In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Estate Agency transitioned from entirely paper-based offices to putting computers on every desk and adopting industry-specific software to complete everyday tasks. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? And perhaps more importantly, is the software adopted then still solving the problems required for today?
I am fully aware that asking why to a question that, on the face of it, seems to have an obvious and logical answer can seem a little childish and annoying and perhaps it is, but for the purpose of this article, let's go with it.
Before computers and Estate Agency Software were the norm in our industry, you had a box of applicant cards on each negotiator's desk in price order. A central paper-based diary for the office and a filing cabinet with folders of properties for sale or under offer and the associated notes to go with them.
Each member of staff also had their own diary just for their own to do tasks.
This system worked perfectly well.
So why did all agents adopt computerised systems?
You could argue that it helped when uploading properties to the portals. Still, I would counter that argument with the fact that, at the time, each office was creating its own newspaper adverts each week, which was a far more laborious process than adding a property to a portal or adding a batch of properties to the portals every week. Of course, you would still need a computer to add a property to a portal, but you would only need a computer on some desks and industry-specific software to boot.
So why else? You could argue that computers allowed agents to communicate with thousands of people instead of just a handful, but if that were the case, why are agents obsessed with archiving much of their database regularly to avoid it becoming 'cluttered'?
The honest answer may not lie in anything quite as logical as we would like to believe. For example, could it be as simple as the fact that the rest of the world was becoming computerised, so agents did not want to 'look stupid' to their potential customers? After all, if you were to walk into two different estate agency offices to ask for a valuation, the first was a slick, computerised office that looked very under control. The second had no computers, piles of random paper and someone scrabbling around to find a pen to write down your details which would fill you with more confidence of doing a 'not bad job'.
I am not saying that Estate Agency software from the early 2000s has no purpose. On the contrary, many agents have only known these systems and would no doubt feel very lost without them. Still, it is hard to argue against the concept that they essentially do the same thing as before we had them and that their role is possibly as much a superficial need as a genuine one.
I am not for a moment suggesting all agents should throw away their computers in some Pink Floyd-style revolt. But instead that there are considerations to make based on the 20 years of research and development into how computers can add significant value to your business. Currently, an agent needs a lot of 'other' software to perform some of the most meaningful tasks in their business when it comes to generating revenue.
Lifesycle's developed from the view that software should bring value to your business first and foremost. In the most basic sense, to get you more instructions for higher fees in the unwavering belief that everything in Estate and Letting agency is downstream of that.
It is a different approach and one that many agents are uncomfortable with or have perhaps never considered. The considered school of thought is that your Estate Agency software should do the basic everyday tasks of sales, lettings and property management. Other than property management, I entirely agree. Still, I only get to those tasks if I am bloody good at getting listings and, ideally, at reasonable fees.
Is it our thinking that needs to keep up with the times, after all, which comes first for the new Pizza restaurant? The need for an oven that can kick out 20 pizzas in 30 minutes or customers.
Of course, they will need to make good pizza for repeat business and a good reputation, but Lifesycle is not a have one or the other decision. Instead, it is a best-in-class CRM (as you currently know it), along with the ability to use that information and your archive to win new customers.
Software designed to increase your revenue! What will they think of next?