We are living in the age of information. Our working and personal lives are underpinned by software, data and technology to an extent that few could have envisaged even a decade ago.
Our industry is embracing technology and harnessing the power of data at speed – it has to, or we face being left behind or overtaken by disruptive challengers.
Opportunities are being created to transform the way we do business and interact with buyers and sellers, but this also presents a problem for estate agency bosses – chiefly, how can I choose solutions which work best for my business when so much is available on the market?
We recently conducted a survey looking into this dynamic.
The wider aim was to find out how well software suppliers are meeting the needs of agencies, and how agencies themselves interact with their management systems.
What took us a little by surprise was the number of suppliers that estate agents are committed to. The respondents to our survey, on average, had 11 such vendors on their books, the highest number recorded being 30.
This immediately rings alarm bells in terms of juggling maintenance across so many platforms – choosing cloud-based solutions such as those offered by , which also operates a one-stop shop style partner network, can certainly help to bring this under control.
How to cut through the noise
With so many options out there, it is little wonder that decision makers are struggling to narrow down what might be best for their business.
We know the general benefits that technology can bring to help deal with challenges such as managing customer expectation, increased competition, evolving legislation and disruptive events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Smart solutions can fill gaps, automate activities and create streamlined processes for you and your teams.
However, not all PropTech solutions are suited to all estate agent businesses.
The first, and arguably most important step towards selecting your software involves developing a true understanding of what you actually need – sounds simple, but this is more difficult than you might think.
Indeed, due diligence should stretch far beyond reading lofty promises from providers who offer pipedream return on investment figures with little to no substance to back up their claims. If something looks too good to be true... you know the rest.
There are at least six key questions estate agency leaders should ask themselves, the answers to which will help to identify the PropTech solutions you need to extract maximum value for their business:
What are your business problems?
What is your business strategy?
What is your technology strategy?
What other systems do you currently have in place?
How important are those systems and software to you?
What is your overall budget?
Getting to grips with these fundamental questions is where any decision-making process in relation to investment in agency software should begin.
Once these have been answered, business leaders can begin to consider the various types of software available and what to expect from each type of solution.
Here, it is important to note that no one application or system can be your silver bullet – every agency has its own nuances, identity and bespoke requirements, and good technology providers will understand this.
However, there are some commonalities that can be drawn out, features and facets which all solutions should be able to provide.
To help estate agent leaders digest some of these key aspects, we have produced a comprehensive guide to technology in sales and lettings.
A key feature of the publication is a deep dive into what to expect from various types of software, covering key business priorities such as customer relations management, day-to-day processes, strategy, finance and compliance, flexible and remote working, user experience and online communities.
By following these steps and taking time to pause before jumping into the world of real estate software, estate agents can ensure their enterprises are well and truly futureproofed for many years to come.
*Trevor Youens is Senior Director Residential and Partnerships at MRI Software