When we decided to focus our customer relationship management (CRM) consulting practice in the commercial real estate sector some 13 years ago, we were excited about the opportunity that was before us in that there were very few, if any, true CRM offerings in the space. Since then, the market for commercial real estate solutions has matured and now the broker who specializes in office, retail, industrial, and multi-family properties has a list of products from which to choose coming in all different pricing levels and feature sets.
As we took a look more closely at some segments WITHIN the commercial real estate space, we saw an opportunity to refine our focus in the land brokerage community. While there are similarities between land brokerage and general commercial real estate brokerage, we found there are enough differences to substantiate an application specific to the land brokerage community.
In talking to land brokers from all across the country, they've found themselves having to "make due" with solutions that were either designed for residential brokerage or overbuying a solution that was engineered more for office, retail and industrial leasing and investment sales.
The land brokerage community has grown into a "not so small" group of professionals and the data that each of these brokers possess and track continues to grow. With that being the trend, tracking all of this information with crude tools like spreadsheets and notepads is started to cause some pain points and limiting the growth potential of many brokerage firms across the country.
If you are in the land brokerage business, you are most likely tracking contacts, companies, phone calls, emails, property listings and the deals you are pursuing with each at the very minimum. Where and how you track them differs wildly but make no mistake, you are tracking this data; or should be. For some, you are tracking it on sticky notes around your desk or on notepads or Excel spreadsheets. While convenient and super easy to capture this information using those manual methods, your ability to "leverage" that data in the future is negated. You essentially get "one time" use out of that data. Imagine another broker who captured all of that information in a centralized cloud based system that allowed them to quickly search for that data for repeated use where ever they may be, whether it be out in a field on their mobile device, behind their desk and computer or at a client site on their computer. For those who work in groups and have a need to share information across your brokerage, imagine the benefit of such a shared system where you can turn your data into true business intelligence.
No longer do you have to work for your data, the data starts to work for you.
Simply follow up tasks that we all know we need to track and monitor but don't because of the manual effort to do so can be automated. Here are two simple examples for you to consider:
Prospecting / Business Development - you are a disciplined broker and know that for future growth, you always need to be prospecting and working on new business relationships. Putting your networking hat on, you start to establish relationships with new contacts in your local marketplace, the interest level of which varies greatly. Some may want to do business with you right away where others may need more nurturing over the course of time. Engaging with those that are ready to do business now is the easy part. What are you doing to stay in touch with those that are not ready to engage with you today (which by the way is the vast majority of your prospects). Without a systematic method for following up with these prospects, the hard truth is that many of them fall through the cracks and never turn into business. There now exists a solution that can help you with this and the good news is, it has been tailored for your industry and your brokerage.
New Listing Checklist - you get a new property listing which kicks off a series of tasks that you need to complete to start driving demand to the new listing; ordering signs, creating a new listing site, creating an email to send out to brokers or investors, creating the target broker and buyer list, etc. Using manual methods to track these tasks, you either enter them into your calendar one at a time at best. Considering the "static" and repeatable nature of these tasks, there is an automation opportunity whereby when a new listing is entered into your CRM system, these tasks could automatically be assigned and scheduled and the progress of those tasks can be managed and viewed to make sure nothing "falls through the cracks".
These are just a couple examples of how technology can be used to truly leverage the data you already possess allowing you to perform at an efficiency level that could only be dreamed of in the past.
About the Author: Wes Snow is co-founder and President of Ascendix Technologies based in Dallas, Texas with international offices located in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Ascendix has been enjoyed a successful 22 year existence in the CRM space and is the author of real estate based solutions AscenidxRE and AscendixRE Land. In addition to productivity tools for the Salesforce.com platform like Ascendix Search, Ascendix also provides professional services/consulting for various CRM implementations across the globe.