The importance of CRM in real estate

An image of Peter Hutton using Rex Mobile (a real estate CRM app) at his local cafe.

Here at Rex Software we develop what our existing clients say is “Australia’s most intuitive CRM in real estate”. This blog will explain exactly what a CRM is, what it should be doing for you and your agency and how Rex offers a turnkey solution for your agency.

What is a CRM in real estate?

Real estate is becoming an increasingly competitive industry. Forward-thinking agencies, with ambitions of growing their business, even in quiet times, are constantly looking for ways to better service their clients and really create an edge between themselves and their competitors.

In today’s technology-driven world, client relationship management (CRM) tools play a significant role in this for real estate agencies. According to Wikipedia, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is used in real estate to systemise an agency's communications with clients and prospects. A CRM is used as a centralised database to store information and keep tabs on every touchpoint an agency has had with a customer or prospect.

A good CRM is the secret weapon that successful businesses, including real estate agencies, use every day. Real estate agencies that effectively use a CRM system focus on their clients – vendors, landlords, buyers and tenants – meaning they build a bigger and better business because of it.

What should a CRM system should do for you and your agency

A CRM in real estate (sometimes referred to as real estate software, or a real estate database) should enable you and your team to effectively service all of your clients. Your prospects, appraisal contacts, vendors and buyers (and for those doing property management, your landlords and tenants) are all clients. Your CRM should be able to market to different groups of your clients through multiple mediums – letters, emails and SMS. It should remind you when to follow up your prospects and appraisals so they won’t forget you, but without annoying.

In this day and age, your CRM should be your listing management tool as well – it should be able to upload your listings to real estate portals, generate your brochures, stock lists and open home lists. You should be able to manage your vendor paid advertising (VPA) from within the system, record buyer feedback and generate vendor reports. It should also be able to generate contracts and track contract dates (deposit, finance, settlement dates etc.) Your CRM should offer your buyers the same level of personalised service you offer your vendors by automatically contacting them by email and SMS anytime anyone in your agency lists a property that matches their specific requirements.

Your CRM should enable you to keep clients for life – it should have functionality available to follow up past buyers, and past vendors so they keep coming back to you year after year. The most important feature of your CRM should be that it is easy to use. It should SAVE you time, instead of WASTING your time. You should be able to use each and every feature to its full benefit without having to think about it or look up a manual.

After all, what is the point of having a system in place if it takes up more time than it saves, or if it has 101 great features but you only know how to use 10 of them?If you are using a system (or a few of them) right now, and it can’t do all of the above, or it is very difficult to use for you and/or your staff, why are you using it? It will be costing you money! Your CRM should be MAKING you money!

Rex – a turnkey solution for your real estate agency

We didn’t come up with the tag line that Rex is “Australia’s easiest CRM and listing management platform” – our clients did, and we’re just running with it! Rex CRM was originally, and continues to be developed to empower real estate agents. Why empower the agents? Watch the video below.

So if you watched the whole video (and you really should, especially if you’re the owner or manager of a real estate agency!) you’ll have seen that higher incentives will sometimes lead to worse performance. Of course, money is a motivator at work – if you don’t pay people enough, they won’t be motivated, but if you pay them enough to take the money of the table as an issue and they will be more focussed on their work, and less on the money. Once you take money off the table as an issue, three factors lead to better performance and personal satisfaction with your staff – autonomy, mastery and purpose.

How does all this relate to Rex you ask? It is two of the three factors that Rex is built to empower the real estate agent. Rex gives an agent autonomy – they are in control of their own listings and don’t have to rely on admin staff to upload their new listings or make changes to existing ones. Rex also gives an agent the tools to master their trade. As for purpose – that’s up to the agent and the agency they work for.

When I was an agent, my purpose was to help people with their property matters – helping a vendor move on to bigger (or smaller, depending on their reason for selling) things, and helping a buyer make their dreams come true. Sure the money was good, and I had purpose, but not one of the three agencies I worked for before jumping ship and joining the Rex team encouraged autonomy or mastery.

I make this point, because most CRM systems have not been built to empower the agent – and what this means if you’re the owner of an agency, is that you won’t be getting the best out of our staff or the CRM that you’re using.

Right from the beginning stages of prospecting, to appraisals, to listings Rex streamlines the way your office will work. From mail merging to a single record through to mass marketing to an entire street or suburb, Rex makes it so easy.

I bet nothing annoys you more than driving past a property where you did an appraisal a few months earlier, to see them listed with another agent. You have to ask yourself, “Did I follow that potential vendor up enough, if at all?” Nine times out of ten, the vendor will have picked the other agent, because they were better at following up than you were. With Rex, this scenario will be a thing of the past as we have what we call “Tracks”. Tracks are pre-defined lists of best-practice follow up, that will ensure your prospects will remember you when it is time for an appraisal, and your appraisals remember you when it is time to list.

When you list a property, you only have to put in the property details once, and Rex will upload that listing to your agency website as well as real estate portals – and it will do this automatically. You’ll be able to generate brochures that fit your agency’s branding at the click of a button (technically, it’s three clicks of your mouse button, but it will still take less than 10 seconds to get a brochure generated). Your stock lists and open home lists also get generated without any input from you – a few clicks and they’re done – and they look great too! All of your marketing and VPA can be recorded and tracked in Rex and you’re able to generate high quality marketing schedules for your vendors, as well as generate VPA invoices and receipts on payment of VPA.

Rex allows you to record buyer feedback against a listing and generate high quality vendor reports to give to your vendor that, when used correctly, will help get realistic price adjustments from your vendors. Depending what State you’re in, Rex can either export data to third-party providers for contract generation, or generate the contract for you straight away.

We’ve also got some outstanding tracks in Rex for listing management, that if applied correctly, increase the likelihood of keeping a listing after your exclusive period ends. One of my favourite features of Rex is the automatic buyer updates. You can literally put your buyers into Rex with their buying criteria (price range, minimum bedrooms, property type, features, views etc.) and any time you or your agency colleagues list a property that matches your buyer’s requirements, Rex will contact them by email, SMS or both as well as prompting you to follow them up.

By far the most important feature of Rex is its usability. Every single feature in Rex is usable on a day-to-day basis – in fact, every feature that gets put into Rex goes through a “usability filter”. Basically, if our team (and we have some really bright sparks in our team) can’t make a feature usable for 99% of our users, we don’t put it in. We believe in offering Australia’s easiest CRM and listing management platform, and won’t compromise on usability.

Where do I go from here?

The bottom line is: a good CRM system will be able to manage your marketing campaigns, manage your enquiries, manage the communication with your clients effectively and streamline your account management, while helping you to build stronger relationships with your clients.

A great real estate CRM will be able to do all of the above, easily, while helping you make more money by listing and selling more real estate – and at the end of the day, that’s all you want as an agent or agency owner. You want to (or you want your staff to) be able to do the job more efficiently and effectively to maximise results while building stronger relationships with your clients.

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