By Kyle Rank
Do you remember when real estate was conducted solely through office visits, phone calls and only with pen and paper? Or perhaps you get a feeling of nostalgia thinking about how you couldn’t wait for the next newspaper edition with your newest listing advertisement?
Business looked different not so long ago. Agents would sketch out their negotiations on a scrap piece of paper. Transactions would start and end with a firm handshake agreement. Some people refer to this era as the “good ol’ days.”
Our new generation, me included, gets absorbed in modern-day technologies. I have to admit I fell victim to the wonderful world of technology, especially in 2010 when the iPad was introduced. I remember being blown away with this portable device and had a vision that real estate would be changed forever. Paperless transactions, electronic signatures and immediate access to information at any given time – the possibilities were endless! Ultimately, I tried to tailor my business around the capabilities of my iPad and its remarkable applications.
I can recall the moment video calls became possible on cell phones and how excited I was for the prospects of mobile video meetings. Once again, I believed this too would change the world of real estate. I completed a rental transaction with a military officer stationed in Baghdad with nothing more than my smartphone. Virtual programs allowed him to be in the room with me, sign documents electronically and interact despite the thousands of miles between us. My mission was complete. I felt confident that technology was transforming real estate forever. Or was it?
To my dismay, I slowly realized my methods were revolutionary but not imperative. I might have impressed my clients and fellow colleagues and I might have engaged in seamless transactions with more organization but none of it ever caught on as a necessity. I made the mistake of trying to change my business to evolve around my technology, when it should be the complete opposite; technology should be used as a means of enhancing your business. It should not be the focal point within your interactions. I see it happen too often in today’s society; agents get overwhelmed and distracted with the wide-range of tech gadgets, applications and tools. Consequently, the primary focus tends to shift away from who this business is all about, our clients! I am a true advocate of technology in the workplace and anyone who knows me, knows I am a tech junkie. Nonetheless, I know the older foundational skills of business will never go away and will continue to play a crucial part in developing success.
Personal relationships are the core of finding success in real estate. While, some technology can bridge gaps of staying in touch, it can also obstruct our rapport with others. That is not to say we shouldn’t use technology. Email and texting have allowed for quicker and easier communication, websites and data feeds give the consumer more information at the tip of their fingers. Social media, mobile apps and many other programs or devices have been introduced as methods that ease our marketing efforts and inform the public. Lately though, it seems like we’re obsessed with technology. It is presented in ways that attract people and force a feeling of urgency. It seems like every day there’s a new “must have” app or a new platform that will improve your business. While staying current with the most recent trends in technology is important, we must monitor how and when we use it. Technology should be geared toward helping clients achieve the end result – buying or selling a home. It’s important to note if you are just using technology for the ”wow” factor and it doesn’t necessarily assist your client, it’s probably more of a distraction than an aide.
So how do we effectively use technology while upholding strong relationships and meeting the needs of our clients? Agents must find a balance. The following tips are helpful for developing an approach:
- Manage your time.
Allot yourself a predetermined amount of time to research new tools and tech. When you find something you want to utilize, provide yourself with a designated time period to learn those instruments. Great agents don’t waste their client’s time to test out unfamiliar items.
- Stick to the basics.
Building relationships is the first step for any agent. Once you have a good relationship with a client, you’ll be able to assess their needs and determine what technology will help you in your transactions.
- Rate the practicality of a new product.
Before you take on new products, ask yourself if it will help your daily routines. Rate the productivity and effectiveness it will have on your business. Make sure it has a purpose.
- Don’t overindulge.
There is no need in using every piece of software and hardware ever created. Stick to a core set of technologies that fit your business model and perfect them. It is better to have a few mastered than many that become a distraction.
- Hire / outsource a professional.
Certain products and applications can be complicated and difficult to learn or execute; therefore, know your limits. The goal is efficiency, so if you’re wasting too much time or money, then the solution could be to hire a professional.
Remember, technology should be pervasive and enhance transactions without interfering with your client relationships. For most people, buying or selling a home is the largest financial decision they’ll ever have to make. It isn’t the same as the average consumer that walks into an electronics store and leaves within a matter of minutes with a new TV or the person going to a local car dealership and pulling away in a brand new car. This is an extremely intense process that requires a trusting relationship. I encourage innovation but the day you find yourself thinking about technology before your client is the day technology is being used too much.
KYLE RANK is a managing broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices York Simpson Underwood Realty, Chapel Hill, NC. Connect with Kyle on any of his social sites by visiting kylerank.me.