When Paul Carlson, president of Five Star Real Estate in Grand Rapids, Mich., started his search for a platform to run his brokerage, he found he was frustrated very quickly.
“We weren’t happy with our old vendor, and the product was outdated. So, when he found kvCORE, an all-in-one solution for real estate website, lead, and CRM, he liked what he saw. "
According to Paul, “the back end was more approachable than most, and they talked about it being a platform, which means they can integrate various apps, such as CirclePix, into the system,” he says.
As a whole, Paul was looking for a Brokerage Platform Partner - a company that had the technology, flexibility, people and principles that would drive success today and for years to come. His selection of the kvCORE Platform and BrokerSumo was based on a few primary factors.
However, more important to Carlson than the lead routing and capture was the flexibility to tailor the solution to his brokerage. “The Inside Real Estate team worked with me on settings and customization and that was huge,” says Carlson. “If I’m using the same platform as my competitors, I needed to differentiate our front-end website branding—we were able to do that with a custom Wordpress site that integrates seamlessly.” Plus, he says, “it’s important to the agents to have some website customization options as well.”
The key for Carlson was that he didn’t want someone coming to the website to be treated like a lead. “When someone comes to an agent’s website, they come to find out more about that person. They’ve likely already been on Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia searching for properties, so now they want to figure out who they’re going to hire,” he says.
Although customization was limited, the folks at Inside Real Estate worked with Carlson to include a photo of the real estate agent and the agent’s bio on the home page. “I didn’t want the user to have to click a bunch of pages to read about who the agent is. It’s not perfect, but I liked that Inside Real Estate was willing to work with me,” he says.
While lead-gen is critical, Carlson says its sphere marketing that can take many agents’ business to the next level and kvCORE focuses strongly on that. “The platform is designed to keep you in touch with your sphere. kvCORE leverages the same intelligence for agents’ SOI that was built for nurturing leads, just tailored to the SOI experience. The fact that it’s such a focus is hugeone of our top agents work entirely with their sphere,” he says.
kvCORE offers a smartphone app. The app will prompt you to text, email or call a certain number of clients each day. “If you do that, you’ll reach your entire sphere more than once a year. The truth is, according to the National Association of Realtors®, only 6 percent of agents consistently reach out to their spheres. We’re trying to solve that disconnect between our agents and their databases. If this can help agents at the lowest level click a switch and connect, it’s worth it,” he says.
Soon after implementing kvCORE, Carlson discovered BrokerSumo, Inside Real Estate’s accounting and commission automation program. “We had frustrations with our old client because it felt like it hadn’t been updated since 1994. Sure, they had thousands of reports, but how many do you really use,” he asks.
With BrokerSumo, which also integrates with his 3rd party reporting tools, Carlson can streamline and customize all of his back-office reports. “It also saves us thousands a month compared to the product we were using,” says Carlson. Plus, he adds, he had to manually crunch numbers because they couldn't push numbers into a 3rd party reporting solution. “Now, the data is automatically pulled in and, we can create reports that get automatically sent every month. We have more control and are looking at relevant data rather than having thousands of options that didn’t work for us.”
Last, but not least, Paul liked that Inside Real Estate is committed to innovation and keeping their customers at the forefront of technology. “We’ve bought tech platforms before, where the product just never changed. I want to know that someone is thinking about the end user and improving the product. I need to know that if I’m paying a lot of money that the technology is going to evolve,” he says. That is what Inside Real Estate and kvCORE provide to Paul as his Brokerage Platform partner.
Overall, says Carlson, it’s too soon to give solid numbers on things like lead conversion; however, the benefits from customization to automation and reporting have already become apparent. “We’re excited for where we’re headed,” says Carlson, “and we’re excited to have a technology partner committed to that vision with us.”
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