Why are so many agents reluctant to dive into technology? In this month’s NAR Power Broker Roundtable, we talk to brokers about their secrets for getting agents on board with new tools.
The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Nick D’Ambrosia, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.
J. Nicholas (Nick) D’Ambrosia, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR; Broker of Record, The Long & Foster Companies, Chantilly, Va.
John Kersten, President, Century 21 Town & Country, Shelby Township, Mich.
OB Jacobi, President, Windermere, Real Estate, Seattle, Wash.
Greg Zadel, Broker/Owner, Zadel Realty, Firestone, Colo.
Nick D’Ambrosia: In today’s competitive business environment, it’s easy to be focused on the next shiny object. At the other side of the spectrum are those who are still calendaring appointments with a pencil and a datebook, reluctant to dive into a sea of technology. Today, we’ll talk to brokers who recognize worthwhile new tools and implement them for their agents—often at little or zero cost—but just can’t seem to get buy-in. John, what’s your secret for getting agents on board with new tools?
John Kersten: With technology changing at lightning speed the way it does, I need to pick and choose very carefully to be sure what I’m looking at has real value for the long-term. I also like to research what kind of support I can reasonably expect from the vendor in terms of getting agents on board—and then I get my managers on it because they’re the ones who’ll have to plan and manage the everyday coaching and training.
ND: And sometimes that’s where things break down. In a sizable company, brokers are a lot further removed from daily contact with our agents than we’d like to be. I sometimes wonder if getting the buy-in for new technology—or any other business tool—is easier in a small-firm environment. What do you think, Greg? And does buy-in have much to do with an agent’s age or experience?
Greg Zadel: I don’t think so. Younger agents are generally quicker to adapt than some of the older ones, but I think it’s more a matter of personal preference and comfort level. Portability is important for everyone these days, so in our firm, we all use RPR Mobile™, NAR’s Realtor Property Resource® app. Beyond that, I don’t try to push everyone onto one platform. I may love something, but they may not, and I can accept that as long as they are reaching their goals.
OB Jacobi: Setting and reaching goals is the idea behind a product called Moxi Works, which was launched a year ago by Windermere Solutions, a spin-off of our realty company. Moxi Works merges a customer relationship management platform, email marketing, listing presentation tool, intranet and agent websites into one broker platform—and it’s designed to give brokers insight into how their agents are managing their contacts.
ND: We’re offering Moxi free to all our agents because it tracks the goals they set themselves and gives them the tools to push them toward those goals. So far, the reception has been good.
GZ: In a smaller company, it’s easier for me to personally track everyone’s progress. But as long as they are using a system that works for them, does the shiny, new toy really matter? Some athletes choose water, and others Gatorade. In the end, it’s the game performance that counts.
JK: Our top agent earned over $800,000 last year. She’s a total tech enthusiast who makes everything available work for her. That’s her personal choice. On the other hand, we have a new lead management system developed by our franchisor. My first step is getting my managers motivated and some serious training going. But I know it will take a while. We can recommend, but we can’t insist.
OBJ: We live in a time when the proof is in the numbers. Every agent must have a workable business plan that results in year-over-year growth. As brokers, our responsibility is to reinforce the goal no matter what tools our agents use to reach it.
ND: Also on the technology front, NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology (CRT) serves as an industry advocate, implementation consultant and technology resource. Be sure to check out their blog at crt.blogs.realtor.org.