By: Jeff Finn, CEO of RealNex

All too often CRE company leaders are caught in the dilemma of whether or not to adopt technology. The perennial concern is adoption. “The technology is great but what if we invest and no one uses it? I would rather let the agents make the decision for themselves and have skin in the game.” Meanwhile CRE technology companies are challenged by how they should sell to the industry – Do they sell to the “company” or do they sell to the agents?

It depends.

The CRE Brokerage industry is quite unique in its structure. When the players talk about it they will sometimes talk about “My Business”, other times its “Our Shop”, sometimes its “Our Office” or then again it might be “The Company”. Well, what is it?

Different CRE Brokerages conform to these styles of operation. They run along a continuum and attract the talent that fits the culture and the model. Is it a desk and a phone and you’re on your own? Or is it a structured business with systems and processes? The industry emerged as the former, but has evolved to be dominated by the latter. The most successful, profitable and valuable companies provide consistent, scalable services. They are seeking out technology driven efficiencies in every aspect of their business. And, while the days are numbered for the Lone Ranger approach to the industry, there are still many out there… and even more “Shops” striving to become “Companies”.

As a Brokerage, let the Lone Rangers ride off into the sunset and set your sights on those that are ready to transform. Its more than about adopting technology…its really about a commitment and a vision to become a market leading company and understanding that technology driven systems and processes are fundamental to realizing the objective.

That cultural transformation is tough, but mission critical if you are looking to build enduring value. Top down change doesn’t tend to work. It is all too often a very expensive and very painful process. Rather, it takes strong leadership and consensus building. You need a core group that “get’s it”, they see the value and want to be part of something greater. It may take a change in splits, structure and overhead; a commitment to provide additional resources and more than likely some turnover of those that don’t “get it”. Some of the quick hits to demonstrate value will be on the operations side…tools and systems for marketing, research, support and accounting. Those are easier to manage and can pay big dividends in controlling cost, but the real prize and the ultimate goal is to empower the sales team with CRM and Deal Management solutions that drive revenue. Tools to win business and execute more efficiently.

So as a CRE Tech company you need to understand the client profile. Where are they on the continuum. In some cases, selling to the firm is appropriate, but in others selling to the agents…or most likely selling to the agents as a way to get to the company. Or, better yet, the ultimate objective of having the end client demand your technology from the brokerage.

Written by: Jeff Finn, CEO of RealNex

 

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