By Kayla O'Brien
RISMEDIA, April 9, 2009-It’s no secret that in today’s world, the old cliché “time is money” rings truer than ever. In 2009, real estate agents have found that streamlining day-to-day business practices is the only way to efficiently attract new business while simultaneously working with existing clients, providing the service consumers expect and deserve. Enter Centralized Showing Service, Inc. (CSS)-a company that came onto the real estate scene to conquer inefficiencies within the real estate sales process, more specifically-home showings. Scheduling over 15 million showings per year, CSS has become well-known for its quick and professional way of scheduling showing appointments for real estate agents and their clients.
An Agent’s Ally
“We continuously work to identify technologies that help with agent productivity,” says Scott Throneberry, regional managing partner, Coldwell Banker Devonshire. “We previously had anywhere from one to three people in the office whose sole responsibility was setting appointments, so we asked ‘How do we focus those resources more effectively?’ And I didn’t believe we were providing the best service to our sellers because our agents worked select hours to schedule listings. CSS allows us to provide a better service to our agents, clients and sellers.”
Available in markets across the country, CSS provides a turnkey method in which real estate agents may schedule showing appointments-in a convenient and trustworthy manner. By calling a single telephone number, CSS makes the home-showing process easy through extended calling hours, with each appointment taking less than a minute to set up by a customer service representative. What’s more, the online system is user-friendly, easy to navigate and intuitive, according to Ed Haraway, broker/owner, EXIT First Realty.
“Once an agent gets a listing, they turn in the showing instructions to CSS and the administrators input the showing instructions into the system, identify who needs to be called, the times they need to be called, etc.,” says Throneberry. “With CSS, you’ve got that peace of mind that your appointments are being set-and you’re being notified by text messages, e-mail, and telephone calls.”
“The quality of service is just so superior,” says Haraway. “Between the quality of their call staff and technology-it even eliminates having to pay to have someone answer phones on weekends.”
Standing Out in Business
“When I started in real estate, if you wanted to show eight different houses, you would have to drive to eight different real estate offices to pick up the keys, show the eight houses, then return the keys to the eight offices,” says Jim Fite, president, Century 21 Judge Fite Company. “To have one service to call to make eight appointments and now with lock boxes-you drive to the property and drive back. It saves time, energy, gas-you name it.”
What’s more, in addition to being the main point of contact for listings, real estate listing agents are teaming up with CSS to provide a competitive edge for their home sellers.
“In our information age, clients want to know as much as we know,” says Throneberry. “CSS gives us the ability to view showing reports, lets us identify other hot properties in the area, trends, and cultivate customized feedback from buyer’s agents to see what their clients liked/disliked about the home-and provide that information to our clients.”
The sellers, says Haraway, love the process. “Not only do they get e-mails confirming showings, but they can also get phone calls and log in to view their own home and see the feedback from the buyer’s agents.”
Fite agrees, saying this feedback pays off more today than ever when homes are competing against foreclosures, REOs, short sales, etc.
“When it comes to price reductions or working with a seller who is having difficulty fixing up their house-the agent can provide the feedback and recommendations to the seller,” says Fite.
“Everything’s so price sensitive today that the only thing separating you is the service you offer to sellers,” says Haraway. “CSS allows us to provide a higher level of service to our clients with a minimal time commitment on our staff’s part. We have been able to cut costs with better value.”
“In today’s environment, if you don’t keep up with and identify the technology, you’re going to get some frustration from buyers and sellers-they expect us to have the latest and greatest out there,” says Throneberry. “Because we have CSS, we can focus our resources on other areas for our agents and provide a variety of other tools-technology, marketing, support, etc.
And while CSS is dominating many markets across the U.S., the secret is no longer just using the service-the secret is using the service to the fullest. “Those who take it, use it and promote it to their sellers’ benefit will be so far ahead of the rest of the crowd,” says Haraway.
“Our agents are using it on listing appointments and using the technology to the fullest. And we use that to our advantage by telling consumers what we can do-it’s a wow factor. They really have this thing down to a science. It’s affordable; it works for the agent; it works for CSS-it’s a win-win.”
CSS compliments the work ethic of those agents who are taking advantage of a challenging market to better their business. “We’ve not only made the effort to identify inefficiencies through CSS technology, but also with the Internet, Web support, electronic transaction management, file management, etc,” says Throneberry. “We can now focus our resources in other areas for our agents.”
For more information, please visit www.showings.com.
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