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In the last decade, tool fatigue has spread like a plague through real estate brokerages. All of us in this industry are familiar with the following scenario: Brokerage management brings in hot, new technology and tools to increase agent productivity and success; however, to the surprise (and frustration) of the brokerage, these are met with low adoption or apathy from most agents.

The first step to curing tool fatigue is to understand how this plague evolved. Over the last 50 years, there’s been a shift in the roles of brokers and agents. Brokers used to be gatekeepers of property information, delegating tasks to associates. Now, brokers’ roles have changed to that of service providers, creating environments and resources that work best in unique markets and leveraging membership to provide premium tools and opportunities.

As brokers adapted to this role shift, we’ve seen many companies feverishly buying into tools and technologies to build their value with agents and better recruit and retain them. But paradoxically, without adequate planning, the tech that’s supposed to help agents often ends up leaving them frustrated. Agents become overwhelmed by the upheaval to their workflow, lack of education and too many passwords/options, which leads to lack of adoption and apathy, or tool fatigue.

Tool fatigue symptoms manifest as:

  • Workplace stress, feelings of underachievement
  • Distrust of change that affects current workflow
  • Feeling undervalued or unheard, contemplation of transfer to a “simpler” company
  • Complete rejection of brokerage-level technology due to complexity, lack of education, lack of resources, lack of value understanding

Cure Tool Fatigue in Your Brokerage
There are three new ways brokers can think about technology that will prevent tool fatigue from affecting agents:

  1. Focus on the “why” and not the “what.” When you bring in a new technology, show where in the workflow this technology fits, and how it solves a problem. Don’t try to sell your agents on “newest” or “ahead-of-the-trend” tools, but rather on solutions to visible problems or areas of improvement.
  1. Limit the number of options. A heavier toolbox doesn’t always make for a better carpenter, and providing a plethora of technologies doesn’t necessarily lead to measurable success for agents. Create significant benefits for your agents by evaluating and narrowing options, focusing on a smaller number of “best-of-breed” technologies.
  1. Invest in technology services that automate processes rather than another tool. Real estate will always be a business built on relationships and conversations, empathy, and understanding of our agents and their clients. Give your agents more time to do what they’re best at: serving clients.

It will take a new way of thinking about your technology, but the plague of tool fatigue can be cured.

Bill Yaman is president and chief operating officer at Imprev, a marketing automation provider for real estate. He is an empowering leader with deep experience in general management, sales and marketing, product management and business development. Learn more at www.imprev.com.

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