Almost every aspect of our lives has been transformed by technology. Advancements in virtual reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other new technologies have raised the bar on consumer expectations. If you’re tempted to dismiss those developments as being unrelated to the high-touch world of real estate, you may want to heed Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Industries, who warned that the last best experience that any consumer has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere.
This expectation has put tremendous pressure on real estate professionals to adopt technology to enhance the overall experience for both clients and teams. Failure to keep up with technology could mean falling behind and becoming irrelevant both in the eyes of your customers and those of the agents you might be trying to recruit. And keeping up requires not just deciding to use technology, but ensuring everyone on the team is able to take full advantage of it.
Technologies you should be implementing now
Among the new cohort of technology impacting the real estate sector is VR, which allows people to experience what it’s like to be in a space from anywhere in the world. Another important newcomer is blockchain, which may soon speed up the closing process and also makes it easier for people to purchase homes on the international market using the currency of their choice. And while you likely have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, Salesforce, HubSpot and Zoho are among the many companies that have greatly advanced their offerings recently. Is the technology you’re using helping agents deliver personalized, high-touch experiences to their clients and bringing greater visibility to teams by serving as a central source of important client information?
While it’s clear these tools are important to future success, they require time in terms of onboarding, establishing best practices, and training staff and agents. If you’re already managing a host of other tools like the MLS, bookkeeping and marketing automation software, reluctance to add more to your technology stack is natural.
Avoiding new technology will prove costly
Considering most consumers start their research online and complete 80 percent of the journey before having direct contact with an agent or broker, leveraging tech tools is mission critical.
Today’s homebuyers and sellers have more options than ever before. Agents need to reach prospective clients where they are, at the right time and be able to provide an unforgettable experience. That means making the process convenient and easy, being communicative and responsive, making them feel valued and bringing skills to the table. Some of the tools agents can use to fulfill these needs are digital marketing automation, VR for listings and transaction management software to manage and close deals faster.
The situation is even more critical for brokers. Today’s savvy real estate agents want to hang their licenses with a company that is at the top of its game and can provide tools to help them do their jobs efficiently. Failure to do so could prevent you from attracting top-performing agents. This is particularly true when it comes to hiring and retaining millennial agents, something many brokerages are trying to do so they can connect with the growing millennial buyer base.
Yes, many of these tools do require an investment of time up front, but over the long haul, they’ll help simplify each sale and help build top-producing agents. But that’s only if everyone knows how to use them, with standard operating procedures in place.
A 3-step process for implementation in the office
The automatic mentality of bringing in new tech is one of the biggest pitfalls business leaders suffer from when it comes to implementation. If your people don’t know how to use new tools, they will collect dust. Training is imperative to adoption.
Many assume learning new technology and training a team to use it is time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. At our offices, we follow a simple process that streamlines the adoption of new tools. If you take a little extra time at the beginning, this will make the difference in making the most of new products and processes for everyone involved.
We have a saying around the office: Do it. Document it. Delegate it. It’s the idea that first you figure out how to do it, then you document the process for how it gets done, and then you can hand it off with the expectation that someone else can pick things up and perform exactly as you would have.
- As you go through the new tool yourself (or as whomever you assign as the early adopter of the tool does), document your processes using a screenshare and video capture tool like Loom, Screencast-o-Matic or Screencastify.
- Use the video captured to create the training manual for everyone else. Fill in any gaps with a recorded voice-over, or simply by writing it out in an accompanying document.
- Share and delegate. This open training process not only allows users to learn at their own paces, but it also ensures that knowledge, best practices and systems don’t leave with the person who oversaw the installation of them if they decide to leave the company.
Don’t overlook the importance of people and processes
This three-step process is part of a larger strategy you should be implementing to make business operations more efficient. Start digitizing your all processes and training — not just for all the new tech tools you’re going to be implementing, but for how every client should be served to ensure a consistent experience.
Too many real estate brokerages have scattered their processes and information across various documents, systems or paper manuals. Making your organization’s tribal knowledge and training content available online, in video format and in one centralized location, eliminates confusion and makes training more accessible and convenient, which helps ensure your team actually uses it. Some training manual software programs even enable you to track who on the team has completed what, set up tests to ensure they understand the information and assign specific training sessions to each team member. In this way, new agents could be onboarded nearly automatically.
As you build your new technology stack, stay focused on what will benefit your bottom line. Emerging technologies like VR and AI will only get you so far if they’re built upon a faulty foundation. And the factors that will ultimately determine your future success are people and process.
Chris Ronzio is the founder and CEO of Trainual, author of 100 Hacks to Improve Your Business, Inc.com “Process Playbook” columnist, small business investor, husband and father.