Though technology always carries with it some sort of learning curve, today’s tools can free up precious hours of time on a weekly basis that brokers can devote to other pursuits.
U.S. commercial real estate brokerage firms are behind the times in embracing the latest innovative technologies. Yet, new technology is changing the industry. Brokerage is all about closing deals. Players will need to research new back shop operations software that significantly speeds up, smooths out and automates the process. Brokers need mobility and cutting edge tools to access research analytics, comps, demographics, maps etc and they need it fast, 24-7, all in the cloud to win listings, add clients and close deals. Tracking the transaction cycle from listing, to signage, to marketing materials, to critical process dates provides dealmakers the essential transparency needed to drive more business and more profit. Brokers, experienced or new, should be open to ways to save time, decrease or eliminate the old paper process and improve service delivery. Principals and operations executives cannot expect to compete effectively today with technology from yesterday. Laptops, tablets and smart phones are only as good as the information they can quickly access. New software applications are increasingly user-friendly and allow agents, their administrative staff and management to track, monitor and execute deals faster and much more efficiently. Commercial real estate brokerage companies have the potential to convert to the latest technology and inexpensively integrate amazing systems. There is no hardware to purchase, no long term contracts to sign and these firms would own their own data.
Commercial real estate software covers many areas of the industry. Some of the categories are:
- Client Relations Management (CRM) software – REA and Salesforce
- Data/Analytics software – Compstack and Xceligent
- Marketing software – Creative Suite and Adobe’s In Design
- Mapping software – Arc GIS and Landvision
- Operations software- RE Apps and Astro Applications
- Accounting software- Quick Books and Yardi
These software systems automate many different processes. They improve service delivery to clients, streamline the transaction pipeline for brokers, assist management with planning and dramatically reduce slower manual workload. Commercial real estate companies have the opportunity to use very innovative technology to grow, increase revenue, add more satisfied clients and more profit. Brokers are more mobile, more informed and more professional through use of laptops, tablets, smart phones and operations software. Industry leaders know that technology facilitates a faster, easier and smoother process. Although I have not read any specific surveys or studies that indicate the amount of time or money saved, it can be significant. Brokerage company owners actively seek a competitive edge to improve market share. They understand that there is an investment in training time for system integration. Software companies must not only market these systems but continue to innovate and upgrade that system. Customer service is critical to maintain satisfied clients and future referrals.
A seasoned, successful broker asked me at a convention why should he consider a new software system. I explained that the change could add hours per week that he could make more contacts, close more deals or spend more time with family and friends. Brokers should encourage management decision makers to research and understand what is new in operations technology. The right software could actually pay for itself with critical lease expiration alerts, management dashboards, and help a firm grow without having to add more operations staff. Vibrant, growing firms need their brokers to have a good CRM, a user friendly operations system and solid accounting software to be as efficient and profitable as they can be. Technology can be disruptive in a good way if it adds tools to save time and money. Exactly how much is difficult to quantify. It does take some expense and time to onboard the systems. The investment is worth it.
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