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In a recent interview, Stephanie Hrutkay, director of digital resources at McEnearney Associates, discussed how her firm’s tech stack* – which is built around the Cloze customer relationship management (CRM) system – has become a critical resource to the firm’s success. It has allowed agents to manage their time more effectively and improve client relations, ultimately increasing the firm’s sales and agent retention rates. All in all, their tech stack has become the foundation at McEnearney Associates, enabling them to thrive in today’s digital world.
Stephanie shares, “I feel that we have a pretty impressive technology stack. I think that we work with the best of the best in everything from digital marketing to our website platform to our CRM and various other [tools] – our CMA [comparative market analysis] and our property alerts. We really take a lot of time and effort to vet all of the different options out there, and then we really like to fine-tune [them], going over [each one] and making sure that we have the best technology out there for our agents.”
McEnearney Associates is a full-service brokerage firm headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. Their network of over 360 associates in eleven offices offers numerous real estate services to the Washington, D.C. metro area, including seller and buyer representation, property management, commercial representation, and relocation services.
*A tech stack refers to the combination of technologies a company uses to run its business. It enables companies to work with specialized platforms to ensure optimal service, combining all technologies to improve their efficiencies.
Don’t Rely on One-Size-Fits-All Technology Platforms
One-size-fits-all technologies have never been a great solution for agents. The promise by these platforms is tempting, which is why these jack-of-all-trades platforms are adopted, but instead, it creates more challenges than solutions that must be overcome. This experience is one that many brokers have had, including McEnearney Associates. When first seeking a CRM, the firm opted for the free option offered by its website developer, but associates quickly found it did not meet their needs, so adoption was low. A website-based CRM, that lacked critical integrations was not the answer.
While every agent has different needs, one-size-fits-all solutions treat them as if they are all the same and, in the process, miss the mark most of the time. With increased competition, it is important for brokerages to identify software that can solve specific pain points, so they can give their agents a competitive edge in the evolving market.
One of the things I learned a few years ago is that a technology company cannot be good at everything. … We absolutely love our website provider … it also offers … a CRM and property alerts and different items like that. That sounds great because you have a one-stop-shop. But, again, they can’t be good at everything. So we were trying to force a CRM that was free [and was] wrapped up in the website platform, but it wasn’t working for our agents.”
As a result, the team ventured on, searching for a CRM that was right for its business model. After talking with agents and taking notes on what was necessary for success, Stephanie commenced her research. “I spent a few months…researching different CRMs. And that’s how I came [upon] Cloze.”
What stood out about Cloze was the possibility of integrations.
The [lack of] integration is what was killing our agents on our old CRM plan. It wasn’t talking to our HTML marketing. It wasn’t talking to our transaction management. It … was pretty much just a contact holder.”
However, Cloze CRM integrates the essential technologies utilized in a real estate brokerage. At a glance, Cloze deeply integrates with the following:
- Email: Gmail, Office 365, Exchange, iCloud, IMAP, and hundreds of other email services
- Phone and texts: iPhone and Android
- Calendar: Google, Exchange, Office 365, iCloud, and other calendars
- Productivity apps: Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, Google Drive, OneNote, OneDrive, and more
- Business apps: Mailchimp, DocuSign, BombBomb, ActivePipe, Rezora, Spacio, and more
- Transaction Management: SkySlope, DocuSign, and dotloop
Stephanie explains that the one-size-fits-all model does not work. And instead of seeking a tech company that can offer this service, firms should find one to help agents leverage the various tools available in today’s real estate tech world. Cloze CRM offers the solution Stephanie and her team were looking for.
Cloze: A Solution for McEnearney Associates
The transition to Cloze happened recently for McEnearney Associates, following feedback from its agents regarding their dissatisfaction with the previous CRM. With hundreds of agents to support, the firm delved into finding the best CRM solution for it. Stephanie speaks further on why Cloze was the right choice, expanding further on the integrations offered by the platform.
From her perspective, Cloze offers four key features that other CRMs do not.
1.) Ease of Use
Cloze offers an easy-to-use interface that enables agents to focus on their business. It offers agents the tools they need to manage their business and ensure no deals are lost. Daily activities are posted on the Cloze Agenda, which helps agents navigate meetings, contracts, marketing, etc.
“The ease of it really sold me.”
2.) Integration Capabilities
As mentioned, Cloze integrates with the tools real estate agents use daily, including syncing with calls and texts.
One thing that totally blew me away – out of the 15 [options] that I went through, [was that] Cloze was the only one that syncs with our calls and texts. To me, that is a no-brainer because [our agents] are out and about all the time. If they had to go back in and log those calls and text messages, they wouldn’t do it.”
3.) Real Estate Specific
CRMs developed for the general sales sector do not match the needs of real estate agents. Often, the terminology varies and real estate properties are difficult to manage, creating an unwanted barrier to building a business effectively. Cloze, however, is real estate specific. The solution was developed with real estate professionals in mind, making it simple for agents to integrate into their business model.
At first, I didn’t realize that was important. But when I was going through the journey of interviewing and having to teach our agents [that]… this word means ‘buyer’… it didn’t seem to make sense. Not only was I asking them to adapt and adopt a new routine but then also change their wording. It didn’t seem important to me at first, but once I was getting into it, [I realized that I couldn’t] ask them to completely [change what they were doing] … ‘In the field – [in] real estate, think of these words, but now when you’re coming back and trying to build your business, we need [you] to think of it in a different way.'”
4.) Cloze Support
Finally, Stephine discovered that the support provided by the Cloze team is integral to working with a CRM provider. This allows all users to troubleshoot problems in real-time rather than waiting for days to resolve them.
The amount of time and attention we have gotten from Cloze has just been unbelievable.”
Focusing on a Mobile CRM
The majority of a real estate agent’s time is spent in the field. This can include attending appointments with clients, canvassing new neighborhoods, participating in networking events, or overseeing home inspections. With so much time spent outside the office, it is critical for a CRM to adapt to the agent’s mobile lifestyle.
Unfortunately, many CRM solutions are “dumbed down” for application, says Stephine. Cloze is one of the only tools that actually translates directly from desktop to mobile device.
I would say the majority of the [providers] that we interviewed did have apps but not to the level [we need]. We need our agents to be able to do everything [they can] do on their computer also on their phone. And that’s what really struck me about Cloze, too. … It’s a one-to-one equivalent, and that is very important to us.”
A CRM for Management
The best way to lead a team with technology is for management to utilize the technology themselves. For McEnearney Associates, this holds true. The brokers at the firm rely on Cloze to be the core of their tech stack, which supports them when training new agents on how to use the tool to improve business operations.
… I personally wanted our brokers, when they’re out recruiting, talking to [or] … trying to retain our current agents, to be able to say, ‘[I] know … you’re frustrated, … you’re not keeping up with your business. Hey, have you tried our CRM?’ And if our brokers weren’t using it, they wouldn’t be able to talk about it powerfully.”
Furthermore, by supporting this tech stack, brokers can educate agents on the integrations Cloze supports so that agents can streamline their business operations. All agents should be focusing on building client relationships, not spending hours each week on operations and organization. Cloze provides this solution.
Cloze Keeps McEnearney Competitive with “Big Brand” Brokers
With more than 100,000 brokerage firms out there, it can be challenging to remain competitive. For smaller and local firms, this holds true even more when competing with big brand brokers. However, the reality is that the flexibility of small and mid-sized firms allows them to continuously upgrade their technologies and provide their clients with the best service.
When we’re up against some of the big national brands or franchises, we are able to say, and truly mean, that we work with the best in the business [when it comes to] our technology platforms, hands down.
And what I love, particularly … is that we, being a mid-sized but privately owned [firm], when we do hear about a better platform, we’re able to – if we decide it’s the correct switch to make … do that.”
Furthermore, it allows the firm to rely on tech stacks instead of a one-size-fits-all platform, which historically has proven ineffective for McEnearney Associates.
I feel so passionate about this because we’ve tried … with two different companies to use a one-size-fits-all [approach]. And [we’ve had] the [provider] promise, ‘Oh, this is coming and this is coming.’ [So] we never even looked at other options, but [we later found] out that it’s on the roadmap for 18 months down the road. So sometimes, you know … [it’s] great that you’re going to put this onto the platform, but we need to keep up. We are in fierce competition, and we need to make those moves [now]. If a particular company is able to make that move faster than the one-stop-shop, then we’re going to go with that company.”
As a result, McEnearney Associates is able to recruit top agents in the industry and provide the best technology in the business to those agents, which allows them to remain competitive by providing clients with the highest quality service. The firm can partner with technology that influences today’s market and build a tech stack based on agent and client feedback. In the fast-paced world that we live in today, this flexibility is vital.