October 22, 2020

Why every team should perform an annual real estate software audit

Chris Lucas
by:
Chris Lucas

A technology audit today can work wonders for your real estate business.

As you think about flipping your calendar to 2021, and boy do we know that can’t happen soon enough, there are a number of items on every real estate team’s to-do list. Whether it’s ramping up your marketing, recruiting new team members, or expanding your footprint the list probably seems daunting….but there is probably one thing that often gets overlooked. The dreaded software and tools audit.

Why is a tech audit important?

Let’s face it, as a team leader you probably don’t love real estate software. You didn’t get into real estate to be in IT, but the reality is that today the technology you use can help you grow your business in ways that have not been possible previously.

A technology audit is important for a few reasons:

  • Reviewing what tools are outdated or just aren’t being used cuts wasted spend. According to the NAR, most real estate businesses spent anywhere from $251-$3,000 on software to run their business, not including phones, laptops, etc. If you have multiple tools that you are spending a few hundred dollars on but are under-utilized or not used at all, this spending can be quickly cut!
  • Understanding the tools that are effective helps you better understand the workflows and processes that give you a competitive advantage. On the flip side, if there are tools that are cumbersome for your team to use, those can be updated to streamline your operations.
  • Reviewing your technology stack allows you to see where people are spending most of their time, outside of helping clients buy or sell houses. Are your agents stuck in data entry hell? Are your transaction coordinators busy trying to find which software has the latest contracts? These insights can help you find procedures that waste time and help your team sell vs just managing the process of selling.

Structuring a good real estate software audit

Doing an audit doesn’t have to be a huge time suck. Yes, buying and selling may be slowing down as we get closer to the end of the year, but you still have clients to meet, agents to motivate, and new agents to recruit. These tips will help you do a quick audit in a minimal amount of time.

  • Make a list: First things first. Open up Google Sheets or Excel and make a list of the real estate software you are using and how much each one costs. Then add another column that shows you who is using it and who is responsible for maintenance, training, etc.
  • ROI: Understanding the value you get from each system is important. Most technology tools can be grouped into a couple of ROI categories. Either they are helping you make more money, saving you time, or keeping you compliant. Some may be all three or 2 of 3. Either way, understanding which category each fits helps you understand how to evaluate each tool you are using.  Once you have done this do some quick calculations:
  • Making Money: How much are you paying and how much did that tool make you? Most good software has reporting functionality that allows you to run reports like “leads generated” “closed deals”, etc. See if what you expected really panned out.
  • Time Savings: How much does it cost you to run that software? Does it take your admin 20 hours just to keep up or does it allow him to quickly and efficiently input and extract the data he needs? A quick calculation on this is the cost of the software, plus the hourly cost of the person(s) required to operate and train other team members. If the cost of managing the software is greater than the value, you may want to look at other solutions.
  • Compliance: This one is hard to calculate. Sometimes you just need tools that will help you keep abreast of the current legal requirements, or ensuring that all of your documents are properly housed. However, in some cases, there could be a less expensive option that’s emerged since you purchased your current system. But knowing how many tools are needed helps you identify which ones are necessary and which ones are redundant.

What technology tools do I really need?

Once you have audited your current tools take a look at what technology is in need of replacement or software that is missing from your stack. A good lens to view this is better understanding your business goals for 2021. Are you looking to grow your marketing for new lead or do you want to focus on closing more of those leads that you do get? Or maybe it’s improving your transaction management process so you can close more deals.

By understanding your goals, you can look for tools that will help you achieve them. Simply saying “I need video” because that is the fast fad, doesn’t really help you evaluate what tools will really help your business grow.

Here is a quick checklist to view new tools:

  • Does this replace an existing tool?
  • Can I digitize a currently manual process?
  • Can I replace someone’s current responsibility with more digital efficiency?
  • Is there an all-in-one platform that can manage multiple parts of a process?

Considerations for implementing new software

Now that you have gone through the audit there is one final step...actually purchasing and implementing the new tools you want to add! There are three main considerations:

  • Cost: It’s important to evaluate the cost of every technology, but going cheaper isn’t always the best option. When considering the cost you should look at the value as well as the efficiency you gain from implementing or not implementing a new tool. Sure you could go with a really cheap CRM for lead management and follow up, but is it going to incorporate the whole process, or are you going to have to buy other solutions to really make it work? Does the most expensive option save you time or is it bloated - offering a bunch of features you won’t need? All of these items should be accounted for.
  • Time to implement: When purchasing simple tech tools, sometimes implementation can be as quick as a few minutes or hours. What if you are totally changing your document management or transaction management system? Big overhauls require time that you or the team may not have or aren’t thinking about. Understanding what it takes to implement a certain tool helps you better manage your expectations as well as making sure you and your team have allocated the right resources to the project.
  • Who will be responsible: Assigning someone on your team ownership of your new purchase is the best way to ensure its adoption, usage, and long term value. Many times a team leader will get enamored with a software solution because other teams have raved about it. They then go purchase it and say “we are using xyz.” The best real estate CRM is one that your team will use, so a better way to implement any solution is to get buy-in from the people who are going to use it the most. That might be your agents, your transaction coordinators, or your marketing staff. Either way, getting buy-in and having a champion who is someone other than the team lead will help ensure success.

An audit of your technology stack may seem like a daunting task, but there are some simple ways to manage the process. Everything takes time, of course, but in today’s digital age and rise in the digital savvy buyer, as a real estate team, you can’t afford to be using an outdated tech stack.

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