Editor’s note: The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and NAR Broker Relations Liaison Chris Kelly.
Moderator: Chris Kelly, President & CEO, Ebby Halliday Companies, North Texas; Broker Relations Liaison, National Association of REALTORS®
Sharry Schmid, President, Edina Realty, Edina, Minnesota
Matthew O’Connor, COO, Terrie O’Connor REALTORSⓇ, Ramsey, New Jersey
Drayton Saunders, President, Michael Saunders & Co., Sarasota, Florida
Lennox Scott, Chairman/CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate, Bellevue, Washington
Linnette Edwards, Founder/Associate Broker, Abio Properties, Oakland, California
Chris Kelly: When it comes to providing the best tools and technology for our agents, I think most brokers would agree that the value of any system comes down to how easy it is to use and how well it resonates with the people we task with using it. What are the platforms with the highest adoption rates? Why? And, given all that we’ve learned and tried in these busy but atypical pandemic years, what are the tools our agents need now, and what technologies are trending? In honor of Real Estate magazine’s Women in Real Estate issue, let’s start with you, Sharry.
Sharry Schmid: Thanks, Chris! In any year, what agents want is an integrated system; a versatile platform where they can enter information, print out a contract, produce effective marketing materials and manage their customer relationships.
Matthew O’Connor: We are on a critical path right now to help our agents with a transaction management platform that does everything they need it to do. In our agency, in fact, you can’t close a transaction unless you’ve gone through the process we provide.
Drayton Saunders: We have a core tool as well, a platform we’ve used since before the pandemic that is key for keeping our agents strategically organized and making it easy for them to manage a database and maintain customer relationships.
Lennox Scott: We have a saying in our organization, which is that everything continues to change but the core remains the same. Our No. 1 goal remains, as it has always been, to support business development for our agents by giving them the best relationship management tools. Our goal is to do it for them—to make it easy for them to do what they have to do to succeed, and that is to be out there creating lasting relationships.
Linnette Edwards: Developing and nurturing their sphere of influence is at the core of every agent’s success. The best adoption rates come from the CRM platform that supports that crucial goal.
CK: How valuable is it to create your own in-house platforms?
LE: Smart AI is vital. We use a combination of in-house and third-party systems that provide effective transaction and marketing tools but also help our agents stay in front of their customers—like sending out automated and relevant information regularly, such as updates on current home value.
MO: Building your own technology is tough. I have a tech background myself, and we do build some things internally. But for the most part, we get good results from our third-party transaction management platform.
SS: We don’t see any need to reinvent the wheel. There is no shortage of good, third-party technology out there, and while we’re always up for reviewing something new, we think the system we have in place provides what our agents need to keep them ahead of the curve.
CK: Speaking of staying ahead of the curve, what’s trending as essential for agents right now?
DS: Agents today are embracing video. After two years of virtual home showings, they are focused on producing their own videos and feeling more comfortable in front of the camera. It’s not a novelty anymore. It’s a way of doing business that’s here to stay, and it has to be unique and engaging.
LS: It comes back to relatability. To building and maintaining relationships. To using social media in new and innovative ways.
CK: Is that something your tech stack can provide?
MO: Not necessarily. My mother founded our company 30 years ago, long before technology powered the engine. Our growth came from a focus on building trusted relationships, and if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that technology makes our workload easier, but there are some things successful agents will figure out and do on their own.
SS: In today’s world, we can’t compete without automated processes. But it’s often that indefinable people-connection skill that is the differentiator for an agent.
DS: The fact is, everyone today has much the same technological capability. The most successful agents find ways to use it to effect, but also to somehow go beyond it.
LS: Our systems are currently sending 440,000 monthly updates to our agents’ customers – more than a million if you include birthday and seasonal messages. We help them do the essential work. The rest is up to them.
LE: No matter the value of the tools we provide, though, mindfulness is critical to success. Not long ago, we had an Olympian speaker who captivated our agents relating how much mindset and positivity impact outcomes. That’s not something technology can provide. That has to come from within.
For more information, please visit: nar.realtor.