The Other Side of Real Estate: How Much Tech Is Too Much?
When making tech changes for your brokerage, how do you find the right balance?
I have never questioned my professional judgment more than in my current role. I oscillate between feeling as though I’m not moving projects forward fast enough and feeling as though I’m overwhelming our agents and staff with too many changes. How much is too much?
I asked a handful of our agents and staff how many new tools they thought we could realistically take on each year. Their responses ranged from three to ten new platforms, with an average in the four-to-six range. However, it was the three additional comments that really stuck with me:
1. “It depends on how much training we have.”
While most technology companies offer training tools, whether that’s a dedicated trainer specific to your operations, group training with other teams of similar size, or on-demand video-based training, agents and staff need more guidance than just a how-to. The success of a system rollout and adoption by your team is dependent on understanding the workflow and best practices for your environment.
I find myself explaining why much more often than how because when your team knows why they should do something a certain way, they can expand that mentality to other aspects of the system or set of systems. Every business is unique, and most software solutions allow for customization to meet your needs. However, training is more than just telling people how to “click here and then drag it there.” Training needs to be planned and flexible based on specific use cases and user feedback. Most importantly, advanced access to new systems will take stress off your agents and staff, giving them the confidence to use the system to its full capacity when it goes entirely live.
2. “It depends on how much time we have to get used to it before it’s fully live.”
User feedback is critical to a successful rollout. Make sure that you’re building in adequate time for your staff and agents to get exposed to a system before going live. As an example, we’re currently rolling out a transaction management (TM) system to replace our digital files and deal folders. The old system was in place for 10 years. The longer your team has been using a legacy process, the more time they’ll need to get used to a new solution.
We’ve given our team a four-month period to get used to our new TM system. During this period, I’m meeting with agents and staff weekly to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not working. The pain point with this way of doing things is that there is a duplication of efforts during the transition window. In fact, I had some agents ask to cut over before the go-live date. However, until everyone is ready to move over, duplication will be required. Take this into account when planning your next rollout.
3. “It depends on how many other things we’re launching at the same time.”
We’re bombarded with vendors trying to sell us and our agents marketing and transaction management software, web-sites, safety products, business and financial tools, and everything in between. Even if you wanted to implement every new product you saw, it’s not possible to build out the training and get your team up to speed with every system at the same time. We need to focus on top priorities and ensure we have the staff and training materials in place to create a successful rollout. We need to plan where each rollout fits in the annual calendar and communicate these dates to the team.
Many software companies ask a set of qualifying questions, like an agent trying to qualify a buyer or seller. These qualifying questions are designed to help rank leads by the highest propensity to buy. However, none of these companies ask one key question: What other products are you rolling out over the next three-to-twelve months? Be your own advocate and make sure that vendors understand the other vendor obligations you’ve taken on. Ask them for advice and assets to help plan for a successful rollout with your team.
Your business is unique, and you should embrace this. Using a piece of software without building out specific-use processes or workarounds is allowing the software to control your business. Work with your team on a detailed training plan, enough time to get comfortable with the new interface, and a strategic launch date. In my opinion, these are the three most significant factors in ensuring a successful launch. Course corrections and adjustments are a natural part of the process. Failure is OK. But, if you’re going to fail; fail fast!