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Now that Software as a Service (SaaS) dominates in most industries, you are less likely to run into a purchase becoming outdated.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 Regina Kelley, Senior Manager, PMO & Quality Assurance
I love what I do here at Moxi! I have been a Moxian for almost five years and have had the opportunity to wear many different hats in that time. My role has morphed and changed, year over year thanks to my amazing and supportive manager, Mark Carlson, who continues to believe in me, challenge me, and give me the opportunity to do what I love – being a leader at Moxi Works.
My proudest moment being a leader here at Moxi has been helping a fellow Moxian grow his own career and watching him become a strong and successful leader. Andy’s journey these past nine months is worth sharing and could perhaps inspire others to grow their own careers as well!
Be an expert or demonstrate knowledge
Andy started his career as a summer intern while he was still in college and rocked the testing world right out of the gate. His performance and attitude earned him a full-time position when he graduated, and over the next six years Andy expanded his knowledge and perfected his craft. He worked hard to grow his testing and technical skills, quickly becoming our team’s go-to-guy!
Find a path, make a plan
In the first quarter of 2017, we were beginning our Quarterly Review Cycle and were talking about his goals and what was next. Our discussion lead me to ask Andy what he enjoyed most about his job and what he does daily here at Moxi. His answer came fast: He enjoyed the technical aspects of testing! He also mentioned enjoying helping his fellow teammates… So we went with it!
I approached our VP of Technology and pitched the idea of this new role on the testing team and after getting the thumbs up we created a new role just for Andy to drive and work toward – a technical lead.
The testing team had never had a lead before, so I asked Andy to do some research and define this new role and with that, a path was created. He created a plan and off he went to work toward achieving this new goal. I am a big believer in employees taking control of their own careers and this is a great example of how to get started. Find a path, and make a plan!
Create opportunities for growth
In order to grow on this new path, to become this new Technical Lead, I had to create new opportunities for him to step up. The more responsibility Andy took on and succeeded at, the more his passion grew for what he was doing, so much so that he even began creating his own opportunities for growth. It didn’t take long for Andy to reach that goal and we had ourselves a Lead.
He was doing so well and gaining so much momentum in his new role, I started asking, what’s next? How do you feel about Leadership and Management? Again, with the quick answer – I’m not interested in that, I like the technical side. But I could see that he did enjoy helping his fellow teammates and mentoring – and he was natural at it! So, I suggested to him a new growth opportunity – to mentor/ manage an intern. Although reluctant at first, he jumped in with both feet.
After that our weekly check-in meeting dynamic began to change. As the weeks went by it shifted from strictly a test status update to more focused conversations about leading and mentoring on the team. We talked about the best ways to get things done, how to grow his mentee and help others on the team continue their growth. Every week Andy walked away with new objectives and opportunities for him to stretch himself in a different way, a non-technical way.
After a couple months went by I asked Andy how he was feeling about his mentorship, and his answer didn’t come quite as quickly as before – surprisingly, he was really enjoying it! I could see the great leadership potential Andy had, he just needed to see it in himself.
Strengthen what you love
Andy and I will continue to rock the testing world here at Moxi together, and we will continue to push him and give him new opportunities to try different things – even things he may not know he will enjoy.
If you take one thing away from this story, know that you can do this too. Start by asking yourself what you love most about what you do every day, and go with it! Share that with your manager or mentor and look for new opportunities to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and take chances. You won’t know until you try, and you may find a new passion you didn’t even know you had!
By Maddie Jostol
It’s no secret that Keller Williams is investing heavily in technology. With the unveiling of the Keller Cloud earlier this year followed by a recent announcement that they’re setting aside $1 billion to invest in technology development, they’re generating a lot of hype in the industry. As a brokerage with over 800 offices and 150,000+ associates worldwide, it’s hard not to be intimidated by these numbers.
The truth is, you don’t need $1 billion in spare cash to keep up. At the end of the day, it isn’t about having a fancy proprietary solution, it’s about investing in your agents, delivering a competitive experience, and meeting consumer expectations.
Consumer expectations are changing – they now expect agents to deliver fast, accurate information. Agents need an organized, integrated database in order to deliver on these expectations. It enables you to elevate your consumer experience in a scalable way.
Technology is woven into almost every part of an agent’s day-to-day life. They need tools that will enable them to work faster and smarter, so they can stay competitive while enjoying a healthy work/life balance. When you invest in your agents and their success, it rolls up into your brokerages’ success.
Keller Williams happens to be doing this through a platform, where the brokerage can run its entire business. We agree they’re onto something here as they’re jumping onboard with an important trend. The open platform is where the entire industry is heading as it helps brokerages integrate technologies across the entire organization, increasing efficiency and profits.
You need best-in-class tools to compete. You need a power strip to plug-and-play. But you don’t necessarily need to build this in-house. There are ways to keep up with the competition, even if you don’t have a spare $1B. After all, you are real estate experts, not a tech firm. That’s why MoxiWorks strives to complement brokerages, offering a comprehensive open platform, the Moxi Cloud, which integrates all their brokerages’ technology. We take care of your tech so you can place your focus on real estate. An open platform is the ecosystem for your brokerage technology. It’s where all of your tech tools live, sharing data and integrating your entire organization. You have the flexibility to change along with the industry. In fact, the beauty of the Moxi Cloud open platform is that you aren’t limited to MoxiWorks tools, but can plug and play the tech tools and services that best fit your brokerages’ culture and needs.
How does this help you compete? You can do everything they can do, and you don’t have to invest $1 billion to do it.