The CRM or ‘Estate Agency Software’ has been at the heart of estate agency for over two decades now. But this long-standing technology has now been superseded by smart lifecycle systems built specifically for Estate & Letting Agency. This transformation will be just as huge for our industry, as the impact of the smart phone on the mobile phone sector. But what are the main differences, and will you still need your CRM?
To answer this question, we need to go back and look at when and why Estate Agency Software’s were built and what problems they were built to solve. The very first Estate Agency software’s were built as far back as the late 1980’s but the majority of systems that are used to today all came into force around the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Back then the world was a very different place, with Newspaper advertising still the primary form of advertising properties and the internet still a new and quite niche thing in our sector.
Facebook did not exist nor was there any such thing as a true smart phone as you would know it today.
The problem being solved by these ‘Estate Agency CRM’s’ was one of attempting to move heavily paper based branches to a paperless office by allowing agents to register buyers and tenants straight onto the computer in nice neat format.
Property details could also be added to the computer, allowing agents to do away with their big filing cabinets of property details.
With these two functions agents could then ‘match’ people with property and print out property details to hand to people when they were sitting in the office. This subsequently turning into being able to email these details to people but still to this day usually remains as a print pdf that is sent by email!
Building print-based newspaper ads, creating window cards and sets of details all for print all remained at the core of those software’s.
Today in estate agency the majority of agents regardless of corporate or independent are still working from those most basic of systems. But as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In fact it is not that uncommon to read some agents on social media proudly telling other agents that they have ‘gone back to basics’ or to ‘get on the phones’ or to send out letters, go knocking on doors etc without the irony that they are using social media to communicate that message ever seeming to dawn on them.
So what are smart lifecycle systems for agents and how do they differ?
A smart lifecycle system is a completely different concept to the old estate agency software’s. The ideas are based around how people and business interact and work in today’s world. They are not based around a world of print, manual data entry and manual tasks and they are not only based around those people looking to transact with your business today.
Instead they are focused around 3 core components of business. Marketing, Listings and Leads. By doing this these types of systems can help to centralise everything your company does from attracting new Sellers, Buyers, Tenants & Landlords in both the short and long term, through to automatically managing that data and helping you to take them right through to completed transactions. Not only that, the system will then take them on to ‘everlasting love’ by ensuring that they stay in your system being communicated with forever through relevant and useful content depending on where they sit in their Lifecycle.
For instance, let’s look at the potential Lifecycle of a seller. The smart system has been regularly pushing out content around selling your home to both your social media and website regularly and in doing so that content has caught the eye of a potential local home seller, so they read your content.
The smart system, now places them into a tracking system without even needing to know their name and at this point you could choose to make sure that person starts to see adverts for things like your instant valuation tool as they go around the internet or visit social media.
They decide to do the instant valuation but refuse to take your follow up phone calls. The Lifecycle system now also knows their name and email address and continues to track their activity when reading your content on social media or visiting your website, but it can now automatically start to drop useful content to them via email to increase their activity and your brand awareness.
Your lifecycle system can automatically let them know that instant valuations are not always that accurate and that they can simply drop you an email if they would like a 2nd opinion.
Your Lifecycle system can now also specifically target them with the adverts you wish them to see when browsing the internet again perhaps talking about how instant valuations are not as accurate as people may think.
You and your team do not have to worry about ‘converting’ these leads as your smart system will not only continue to communicate with these people forever through email and social media but it will continue to monitor their activity too and highlight the right ones to your team to speak to even a few years after they first did the instant valuation!
Eventually your team get called round to do a full market appraisal – all of which is booked and sent through the smart system. The prospect is much warmer to your brand than any others due to everything that has been happening before this point.
After the valuation your smart system will continue to nurture and track your deals, communicating with them forever and constantly creating new lists for your team to focus on based on who is showing that they are getting ready to list from their activity on your emails, website and social. Putting you in the right place at the right time, every time, to close the deal.
But smart systems don’t stop there. The same functionality is taking place for your buyer and tenant registrations. Your smart system is allowing buyers and tenants to not only register themselves directly into your database via social media, your website, the portals, over the phone and walk in’s but they are also fully qualified and communicated with automatically depending on any opportunities that have arisen as a result of the automated qualification. They have a property to sell that in not yet on the market? The system can send them a link to our instant valuation tool to help. They require a mortgage but have not arranged it yet? The system can ask them if they would like to book in for some advice. They are buying for investment? The system can introduce them to our lettings team and give them helpful advice on where to go in order to get their new investment let and managed. Not only that but these buyers and tenants are then able to keep their details up to date themselves directly in your system! Removing the need for manual data input and solving the problem of out of date information.
Your smart system will then automatically match all properties with all buyers and tenants whenever there is a new registration or new listing, removing the need to ever run a manual property match again. But just as with your vendors and landlords, your smart system can tell you WHO has been looking at which properties and when on your website, email and social media, allowing your team to focus in on the human part of estate agency and get more viewings booked with the right people, rather than just calling random contacts from your database.
Booking viewings through a smart system allows for automated follow up for viewing feedback, saving hours and letting your team work directly with the people that are keen without having to spend hours making calls to the uninterested parties and once a deal is tied up you can progress that sale through in the normal way.
However, once the deal is done, smart systems don’t end there. The new buyer will now be reminded as each anniversary passes that the price may have changed and asked if they would like you to update them on the value and if the vendor stayed local, you can continue to nurture them forever, with your smart system working away on them in the background ready to highlight them as potential future business when the time is right in the years to come.
By working this way and looking at the entire lifecycle of your business through one centralised platform you can see how estate agency will never be the same again. Manual registration is now a thing of the past, manual property matching is cumbersome and no longer needed and phoning lots of random contacts just to stay in touch when you could be staying in touch automatically and just speaking to the people that matter is a much smarter way of working.
If you have a ‘CRM’ or Estate Agency Software at the heart of your business, you are very quickly headed for a heart attack with a very bad outcome as the new age of estate agency around you takes shape through your competitors.
Smart lifecycle systems are not designed to replace people and human interaction, quite the opposite in fact, as they allow your people to focus on speaking to the right people at the right time in order to have more meaningful conversations as opposed to pressing buttons on a keyboard.