For Jeff Detwiler, president & COO of The Long & Foster Companies, staying on the leading edge of real estate technology is not something to be taken lightly. In fact, the nation’s No. 1 family-owned company is so dedicated to investing in the future of its agents—and the company—that they recently invested in Moxi Works, acquiring an equity stake in the independent firm. In this exclusive interview, Detwiler offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the company’s decision to buy in.
Paige Tepping: What was the motivation behind Long & Foster’s decision to invest in Moxi Works and acquire an equity stake?
Jeff Detwiler: Long & Foster is an agent-centric company that is committed to supporting its agents in a number of ways through helping them grow their business while making their lives simpler. When it comes to fulfilling this commitment, technology is at the heart of the matter. While Long & Foster is a real estate company, rather than a tech company, our strategic approach to technology revolves around aligning ourselves with a small handful of tech companies who understand what we’re trying to accomplish on behalf of our agents. Moxi Works—a tech company with a real estate perspective (parent company is Windermere Real Estate)—seemed like the perfect partner to help us with this strategic approach. In the end, Long & Foster’s company strategy aligns perfectly with Moxi Works’ strategy when it comes to delivering value-added tools to agents and brokers. We have a high level of respect for the people at Moxi Works, and the products they’re delivering are all connected to us. Moxi Works is a company that we want to be a part of for the foreseeable future.
PT: Can you talk a little bit about Moxi Works’ model/service and why it’s so beneficial to today’s real estate professionals?
JD: Not only is Moxi Works a technology company, but the individuals who work behind the scenes are professional technologists in terms of designers, architects, coders, etc. In addition, the leadership team is unique in that they have a true boots-on-the-ground view of the real estate business. In the end, it all comes down to connecting the dots. As I mentioned earlier, Windermere Real Estate is the ownership group behind Moxi Works, and they provide the context in terms of knowing and understanding the needs, challenges and opportunities that confront today’s agents.
PT: How will your partnership with Moxi Works provide your agents with a competitive edge in today’s market—as well as the markets we encounter in the future?
JD: I can’t say for certain what Moxi Works will offer in the future, however, I have no doubt that the technology they’ll continue to roll out—as well as what’s currently offered—is designed to simplify each and every sales activity that a successful real estate professional is responsible for on a daily basis. While these repetitive tasks can be time-consuming and cumbersome, the technology offered through Moxi Works brings a level of efficiency to the real estate-buying and -selling process. Not only does the technology they provide make life easier for real estate professionals, it also introduces a level of accountability in the form of setting and monitoring goals, one of the greatest challenges for brokers today. In fact, Moxi Works’ current tools provide our brokers and managers with a dashboard so that they can see how their agents are doing relative to their goals and if they’re performing activities on a day-to-day basis that lead to transactions. If an agent is struggling, or not meeting their goals, it’s a great opportunity for the manager to engage and coach the agent.
What’s really interesting is that a lot of technology companies are simply trying to reinvent the wheel. Not only do we believe that the real estate business is a relationship business between the agent and the consumer, one of the greatest values an agent brings to the consumer is that local market expertise. I think that a lot of the activities that agents have been doing for years in order to generate leads and turn potential clients into transactions aren’t necessarily all that different than they were yesterday. And they’ll continue to be important in the future. Moxi Works takes this one step further by packaging these concepts and ideas and delivering them to the agent in a very clear and definitive way, providing a roadmap to success. If real estate professionals follow the guidelines that the system provides, and utilize it efficiently, it will lead to higher sales.
PT: How have your agents responded to the company’s investment in Moxi Works?
JD: Our agents have been very enthusiastic. This can be seen by their response to our launch of Presentation PRO, a comprehensive marketing and presentation tool powered by Windermere Solutions’ TouchCMA, a launch that has been met with an unprecedented level of adoption. In fact, in one year alone, this tool has become the second most utilized tool at Long & Foster. With 4,000 agents having signed on—and thousands more having woven it into their daily business—50 percent of the agents using the tool gave it an extremely high rating, noting that it has absolutely helped their business grow. We don’t see these statistics in other tools. Not only are our agents excited by Presentation PRO, they appreciate the value as they can very simply see how this tool—and the technology behind it—will make their life simpler, while growing their business at the same time.
PT: What are some of the biggest benefits in being a member of the Board of Directors for Moxi Works?
JD: By being in an ownership position, we now have a seat at the table when it comes to identifying agents’ needs, challenges and opportunities. This is one of the most unique aspects of Moxi Works’ business model. We have a lot of respect for Windermere Real Estate, and it’s interesting and compelling to sit with them and share our overall view of the market, as well as the similarities and differences between the coastal markets. In the end, we’re always trying to determine what’s over the hill, and what might be on the other side.
For more information, visit www.LongandFoster.com.