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How are real estate brokerage firms building a winning tech stack in today’s competitive environment? We asked industry leaders to share best practices and lessons learned from their recent technology investments.
Watch the full webinar or scroll down and watch the highlights.
Participating in the discussion were the following:
- Travis Saxton – senior vice president of technology at T3 Sixty, a trusted advisor and management consultancy in the residential real estate brokerage industry.
- Stephanie Hrutkay – director of digital resources at McEnearney Associates, a full-service, independent brokerage firm representing all areas within the Washington metro area.
- Dean Rouso– senior vice president at Baird & Warner, an independent and locally-owned real estate company in Chicago.
- Dan Foody – CEO and co-founder of Cloze, a tech firm providing a smarter relationship management platform.
Travis served as the host, prompting Stephanie and Dean to share their insights into the technology strategies of their brokerages, drawing parallels between the two. Dan offered insights from the perspective of Cloze.
Developing a Competitive Edge
With more than one million licensed real estate agents in the United States, and more than five million transactions occurring annually, every brokerage must develop a competitive edge to succeed in today’s marketplace.
Dean explained how Cloze and its associated tech stack has helped the firm provide agents an edge:
As we know there’s a ton of competition coming into the marketplace … so it became obvious to us that we needed a competitive edge … providing for the agent exactly what they felt they needed to advance their business.”
After hiring T3 Sixty to conduct interviews with agents and management, the company learned it “needed to put together a best of class … services, meaning CRM, … automated marketing, etc.”
The team learned that offering agents a choice in what tech to leverage was a great asset because none of the firm’s competitors offered it.
Don’t Rely on One-Size-Fits-All
One-size-fits-all technologies have never been a great solution for agents. 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.
Stephanie shared the strategy of providing a best-of-breed technology stack at McEnearney Associates:
Once we started implementing [our best of breed technology stack] and going with Cloze for our CRM and ActivePipe for our HTML marketing… our agents actually started to adopt more because we weren’t trying to force one product that was supposed to do it all, but it didn’t…and so once we realized that, we started looking for other vendors that were also the best in their class.”
How vital is integration? Dean explained:
Deep integrations are absolutely critical. For example, [BombBomb described Cloze’s integration as] one of the best integrations that had seen with any CRM.”
Stephanie and Dean highlighted how picking the right partners can also improve integration. Both McEnearney Associates and Baird & Warner worked with Cloze to roll out their CRMs in phases, initially working with a select group of agents to launch the product and ensuring their tech stacks are deeply integrated with Cloze.
Both Stephanie and Dean stressed the need to not only get proof of the integration during the sales process but also to understand the depth of the integration. Stephanie commented:
I think asking when you’re going through that sales process to see proof of things is very important as well, because you might hear like, oh yeah, we integrate with that. But do you?”
Cloze provides a partnership – they are more than a vendor, which Stephanie acknowledges is one of the reasons the firm has been so successful with its recent introduction.
Partnership is so important … where the previous, I’ll call them vendors because they weren’t partners … you get what you get … they give you this box and this is a box that you’re set in. And maybe they’ll put things on their roadmap to address in a year or two, but that’s not how this industry works.”
Aligning Managers and Agents
Additionally, as Travis and Dean explained, there can no longer be a tech gap in the operations of a brokerage. Managers and agents must rely upon the same technology for a brokerage to lead in its market –. By “speaking the same code,” agents can engage clients, and managers can retain agents.
Cloze can be an awesome recruiting tool using the same ninja principles as they would expect their agents to use…. And so having the managers actually setting an example, and being … familiar with the product that [they are] using …for recruiting, [makes it] easier for them to coach an agent.”
The AI Advantage
Cloze uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create a daily agenda for its users and ensure no action items are missed. This AI is necessary for today’s tech stack to reduce missed opportunities.
Dean recalled a story of an agent who uploaded her database – a large amount of raw data. The next day, the Cloze system prompted her to reach out to a past client who happened to be on the verge of transacting:
The AI, read the database, figured it out and told them exactly what to do.”
Tech stacks without this AI advantage lose against today’s competition.
Leveraging an Engagement Advisor
Stephanie explained the benefits of hiring an engagement advisor to bridge the gap between the tech team and agents when introducing new technology. An engagement advisor helps agents to learn how to best use the new system and understand its benefits.
We hired somebody on our team [whose] sole job is to work with agents one-on-one in small chunks and get them to adopt one thing at a time … And it’s been incredible to see what she and our team have been able to do.”
Supporting this strategy are Dean and Travis. Dean shared, “After our first meeting, when we learned about McEnearney’s engagement advisor [approach]…I took it back to leadership … [it was] an awesome, awesome idea.”
Offering a Brokerage Concierge
Every software in a tech stack should help streamline an agent’s business, and Baird & Warner has heightened their employee experience by offering a brokerage concierge. In addition to supporting their CRM, the firm also offers a suite of products to help improve an agent’s business operations, including social media management, lead generation, and contract care, to name a few. According to Dean, if these additional services are not offered in today’s marketplace, agents “will lose.”
The data supports his hypothesis. Dan explained, “The average consumer knows … 11 different agents … so that means 11 generic postcards coming a week or 11 generic fridge magnets at holiday time.” Realistically, agents don’t have the time or resources to create the personalized relationship needed to win business without the brokerage’s support.
Improving Recruiting with Leading-Edge Technology
All participants in the discussion agreed on a common theme: brokers and agents must lean on leading-edge technology to succeed in the industry. It enables brokers to recruit and retain top talent, which allows them to grow in today’s competitive marketplace.
Stephanie wraps up sharing her favorite features of Cloze: