Technology can be overwhelming to agents. On top of good old person to person lead generation, there are scores of new social media and Internet systems to help their business, many of which look to get into the agents’ pockets for $19.99 per month and up. Most guarantee more listings and buyers. Spend a year listening to the pitches and you’ll find yourself having a couple of hundred dollars removed from your checking account on a regular basis. Fall for some of the snake oil, such as Website “optimization” gurus, and you can spend thousands of dollars a year for imaginary results.
Many brokerages recognize that agents may not have the cash flow early in their careers to try some of the more useful systems, so they assume the burden, usually for $250-$500 per month, to provide services to their agents. Great examples of this are text messaging information systems, automated feedback requests, and Internet aggregaters and page builders that help spread a single-property Website throughout the Internet. The problem is that in most cases, the agents never use them, or spend their own funds for a system that accomplishes the same task. Why?
Awareness - “I didn’t know,” is a common reason. Maybe they didn’t attend the sales meeting where the system and availability was explained, and the brokerage doesn’t any other way of disseminating the information. I find this too common. Information does no good in a vacuum. Leadership must constantly find ways to communicate with agents other than attendance at sales meetings. Examples include an email newsletters, weekly blogs and video briefings posted on YouTube. There have never been more tools available for internal communication as there are today.
Practicality - “I just can’t get it to work.” The nature of many of our online tools have changed in the the last five years. Many applications live in the Web browser or on the “cloud.” If tools freeze up or don’t work correctly, it may be time to take stock of the equipment you are using: processor, operating system, memory browser and Internet connection. All of these items are important and must work together for a smooth experience.
Infrastructure - “Our Internet service is really bad.” Smart brokers understand the importance of technology in real estate’s future and provide reliable access to practical technology. Offices must start with the basics, such as solid, fast Internet service in the workplace. I was AMAZED to discover large offices with horrible, and I’ll say it again, HORRIBLE Internet service (usually sold by the snake oil salesman). Besides purchasing fast, reliable service, the office’s routers and hot spots must me configured correctly, with emphasis on the possibility that many agents may make extreme demands on the system while connected wirelessly.
Education & Training - “It’s way over my head.” Any system available to agents must be taught, not once but on a regular basis, and agents must be mentored. Does your office teach a technology overview class so agents are comfortable with the technology and systems around them, not to make them an experts, but just give them the working knowledge to make them comfortable? How about specific technology courses to master one platform or another? Are these classes scheduled and held on a regular basis?
In real estate, success comes from a balance of several things working in unison. Does your broker have a strategic plan for technology and technology training in the next 12 months? How about the next 18 months? Is there a tech at the office on a regular basis to help agents with hardware, software and printing needs? Does someone at the market center teach Internet marketing, new technology and social media at least four times per year?