Software solutions for real estate brokerages abound. As you look at your options, initial price and implementation are likely top of mind. But these factors only tell part of the story — you’ll want to understand your total cost of ownership (TCO) before you decide on the right solution for your business. Be sure to get answers to questions in these six critical areas before you sign on.
6 Big Questions to Ask Every Real Estate Technology Vendor About TCO.
6 Big Questions to Ask Every Real Estate Technology Vendor About
- Will this software grow with my company’s goals?
- Does the software come with usage limitations, and how do the limitations work?
- How easy is the software to use?
- What should we plan for in terms of in-house maintenance requirements?
- What kind of technical support will we need in order to use the software every day?
- How secure is our data, and what happens in the case of a disaster or downtime where we can’t access our software?
1. Will this software grow with my company’s goals?
Now that Software as a Service (SaaS) dominates in most industries, you are less likely to run into a purchase becoming outdated. However, does the software provider know their future intentions? Or, does this product seem like a quick-fix, a bandage, for your existing problem?
What questions should you ask about the “expected lifetime” of the software?
- Is this a new product, or has it been on the market for quite some time?
- What new products does the vendor have in the pipeline that might replace the one you are considering?
- How long do they plan to support the existing product?
2. Does the software come with usage limitations, and how do the limitations work?
If you don’t plan ahead there can come a point in your average daily usage that you find a limitation in the software. What does “typical” usage look like, and what are the costs if we exceed usage limitations?
- How many users can I have per license?
- How many devices can run the software at the same time?
- Can we access the software from both the desktop and mobile?
- Is there a limit to the amount of data storage?
3. How easy is the software to use?
Questions about ease of use apply to many aspects of how your brokerage will implement a new solution and they are important to ask ahead of time. This will help you better frame how your staff and agents will continue to embrace it over time. Be sure to understand the nitty-gritty about customization, data migration, implementation, adoption, initial and ongoing training, and expected timelines for each of these pieces. These items could affect the actual cost of the software as well as the enthusiasm of your agents and administrative staff. You want happy, engaged team members who can readily put the new tools to work.
Here are the questions you should ask about the software’s ease of use:
- How easy is it to onboard?
- What is the average time it takes for new clients to implement and start using the software?
- What is the time investment for the initial training?
- How much ongoing training is included?
- How difficult is data migration?
- How long does data migration take?
4. What should we plan for in terms of in-house maintenance requirements?
When considering the total cost of ownership, you need to look at how you will handle the inevitable upgrades over time.
Questions you should ask regarding ongoing maintenance:
- Do we need to have a dedicated in-house maintenance person?
- How hard will it be to maintain our software?
- Do we pay more for software updates or bug patches?
- At what point would we need to upgrade our licenses?
5. What kind of technical support will we need in order to use the software every day?
Even with the most user-friendly software, glitches, frozen screens, and technical issues happen. And let’s face it — real estate agents exist all over the tech-savviness spectrum. You’ll want to understand what’s promised for basic support and troubleshooting and whether you’ll need to make an additional investment to assure broad-based usage.
Questions you should ask about support and troubleshooting:
- What type of support is offered with our license?
- Is there a time frame or a limited number of support hours we get with our package?
- What happens if an agent has trouble with the software? Are we charged per call?
- How easy is it to reach a support person? What hours is support available?
6. How secure is our data, and what happens in the case of a disaster or downtime where we can’t access our software?
What safeguards does the software vendor have in place to help you keep your business safe, secure, and operational through any situation? The real estate industry is fast becoming a high-risk target in identity theft and wire-fraud schemes. You want to ensure you’re aligning with partners that take security seriously.
Questions you should ask about security, disasters, and potential downtime:
- What kind of security is included with our licensing?
- Are automatic backups included?
- Do we need to purchase additional external or cloud storage?
- Will we need to hire an additional security service provider for our software?
- Will we be able to access our data during a natural disaster?
- Software downtime affects our efficiency and agent productivity; what assurances do we have about software connectivity?
Ask these questions about any real estate software solution you are seriously considering. You’ll get important answers, and you’ll also help the vendor you eventually choose support you more constructively. And when you ask the vendor about data responsibilities, support, troubleshooting, ease of use, maintenance, and expected lifetime, you can better estimate the TCO of your new software. If a vendor doesn’t have an answer, you may want to go with a provider who already has these processes — and more — covered.
By Maddie Jostol
First of all… yes, you need a CRM. If you haven’t onboarded a standard agent CRM for your brokerage, then 2018 is the year to do so. A CRM (customer relationship management system) is where all of your agents keep and nurture their contacts, market to their sphere, manage their sales flow, track their goals, and much more. The CRM glues everything together.
What impact could a CRM have on your business? Here are a few quick facts:
- ” 74% of businesses using a CRM report improved customer relationships (Annuitas Group).
- ” Conversion rates can improve by 300% with a CRM in place (Cloudswave).
- ” Lead cost is reduced by 23% with a CRM in place (Cloudswave).
Vetting technologies can be challenging and complicated, especially a system as robust as a CRM. So, what should you be looking for in a CRM for your agents? Below are our recommendations for what you should consider when it comes to a CRM for your brokerage.
Your CRM should ‘understand’ the real estate business.
In general, CRMs should be intuitive. The system’s sales flow, prompts, and coaching should align with your business process. The home sales process is a unique one compared to other businesses. When considering an agent CRM, make sure the system makes sense for this sales process, taking into consideration sphere marketing, a long sales cycle, GCI goals, the transaction process, etc.
It must support your sphere-selling efforts.
The sphere-selling methodology is the way of the future. When agents strategically leverage their spheres of influence, their businesses grow in a sustainable way. In a competitive landscape, where all markets are thirsty for leads, an agent’s sphere is their power.
If you’ve invested in training and coaching to encourage your agents to leverage sphere-selling, they should be using a CRM that supports those efforts. What’s this look like? It means having your CRM integrated with your other contact databases, relevant segmentation options, and aggregated public data to keep up with the people in your sphere.
Integration will power your business.
Integration powers your business. In a sea of ad hoc tools, we’re all left attempting to remember passwords and experiencing tool fatigue. Select technology solutions for your brokerage that integrate with each other. This means that an agent can use all of their tools with a single sign-on and a cohesive flow.
Take lead generation, for example. When leads are generated – whether they’re from the agent’s website, or purchased from a lead provider, they should immediately appear in the agent’s CRM, and the agent should be prompted to follow up. This is bare minimum for a CRM. When it comes to sales enablement, guiding an agent through the necessary tasks from lead generation all the way through closing is key.
Integration goes far beyond lead generation. With Moxi Engage CRM, for example, an agents’ leads flow straight into their CRM, but they can also purchase client gifts, advertise on Facebook, execute print marketing campaigns, manage transactions, and much more, directly from their Engage account.
It must have live MLS data.
When it comes to a CRM in real estate, MLS integration is a must-have. When agents win listings, those listings automatically with their CRM, enabling them to truly manage the transaction from start to finish. It means agents never have to manually enter property data, saving time, and negating errors.
It should improve agent productivity.
When we talk about CRMs, we often talk about “tasks” and “actions” which, for some, can feel like the system is adding work. That’s just not true. The tasks that your CRM prompts should be actions that agents are already taking (and if they aren’t, then it’s even more reason to get a system in place). What the CRM does is streamline these tasks and remind the agent, so they don’t miss a beat.
Logging into your CRM and seeing everything you need to accomplish that day will change an agent’s workflow for the better. They always know what they need to do in order to reach their goals. They’ll be able to see who in their sphere they should reach out to, and be reminded to follow up with that one lead they talked to last week. They’ll be able to look back and see when they last spoke with so-and-so, and be reminded to send Mr. and Mrs. Smith a gift for their house-versary.
This increase in productivity all comes back to your business. Agents are not only able to accomplish more, closing more deals, but they also find better work/life balance, improving retention at your brokerage. Improved productivity adds up to revenue, having a nice effect on your business’ bottom line.
It’s a component of your open platform.
Your agent CRM is a (vital) piece of a larger puzzle. Your brokerage platform is the ecosystem where all of your technology tools and services live, integrate, and share data. Powering that is the CRM, hosting agent databases, consumer data, property data, and driving business results.
To learn more about the Moxi Engage CRM and the Moxi Cloud open platform, reach out to us to talk to a member of our team.
By Tiana Baur
To recap quite possibly the most significant announcement of 2017 for our industry, Softbank invested a whopping $450 million into the new, shiny tech brokerage: Compass. Emphasis on the brokerage, emphasis on that dollar amount since it’s the largest investment into real estate technology ever, from the world’s largest technology investment fund. They basically did a mic drop to cap off an already crazy real estate tech announcement year. Needless to say, our CEO had some words.
So, Compass is now valued at $2.2 billion. Casual pocket change, am I right? On a serious note though, they aren’t just planning and raising money, they are doing and achieving. That alone makes this all the scarier.
A few months ago, CEO Robert Reffkin announced a 2020 by 2020 plan. Which meant they are going to expand into 10 new markets in the U.S. by 2020, and grab 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities. The cities they’re expanding to being Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Only a couple exasperated brokerage breaths later, they announced they had ALREADY expanded to Chicago, rapidly growing from a team of 20 top tier agents they plucked from the competition. If that doesn’t make you want to vomit in your own shoes then I don’t know what will. This is real, and it’s terrifying for most brokerages out there.
How on earth do you compete with that?!
Chances are, you’re not going to get Softbank to invest millions upon millions into your brokerage. But that’s okay, because there is another way to survive and even become a stronger, more productive brokerage than you ever thought was possible.
The not-so-secret ingredient: an open platform. In fact, it’s not just an ingredient, it’s THE ingredient for brokerage success. Ever tried baking a cake without some type of flour? Pretty. Freaking. Awful. Think of an open platform as your brokerage’s flour. It provides the structure and strength, holding everything together, in one tasty package. You can add in nuts, chocolate chips, even peanut butter. The options are endless and it’s up to you to decide what is going to taste the best.
Take the Moxi Cloud open platform for example. We have over 40 tools and services – DocuSign, Imprev, Intuit, Buyside, Offrs, Flipt – to name a few. Our brokerage clients get to pick any and all they wish to, and all their data and tools and services are put together, working seamlessly with their roster, brokerage assets, CRM contacts, MLS data, and more.
Compass might be trying to make all their own software, but you don’t have to in order to provide your agents with the tools and services they’re craving. An open platform delivers higher flexibility, efficiency, and profitability to your brokerage and agents.
An open platform is the only way to future-proof your brokerage against the rapidly-evolving technology space. It’s the Compass killer. What are you waiting for? A Compass announcement in your neck of the woods?
By Tiana Baur
2017 was a BIG year for us Moxians. We added heaps of amazing partners to our Moxi Cloud open platform that now has well over 30 different tools and services. We also hit over 100,000 agents this year that use these tools and services! Because we’re always looking to provide the best-in-class to our brokerages, we’re constantly on the lookout for new tools and services to add to the Moxi Cloud. Here’s a glance at the tools and services already in the Moxi Cloud:
Joining the Moxi Cloud Open Platform
If you’re a technology or service provider in real estate, how do you work with us? There are two ways to integrate with our Moxi Cloud open platform:
The single sign-on (SSO) integration allows partners to use Moxi Works to grant access to the partner applications. This allows you to avoid managing end-user accounts and to provide a more seamless integration between Moxi Works sites and partner tools.
The Moxi Works API allows partner developers to access Moxi Works data, product features, and functions to enhance the user experience in the partner application and streamline interactions between systems.
We’re proud of the ease of integration we’ve built and the partnerships that have allowed us to offer brokerages best-in-class tools. Here’s feedback from some of our amazing partners:
“The team at SnapNHD really enjoyed working with the Moxi Team and API. Their API is undoubtedly the most well documented API in the real estate industry enabling our team to integrate within a week. Among my favorite features is Moxi’s ability to turn on new brokerages at the flip of a switch.” – Will Caldwell, Founder, SnapNHD & Dizzle
“We’re thrilled to partner with MoxiWorks to create a great experience for our clients. We recently launched a powerful integration between Imprev and MoxiWorks for a few large brokerage customers. Through the integration, the MoxiWorks REST API exchanges data with the Imprev platform to sync agent, listing, and contact data real-time—making agents’ lives much simpler. The MoxiWorks team was awesome to work with throughout the entire development process; thanks to MoxiWorks’ agility and support, we were able to solve challenges quickly and deliver outstanding solutions to our clients.” – Paul Cooley, CTO, Imprev
If you’re still curious what it is like to work with us, watch this video of Melissa Kwan over at Spacio (also below) – we think it will illuminate what the partnership will look like!