If you’re one of the 65% of Americans who loves Halloween, scary things might be your jam. When it comes to building – and changing – your real estate tech stack though, scary is not fun. Changing or adding new technology is a thorn in most people’s side and, as Brad Inman and nearly every other speaker reminded attendees at Inman Connect recently, it is necessary. 

The real estate industry still lags behind when it comes to digital adoption and the battle for agent recruiting and retention depends on brokerages’ ability to provide more value to agents in the coming years, primarily through technology, marketing, coaching, and other support services. So, is it possible to take the stress out of building a high performing, agent empowering tech stack for brokerages?

Yes! 

It’s absolutely possible and it’s been done before. We’ll be the first to admit it: like Halloween, either you love technology or you hate it. What’s stressful to one person is a challenge that drives others. And if technology isn’t your thing, we get it. Whether that’s the case or not, we’ve put together our top tips to take the stress out of your next tech transition. Have anything to add to the list? Connect with us below and let us know what you think!

Nine Tips to Make Your Next Real Estate Technology Change Seamless:

  1. Have a Shared Vision of Success – can you articulate what success looks like for your business? What would others on your team say when asked? Is there alignment on the single most important problem you’re trying to solve? The challenge in building a tech stack is not in choosing the vendors or tools, and it’s not even in implementing them, it’s in ensuring that the decisions you make all help each other, and move you closer to realizing your company vision. Struggling with saying no to your top producing agents? Balancing conflicting goals? We get it. Often, having crucial conversations before you invest the time and money into spinning up new systems and tools can help address these challenges. Look for shared meaning and deconstruct what each of you believe is necessary to accomplish your mutual goal. When people understand how technology decisions will directly impact them, they can make an informed decision. A good example of this is an agent who wants separate listing websites for their listings vs. optimized listing pages on the company’s website. Can you show how the latter helps them? Any partner you choose to work with should share and be able to easily articulate your vision as well.
  2. Remember You’re Building a Tech Stack – one of the common mistakes we see made is technology decisions that are made in a silo, or even worse, “non decision” decisions where a company signs up for a platform and doesn’t really need (or want) all of the tools it contains. Both of these can lead to a lot of excitement over one tool and a lot of potential frustration down the road when you’re expected to, or feel like you have to, make the most out of what you have. Loss aversion is a real thing; once we’ve committed to something we’re far less likely to change our minds. The challenge is that continuing to use bad technology for your business is going to cost you so much more over time, in actual dollars and intangibles, like your team’s trust. It’s a major reason why the real estate industry as a whole is no more productive now than ten years ago, despite an enormous investment in technology. A good example of this is choosing a marketing strategy or lead generation platform without having thought through your lead nurture and customer relationship management strategy. Or visa versa. You may love a CRM for all of its bells and whistles and if it doesn’t integrate with the lead generation tools that are best for your business – your website, online advertising, social media marketing, etc. – it’s probably not best for you. Thinking through what you need from each aspect of your technology, and where you can afford to not get all of your “nice-to-haves” to ensure you get all of your “must-haves” is essential.
  3. If it’s Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is – simple as it is, we see many clients come to us after having been overpromised and underdelivered to. Every company has case studies and success stories (or they should!). Don’t be afraid to dig into what getting that number one search engine ranking required or what kind of lead nurture was necessary to convert that super inexpensive, low quality lead. As they say, the devil’s in the details.
  4. Attitude is Everything – let’s face it, no technology transition will be completely flawless. Timelines change, priorities change, and you’re managing a lot. The best situation to be in for any technology transition is working with someone who genuinely cares about, and understands, your business. Just as important is choosing to work with people who understand that you are going to need to bring other technologies into the stack and partners into the system you are building, and they should be as invested in their success as they are their own. It’s the classic, if you succeed, we succeed mantra. Some people really live it and believe it. 
  5. Set a Realistic Timeline – depending on the scope of the technology implementation or transition, we recommend planning for “30% unknown” time. This means 30% of your day is left open for things you can’t anticipate until that day or soon before. Similarly, 30% of your implementation timeline is allocated to the unanticipated; things like new requirements that need to be vetted or additional testing of new user flows that arose after the project started. It’s always better to have padding in your timeline to ensure the highest quality outcome possible, which will save you time and money down the road.
  6. Frequent Check-Ins are a Must – make time to check-in on your technology projects, even if it’s for 15 minutes a week or a half hour twice a month. Not only are frequent, pre-scheduled check-ins useful to hold yourself (and others) accountable to deliverables, they allow for frequent discussion of potential roadblocks and sharing of information that’s invaluable to creating a successful outcome. The key to tech transitions isn’t to ensure everything works the first time, it’s to find out what “works” means to you and to quickly iterate and get everything set up the best way possible for your business. Unless you’re buying an out-of-the-box solution (in which case this post probably isn’t helpful), you should expect to constantly be asked and be able to explain what’s most important to you and why about the different technologies, services, and features you’ll be leveraging.
  7. Test Early, Test Often – the importance of testing and quality assurance, whether of software, of marketing, of a new process, or something else altogether, cannot be overstated. There are many benefits to frequent and continuous testing. Ensuring a high quality outcome and the best possible user experience is number one. Good testing also ensures that you know what “expected functionality” is and can share feedback and request changes when needed. 
  8. Don’t Forget Training – the best implementation plans can fail during rollout. Most product development teams also have product operations teams that are responsible for rolling out products to their broader audience(s) and ensuring adoption. Spend at least as much time on this phase as you do the initial vendor and technology selection and implementation and you will be well ahead of most.
  9. Empower Your Champions – every organization and every product, whether a new technology or service, should have several champions who serve as evangelists within the organization. Champions should believe in the why behind the change you’re making, should be able to demonstrate their success with it, and should be willing to talk openly about and train others to use it. Consider having one champion for every ten people or so, and selecting champions with different backgrounds and strengths to increase the likelihood of others being able to relate to at least one of your champions. Equally important is how you communicate with and grow your champions. Make sure they have access to all of the information you have as soon as possible and that it’s clear and purpose-led (i.e. they know why things are the way they are). Also, solicit their feedback and ensure they see the impact of their investment in the new product so they feel a strong sense of ownership and pride in its success.

Whether you’re happy with your current technology or are actively evaluating changes you’d like to make, we’re all going to need to continue to transition to newer technologies and services in the future. It’s the reality of the world in which we live, and it doesn’t have to be so hard. New technologies create new opportunities and with the right partner or partners guiding you, you can move forward with confidence and excitement at what’s possible.

At Union Street Media, we believe in independence, in real and genuine relationships, and that real estate agents are the future. In a world of all-in-one real estate platforms, we believe in best-in-class solutions, because trying to be good at everything too often results in being good at nothing. What do you believe?