promote its use to our larger agent community,” she said.
A common thread in industry discussion ponders how much of what’s implemented on lock-down will stay in place. Freedman is confident MAIA will prove its worth over the long-term.
“The fact that we have all been working remotely for the past 70-plus days has shown the agents how valuable a comprehensive platform like MAIA will be in not only helping them to succeed, but also to grow their business,” she said.
She explained that because of the company’s commitment to the product, agents will be able to focus on transactions, and not the tedium of daily work administration.
“The need for MAIA has been recognized, and our launch could not have come at a better time.”
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.