The Other Side of Real Estate – There’s No Perfect Software Solution

Coming from a technology background, Warren Dow is now with a brokerage. Find out what he views as the disconnect between brokerage and technology and what you need to know.  

For those of you who know me, I couldn’t be more excited about my switch from the software side of the industry into the brokerage world.  Several months ago, I joined Peabody & Smith Realty in New Hampshire as their vice president of business development. I’ve worked for nearly a decade in this industry in technology consulting—building and selling my own software company.  

The most interesting aspect of my new role is breaking the mindset that the software side of the industry instilled. There are a lot of assumptions about the way brokerages operate and that both agents and brokers make decisions. I’m going to break down topics each month where I’ve found assumptions are wrong, misguided or misleading. Here’s the first: 

Assumption:  There’s a perfect software solution for every brokerage. 

There’s no perfect software solution, especially for a group of agents who have very different skill sets, backgrounds, comfort with technology, etc. First, it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to sell—there’s only so much time in a day. Saving money is great, but if you can’t save time for agents, admins, and brokers (or make the client’s experience better), it’s hard to justify the time spent to onboard a new technology. It’s become clear that there’s no best software solution out there.  

The best solution is the one that agents will use. Sometimes, agents want the bells and whistles, other times; they want a strong base functionality. No platform can be everything to everyone. What’s clear is that agents need to know WHY they should use that solution over another, and not HOW. What are the key advantages, and how will our buyers and sellers benefit? It’s easy to get caught up in the how, but when your team knows why, they’ll be much more engaged and use the system to its fullest.    

Onboarding Takes Time 

Additionally, vendors that offer training in one-to-two–hour segments don’t understand that agents and staff have a never-ending to-do list. Dedicating that much time in one sitting is next to impossible. And even if it is possible, it’s difficult to retain that much information when agents are also thinking about their showings, transactions, buyers, and sellers—in addition to the 50 other things they’re working on.  The easiest onboarding will include feature-based training, either live or on-demand videos that are five-to-fifteen minutes long, so agents and staff can implement one tool at a time. 

Both Sides 

Looking at this from both sides of the fence, I believe brokerages and vendors need to work in tandem to seek opportunities and share ideas, and best practices. They should have a true understanding of each other’s businesses. Sometimes, the solution being offered by a vendor doesn’t address the actual problem the brokerage is experiencing. And, sometimes brokerages don’t know they have a problem or don’t know how to articulate what the problem is. Vanilla Ice said it best, “All right stop. Collaborate and listen.” Working together, we can identify the most pertinent challenges and the set of questions that need to be addressed to improve efficiencies and consumer experience. The days of operating in a black box have passed; transparency and clear communication are the keys to our mutual success. 

Author Bio: Warren Dow

Warren Dow is the VP of Business Development at Peabody & Smith Realty based in New Hampshire. Warren has over a decade of leadership experience in real estate software and services. Warren sits on the Board of Advisors for several real estate technology startups, including VoicesterPro and LetsButterfly