Rex | Estate Agency Software Platform
A winning combination: pick ‘n mix the best practices from Aus
29 October 2019 15040 Views
The Australian agent is a very different beast to his or her British counterpart - no surprises there. And it’s not just because we live in houses on stilts, start our day with Vegemite on toast or say “G’Day” (although this stereotype is frightfully accurate).
In Australia, our commissions tend to be higher and homeowners demand a very high level of service. Aussie agents have risen to the occasion and developed strategies for managing great customer relationships and prospecting for new business using products like Rex - so much so that many have customers who come back to them again and again. On the other hand, in the UK, you’ve got more balls in the air at any one time. You’ve developed streamlined processes and an impressive use of automation.
With our feet now firmly planted in both markets, we’re in the privileged position to notice these differences and take the best learnings from each. Thanks to UK agents like you and our Australian clients, we’re cross-pollinating innovation across the oceans and baking them into our product.
We think there’s a lot both nations could learn from each other. Here are some key learnings on differences we’ve seen in the last 18 months.
In Australia, clients are for life
We’ve seen UK agencies running like well-oiled machines - the efficiency would be the envy of any Australian agent. On the flipside, to extend the analogy, your clients aren’t like cereal boxes on a conveyor belt - needing portioned, boxed and shipped out for delivery. A client doesn’t have an expiry date; their value goes well beyond that of a single sale. They’re likely to sell again and recommend an agency to family or friends at some point.
Many of our Aussie users receive a significant portion of their business from repeat and referral clients, and many agencies are regularly able to command a market share of up to 35-40% in the regions where they work. Much of that capacity comes down to delivering outstanding customer service – which involves a lot of regular, quality client contact and software that works to empower it.
Helping our users achieve this was (and continues to be) a core focus. For example, many Australian clients use Rex to send automated activity reports that help sellers appreciate what goes on behind the scenes and promptly surface buyer feedback so pricing discussions can be had. But even if you’ve provided the most memorable service imaginable, it doesn’t stop there.
Other clients use Rex to remind them to deliver birthday cards years after the sale, making the relationship that bit more personal. Some apply an “anniversary track” (a series of pre-built, automated and time-released reminders paired with email / sms templates) to a seller’s record, to remind them to call the seller in a year’s time. Rex also surfaces the seller’s details, like children’s names and ages, so the call has context. Just before the kids reach school age, agents (reminded by Rex) will call to see if their current home still suits their needs - or if they’re thinking of selling to move closer to the local school.
Communication is equally important for buyers (who evolve into sellers). Many agents use these same follow up tools and techniques to understand readiness to buy and apply the corresponding automations (“tracks”) to power their followup. When it’s time to touch base, you receive an automated alert with a perfectly crafted follow-up letter. All you have to do is click send.
The commission discussion is approached very differently
The average Australian seller invites no more than one to two agents to value their home before deciding which to list with. Most of the time, sellers have already decided who they’ll ask to sell their home before an agent walks through the door. The agents who nurture long term relationships naturally reinforce the value of their service over time - making it far less likely they’ll meet resistance come valuation or arguments around commission, which can hit as high as 3-4% in premium areas.
Our observation is that things here in the UK are very different. If two (or more) agencies are competing for a listing, price competition can be fierce. That focus leads sellers to favour the agency with lower commission, or the one that offers to sell for the highest price or has the “best” marketing inclusions. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for where real “selling” happens - on emotions and relationships.
If one of those agents had the tools and systems to understand local homeowners and then build connections over time - perhaps with an email once every three months letting them know what the market is doing (which can be automated with tracks and email newsletters), followed by a phone call to discuss recent sales - that agent is in a far better position to win not just the listing, but that seller’s next listing and the one after.
UK agents are more tech savvy
This is one reason why we feel so at home in the UK. We’re tech nerds; every day, we build products that solve very real problems for agencies. While localising Rex for the UK market, we learned many British agents are already taking advantage of cool tech tools to streamline processes. However, we’ve also noticed those tools rarely speak to each other. A closed API benefits nobody; users are restricted and the businesses behind these products are clearly not thinking ahead. Rex’s API has been open from the start, allowing our users to build custom integrations (on top of the ones we provide). Our approach has helped shift CRM’s in the Australian market to do the same. Now, most tech tools in Australia play nice.
You should be able to put property details into your database, then have that system push the listing to your website and send it to a social advertising platform too. Your system should allow you to send that listing to interested buyers in email newsletters, automated texts and more. And your system should let you build integrations with chatbots, automatic responders and the like.
We’ve heard a few noises in this space in the last six months, but not nearly enough to make a real difference. Rex will be strongly pushing an open platform / API first approach in the UK.
Australians like yoga, and flexibility
One of the biggest things we’ve noticed during the 18 months we’ve been operating in the UK is that most of the systems available to agents here are rather inflexible. One size does not fit all.
For a start, not all clients are the same - so the way you build relationships can’t be cookie cutter. You should be able to send automated messages, when and in the format that a client wants. A tool that forces you to bend your processes to fit is robbing you of the chance to provide a personalised customer experience - one that sticks in the mind of your sellers.
Not every agency is the same, either. You should have the flexibility to build processes, templates and branding elements that work for you. You should be able to create your own workflows, reports... everything. And you should be able to do it all out of the office. In Australia, agents often spend 60-90% of their time outside the office. That’s why we developed a world first fully featured real estate CRM app for Android and iOS, so they can take their office with them - wherever they go.
This is just the start. We’re excited for many more learning to come! Interested in hearing more? Visit rexsoftware.co.uk!