By York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks
As we all know too well, there’s a feeling of impending doom when it comes to the future of dollars retained by the brokerage. Brokerage margin compression has been accelerating in the past few years especially, but no one seems to be discussing legit ways to battle it. And last I checked, hope is not a strategy.
A few Moxians attended the Gathering of Eagles event that REAL Trends puts on every year, and here’s what the retained company dollar average for brokerages across the nation looks like over the past several years:
The brokerage dollar is ever-shrinking. Some may argue it isn’t a big deal since home prices have gone up, compensating on a raw dollar basis. That only works in a market with rising prices, and we all know that merry-go-round will stop at some point. We need a real plan for dealing with margin compression – it’s a core problem our industry faces. Don’t forgot that 25% of the RealTrends 500 didn’t make it through the last recession. Do you want to be part of that 25% when the next one hits?
In the face of all of this the “disrupters,” as they like to call themselves, are putting massive pressure on the need for the brokerage to have a technology offering to their agents and technology isn’t cheap. Even as a technology guy myself, I am not shy to admit it. So, how do you thread that needle? How do you buy the best technology, so you can have the best offering to agents in a world where you, the brokerage, don’t have margin to work with?
To preface this, I absolutely stand by my original viewpoint that the traditional brokerage, the impenetrable fortress that it is, has the most valuable asset that exists in the entire industry: relationships with agents, and the agents with the consumers in their sphere of influence.
With that said, here are what I believe to be viable elements of a plan for traditional brokerages to combat margin compression.
Open Platform – Not a shocker
You all knew this was coming. I won’t dive deep, but future-proofing can easily be done by getting your brokerage on a proper open platform that allows you to plug in new tools and unplug old tools just like power strip. Having an open platform means retaining your current technology investments and maintaining a foundation for all the technology changes to come in the future. And don’t be scared by claims that the disruptors will build better technology themselves internally. Over $1B has been invested in real estate tech each of the last two years, so no one company has a lock on building the best technology in every category. Having an open platform that allows you to take advantage of the best of real estate tech today and in the future trumps a “we can build it all” approach every time.
Say it with me: Recruiting, retention, AND productivity
Pick great tools that actually drive agent productivity as well as recruiting as retention. Industry wide, if you ask any broker, “what’s the most important thing in your business?” they’ll say to recruit and retain. But that’s wrong. It should be recruiting, retention, and productivity. If you focus on productivity as a major pillar of your business, it amplifies your recruiting and retention, and it’s where you actually make money. Having non-productive agents at your brokerage doesn’t make you money, it costs you money.
Many brokerages chase the shiny object, so it enhances their recruiting and retention efforts, but it doesn’t move the needle. To that point, it’s imperative to eliminate the shiny objects and steer clear of the temptation of them. They will end up costing you more than you ever thought.
Technology is NOT a single expense line item
Don’t think of technology as a single expense. Think of technology and marketing expenses together, because the two worlds have fundamentally blended. Digital marketing is inherently fused with technology and the other way around. As proof of this, an ongoing trend across all industries is the blending of the CTO and CMO roles.
Technology is not a necessary evil expense item, but as something to be used along with other marketing activities as a combined marketing and technology spend. What form of marketing these days doesn’t involve technology? Almost none.
And while I’m on my soapbox, can we please stop talking about expenses and start talking about investments? Every decision you make to spend money on something should be thought of as an investment. That means that you should expect to have a return on your investment, have a plan for making your investment work, and measuring your return over time. For example, in our case we check agent performance with our tools – agents in brokerages that are our customers do 40% more transactions when they use our stuff. That’s real productivity, and real top-line growth. Make investments and grow your business versus “managing expenses” like an accountant.
Trying to save your way to prosperity almost never works, so get on with a proactive plan to invest in a technology platform and tools to boost agent productivity. Not only will your top line grow, but you’ll be able to better stand your ground in negotiations with agents over their split, because they’ll understand that you’re helping them grow their business vs. just offering them a desk and the ability to rent your brand.
My call to action: have a plan. Focus on agent productivity. Have goals and measure yourself to them. Use technology and digital marketing to support your plan. The great news is that the traditional brokerage fortress is very hard to penetrate. But even the most impenetrable fortress can get sacked if the King doesn’t have a plan for defending it.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
There are a few common pain points for brokerages throughout the industry: they’re having trouble keeping their tech stack updated, agents are experiencing tool fatigue, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain agents. Brokers are being challenged to think ahead, putting systems in place that will ensure their relevancy and competitiveness in the future. Change is hard in any situation, but it’s particularly challenging when the future is uncertain.
New technology is being developed rapidly, making the vetting and onboarding of new tools daunting. Yet, maintaining a winning tech stack is how you’re going to recruit and keep the best performing team of agents.
Integration is vital to a brokerage’s ability to future-proof its business. If you’re able to plug and play tools and services as needed, without completely starting over or losing data, you gain the ability to easily change along with the market. When brokerages have an open platform, they’re able to do this, because their data lives in the cloud and tools can be swapped out on an as-needed basis.
What is an open platform? It’s the system that connects all of your brokerage technology solutions. All of your tech tools and services live in the Moxi Cloud, where they integrate and share data. Flexibility will be vital to your success moving forward. The market is transforming so quickly, we have to be adaptive to changes in client expectations and available technology.
When you have an open platform in place, this data integration makes it easy to plug and play different tools as needed, offering flexibility as your business grows. It’s not only about the ability to plug and play, but the speed as well. With a sophisticated open platform, new tools and services can be up and running in no time. For example, we have an entire partner program filled with 40+ technology solutions that are integrated with the Moxi Cloud. Brokerages can pick and choose which ones they want and it’s as easy as flipping a switch. It removes the burden of managing manual integrations and messy databases. Instead, everything is already there and available and it’s up to the brokerage to identify which tools work best for their business. Additionally, agents are looking to work for brokerages that offer holistic, simple solutions where they can find everything they need quickly and easily.
In February, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World announced our partnership – if you haven’t heard, they launched the LeadingRE Cloud, powered by MoxiWorks. The LeadingRE Cloud offers LeadingRE brokerages the opportunity to benefit from cloud technology no matter their in-house technology solutions.
Our partnership with LeadingRE was born out of innovation. Both organizations strive to progress the real estate industry forward, enabling brokerages to remain competitive in a quickly advancing industry. Offering the LeadingRE Cloud as a member benefit, LeadingRE has truly shown its commitment to technology and we’re ecstatic to be a part of it.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
Our friends over at Flipt are doing some big things. They’re revamping lead generation for real estate, giving agents a unique advantage.
What does this mean for you? You should have your eyes on predictive analytics. It’s making big waves in real estate, particularly as it relates to lead generation. The vast majority of homeowners end up working with the first agent who contacts them. So, how do you get to someone first? That’s where the power of data comes in.
Flipt leverages predictive analytics to identify potential buyers and sellers, then strategically markets to them, generating high-quality leads. They have a network of carefully vetted advertising partners, including the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, Spotify, and many more. The power of identifying buyers and sellers before they’ve taken any action. It enables agents to be the first to contact a prospect in the very early stages of their home buying or selling journey.
Homeowners value responsiveness, an expectation that Flipt allows agents to deliver on. Agents can claim their zip codes, which automatically launches locally targeted campaigns for you, reaching motivated sellers and prompting them to speak with an agent (you!). Ads are only shown to verified homeowners in your selected zip codes, ensuring your marketing dollars are spent wisely. Since Flipt is a MoxiWorks partner, those leads are immediately routed into your Moxi Engage account for easy follow-up and tracking.
We obviously love having Flipt as a partner, but even more than that, we love seeing the results agents have seen from using their service. Recently, Flipt took a closer look at The Keys Company, the largest independently-owned real estate company in Florida. With the goal of increasing transaction volume while decreasing marketing costs, they made recommended Flipt to their agents. Quickly, they saw high adoption and tracked the results.
They found that Flipt helped to strategically grow agents’ pipelines. The leads they received were nurtured, and filled the agents’ pipelines, becoming listings in the following weeks and months. Agents and Managing Brokers throughout the company immediately reported positive results. Several noted they saw an immediate impact on their business and many attributed successful sales to having used Flipt. After 12 months, Keys attributed $920,000 in profit to using Flipt. Download the full case study here.
If you’re an agent interested in trying out Flipt, click here.
By Tiana Baur
In case you hadn’t heard, we have a new partner! VoicePad builds IDX (Internet Data Exchange) mobile lead generation and automated property marketing solutions for some of the most successful real estate brokerages and teams across the country, so you can see why we wanted them on the Moxi Cloud open platform.
Like the Moxi Cloud, VoicePad is able to build a custom solution from their tools and services for each brokerage, making this the ultimate partnership for a la carte customization. The integration to the Moxi Cloud includes SSO (single-sign-on), meaning agents have one less login to remember – a growing necessity (and frankly, makes day-to-day life a little less stressful).
Randall Standard, CEO of VoicePad said, “Seldom do we have such an alignment of client interests as we have with the MoxiWorks partnership. Their API documentation is excellent, and the integration process has been accomplished in a most professional manner. MoxiWorks makes it easy for agents to use our services.”
On our end, we also had quite a bit to say about why we’re so excited about this particular partnership, but we’ll just give you the highlight. Mike McHenry, VP of Moxi Cloud Partnerships & Integrations at MoxiWorks said, “When it comes to tools and services, VoicePad brings a variety we haven’t seen before. It enables our brokerage clients to truly pick the options they need, without having to settle for an all or nothing ‘solution.’”
VoicePad has a lot to offer, including: Curbside lead-gen, mobile sites, virtual tours, property videos, virtual reception, social posts, texting, audio stream, mortgage lead-gen, MLS automation, rental marketing, and flyers. Brokerages are able to pick and choose the tools and services they need from VoicePad, and they are plugged into the Moxi Cloud open platform with the rest of their unique ecosystem! For more info on each of these offerings, see below.
Tools and Services available on VoicePad:
Real Estate mobile lead generation…at its best!
Put your brand in their hand. Your brand is one of the most powerful tools you have.
Mobile-friendly, buffer-free property tours with bilingual narration.
Your property videos are automatically created and updated from your listing data.
Meet “Eve.” She narrates your tours, handles your property inquiries and routes calls to the right people.
Listing data updates and triggers auto-posts to your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts.
Search + Share via text.
Innovative website accessibility solutions.
Position your mortgage offering within your curbside lead-gen. Smart.
VoicePad counts what you don’t, such as text and call property inquiry analytics. Better insights = Better decisions.
Many tools…One data source.
“Eve” handles rental inquiries by phone that you can’t. She’s bilingual and works 24/7.
1. Choose Design. 2. Hit Print. 3. That’s it.
By Marc Chouaniere, VP of Marketing, MoxiWorks
It’s no accident that three of the largest and most successful regional real estate brokerages in the U.S. use MoxiWorks – which we extend to help 55 other independent brokerages as well. We pride ourselves on providing best-in-class tools and services to our clients, but what does that mean? Best-in-Class is a set of superior solutions (an entire toolbox) for a given market vs Best-of Breed which is a single tool (a hammer).
While I’m still learning about the intricacies of the real estate industry (I come from a fairly diverse software background), I am very familiar with best-in-class or best-of-breed technology solutions. Best-in-class simply means; Your product or service is what your customers revere as superior and the standard by which all others aspire to. You are the highest level of quality, the benchmark of top performance, the best of the best. Often you are the first to innovate and continually lead in your respective category. I was fortunate to have had worked at Microsoft early in my career to engrain a solid sense of high standards in building and maintaining best-in-class discipline in product execution and team leadership. However, small companies can also quickly catapult themselves to best-of-breed, as is the case with my recent experience at Icertis in the enterprise contract management space. Getting to this level takes deep focus and commitment but staying at the top can be equally as challenging. MoxiWorks was built by agents and brokers that live and breathe real estate every day to deliver one thing; best-in-class.
How we became best-in-class
Best-of-class can be achieved in many ways. At MoxiWorks, our recipe for success comes from a deep connection to real estate (being born out of Windermere), a passion for improving the experience for our agent and broker customers, and a focus on thinking about what’s the next innovation we can bring to our products. This, coupled with a leadership team that hires and nurtures the best talent with the insight to know how to shape the right course or to get out of the way when people need the freedom to push the boundaries of convention. Additionally, we think about the whole market. We align with select partners that benefit the entire ecosystem since we know that no company that is best-in-class can be a solution island.
It’s also several other unique things, like the wonderful depth of collaboration we have. I sit right next to the support desk and hear every day how we can evolve and become better. On my other side I have the development team, who regularly bounces ideas off my team to gain a perspective on how customers might receive a new feature or a change to a current product. Having the entire team under one roof is so valuable when needing to be extremely agile to create the best solutions in the market.
As with my joining MoxiWorks, we have recently been bringing different people onboard with diverse experiences to think outside the box and learn how other industries have brought innovation to their business.
What “best-in-class” means for your agents
Due to constantly having to change out old technology for new technology, agents now have major tool fatigue. Because of this they are ultra-sensitive to new tools, so they need to be thoughtfully integrated in a way that doesn’t take a lot of time or effort (or another password to remember) on their part. When it comes to technology, a brokerage’s value proposition needs to be centered around helping them grow their business and making their lives easier, putting more time and money back in their pockets. Therefore, picking the best tools and services for the type of business that your agents do and the style of your unique brokerage, while minimizing the hassle factor, is essential.
Best-in-class helps you accomplish this. Because we have a strict vetting process, you can rest assured that the Moxi Cloud tools and services are truly best-in-class and choosing amongst them will minimize the need for changing them out in the future, making tool fatigue a thing of the past.
This is all thanks to MoxiWorks having an Open Platform which allows technology and service companies to integrate and share data. Without an Open Platform you would lose a system that makes it easy to find and know when to use the various best-in-class tools and services provided, SSO (single-sign-on), and the data sharing that eliminates the need for data reentry.
Best-in-class doesn’t just mean superior tools for your agents, it means an entire ecosystem seamlessly working together, driving your agents’ success and making their day-to-day life more efficient and rewarding.
By Nick Van Valkenberg, Director of Business Development, MoxiWorks
When lost, a compass is used to help you find your way, but what is a compass used for when you are already on the path to success? Could a compass force you to look in the wrong direction? Is there a need for a compass when you already know the terrain and have the map? While in the field I have been having a number of conversations about the “lion coming over the hill” that is Compass. Massively funded, technology forward, and making waves. It is hard not to look in their direction and wonder if the moat you have built around your brokerage will last.
Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Influence
To summarize Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit one says to be proactive. A great way to becoming self-aware is to separate your Circle of Concern and your Circle of Influence.
You do not have control over your Circle of Concern – it’s filled with topics like: what Compass is doing in regard to raising capital, building technology, or whether they move to your market or not. You can worry about these until your face turns blue, but you cannot control the outcomes.
Your Circle of Influence you can control, and this is where you should be spending your time and energy. Topics include: educating your agents on not only the negatives, but also the positives of Compass (you would be naive to portray all as negative), finding technology to compete with what they are building, recruiting new agents, and actively recruiting your current team members to raise retention within your brokerage.
Now that we have cleared the air, know where to focus and what can be controlled, let me tell you our (MoxiWorks) take on the situation. Technology is a big topic and a key point to Compass’ recruiting efforts. To compete with the technology that Compass is building you may need an upgrade. Now I’m not suggesting that you go and build your own, I’m suggesting that you look at a platform that is already being used by some of the nation’s top brokerages.
Compass says that their technology will: have a CRM that combines listing information, client information, and transaction information. Compass’ technology is said to be in “one place,” combining all tools, giving power of integration, offering insights, and easy to launch digital social marketing. At MoxiWorks we would recommend researching our open platform that encompasses (pun intended) these aspects and more.
Recruiting is another part of your Circle of Influence that you can control. The discussion of recruiting generally invokes the thought of trying to increase your agent count or better yet, maintain your agent count as attrition is part of the business. In the fourth quarter of 2017, MoxiWorks built an agent recruiting tool called Moxi Talent. Moxi Talent uses a two-pronged approach: recruiting new agents to your brokerage and recruiting your current agents. Trust me when I say if you are not congratulating your current agents, someone else is and that style of interaction will win them over.
In summary, the only thing that stays the same is change and those that do not adapt to the times will be left behind. The best option is to partner with a technology company known for innovating to future-proof brokerages. If any of this has resonated with you I suggest that you reach out to our team and at least do yourself the service to learn how we are paving the way. I, or one of my colleagues, would be more than happy to look at your current technology stack to show you how we can connect your current systems and upgrade others. Do yourself a favor and be proactive; now is not the time to take a reactive approach.
Curate, customize, and delight your clients with the help of Knack.
And the Moxi Cloud just keeps growing. Now with gifting services from KNACKSHOPS.COM available! We’re stoked to announce Knack as a preferred brokerage solution, giving agents more ability to customize their client gifts.
One of the reasons the Moxi Cloud is growing at such a fast rate (40+ tools and services!) is because we encourage our brokerage clients to integrate the existing tools and services they already know and love. Part owner and client of MoxiWorks, Windermere Real Estate, is the brokerage that brought Knack to our attention, and we’re very thankful they did!
Knack is a modern gift-giving solution for agents who wants to give thoughtful gifts but can’t take time out of their already busy-as-can-be schedule to find them. Knack carefully curates artisan products that tell a story, then allows agents to combine items in a way that is meaningful to them. Gifts are hand-packed, and each gift includes a custom booklet that tells the story of each item in the gift, making the experience enjoyable and unique. Shoppers may choose from already made gift sets, customize those to their liking, or choose from over 1,000 products on the site to curate their own unique gift set.
“We’re excited to add Knack to the cloud. Giving gifts and in doing so, staying in touch with your sphere is crucial for agents. Knack is special in that it allows the agent to customize a gift set or build one from scratch, and have it delivered in beautiful packaging to their clients. We want brokerages and agents to have choice, and this helps to accomplish that,” said Kylah Searing, Director of Moxi Cloud Partnerships and Integrations at MoxiWorks. “It was great having the introduction to Knack come from Windermere. Since they already use and love this service, it made the decision to add them to the cloud an easy one.”
This integration to the Moxi Cloud includes SSO (single-sign-on), meaning agents have one less login to remember. The gifts are easily curated and if agents need help with inspiration, they can speak to an expert concierge.
We also love Knack for their giving back mentality. Knack partners with merchants who support a wide range of causes and donates a percentage of their sales to philanthropic causes as well. For instance, with Windermere, agents can give and give back: Knack donates five percent of each purchase made by a Windermere agent to the much-admired Windermere Foundation. Our Moxi Fund was actually born from the Windermere Foundation, so we love working with like-minded companies.
If your brokerage is interested in adding Knack as a brokerage solution, please contact your dedicated Account Manager and they’ll get the ball rolling.
By Tiana Baur
Finding the right solution can be tough. Sometimes it feels utterly impossible when you’ve tried tool after tool for your brokerage, only to find that yet again it wasn’t the right fit. The issue is, one solution for one brokerage does not make for the perfect solution at another brokerage. Every business is so unique that a one size fits all approach is begging to crumble and leave your brokerage feeling more fatigue than increased productivity. Getting any flashbacks? There’s a way around it.
We don’t want to be your only brokerage solution. We want to help you build it.
We were founded by a brokerage after years of them feeling the same desperation for the right tools, so we understand where you’re coming from and how detrimental it can be to your business. It’s also why we want to help you find the perfect solution for your brokerage, not tell you what it needs to be. The Moxi Cloud, our open platform, has over 40 tools and services that you can pick and choose from to build the power strip your brokerage has always craved. Think of it as the foundation to build your dream scenario.
Plug-in, plug-out. With an open platform it’s as easy as plugging your new printer in and unplugging your old one.
What’s great about an open platform is you don’t have to toss out all of your tools. Chances are, you like at least one of your tools and you’ve invested precious time and money into it. When you use the Moxi Cloud as your foundation, you can bring over the existing tools you know and love to retain your investment. And if a tool your eyeballing isn’t in our list of 40+ tools and services, we’ll add it to the Moxi Cloud for you! We’ll plug it in.
We don’t force you to do anything that isn’t in the spirit of making your brokerage the best it can be.
A lot of real estate platforms might say that you HAVE to use their websites in order to get their other tools. Not with the Moxi Cloud. And shame on those that force you to do otherwise. We have a website tool too, (and we will probably try to sell you on it because what kind of business would we be if we didn’t?!) but if you have one that your agents love and already know how to use, then maybe you should keep it! In that case, you’re probably looking for a new CRM or interactive presentation tool and maybe you are also in need of a transaction management tool or gifting service – and we can totally help you with that.
The options are endless. But it starts with you.
Change can be scary and bad. It can also be really, really good. MoxiWorks hasn’t gotten to over 60 brokerage clients, over 110,000 agents, and powering the LeadingRE Cloud without doing something right. We genuinely want to help. We want to make your brokerage everything you envision it to be. All we need is a place to start.
Curious what your brokerage solution could look like? Check out the variety of tools and services we have on our open platform and instead of daydreaming about the possibilities, pick up the phone (contact below) and call us! We’re happy to help. Always.
By Tiana Baur
The next time you purchase a car, it very well might be a self-driving one. It’s a headline our eyes now only glance at because we’ve seen it so many times and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to fruition. We’re not only okay with that technology, we’re jazzed about it. We’ll all be able to work, read, and relax during our commutes and trust that we’ll get to our destination timely and in one piece. There’s foreshadowing of another technology too. One that would not only upset our industry, but would tear it to pieces, and that’s the tease of robots as real estate agents. It’s a viable conjecture, especially given how technology is now paving the way for the future of our industry. The problem is, the home buying journey has a very different barrier to trust and breaking down that wall will be close to impossible.
People got their heads out of the sand (some didn’t) and we’ve seen rapid change in the past couple of years. VR (virtual reality) tours are a “thing” homebuyers now expect when they’re house hunting. You can even pay your rent with bitcoin (crazy, right?). The one constant that our industry has always had, though, is that homebuyers choose an agent. That agent happens to be in the form of a human. And that will never change. The CEO of Compass even agrees with that.
Sure, some will be interested in a robot agent. We imagine Elon Musk himself would be eager to try out a robot instead of a human agent for his next transaction. The problem is, most of us are not Elon Musk. We have a comfort zone and although we step out of it more often than before, we stick to it when it comes to the biggest financial transaction we do in our entire lifetime. Robots may charge two percent commission instead of the typical five or six, but guess what? Consumers don’t care. Or, they don’t care enough to risk it. If they cared enough about that five or six percent, they’d be listing their homes by themselves or using Instant Offers (which, I’ve never heard of an actual situation where someone did).
Here’s why people choose people:
Extremely. Real estate agents serve as a sounding board and a therapist just as much as they do a trusted advisor. People want someone who will answer phone calls at midnight when the home seller is crying and stressed because something unforeseen went wrong last minute during the transaction. They want someone to send a bottle of champagne to congratulate them on their great home sale with a heartfelt note because they got through it together as a team. Robots don’t promise to hold their hand from the very beginning, all the way until they’ve moved and settled into their new home.
Buyers and sellers want to sit across from someone in a coffee shop and talk face-to-face. They want something tangible. They want to shake someone’s hand and know that person actually cares about them and their family and that they have feelings and blood running in their veins like they do theirs. Because that is how emotional a home transaction is.
First time buyers all the way through home buying veterans use agents. Why? Because there is always a new situation, a new question, a new issue that pops up that they haven’t seen or dealt with before. Maybe it’s an issue with the mortgage company or maybe there was an issue with escrow. Maybe you just want some advice on what color to paint your living room before the house is listed. Whatever it is, the agent is prepared to handle it.
Let’s back up. AI probably has a place in real estate when it comes to scheduling, answering simple questions, etc. But it will never, ever replace the human connection that is found between a trusted advisor and their beloved clients.