According to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) study, 41% of all real estate firms see keeping up with technology as a challenge — with good reason. The pace of the market is fast and furious; spending time and resources on identifying the next “right” application is a daunting task.
However, it’s an incredibly important one as the next cycle of real estate will be dominated by firms that are willing to use technology to innovate, automate, and streamline operations in any way possible.
Relevance of traditional brokerage models
This is especially critical as the relevance of traditional brokerage models are on shaky ground. Some 97% of buyers use the Internet to search for homes, according to NAR. Buyers are getting younger and more educated. The non-traditional, nationwide brokerages that operate without storefronts are disrupting the industry.
Any brick-and-mortar shop that fails to get agents to adopt technology to compete will find itself falling further and further behind. The good news is that it’s not a death sentence for your brokerage, but rather an opportunity.
If you can make your agents aware of what the technology can do for them, and if you can drive adoption through onboarding and training, your firm will be positioned to thrive.
For example, your brokerage may not have a customer relationship manager (CRM) in place. Perhaps you’ve looked at such systems in the past and deferred a decision due to the investment required. But CRMs can drive a huge return on investment when adopted by your team.
Studies from Salesforce show that a CRM can increase sales by 29%, improve accuracy in reporting by 32%, and boost the productivity of sales teams by 39%. One estimate suggests a CRM can pay back $30.48 for every dollar spent.
The benefits of adoption are clear, but actually getting your agents to adopt your CRM and other technologies remains a challenge.
To enhance adoption across your brokerage, here are five tips to consider:
1. Consider solutions that are real estate specific
There are big tech names fighting for your technology budget – Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and the like. While many of them have reputable systems, real estate is an industry unlike any other. Seek out solutions that understand the ins and outs of this business and are designed with the agent and brokerage in mind.
Those tools are more likely to be the ones your team will adopt as they map to the day-to-day concerns of busy real estate agents.
2. Make it easy as possible to use
Technology for technology’s sake does no one any good. The easier your technology investments are to use; the greater the likelihood your agents will use them. Most real estate agents come from other career fields, and few enter the industry with a high level of comfort using technology. Intuitive, easy-to-use tools flatten the learning curve and drive greater adoption.
3. Invest in onboarding, training, and accountability
This may be one of the most important factors towards ensuring your team is adopting new technologies. Spend time to onboard and train your team. While few brokerages have the resources to create their own training and onboarding programs, technology vendors likely do!
Look for solutions that offers resources to help your agents get up and running, as well as access to support when problems arise. With the right level of onboarding, training, and accountability, your brokerage will far surpass industry averages for technology adoption.
4. Build trust with your agents
This can be a huge and unexpected problem with technology adoption – agents fear that brokerages will have access to their data and start working their leads. This is relevant when implementing a new CRM system. You must build trust with your agents to maximize adoption of your technology tools. Be clear about how data is used and who owns it.
5. Use the fourth quarter to plan technology spend
Use the fourth quarter of the year to help agents set targets and make decisions around technology and marketing spend. As things slowdown, they can create plans for the year to come, get up to speed on a new system and its features, and decide on how much to spend each month to reach targets.
Very few agents go through this type of planning exercise. If your team can create realistic plans and adopt available tools, your brokerage will be positioned to get more than its fair share of business in your specific market.
The U.S. is dotted with hot real estate markets right now, each of them chock full of brokerages that are fighting over the same group of buyers and sellers. Competition will continue to grow as high prices slow sales velocity and higher interest rates reduce the number of prospective buyers.
Brokerages that embrace and adopt new technologies will thrive amidst the competition. Let technology be your differentiator now and in the future.
Stuart Sim is head of industry development at Chime Technologies.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.
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