Adapting to Changing Conditions
As real estate offices transition to working remotely, they’ve quickly embraced a different way of doing business—from how they conduct showings to how they connect with sales associates.
Brokerages are moving to virtual solutions as well as conducting completely contactless virtual tours. Some are using drones to film interiors, sending digital kudos to their agents, hosting social events online, and more.
REALTOR® Magazine has compiled several examples of how brokerages are pivoting toward digital offices.
Contactless Virtual Tours
Host a virtual tour without ever stepping foot inside a property. Kara Keller, a broker at Baird & Warner in the Chicago area, is capturing videos of homes for sale by working with Doola, a digital marketing company, which sends a drone inside the homes. Doola has filmed five of her virtual listing tours.
Here’s how it works: The operator stands at the door and sends the drone inside to capture the interior. Keller narrates the video tours (watch an example). “Buyers still want to see these houses.
A drone is one way we’re doing it,” Keller says. Local drone operators are offering similar services all over the country.
weekly check-ins and even social hours to connect with agents over videoconferencing tools, like BlueJeans (recently purchased by Verizon), Google Hangouts, Skype, and FaceTime, among others.
Zoom has quickly risen in popularity—increasing the daily users of its app from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March.
On Zoom, you can host up to 100 participants or more, share your screen, and choose to connect via video or audio only. Also, users can share a personalized meeting room number as a link for easy access to join the meeting.
If you are a Zoom user, be sure to also use the company’s new security settings to avoid having your video calls hijacked.
Cost: Free or professional plans starting at $14.99 per month.
Keep Everyone on Task
Brokerages are finding that a central command area helps keep all communications and workflows on the same page.
Project management tools like Slack, Basecamp, Instagantt, and Trello can help brokerages keep tabs on workflow.
Proofhub offers a project management tool to collaborate with your teams, oversee projects, keep a record of tasks and schedules, receive automatic reminders, chat about workflow, and access reports to track progress.
The tool can also be used to create private task lists for team members.
Cost: Proofhub charges a fixed monthly price based on feature sets, regardless of how many people use the account, with plans starting at $50 per month.
Conduct Regular Check-Ins
Managers are committed to showing their sales associates that they’re there for them. One way to tune in to their needs during these uncertain times: survey them.
Surveys can help guide your sales meetings and coaching. For example, Officevibe allows you to conduct short, anonymous surveys of your team, which you can then use to focus on what matters most to your agents and staff.
The program also offers a shared online space to conduct one-on-ones to foster goal setting, coaching, and performance accountability. Also, gain access to manager resources to help guide your meetings.
Cost: Free and paid plans available.
Offer Remote Recognition
Give kudos or “woo-hoos” to agents and staff members for a job well done. Team engagement software, like Kudos and Wooboard, can help brokers keep their sales associates motivated during this time. Peer-to-peer recognitions can also be done remotely.
For example, Wooboard allows managers and team members to create recognition posts that broadcast good deeds to your office, award badges, and even define a points system to keep agents motivated.
Leaderboards of points can be customized to help boost daily recognition and motivation as well. The optional reward system also can allow agents to redeem gift cards within the platform.
Hold MLS-Friendly Virtual Open Houses
In a socially distanced world, open houses can still continue on virtually. A service from Delta Media Group allows real estate professionals to schedule virtual open houses that can integrate with more than 350 MLS feeds.
Clients can attend the virtual open house by clicking on a link. Real estate pros can have visitors sign in on their mobile device to attend and then capture their contact information and add them to the agent’s drip marketing campaigns for follow-ups.
The company is also adding functionality to stream virtual open houses through its website, as well as the ability for visitors to request a private virtual showing of a property.
The feature is available to all of Delta Media Group’s existing clients at no extra charge.
Send Personalized Video Messages
Even if you don’t want to do a live video chat, you can still get face-to-face with your sales associates or customers through their email inboxes.
Tools like BombBomb allow you to record and send video messages, which are embedded in the actual email messages (so, no fears of forgotten attachments).
Use the video tool to send personalized messages when connecting with your team or for follow-ups with new leads, reconnect with past clients, or announce a new listing.
You could also send birthday or holiday greetings, and more. Users can see when a video message is being viewed by prospects in real time for instant follow-ups, too.
You can also access tracking information to know which prospects are engaging with your video messages the most.
Cost: Individual plans start at $468 per year.
Tell a Virtual Story
Customers may be limiting their in-person property tours, but they’re still house-hunting online. Give your listing a virtual story. A feature within Homesnap Pro, called Homesnap Stories, is a tool similar to Facebook and Instagram Stories but it specifically allows real estate pros to record virtual walkthroughs of a property. Users can add 3D effects and stickers to videos. Upload the video tour directly to your listing page on Homesnap. Agents can push their stories directly to their Facebook and Instagram feeds with one click. Also, you can see who has viewed your stories.
Cost: Free with Homesnap Pro.
Make It Learning Time
It’s a great time to train your sales associates on any number of topics, such as social media prospecting, CRMs, lead generation, and more.
There are numerous webinar platforms available to host training events for your team or prospecting events, including 6connex, Crowdcast, Demio, and Livestorm.
For example, 6connex is available on any browser or device and requires no extra downloads to use.
Demio allows for prerecorded or live webinars and includes features like private chats, interactive polls, the abilities to share handouts and to grant permissions to allow attendees to speak, and more. Sessions are also recorded so they can be accessed later too.
Costs: Demio plans start at $34 per month; Crowdcast plans start at $20 per month; 6connex offers a more robust platform for larger audiences with custom pricing; Livestorm offers a free version and a premium plan that starts at $99 per month.
Live Video Streams
If you’re interested in livestreaming your real estate talks or virtual tours, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram offer live video features.
But in response to the jump to remote work, Chime Technologies, a lead-nurturing CRM, IDX, marketing, and communication platform specifically for the real estate industry, has also added a livestreaming functionality into its system for agents.
Chime added Facebook Live Block, YouTube Live Block, and new landing page templates. The templates are designed to feature virtual house tours and open houses.
Once set up via Facebook or YouTube, livestreams can be promoted on landing pages and delivered via email or text to prospects using the Chime platform.
Cost: Quotes available on Chime’s website.
Find Right Tools, Right Now
There is a multitude of resources now available to brokerages and sales associates through the National Association of REALTORS®’ Right Tools, Right Now program.
Access webinars, educational courses, and business tools to keep your business moving forward.
Resources available include “Financial Tips During Challenging Times: A Business Survival Guide,” e-PRO certification courses online to access, a 2020 Technology Trends webinar, and more.
Also, users can gain access to free commercial courses in financial modeling, leasing, and use of market data. The list of tools is updated regularly. Cost: Many of the tools are free or significantly discounted.
Use the Time to Research and Review
T3 Sixty, a real estate consulting firm, estimates that more than 2,000 technology products and vendors are available to the real estate industry.
How do you choose the right ones for your brokerage? Don’t jump in blindly—research the right solution before you invest and take the time to adopt it.
T3 Sixty published its Tech 500 report, which organizes residential real estate technology into 62 categories. The report also includes a breakdown of broker platforms.
T3 Sixty evaluated and analyzed the products and services using criteria such as innovation and application, reliability, market share, client satisfaction or adoption metrics, year-over-year growth, service and support to clients, and impact on the industry.
No technology vendor paid to be included on the list.
Cost: Free at T3 Sixty Tech 500.