There seems to be a lot of concern lately how fast smart technology is evolving, and with that, automating our jobs, leaving many of us out in the cold. Indeed, millions of jobs will be replaced by robots in the next 10 years, bringing us closer to a Jetson society quicker than we imagined.
However, change brought about by automation should be embraced and does not need to be frightening. Some of us still remember the anxiety when the MLS went from books to computer programs, and more recently, the absolute panic caused by public MLS portals. In the end, these changes only helped the agent and broker by providing real-time data, giving us the opportunity for engagement earlier in the process. The unexpected result is a more educated and prepared consumer.
Instead of fearing that Rosie the Maid will soon take over the real estate profession, the focus should be on hiring the robot for the right tasks and redefining more specialized roles for agents and staff.
It is undeniable that our industry has been slow to embrace new technologies. Brokers and agents find themselves playing catch up with consumer-driven expectations as their clients are continuously exposed to high-tech solutions offered elsewhere, such as in the banking, retail, medical and automotive industries.
Web-based transaction management platforms and e-signatures have been available in our industry for almost two decades, but are only recently receiving adoption. These powerful tools have improved the way our agents do business, and like the introduction of smartphones, once adopted, it is hard to imagine how we were able to get anything done effectively beforehand. And, like a smartphone, most of these tools are not being used to their full potential.
In the January 2017 issue of Realtor Mag, Viktor Franz Paul Weber’s “How Robots Will Disrupt Real Estate” discussed the effects robots may or may not have on the real estate industry. Weber believes that in the future—however swiftly that occurs—progressive brokers will hire robots to carry out real estate chores.
Smart thinking, Mr. Weber. The truth is, the savviest brokers already hire “robots” to take care of menial tasks with state-of-the-art back-office automation and transaction management programs. These robots may not be much fun at the company Christmas party, but everyone in the organization should get to know them well. And while everything that humans do for a living cannot be automated, real estate brokerages can expect to save money and boost efficiency by joining the fray.
The right robot can reduce data entry, improve data integrity, automate processes, analyze information, and handle the workload with ease. This removes much of the burden from staff and management. The overlooked benefit is that this frees up your resources so a greater focus can be on sales-generating activity and improving the customer experience. This will enable growth without increasing the overhead needed to service those sales. Yes, automation is gold.
Without doubt, it did take a while for the technology to evolve into what it is today. The real estate industry is full of exceptions and has always required a high level of expertise to process folders and commissions. Some critics wonder if artificial intelligence is in fact intelligent enough to cater to this complex and ever-changing industry. But today’s automated brokerage systems provide elegant solutions that can simultaneously cater to unique business rules and support transaction management expectations without adding to the current workload.
Of course, due diligence on the broker’s part is crucial to hiring these robot-acting programs. If you can eliminate the mindset that change is daunting, employing the right robot is well worth the effort. It is time to welcome the era of real estate automation; its time has finally arrived.
Here is what to look for when you’re ready to make the move and strike gold.
- The Cloud. Look for a broker management solution that is 100% in the cloud. Being 100% in the cloud means your real-time data will always be at your fingertips.
- End-to-End. Demand an end-to-end broker management system that is written on one code base. This eliminates unnecessary layers of technology and multiple integrations, which can present their own unique issues. Office performance is optimized, training is reduced and adoption is increased.
- Collaboration. The best systems facilitate transparency for a cross-department management approach of files and activities via a simple- and role-based dashboard application. This technology is already on the market creating seamless transactions and improving customer service, bringing clients, co-op agents and vendors together. Do not hire a robot that will not communicate with everyone.
- Consistency. A solution isn’t a solution if it doesn’t enforce and nurture your business rules. Automating your procedures will provide a consistent experience for your clients and agents alike, offering peace of mind through reliability.
- Scalability. An enterprise system should be able to scale to your size, but also must scale to your specific needs. Look for solutions that are customizable and configurable to meet those needs.
- Risk Management. Compliance is a major component of running a brokerage and cannot be left to chance. Record keeping is crucial when a consumer complaint enters the office. The ideal broker management program offers risk management and compliance tools that are transparent. Not adhering to strict compliance procedures only spells trouble.
In short, the ideal platform will not only provide a robot that carries out the day-to-day chores, but your new hire should be capable of embracing the things that make your organization unique and should promote the agents and the staff by assisting them in meaningful, impactful ways.
Jennifer Theune is CEO of the Virginia-based Guru Solutions.