RE/MAX Launches Into a New Era of Ever-Evolving Advantages With the Rollout of Its Booj-Built Technology
Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the September issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today.
In February 2018, RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos stood on stage at the RE/MAX R4 Convention in Las Vegas and told the crowd of over 6,000 attendees, “We just acquired a technology company called booj.” The news was a home run, signaling an aggressive, innovative move by the iconic brand.
In early August 2019, at the RE/MAX Broker Owner Conference (BOC), Contos was back on stage, this time launching the booj Platform.
“This is a milestone moment in the history of our network, a huge step forward into a new era of RE/MAX technology,” Contos said at the BOC. “We’re arming super-productive agents with top-shelf, best-in-class technology—it’s a combination unmatched in the industry. This is phenomenal, mobile-first technology, designed specifically to help RE/MAX agents save time, build their business and elevate the customer experience.”
If the 2018 news was a home run, this was a game-winning grand slam, as it made good on a promise to deliver industry-changing, end-to-end technology built with and for RE/MAX agents.
By design, 18 months had passed since the initial announcement—18 months filled with research, scaling, user feedback, testing, strategic planning and intense product development. The result: an integrated suite of digital products that helps high-producing agents, teams and brokers establish, manage and grow client relationships.
Power Tool: The booj Platform Developed by booj engineers in collaboration with thousands of RE/MAX affiliates, the booj Platform provides a premium end-to-end solution customized for the RE/MAX network. It delivers a better customer experience by streamlining the work of agents, from lead generation to deal management to post-close nurturing and beyond. The powerful CRM tool is at the core of the booj Platform, which provides deeply integrated solutions for:
Digital Branding RE/MAX agents, teams and offices can build and customize their own branded RE/MAX website in just minutes. Each site seamlessly integrates with social accounts and provides in-depth analytics. Real estate is a local business, and these sites position affiliates as local experts.
Lead Capture Agents can be more strategic in their interactions with potential clients. They can reach out with relevant, targeted communication based on insights from the platform. Client engagement is also generated through home valuations, market snapshots and individual property websites.
Client Engagement The booj Platform has several tools to keep agents top of mind, including the Sphere Interaction tool, which displays recent customer interactions and a visual indicator as to whether the agent should reach out. The platform also automates email campaigns and other content deliveries based on a consumer’s actions on the site.
A fully integrated Deal Pipeline offers a comprehensive, orderly view of an agent’s current transactions and potential new business. As deals move through stages of the pipeline, the system can automatically mark tasks as completed and/or open the next list of tasks.
Layered Advantages The addition of booj technology adds to the many competitive advantages already enjoyed by RE/MAX agents, who are affiliated with one of the most recognized brands in the industry. The network ended Q2 with over 127,000 agents worldwide—its highest count ever—and a presence in more than 110 countries and territories.
A deep-rooted culture of productivity and high achievement has defined the brand for decades. In the U.S., RE/MAX agents average 15.1 years of experience and 8.7 years with the brand, although newer agents who are driven and passionate also enjoy successful RE/MAX careers. In many ways, RE/MAX remains “a home to top producers.” And the stats bear that out.
For instance, in RISMedia’s 2019 Power Broker Report analyzing 2018 sales data from the top 1,000 U.S. brokerages, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.5 transaction sides each. That’s more than double the figure (7.1) for all non-RE/MAX agents in the study.
The RE/MAX community is a great fit for agents who push themselves to reach new heights and deliver more to buyers and sellers.
“I try to improve myself or learn something new every day,” says Alexa Kebalo Hughes, who co-leads The Kebalo Group with her mother, Cheryl Kebalo, at RE/MAX Right Choice Real Estate in South Windsor, Conn. “People are counting on me to be the best I can be and to guide them through the largest financial decisions of their lives. I take that responsibility seriously, and so do all my RE/MAX friends.”
Tech Ninjas Making great agents even better is the goal driving booj technology, says John Sable, a booj co-founder.
Sable and Ido Zucker established booj (“be original or jealous”) in 2005 and built it into a juggernaut of real estate tech innovation, service and product development. Now senior vice presidents at RE/MAX, the two lead the booj team of over 100 “tech ninjas” devoted to creating a transformative platform designed specifically for RE/MAX agents.
The process is just getting started, Sable says.
“The release of new technology is when the magic really begins,” he says. “Moving forward, user data will help us make smart adjustments and enhancements. We launched on an incredibly strong foundation based on tons of user testing and feedback, but by design, the technology will be even better six months from now, a year from now, and so on.”
The initial booj release—a powerful customer relationship management (CRM) solution at the core of the platform—is systematically rolling out in U.S. RE/MAX company-owned regions this fall. Initial user feedback has been universally positive.
Intuitive and Easy “To me, booj seems intuitive and easy to learn,” says Stephen Baker, broker/owner of RE/MAX Realty Central in Lake Mary, Fla. “I’ve used other CRMs combined with various third-party systems, but booj has put together a complete package of agent productivity and marketing tools. We’re excited about the untapped potential booj has brought to our agents.”
Kristen Jones, broker/owner of RE/MAX Around Atlanta in Georgia, thinks the booj Platform will appeal to agents across the entire spectrum—from tech-savvy to tech-adverse.
“The booj technology is really robust, and it’ll have a big impact helping agents build their business,” says Jones, who spent time in Denver learning the platform ahead of launch. “I’m most excited that booj is ours—and we’ll be able to decide how it evolves from here. I’m in for the long haul, and this is about positioning RE/MAX for a very bright future.”
Nate Martinez of RE/MAX Professionals in Arizona was an alpha tester for the product. He saw how feedback earlier in the year resulted in adjustments and shaped a better launch version.
“I honestly believe RE/MAX will have the best CRM on the market,” Martinez says. “I’m excited about the feel and functionality of the product. I’m a relationship guy, and I believe in building strong relationships with my database of contacts. The software will be a major upgrade over any other products agents are using.”
Thousands of Sites By the end of the year, booj technology will power the significantly enhanced remax.com website and consumer app, syncing both with thousands of content-rich websites promoting listings and RE/MAX agents, teams and brokerages. The comprehensive booj Platform—which integrates transaction management partners such as DocuSign, dotloop and others—will help RE/MAX affiliates capture leads, streamline operations and maximize results.
Over time, it will eliminate “data islands” among the membership, enabling affiliates to enjoy the benefits of being with a thriving global organization.
“The goal of the technology is to connect people,” Zucker says. “We believe technology works best when it amplifies what humans would do on their own. When agents use the platform to work more efficiently and strategically, they have more time to manage new business and cultivate new relationships.”
Power of the Network Beyond agent-client relationships, agent-to-agent connections are another major aspect of RE/MAX value.
RE/MAX agents exchange referrals directly, with no additional costs, middleman or interference. And the annual R4 convention, which last year drew attendees from over 60 countries, presents a perfect opportunity to learn, grow and make invaluable referral connections.
“I never miss an annual RE/MAX convention, and I’ve met so many top agents who open their playbook and share their tips on being more successful,” says Hughes, who joined the network in 2011 upon graduating from college and currently serves as vice president of the 4,200-member Greater Hartford Association of REALTORS®. “Plus, about 25 percent of our team’s business comes from RE/MAX referrals. It pays to be part of all this.
“The power of the network has absolutely helped my career.”
Insight From Global Leaders The RE/MAX global expansion has been steady and spectacular, especially since the formation of RE/MAX Europe in the mid-1990s. The network now has more than 60,000 international agents and a presence in more than 110 countries and territories, including Australia, virtually all of the Americas and Europe, and large portions of Africa and Asia.
A common trait among the most successful international regions: a transformative, resilient leader who is passionate about helping others. Here are some insights from several global pioneers:
“From the very start, we were certain we were on the right track. What I learned is that if you believe in what you’re doing and never give up, eventually you will shine.”
Michael Davoren Region Owner, RE/MAX Australia (500+ agents), RE/MAX New Zealand (170+ agents)
“It’s a very, very close network. We’ve received a lot of helpful input from broker/owners and regional owners from around the world. The insights they’ve shared have been invaluable.”
Adrian Goslett Regional Director & CEO, RE/MAX of Southern Africa (2,400+ agents)
“I joined RE/MAX in 2005 because of the people already with the brand. Their passion, their commitment, their drive, their enthusiasm. We fed off their positive energy.”
Bernard Raskin Region Owner, RE/MAX Israel (550+ agents)
Co-Owner, RE/MAX Germany (500+ agents)
“Being in RE/MAX is a way of life. I greet every day with enthusiasm and energy. We’re all from different countries and we speak different languages back at home, but when we get together, we’re very close. It’s great fun and always an incredible learning experience.”
Beatriz Rubio Region Co-Owner, RE/MAX Portugal (7,500+ agents)
Co-Owner, RE/MAX Germany (500+ agents), RE/MAX France (200+ agents)
“I think people need to dream big and set big goals for themselves. If you don’t challenge yourself and set big goals, any place you get to will be enough. I want to always reach higher, and I want my people to always reach higher.”
Dotti Penate-Sosa Region Co-Owner, RE/MAX Argentina (3,000+ agents), RE/MAX Uruguay (100+ agents)
“We use the RE/MAX brand everywhere and put it on everything. Why wouldn’t we? It stands for quality.”
Sebastian Sosa Region Co-Owner, RE/MAX Argentina (3,000+ agents), RE/MAX Uruguay (100+ agents)
“I’m much better off today than I was when I started with RE/MAX. I believe I’m a better person, a better professional. I continue to grow just by hanging out with the great people in this network.”
4 Questions for CEO Adam Contos Contos, who shares his insights on a podcast called “Start With a Win,” is focused on leading the RE/MAX network and raising the customer experience throughout the industry. Here are a few of his thoughts:
How are you adapting the brand to compete in today’s market? Our surveys show that agents want the company to focus on three main things: tools, training and technology. We’re playing offense in all three areas, freeing agents up to do what they do best: working with clients, cultivating relationships and building their business.
We’ve released multiple tools this year, including all sorts of marketing resources that enable agents to combine our massive brand power with their own personalities. In technology, the booj Platform will provide an entire, data-driven ecosystem. And in training, we’ve invested heavily in our exclusive Momentum professional development program. It helps brokers and agents systemize their operations—which, in turn, can save them time and can increase their productivity.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d have for agents? Use video to connect. It’s an amazing resource and not enough people are using it. I know it’s hard to get started—and trust me, your first videos will not be good—but in this business you really should jump in. It’s become so easy to shoot a video and get it onto social media; there’s really no excuse anymore. Things like Facebook Live turn everything you do into an opportunity to create content and connect with people. Once you try it, you’ll see a difference right away. Video helps people see your face and hear your voice, so it’s much more powerful than the written word. It helps them know you before they’ve ever met you.
What’s the main reason agents join a brokerage and stay? It’s easy to think it’s about the cost, but I don’t think it usually is. Any agent in any brokerage can find a better deal, in straight financial terms, somewhere else. But agents at a quality brokerage providing great value generally stay, knowing full well it’s not the cheapest option. They stay because of community, culture, support services and the leadership of the broker. To me, the broker’s main role is to create an environment where agents can be as successful as they want to be. An environment that develops agents and helps them maximize their abilities—and their results—is the goal. And I think RE/MAX offices generally have that environment.
Boil it down: What’s the key to success in this industry? Be a skilled professional who elevates the customer experience. Provide world-class service and the sky’s the limit.
An Unstoppable Force A few more highlights of a dynamic, global brand:
The RE/MAX Collection® luxury brand provides agents with elegant marketing materials, business-building education, networking events and a dedicated listing website. The brand’s impact is global—in the first half of 2019, RE/MAX global leaders taught the “Luxury Live” course to agents in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
RE/MAX Commercial® is a network of more than 3,400 practitioners in over 665 commercial offices and divisions across 73 different countries. In 2018, these agents closed more than 36,500 commercial sides for over $14.6 billion in volume.
RE/MAX agents and brokers help millions of kids each year through their support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. RE/MAX affiliates contributed $10.3 million USD in 2018, the highest yearly total in the partnership’s 27 years.
RE/MAX actively supports homeownership for all through its involvement with professional groups such as the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).
RE/MAX University® (RU) features over 1,000 videos and offers 70-plus professional designations and certifications on its digital, on-demand platform. More than 15,000 unique users visited the RU platform in the first half of 2019.
Marketing That Moves the Needle Billions of dollars have been spent to promote the RE/MAX brand and its agents, creating a competitive advantage for all RE/MAX affiliates to build upon. RE/MAX marketing features an aggressive omni-channel strategy that’s targeted, localized, mobile and digital.
“Our approach is to get the right message to the right people at the right time—that means having a huge presence in digital and social,” says James Schwartz, vice president of Marketing and Media Strategies. “We want to help RE/MAX agents connect and build relationships with consumers at every stage of the journey—not just when it’s time to buy or sell a house.”
Schwartz enjoys the game-on environment at RE/MAX headquarters.
“Starting at the top with Adam Contos, RE/MAX senior leadership embraces innovative, creative marketing,” he says. “They’re excited about pushing the envelope and trying new things, which is great news for our agents and anyone who’s thinking of joining us. We’re all-in on modern marketing strategies that connect with consumers in today’s digital world.”
Part of the strategy is enabling agents to leverage brand resources easily. For instance, agents can:
Connect to the national campaign, “The Sign of a RE/MAX Agent,” created by the award-winning Camp + King agency of San Francisco. A wide range of marketing collateral—in virtually every media—enables agents to use the campaign’s messages and images.
Use RE/MAX digital stickers to enhance their texts and social posts. The colorful, playful images add sizzle and personality to the agent’s digital interactions.
Customize and post material with their phones. Agents can download an app containing a curated collection of approved videos, photos and graphics to use in their marketing. They can create custom content as well, and they can do it all on the go, taking photos or creating videos to send right after a listing appointment or client meeting.
Share unique RE/MAX content created in collaboration with BuzzFeed, the online powerhouse. Agents can bolster their social media messaging with quizzes, lists, videos, and more.
Create personalized 15-second commercials using a first-of-its-kind tool for real estate. To date, agents have created over 42,000 custom videos, which feature imagery from the national campaign and are perfect for social sharing.
“The RE/MAX membership understands how crucial it is to push the envelope and engage with consumers wherever they are,” says Abby Lee, SVP of Marketing and Communications.
100 Open Offices for Motto Mortgage The first of its kind in the U.S. mortgage industry, Motto Franchising LLC, another member of the RE/MAX Holdings Inc. family of brands, reached a big milestone this summer—the opening of the 100th Motto Mortgage brokerage.
Helmed by president Ward Morrison, Motto Franchising, LLC launched its innovative mortgage brokerage franchise model in 2016. Since then, the Motto Mortgage brand has received numerous accolades, including being named as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2019 Top New Franchise brands, as well as an Entrepreneur 2019 Fastest-Growing Franchise.
Motto Mortgage Alliance in Dayton, Ohio, was one of the first offices to open its doors. Mike Seagraves, broker/owner of Motto Mortgage Alliance, who is also broker/owner of RE/MAX Alliance, says, “The value that I had being there in the beginning is that I got to be part of the solution, helping to grow the brand.”
The growing 30-state footprint of 100 open offices illustrates the value created when the power of enterprise is paired with the connectivity of local. The Motto Mortgage model creates a path to an ancillary business for current real estate brokerage firms, while offering real estate agents convenient access to mortgage professionals.