Time is Money
Technology is more important than ever, particularly in the hot commercial real estate market the U.S. has enjoyed recently. Opportunity abounds, and unlike in leaner times, one need not stray far from the basics to make hay. Chief Technology Officer, Sean Clancy, discusses the opportunities and challenges he often identifies and rectifies in CRE business.
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Q: How do you help agents understand the importance of implementing and utilizing technology in their brokerage business?
A: As a technologist in the CRE space for 15 years, I’ve noticed several patterns that, if they don’t exactly repeat, certainly echo. One in particular is a specific kind of conversation with brokers that occurs after I’ve identified an inefficient process or an opportunity to use a tool that we recently implemented. My engineer brain lights up, never happier than when it gets the opportunity to make a system better.
Of course, engineer brain and broker brain are very different. Usually, that exchange ends with the broker telling me, “Thanks, but I can’t slow down long enough to learn something new.” They appreciate that change and innovation is beneficial in the broad sense but tend to balk at the adoption cost of new tools or improved processes. The sense of urgency in the market, combined with an industry sentiment that recognizes hustle more than ingenuity, creates a pressure against the adoption of new technology.
It’s important that we in the technology arena recognize and close that gap by meeting brokers on their own terms. The field of user experience (UX) analysis and design has exploded in importance since the early days of the web. Often conflated with user interface (UI) design – it’s common to see the two fields combined as “UI/UX” – UX is about understanding the user’s goals and challenges, what they are trying to do and why. The goal is to create experiences that, among other things, integrate easily with the user’s workflow, and are easy to adopt relative to their benefit.
This is increasingly important, as there are knock-on effects to adopting new technology, as well. Henry Ford’s (possibly apocryphal, oft misunderstood) quote about people asking him for a faster horse speaks in part to the notion that people frame their needs in terms of what they understand to be possible. If you expand their understanding of the possibilities, you open their imagination to new solutions.
Q: What are the most note-worthy technologies and resources brokers should be investing in today?
A: No matter where an agent is in their career, there are standard and emerging tools worth investigating.
Q:Beyond tracking leads, how else can technology help brokers stay organized and run their business efficiently?
A: There are an abundance of tools and platforms that not only help you keep things organize but instigate a seamless and productive transaction processes.
For larger shops with a team dedicated to property marketing, one of the challenges faced by brokers and marketers alike is the feedback loop between them when developing collateral for a campaign. Trying to manage those communications via email can lead to significant delays. Days can be lost transferring assets, reaching out for, and awaiting confirmation, requesting and receiving text edits, etc. An integrated collateral design workflow system can help alleviate that pain, and a direct web-to-print component can take things even further, allowing the design to go direct to the printer or other distribution channel.
Likewise, electronic components of the marketing campaign can refer to the same, centralized source of marketing data for increased accuracy and reduced effort. Email blasts, social media posts, and text outreach leverage the same assets and allow for a multi-channel approach that reaches your clients wherever they happen to be, no matter how dialed-in they are (or aren’t) to the technology ecosystem.
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts?
A: There are market and cultural pressures pushing against the adoption of new tooling and technology in the CRE space. Balancing historically proven methods with innovation prepares the cutting-edge broker for sustained success throughout their career. Understanding what technology can do to improve their situation also opens other possibilities. Here at Matthews™, we are developing the next generation of brokerage technology, tools that create more value for clients, develop stickier relationships, identify prospects more quickly, and ultimately create sustained success.