MODERNISING THE PROPERTY INDUSTRY

It’s hard being an Estate Agent, are you making it harder?

An exert from the New Book (Title TBC) by Mark Burgess, CEO of Iceberg Digital 

In 2017 I released my first book called ‘Where Did My Industry Go?’ The book was around the concepts of how marketing in todays world works for Estate Agents, or Real Estate Agents, as the rest of the world calls them.

Although that book went on to become an Amazon best-seller in 4 different categories, I made a school boy error in creating that book, which I would only learn, after the event.

The error was that I had assumed (big mistake) that the computerised systems Estate and Letting Agents used, had evolved from the days in which I had been a critic reviewing those systems for some of the biggest industry trade publications some 12 years earlier back in 2005. 

They had not.

As a result, I was contacted by Estate Agents (and other types of businesses) from all over the world saying how insightful they had found my book and asking my advice on which systems they should use to do this! Initially this was not a problem as I am also the CEO of a company called Iceberg Digital, who produce software for that industry, around better productivity and marketing BUT what I had not bargained on was the problem of the existing tech in that industry to be so far behind on such a universal scale.

The systems that Estate Agents were using were still the exact same systems that I had been reviewing back in 2005 and as we know, a whole lot of things have changed in the world since 2005. But, just to put it into perspective in 2005 there was no such thing as an iPhone, Nokia and Motorola were the worlds most popular mobile phones. Motorola blazed the trail for thin phones with a clam shell form factor, while Nokia had started releasing the first of its phones to have access to the Internet. In 2005 Facebook was not even open to the general public, and was still called The Facebook. In 2005 no one had heard of or knew how life changing Google Maps was going to be as this was it’s launch year. Even Gmail had only just begun. Your DVD collection was still constantly growing and stores like Blockbuster were still alive and kicking. Internet videos were barely a force to be reckoned with. Before 2005 there was no such thing as YouTube and Netflix did not even start their streaming service until 2007.

Now 15 years later the world is a very different place, in fact if you were a child in 2005, let’s say 10 years old, then you would now be 25 and not really know a world without all of these advancements. 

Now we have a world where the phone function of your ‘phone’ is a secondary feature, for many maybe even an optional feature! Google maps is ingrained into our societies, can you even imagine getting a map book out to look up directions? How would you find local restaurants? Directions for walking or driving places etc? Facebook and all of the companies they own, i.e. WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, Oculus, Facebook itself, surround our every day lives. Netflix is the go to TV channel for an ever growing percentage of people, so much so that it currently consumes 15% of the entire worlds internet bandwidth from people watching TV shows and movies on their platform. That is without Youtube, which has become the definitive resource for knowledge, how to guides and the new form of kids tv, which is kids watching other kids shout and play video games. Who even knew that could be a thing?!

It truly is a different world. Literally, not even a slightly similar one. But still after all of this. Estate Agents are using the exact same tech as they were in 2005 and much of it was not even new then. If you are one of them, then think of it in the same way as still forcing your team to use paper maps!

Tech is not the answer to all of the problems currently facing estate agency, or any business. But it is one HUGE problem that needs to be overcome as in the world we currently live in, you can’t operate in a way that will be efficient for your company and your customers, using tools that were built so long ago for a completely different world.

We have spoken about the huge changes technology has brought in the past 15 years but just stop for a moment to even think about the tiny improvements that have come into our everyday way of working through technology that would be still making your life a misery if you were using old tech.

For instance imagine, as an Estate or Letting Agent taking 15 photos of a property and then having to upload those photos one by one to your system as that is how systems were built back then and imagine how much time just having a batch upload would save that company even if they are only taking on 10 properties a month, let alone if they are taking on 100! I mean I can send 15 photos to someone through WhatsApp in a few minutes, maybe even seconds, so why should it take me 15 minutes to do it at work? 

Imagine still going out on 20 valuations every month and then having to put those people into a 1-31 system or a callback diary and hoping to keep in touch with all of them forever manually, like that is even possible, as opposed to having systems that will keep you top of their thoughts forever through email and social marketing and give you instant alerts when they are active and it is the right time to touch base with them any of them FOREVER.

Think of all the forms you have to fill out manually and how time consuming that is. The repetitive questions that you ask different people over and over again about their buying or selling circumstances and then manually enter that data into your software and how much more effective and productive it would be if those people could complete those question themselves online, at anytime of the day or night and have the information sucked into your systems and then have the opportunities presented to the right people in the organisation to follow up with, along with automated marketing around those opportunities.

Imagine just having a big database of Buyers, Tenants, Landlords and Vendors and it just sitting there doing nothing, as opposed to an intelligent system that finds them all in Facebook and constantly communicates with them through email and social and alerts your team who are the best people to call for new viewings, valuations or instructions. 

How much more productive would your team be?

All of the old ways of working may seem like the norm because you have done it that way for so long but just stop for a moment to think how, it really isn’t the norm to work that way anymore. There are so many more examples of this, which I am sure you can think of in your own business and the way you are forced to work that would save literally tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in productivity costs if they were improved. Let alone the increase in sales.

The buyers that register with you are use to services that deliver to them exactly what they are looking for and even suggest other things they might like. Systems from 2005 barely even allow you to send them properties that fit their correct criteria let alone start to learn what else they might like by tracking what they look at on your website and what other similar buyers also view. 

Currently, most Estate and Letting agents are not even working in the right age, not because they don’t want to, but because the system they are using is holding them back. Leaving them fighting with one hand permanently tied behind their back. In fact, it is more like they are fighting with both hands tied behind their backs and both feet tied, the only reason they are currently able to cope with that is because most of their opponents, i.e the other agents, are in the same disposition, which keeps it an even fight. But as more and more agents start to use the new breed of software, it will be like stepping into the ring with a young and fit Mike Tyson. It is not even going to be a competition, it will be a blood bath. Agents investing in these new ways of working are not willing to settle for old tech anymore and they are on the rise. Maybe there is one in your area already, maybe not. But it is coming through now and this book will help you prepare for the huge change coming through our industry.

I know from the 1000’s of Agents I speak to worldwide that many worry if they will be able to adjust to using newer tech, but let me reassure you, if you do worry about this, don’t. You know why? Because you have already moved on technically in every other aspect of your life. You already do have a smartphone in place of a 2005 Nokia. You already do use Google Maps. You already do use the internet, Amazon and Google and so on. You already know what is a good customer experience in todays world and what is not. It is now time for you to give your Estate and Letting Agency a big shake and say “It is the 2020’s!” We need to wake up before the knockout punch lands, as Mr Tyson has started his ring walk.

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