The problem you can’t see coming that will kill your estate agency
Estate agency seems to finally be going through some form of resurgence in terms of wanting to innovate and change the way we all work. This is good news for the industry but there is a dark cloud looming that will rip the industry to bits and most agents are heading straight for it.
For many years one of the big gripes that estate agency owners had was that all of the different software’s available to them did not talk to one another. This lead to mass amounts of duplication and frustration and understandably so.
Covid-19 has lead lots of businesses to rethink the way in which they work and many of the suppliers to the industry are now working hard in order to get their different softwares talking, much to the relief of the estate agency owners. Finally, they may be able to have their 15 different tools all communicate with one another. However, this dream will very quickly turn into potentially the biggest nightmare of a challenge that our industry has ever faced and actually destroy the whole thing. It is the silent killer waiting in the wings and here is why…
The idea is quite simple, wouldn’t it be great, if when someone filled out an enquiry form on your website, they went directly into your estate agency software, and not only that, once in your estate agency software that persons information was pushed over into your email marketing software and anything else you were using. Sounds great, right? If this could happen then all of your systems would be connected, and life would be easy.
However, what is actually happening here is not quite so clear cut.
As an example, when John Smith makes an enquiry from your website, your website knows some really important information about John Smith like what properties and web pages he has been looking at and how he came to be on your website ie from Facebook or Google etc. But it does not pass this information over to your crm because your crm has not been built to hold that kind of data, or else it would be a website. Then, when your crm passes the information over to your email marketing system, it also knows some important information about John Smith, like what properties he has already been out to view or rejected etc. But it does not pass this information over to the email marketing platform as that system does not have a place to store that kind of information or else it would be a crm. Then the email marketing system knows what emails your clients look at, but it does not pass that information back over to the crm because the crm does not have a place to store that info or else it would be an email marketing platform and this problem goes on and on with all of your 15 different ‘integrations’.
Because of this, what seems like utopia to begin with, very quickly turns into an incomprehensible mess of wires joining up different parts of your customer journey that you effectively have lost track of. Who gets what kind of communication and when across, phone, email, social media ads, sms etc and how you determine a clear path from marketing spend to revenue becomes impossible to manage.
Contacts that have already placed their property on the market with you are seeing your instant valuation ads. People that have instructed another agent are still being asked if they would like to proceed, buyers that have bought through you are still being shown properties and so on.
What happens when just one of the 15 different tools decides to do an update and your integration stops working properly, how will you know? Let alone when all 15 of them do an update. What about when one of them has an error, who will know?
Now layer on top of this that whilst it may seem futuristic, the next 10 years will be all about tools that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to make your and your customers lives easier. But to apply those tools you MUST have all of the data that you know about a specific contact centralised in one place in order for the computer to work out trends. So it is quite likely that 4 or 5 years down the line you will not only be in a huge irreversible mess with your data but you will also be getting superseded by newer companies that are building centralised data platforms and moving forward at great speed.
This monster problem is actually quite easy to predict as by avoiding this problem and building a centralised data system it is exactly how companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have managed to not only take over their respective industries from those they stole it from but to become unstoppable through their data.
Fortunately for agents, Mark Burgess the best-selling author of ‘Where Did My Industry Go?’ has written a new book which lays out for agents exactly how to build the same kind of businesses through data as these global tech giants and how they can avoid the problems other industries have faced.