ActivePipe Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® in New ACE, Agent Centre for Excellence
Award-winning real estate marketing automation platform ActivePipe, has joined forces with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® as part of their newly launched state-of-the-art marketing technology platform, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® Agent Center for Excellence (ACE).
As part of the ACE package, which seamlessly integrates multiple best in class marketing technologies into one cutting edge platform, ActivePipe allows Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® agents to create powerful email drip-campaigns with built-in automation and property integration.
With ActivePipe, brands can now implement a ‘tiered-down’ approach, the first of its kind. Centralized communications can be deployed from the brokerage level, delivering a cohesive message through their local channels. These emails take seconds to create, thanks to ActivePipe’s easy-to-use email builder.
“We are proud to be part of the ACE initiative alongside the other best-of-class technology platforms,” said ActivePipe CEO, Ashley Farrugia. “Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® is an exceptional group, and with ActivePipe, their agents will be given the tools to send intuitive emails that discover hidden opportunities in their databases, resulting in more listings and higher commissions. It’s a revolution.”
The ACE platform is designed to be agent focused and data-driven, delivering powerful CRM, lead management, listing alerts, digital marketing tools and agent intranet from one centralized portal.
“After nearly two years of research, we realized investing in a best-in-class approach was the only way to continuously provide our agents with the most advanced technology to maximize their business,” said Rajeev Sajja, Vice President of Digital Innovation at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS. “We are genuinely committed to providing best-in-class tools and services to our agents to service their clients through innovation and key partnerships in the industry. As agents begin utilizing ACE, they will find running their day-to-day business is easier, more effective and highly efficient.”
The official rollout of ACE will begin in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania area throughout December 2018. By January 25th, all 5100 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® agents throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey will have access to ACE.
Unique within the real estate space, ActivePipe integrates live property feeds to present tailored recipient-specific content. ActivePipe helps brokerages and agents in identifying and converting potential buyers and sellers by managing the communication journey with all prospects, at scale.
Its drag-and-drop email editor allows for easy and instant blog and video incorporation, creating a seamless nurture program across all stages of the real estate lifecycle.
ActivePipe has established a rapid paid penetration across US, UK, New Zealand and Australian real estate offices in its short history in market. The ActivePipe platform complements all popular real estate CRM platforms by bringing static data to life. Agents can now identify and profile the clients most active, allowing agents to focus and prioritise those clients that are showing signs of transacting in the immediate future.
For more information, speak to a member of our team here.
Forging the Right Kind of Partnership with Your Agency
I’ve worked for and dealt with many agencies in my career. Having experienced life on both sides of the coin, I can safely say that their services range from the comically bad to “marry me, please” and every shade of mediocre in-between.
Since teaming up with Luke and the team at Tiger Pistol, I’ve been living the absolute dream. The dynamic between our visions for ActivePipe is aligned and electric, meaning we can bounce ideas around and always trust each other’s opinions. Needless to say, it’s not always like this.
We think every business should enjoy this type of relationship, so I’ve asked Luke to share his thoughts on forging the right partnership with your agency.
Forging the Right Kind of Partnership with Your Agency
Chances are, if you’re looking at executing any sort of marketing, you’ve come across an agency that says they can do what you’re after. Trust me, I’ve been providing solutions for big brands and businesses for over a decade. Usually, the agency (or a number of them) will come via a referral, you’ll explain what your challenges are, and the agency will scope out a solution that provides the answers to exactly the problems you’re having.
Why is it then that it’s so hard to find the right kind of partners? Or an agency that does what it says on the tin?
These are tough questions, and while there’s no perfect answer, there are steps you can take to ensure the partners and providers you’re working with care as much as you do about your business’s outcomes.
I’m going to share some of these steps, based on lessons I’ve learned along the way, and in working with partners like ActivePipe.
It Starts With Mutual Respect
Like most fruitful partnerships, we started our relationship with ActivePipe via a warm introduction. We respected where they’re at as a business, and shared where we are at in our own journey at Tiger Pistol. These initial feeler meetings were really important for getting a handle on ways of working, what was important to ActivePipe, and determining that they’re the kind of business we enjoy working with. Without these initial introductions and understanding of how each of us came to be here, the rest of the partnership wouldn’t work.
Building Rapport Over Time With Results (And Not Rushing It)
I won’t sugar-coat it. ActivePipe is a dynamic, challenging client that is disrupting the Real Estate game. There’s no room for rigidity, inflexibility, or being precious about how we get our work done together. Fortunately at Tiger Pistol we’re adaptable and enjoy the rigours of working with clients that push us on performance and delivering outcomes. We knew what ActivePipe wanted and needed, and kept the focus on getting those results. Because of this, the rapport came naturally. We’ve got a regular working rhythm together, and that has come through earning it and making good work the priority. Too often agencies rely on their relationships over results, and that’s usually at the expense of the client.
Finding Creative Ways to Work Together
We’re not in the business of providing a service and charging for it. ActivePipe and Tiger Pistol are continually finding ways we can work together to create and deliver value for both. A great example of this was the work we did with LJ Hooker, using both of our platforms we were able to help amplify their BOOST program to heights that neither platform could achieve on its own.
Keep On Communicating With Multiple Tools
Both of our businesses are dynamic, rapidly growing, and subject to the highs and lows that come with operating at such at a speed. The great thing about working as an agency partner with ActivePipe, is the communication is always open and frequent. We keep an open Slack channel for ad-hoc requests, regularly drop notes to each other in Google Docs, and are big fans of touching in on the phone daily and keeping the face-to-face appearances up. The team enjoys both the rigour of the communications, as well as the transparency from both sides. We’re flexible with how we communicate – while keeping things moving in the right direction.
We Enjoy What We Both Do
We’re both experts at what we do, and rely on each side to share their expertise around what they need and can deliver. This expertise transcends the day-to-day and keeps us sharp because we seriously enjoy what we do. We love delivering results for our clients and sharing what works best, and what isn’t working with our regular testing approaches. Understanding this game and appreciating it for what it is goes a long way towards keeping things fresh and interesting for both ActivePipe and Tiger Pistol.
Finding the right kind of partner and agency is hard, and in sharing what works for us I hope you’ve got some ideas of what to look for when forging your next partnership with a provider or agency. I find front-loading the work, basing it on respect, keeping the communication open while being outcomes-driven are all great steps toward ensuring that the next working relationship you have in your business is a successful and mutually beneficial.
Luke is a Senior Account Director at Tiger Pistol. He works with brands who are focused on driving performance and results powered by local. He’s worked in the digital marketing world for over a decade, with stints in both media and creative agencies, as well as being one of the few people in APAC to have worked at both Facebook and Google. When he isn’t servicing clients he enjoys working with, you’ll find him by the beach with his Kindle, or training for his next half-marathon.
If you’d like to speak to someone from Tiger Pistol about supercharging your business’ social presence, get in touch here.
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For the latest interviews, articles and expert opinions follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’d like to learn more about how ActivePipe can help your business, we can organise a chat. Drop us a line here.
In Conversation with David Young Choi
ActivePipe’s catapulting global expansion of the last twelve months has allowed me to make some exceptional appointments to our executive team. The quality of these highly sought-after professionals is enviable, as is the wealth of experience and understanding of the sector that they bring with them.
When I first met David Young Choi three years ago, we quickly entered into a friendship driven by a mutual respect for what the other was ‘about.’ At the time, he was Chief Commercial Officer at Homepass, a proptech company moving in the same space as the recently launched ActivePipe; our paths were always destined to cross. I was instantly drawn to his astute intelligence and passion for the role and I was pleased to watch his career continue to shine as he moved into the position of Director of Corporate & Enterprise at Domain.
When ActivePipe reached the point of needing a CCO of our own, in my eyes, David was the only man for the job. He’s dived head first into the role and is already feeling like such a member of the ActivePipe family that it’s hard to believe he’s only officially been on board for a few, (admittedly, action-packed) weeks.
I’ve finally found some time to sit down and decompress with him. Here’s what he has to say about his ActivePipe appointment, insights into the company so far and the overall climate that’s defining proptech in 2018.
Dave, you’ve known me and ActivePipe for years now. What is it that got you excited to come on board and take this role?
DC: I was sold the first time that I saw ActivePipe. It was so intuitive and simple, that I was immediately drawn to its potential. ActivePipe addresses every major pain-point that brands and agents face. This runs deeper than just personalised communications and discovery technology. You’re talking about a platform that holistically revolutionises how an agent identifies and converts pipeline opportunities and then builds a lifelong relationship with them. From a corporate perspective, the power to create an automated email drip-campaign that seamlessly integrates properties which can be sent out on behalf of all their agents in minutes, is invaluable. How could I not be excited about this?
It’s the numbers that get me going. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you build into a product if you’re not getting results for the clients, what’s the point?
DC: Well, from what I’ve seen, the proof is well and truly in the pudding. From the ground up we’re now looking at servicing nearly 40,000 agents with the biggest brands across four countries, including the US. What are we at now? Over 16,000 appraisal requests for our clients. So yes, it’s both the numbers and the technology that has me excited.
Thinking about how these numbers will grow as we continue to push into the US gets me excited.
Of course! Our international expansion and opportunity were major drawcards for me joining the team. At the end of the day, the fundamental problems we solve are universal, no matter whether you’re in Australasia, the UK or US. ActivePipe’s value proposition spans all geographies.
Based on your experience dealing with agents from across these geographies, what are they saying about the introduction of automation for their business?
Well, corporations are always blown away by the ability to maintain brand integrity across the network without losing the personal touch that individually crafted communications provide. This is huge for them. Agents talk about how easy it makes it for them to stay in contact with the thousands of agents in their database and facilitate relevant conversations.
Yeah, I completely agree. I love how it’s not only positively enhancing the experience of the agent but also adding value and creating a pleasurable overall journey for their customers.
DC: Well, that’s what it’s all about. The reason ActivePipe agents are seeing such great results is that their contacts aren’t feeling like the recipients of spam or monotonous cold-calls. With each and every touchpoint being tailored to their needs, trust and rapport are consistently being built. When it does come time for an agent to pick up the phone and make contact, they are more productive and can actually add value.
You’ve already been throwing some big ideas around with me. Where do you see this company heading in the next few years and how are you going to help get us there?
DC: The customer is the centre of our universe, so everything we do moving forward must focus on customer centricity. This is already a dynamic business but we must always remain diligent and on the front foot of the needs, pain-points and solving our customers business problems. All I can say right now is, watch this space because big things are coming.
So, talk to me about how you see our role in the industry now that you’ve seen us from the inside and out.
DC: This is an easy one! The role of ActivePipe is to help real estate agents and brands get the absolute most out of their business. It’s like squeezing every last drop out of a lemon. ActivePipe takes the archaic lead generation and customer nurturing methods which real estate has relied on for so long and turns it on its head. Its role is to completely change the game.
Thanks, mate, as always it’s all about company culture for me, so no matter how you want to shake things up, you know where I draw the line.
That’s a great point to bring up actually. To return to your question about what excites me about ActivePipe, I’d have to say that its reputation as an organisation with extremely high staff satisfaction and retention rates was a huge drawcard for me. It’s been inspiring to hear you speak on the driving force company culture plays in the pursuit of innovation. I couldn’t be happier to be part of the team as it moves towards the next phase of its’ global expansion.
Buxton: Hyper Relationships through Boutique Singularity
In my journey to understand the inner workings of Australasia’s best real estate brands, I’ve been captivated by the concept of utilising technology to curate personalisation en masse. Successfully integrating automated systems into an industry that relies so heavily on interpersonal interaction isn’t easy and many brands have suffered through the teething process of trying to perfect the balance between efficiency and providing a service that maintains real estate’s integral personal touch.
One brand that has seamlessly mastered this domain is Buxton. Through smart database setups that allow each agent to build hyper relationships with their clients, Buxton is changing the way we think about email automation and its often misconceived perception as a vessel for impersonal spam.
I sat down with Buxton CEO, Nathan Jones and Operations Manager, Fiona White to find out how this boutique brand has positioned itself as one of Victoria’s most personal real estate groups.
At ActivePipe, we are driven to personalise the email communication experience for real estate customers whilst giving agents the ease of intuitive automation. You have taken it to the next level at Buxton. Can you tell me about how you’re achieving this?
Nathan: We’ve set up our database so that every contact in the system is only ever hearing from one agent. The difference between our database and other brands is they have all these siloed databases whilst we just have one. This means that no matter whether a contact has gone to different agent’s OFIs or bought property off someone else, they are still the client of that original agent.
We just wanted to make sure that we never had a scenario where two Buxton agents were sending eDMs to the one person with the same properties or even different types of properties. Relationship singularity is extremely important to us.
We’re trying to build the hyper relationship between the agent and the client through these eDMs and ultimately that came down to us making sure that we weren’t competing with ourselves.
How did ActivePipe help you achieve this?
Nathan: In terms of building out the customer journey, we had been running with a couple of ideas for a few years but the system we were using was a bit like a dumbwaiter. There was no feedback and no intuitive AI behind it to tell us to send out another communication after someone had engaged. It was just, ‘On Thursdays this email goes out’ or ‘On Fridays this email goes out’. We still had that one-on-one contact but there was nothing smart about it. So the ultimate leap for us was taking it to the next level with ActivePipe.
So in terms of your nurture program, imagine that I’m a dormant lead and haven’t spoken to someone from Buxton for a significant period of time. How do you trigger off a journey?
Fiona: We send out ActivePipe’s Data Discovery Surveys once a quarter. That’s just if they haven’t interacted with any correspondence from us. They’ll also receive monthly ‘Sold’ reports for their desired area. So, regardless of whether you’re interacting or not, you’ll always get an email from us once a month and then quarterly with the Data Discovery Survey.
This leads perfectly into my next question which is around clean data. The Data Discovery Surveys are so effective at keeping a well-maintained database, which Buxton agents are great at. What are some of the benefits you are leveraging through this information?
Fiona: It’s so easy to forecast behaviour when you use the dashboard properly. You can see people’s home address, where they’ve been searching and you can see that they’ve been self-appraising among other things. You’ve got that next level of data rather than just, ‘Oh, I’ve got their address’ or ‘I know where they live’. Our agents are able to have a personalised conversation with their contacts.
Nathan: The piece of data that I’ve always found missing on real estate databases which I find slightly comical is a property address. We’re in the business of building relationships and transacting on properties, so it would be handy to know where people lived. If you know where someone lives, what you can do is pretty limitless in terms of the information that you serve them. Without it, you’re fighting with one arm tied behind your back. That is the importance of clean data, of quality data. If you don’t have it, you’re going to struggle.
I want to know more about how you’re helping create better experiences for your customers. How receptive are they being to the automated comms being sent to them? Are they receptive it or are you getting pushback?
Nathan: We’re not having pushback at all. People want customised marketing. They don’t want generic, impersonal communication coming through. If people shop at Country Road, it asks them to put in their size, height, shape and all of a sudden they start sending comms featuring appropriate clothes. It’s the same thing. People don’t have to time to sift through hundreds of messages to find the two that make sense. They just want the two that make sense. That’s the beauty of what I call the pre-framing process with ActivePipe.
I’m particularly interested around branding and how you maintain brand integrity. How can an agent maintain their individuality without jeopardising the Buxton brand?
Nathan: So for us, it’s all about freedom within boundaries. We create the boundaries of the email templates, and some are tighter than others. With ActivePipe we’ve been able to lock down as much as we feel we need to in terms of branding and logos. In terms of content, we create an absolute truckload of it on a daily basis that we encourage people to use. We don’t limit or cap how much or how little agents use but at least they don’t have to go out there and try and create it themselves. We have a range of blog posts, social posts, local business interviews, photography and trends. Anything you can think of, our social and media team create. Then it’s up to the agents to drag-and-drop what they want.
There’s so much to talk about in terms of technology and training your agents around this technology that we will talk about in our next catch up. Is there anything more you’d like to finish off with today in regards to personalisation and the methods you’re implementing to ensure it?
Nathan: Just that in all honesty the number of non-direct inquiries to our website has been significantly reduced post-ActivePipe, even though our traffic volume has drastically increased, thanks to clicks from the properties and content in our ActivePipe emails. The communication is so targeted that without knowing it, our agents are building a one-on-one relationship with clients and when these clients are clicking on emails they’re just going straight to the agent.
We deliver both automated and customised content, so irrespective of individual agent time constraints, we know at a minimum that we control a certain level of communication with our clients and contacts. Every single email comes from the individual; i.e. John Smith at Buxton, not an impersonal ‘no reply’ at Buxton. It’s as simple as that.
Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for part two of my interview with Nathan and Fiona.
If you’d like to speak to someone from ActivePipe about how you can personalise your communications and increase website traffic, get in touch here.
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Craig Leo: Acumen and Accolades on the Peninsula
When I stumbled across a Facebook video of Craig Leo, the renowned director of Barry Plant Rosebud speaking on the benefits of ActivePipe, I was stoked to see such a superstar sharing his excitement with the world.
Craig is a well-respected and sought after leader on the Mornington Peninsula. He’s also the recipient of numerous accolades that celebrate his business acumen and his dedication to establishing and maintaining relationships that last a lifetime. I think that Craig makes the perfect spokesperson for our platform, so I couldn’t wait to catch up with him to learn more about how he and his agents are harnessing the power of ActivePipe.
Hi Craig, thank you so much for sharing your video. We love nothing more than a happy client! I want to talk about the beginning of your ActivePipe journey. When were you first introduced to the platform and how receptive were your agents to the new system?
It was part of an initiative from our corporate group. We were given training on it and we certainly found it beneficial and the agents were really supportive of it. They recognise that it’s something that’s there to help them, so it’s really been fine.
Can you tell me a bit about how you incorporate ActivePipe into your daily routine?
One really good example is a couple that we missed out on a listing for. They didn’t sell with the current agent they were with and they ended up heading off for a holiday. Whilst they were away they were still searching for properties, so we knew they were a genuine buyer. Through ActivePipe we could see that as we alerted properties to them they were clicking on them multiple times. We always contact a buyer if we know that they’re clicking multiple times, so I was on the phone to them everywhere they stopped at as they travelled up the coast of Queensland!
By the time they were back from their holiday, they were looking to relist. They invited us in unopposed because they liked the fact that we’d kept in contact with them and that was with the help of ActivePipe. We ended up selling at auction which was great and from there they bought from us. So, by keeping in contact we were able to facilitate a buy and a listing unopposed.
You’ve received an amazing 24 appraisal requests so far. How many of those have turned into listings?
When we have a prospective vendor or an appraisal request, 9 times out of 10 we’ve listed and sold that property.
Wow, that’s incredible. Would you say that ActivePipe is allowing you to have better conversations with your prospects and that’s why you’ve been so successful in turning them into listings?
Well, first of all, it’s relevant conversations because we know, first of all, that their active in property. Secondly, we know the conversation is a relevant one because we can see what we’re sending them which results in a far better conversation. Thirdly, I think it’s the consistency of the conversation that ActivePipe is allowing for as well.
It’s not just a typical database call where you’re trawling through your prospective vendors. We’re making as many warm calls as possible.
As a director, do you find that ActivePipe helps you in managing your agents?
Getting reports back from ActivePipe that we can sit down and talk to the agents about is great. More importantly though, it’s giving them direction. Rather than coming in of the morning and making a series of cold calls or prospective vendor calls off a database, they’re able to have a really relevant conversation.
So now when I talk to agents I find that the majority of the conversation is, “What has been happening on your ActivePipe. Who’s clicking on what?” It’s not just about the vendor referrals or request for appraisals or finance referrals.
Have you had any feedback from clients on your communications with them?
I make people aware when they come through our opens that we are going to provide them with a series of updates that are relevant to their needs. I also tell them that if they’re not happy with it they can unsubscribe.
What’s really cool about the system is that when we’re doing an appraisal, we can generally do what we call a ‘buyer match’. This is where I go into ActivePipe and determine how many people are looking for say a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, double-garage home. I can show the prospective seller the results and the search history of the buyer. Then I’ll say, “Let’s give them a call now” and I’ll dial them up.
So, it’s just one of those really neat systems where you can actually show the vendor that you’ve got relevant buyers who have a search criteria that’s relevant to their property and that I can call them as easily at that. It’s actually hilarious.
So, do you use ActivePipe as a marketing tool when you are meeting with prospective sellers?
So many agencies say to their vendors that they’ve got “this buyer” in their database and “this red alert system” and they print off a list of ad hoc buyers. To me that’s just a number and anyone can do it. But when you actually show someone that a buyer has clicked on a property that’s similar to theirs, in a price range that is similar to theirs, and in their area, that’s really powerful.
Every agency says, “We’ve got the buyer”, whereas we tell our clients, “Look, everybody has the same buyers.” The difference between us and the other agencies is that we’ve got a much more accurate way of determining who the buyer is and we actually demonstrate that in a follow-up rather than just pulling up a list of names that may not even be real people.
What would you say to other directors who are thinking of giving ActivePipe a go?
I can sum that up in one sentence. It will change your business. Off the back of a really good market in the 2017/2018 financial year we made a 61% growth in our business. There was good training and marketing and all the things that we implemented in our business but ActivePipe was certainly a catalyst for that. So yes, do it.
That’s an incredible achievement that we are so happy to be a part of. Thank you for taking the time to chat today. Before we finish, is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d say, just try to be consistent with your training, and consistent in updating your database.
One more thing! We were alerted by one of your team members that we were sending out far too many emails and that feedback helped us to cut down on some of the unsubscribes that we were seeing.
So I have to say that the service we’re receiving from ActivePipe is really good as well.
Check out Craig’s original video:
Maintaining Culture Across Geographies
Earlier this year we were honoured to receive three nods from the Australian Business Awards for being leaders in the fields of technology, innovation and marketing. These accolades are always worth a celebration but this year they’ve really got me thinking about the true meaning of success and the role that company culture has played in ours. If you’ve been following us for a while you might even remember that I wrote a blog about it.
Since then, ActivePipe has continued its crazy growth spurt and we now have a small army representing us in cities across the US, UK, AUS, NZ and The Philippines. Whilst extremely exciting, I’m also ultra aware of the importance and potential hardships involved in maintaining our strong, inclusive culture across these geographies. As with anything in business, it all comes down to planning with a little bit of gut instinct thrown in for good measure, and so far we’ve been doing well at keeping the family vibes flowing across the globe.
I want to share with you what I’ve learnt this year about maintaining culture across geographies.
Have the Right Tech in Place
To maintain good communication and a sense of community amongst your team members, it’s essential that you have the right tools in place to facilitate a seamless flow of conversation. For us, Google Hangouts is an everyday occurrence and it’s not unusual to see our Melbourne HQ filled with the faces of comrades from far off lands shining down at us through TVs linked up to conference cams. Google Docs and cloud technology allow for easy sharing and editing of work and whether they like it or not, in-house messaging service Slack means that no matter where you’re located, an instant message is only a few keystrokes away.
Monthly general meetings are important to me. It’s a great way to bring everyone together to share news and company goals and even have a laugh together in an informal environment. Just because we can’t magically apparate the entire team together doesn’t mean that anyone needs to miss out on the fun. Turn your meetings into a virtual gathering with the same video conferencing software I mentioned above.
Get to Know Your Geos
Each region you penetrate will have unique characteristics, customs, laws and language nuances that if ignored could spell the end of you and your business prospects in that market. You need to do your research and engage the brand ambassadors and team leaders in each geography to educate you on these cultural distinctions. Making a point of recognising their holidays and other important dates will lead to an even more inclusive employee experience.
Communication is Key
You’ve heard it a thousand times before but it can’t be stressed enough – good communication is the heartbeat of a business and the key to balancing the needs of your staff with the needs of your accounts department. Check in with people as much as you can. Showing an interest in how they’re going, even if they’re not physically in the room shows your team they are valuable and that you are experiencing this journey together.
It Comes from the Top
You and your leadership group need to be the type of people that inspire a sense of purpose. This runs deeper than just being involved in the everyday running of the business. This comes from the place inside you that is driven by a noble purpose and a desire to do something more than just ‘make money’. Work out what your ‘why’ is and it will direct you in maintaining consistency in your global expansion. If you know why you’re really doing this, your passion will trickle down to everyone in the business – no matter where they’re located.
Let Them Grow
Your employees are just as interested in your global domination as you are. Give them the chance to feel that they are growing with you by encouraging development initiatives that the leadership teams are accountable for. Up-skilling opportunities don’t just improve staff morale, they improve the productivity of your business.
Luck Has Nothing To Do with It
Whilst I feel incredibly lucky to have the team I do, luck really has nothing to do with it. It takes a hell of a lot of hard work and numerous sleepless nights to keep the cogs of an international business well oiled and turning smoothly.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where your people are located or what ethnicity they belong to or system they associate with, they have families and lives and needs outside of your organisation. Just as you do – so never fail to take care of your wellbeing too.
Trust in your staff, invest in your culture and you’ll be amazed at the magic that blossoms across geographies.
Reece Prewett: Recruitment, Retention and the Power of the Database
Reece Prewett is the proud business owner and principal of Ray White Papakura, New Zealand. A master of the corporate world, Reece’s career has seen him in senior executive positions spanning four continents and nearly twenty exceptional years. His ability to drive global teams through significant growth and transformation makes his insights into the benefits of ActivePipe incredibly valuable.
We were lucky to catch up with Reece to chat about the improvements he’s seen in his business and in his agents since joining the ActivePipe family.
AP: Hi Reece, thank you for taking the time to chat today. Even though your office is pretty new to ActivePipe you’re already seeing some fantastic results. Can you tell me a little bit about how are you using the platform and how you are finding it so far?
RP: We’ve had the immediate benefits of appraisal requests and loan market requests coming through, which is fantastic! But the real juice is coming from those who mine the data in the ‘Hot Leads’ category. It’s the people who are clicking on properties multiple times, revealing their intentions about buying and selling and putting their details in through the website. We are loving that.
AP: Do you find that the information that is coming through is allowing your agents to have better conversations with these leads?
RP: It’s giving direction. You may have 1000 people in your database but when it comes to 10am Monday morning, who are you going to call? You want to start your day by making ten calls and what ActivePipe does is make those ten ‘hot calls’ as opposed to ten ‘hit-or-miss’ calls.
You’re making the right calls, at the right time, to the right people.
AP: How does AP help you train and manage the agents in your office?
RP: We have 25 agents in our office and ActivePipe helps us to work out which of those need some support. In my experience, agents can be highly effective at their jobs but not run a good database. The truth is, they could make twice as much money and have twice as much leisure time if they utilise the platform to maximise their database. They might even get their weekends back for themselves.
I’ll give you an example.
Our Number Two salesperson has 500 people in his database but it’s not well constructed. ActivePipe has allowed us to see that this is a problem and we’re now able to use it as an opportunity for him to improve his business. The guy’s already getting really good numbers so we wouldn’t necessarily have noticed his mismanaged database but he could be doing so much more and in half the time!
AP: How do your agents feel about using this new platform?
RP: I’m now using ActivePipe as my recruitment tool! This is because agents want leadership, support and something to help them deal with being so time poor. A lot of agents are time poor, so if you told them you’d organised a PA for them, they’d literally grab you with five arms, give you a hug and say, “Where do I start”?
That’s not a particularly cost-effective thing to do. With ActivePipe, I’m effectively giving them half a PA for free and it does all that work for them in the background.
For example, I’ve just recruited one prospect who was sold by the platform. At first he was going to wait until next year to join us but he ended up saying, ‘‘Yep – I’m done”, and he literally joined us the next week.
AP: Let’s talk about the technology side of things. Has there been any resistance to learning the new system?
RP: Absolutely. People just don’t like change, right? People who say that they like change are bullshitting you.
I think the young, smart agents coming through know that they don’t need to be tech-savvy but they do need to be using technology wisely and properly. The good thing about ActivePipe is that you don’t need to be an IT savvy individual, you literally just have to walk up to it, turn it on and make the phone calls.
Once you’re in and swimming around it’s like ‘Wow’.
AP: So you obviously think that technology is important for the future of the industry but do you think it is, specifically for your business?
RP: I think it’s important for every business. I think other small to mid-sized businesses out there won’t embrace it and that’s good for me because I know those people will drop off over time.
You don’t have to be that far ahead of your competition. It’s just like running away from a cheetah – you just need to be that little bit faster. So whilst ActivePipe is a great recruitment tool, it’s just as much a retention tool. Once they’re in and setting up their stuff each week and checking their database it’s almost like they can’t leave. How could they?
AP: So it becomes a very sticky product?
RP: Yeah, but in a good way, right! If you can have steak at home why would you leave and have hamburgers next door.
AP: You’ve had some really good appraisal request numbers coming through your account. Has that helped in terms of numbers of listings?
RP: Has it improved our business? Yes, absolutely. For example, since we’ve started my Top Agent has received two listings through the platform which equates to $30-40,000 NZD that’s coming in the front door. It’s probably paid for ten years worth of ActivePipe!
AP: So, it’s actually giving you as a business owner the chance to not only help your agents but to improve your business as well?
RP: It’s a total win-win. With ActivePipe, you’ve got recruitment, you’ve got retention and then you’ve got the ability to squeeze the juice out of a lemon. You’re presented with another money spinner by being able to generate leads that are not being managed and because they’ve been presented the way ActivePipe does, it’s very easy for the company to pick that up.
AP: Thanks Reece. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
RP: I’d just like to say that we were a bit timid about turning it on but you’ve just got to jump in the cold water and have a swim. ActivePipe has made a real impact and it’s a really positive one. I can’t think of any downside.
Ray White: Customer Centricity through Innovation
As a marketer, I’m fascinated by how brands seek utopia; a technology led, customer-centric approach with a frictionless experience that leaves a customer saying quite simply, ‘Wow’. In my pursuit of knowledge, I decided to start close to home, with Ray White, one of our biggest clients and a brand that is synonymous with the property and real estate industry throughout Australasia.
An industry leader and a force to be reckoned with, the Ray White group includes footprints across Australasia, Asia and the Middle East and is supported by an incredible 13,000 employees. I was lucky enough to sit down with two of Ray White’s leaders; Mark McLeod – CEO of Growth and Jason Alford – National Technology Manager, to discuss how being at the forefront and embracing technology is enabling Ray White to create seamless customer experiences. It was an eye opening and thought provoking conversation, to say the least.
Guys, thank you both for taking the time. There’s so much to talk about, I’d like to jump right in and start the conversation by looking at the current trends you are seeing in technology and across the industry.
MM: I guess the biggest thing we are seeing is the use of AI and machine learning (ML), which allows us to offer customers a much deeper and richer experience than what we were seeing in the past, as well as customer identification earlier in the process. This is what’s going to enable us to get ahead of our customers’ expectations.
Technology, for us, is designed to do one thing, and that’s to put more of our Ray White people in touch with more prospects, at the right time. It’s AI and ML that are going to allow us to do that in a way that’s going to enhance the customer experience.
Mark, you often speak of the 80/20 split. 20 being the percentage of elite agents who make up the ecosystem. How does technology enhance those elite agents and help them to achieve peak performance?
MM: We’ve been on this journey for well over ten years now.
Many of our people are using this technology today without even realising that they’re using technology. It’s just a part of their life. Even the way we’ve integrated ActivePipe is ‘business as usual’ for many of our offices. They’re not thinking about how it turned up and they’re not thinking about it as this ‘wonderful technology’. It’s like our mobile phones. Nobody thinks about their mobile phones as great technology, they’re just here now.
For example, when we first got ActivePipe, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing but now we talk about it like it’s an auction or a sole agent. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite agent or not, it’s just part of our DNA now.
That’s an interesting point. I believe the smartest technology should always be working in the background for you and incorporating itself into your life in a seamless, almost unnoticeable way.
JA: We just keep slowly infiltrating technology into our agents’ lives and they just keep on integrating it without any push back.
That’s allowed us to get better analytics, which allows us to make better decisions, which allows us to get better optics on the path we want to take. That’s because the data now shows us patterns, which allows us to keep going on the journey.
One of the strategic benefits of partnering with ActivePipe is the Profiles and the Intent features, along with the data that your system is capturing. It’s moving our agents’ behaviour towards what we call the ‘full service offering’.
Ray White is one of the only franchisors which offers loan market and financial services, a concierge offering a full suite of services, as well as our Home Now service, which offers utility connections. ActivePipe has allowed us to have richer conversations that allow us to offer our full suite of services.
Changing direction, how do you train your agents for success and those richer conversations?
MM: A number of years ago we created a training program called Accelerate, which was the first program to fully integrate the art of selling real estate with our full technology suite. The moment that an agent actually enters our world, they are greeted with, “Here’s the art of how you list and sell a home,” as well as, “Here’s how you list and sell a home under the umbrella of our technology suite.”
It’s fully integrated from the moment they enter our network.
JA: We also have 12 digital Business Development Executives (BDE), whose full time job is to go into our network and fully integrate our tech offerings into the daily lives and processes of our offices. They monitor the use of our technology suite, office by office, so that we can get a lens on any given stage of implementation and see which offices are falling behind, and with what tech application. Then the BDEs can be deployed to go out and support them.
Integrating new technologies within a business is always a challenge, particularly when there’s an upheaval of change. How receptive are your principals and what lessons have you learned?
MM: How long is a piece of string? Of course, there’s a wide range of responses but contextually I think that our network is very encouraged by our advancements and the direction of our company. Many of them feel very comfortable that there is a dedicated team and resources to steer our way through the technology future.
We’ve made some mistakes, which is part of it. We learned from these, but they trust us to work with them to focus a lot more on the future. By and large, that’s worked fairly well. We are going to be faced with some enormous challenges in the next period of time, but our belief is that what we are creating is tech-enhanced agents. We believe that an agent should always be at the centre of a transaction and we believe that agents who use technology more will be at the centre of technology more often.
How do you keep Ray White on the cusp of the next big thing?
MM: For the last four years we’ve been taking a dedicated team over to America for Inman. While we’re there, we make time to catch up with various parties that we identify with, such as analysis companies and AI and ML types. We benchmark core application platforms and keep a running product matrix of CRM providers. We also have a strong research team that makes sure that when we are making these bets and investing capital in that technology, that it’s not without risk management and understanding.
From a customer centric viewpoint, what’s in your pipeline?
MM: We’re working towards fully frictionless workflows for our sales people and compressing transactions to make it easy for someone to list their home with Ray White, and to make it easy for someone to choose Ray White.
JA: This will allow us to provide a better customer experience. We are a very big believer that it is all about our vendor and creating competition. We believe we can create competition by leveraging the scale, size and reach of our group. You’ll see that the amount of buyer inquiries that we receive on a monthly, daily and quarterly basis is second to none across the Australian real-estate landscape.
Are we leveraging that to its full potential? No, we’re not. Is that the journey that we’re on? Yes, it is. It comes down to ROI. Am I going to spend $200 a month on a bit of software if it is bringing me leads, listings or revenue, or saving me time, productivity or efficiency? Yes I am.
Final one, what role do you see ActivePipe playing?
MM: I think ActivePipe will play a significant role for us. It’s really opened much our networks’ eyes to the fact that targeted, customer centric comms get engagement. I think showing our network that they can provide a service for a customer, earlier in their real estate journey has been a really good thing.
As a group our whole focus is on connection. There’s the digital connection that ActivePipe plays a role in, but it’s how we use that digital connection to create a physical connection. We believe our core product is trust and we believe that trust is built from relationships. We have a saying in our company, “Make a list of all the people you have a relationship with that you’ve never spoken to.”
The answer to that question is that you don’t. So we use those tools to open up that relationship channel through to our core product.
Amanda Stinton: The Queen of Green Real Estate
The pursuit of innovation drives everything we do at ActivePipe.
We take pride in always placing one foot firmly in front of the technology and real estate curve but we also believe that the protection of our environment must go hand-in-hand with this innovation. We believe that working with mother nature, rather than destroying what she so graciously gives us, is the key not only to our success as a business but the future of our global economy.
As such, it was with great excitement I was able to meet Amanda Stinton, the Director of Sustainability and Green Designation for the National Association of REALTORS® during one of the mentoring sessions I attended as part of the NAR Reach® Program, which ActivePipe has been honoured to be included in as part of the 2018 class.
Amanda is responsible for the growth and strategic direction of NAR’s Sustainability Program and works tirelessly to position NAR as a leading voice on sustainability in the built environment. She helps realtors across America feel confident in guiding their clients through the benefits of sustainability, green homes and communities.
Put simply, she is the Queen of Green Real Estate.
I was lucky to reconnect and catch a moment in Amanda’s schedule to discuss why it’s so imperative that real estate and business work together and why it doesn’t have to cost us the earth, or our profit margins.
“Research tells us that real estate consumers are requesting more information about the sustainability aspects of their purchase,” she tells me.
“Homebuyers are looking for lower maintenance homes that cost less to run and operate and this is driven largely by millennials who are after sustainable lifestyles”.
Through their network of over 1.3 million members, Amanda and her NAR colleagues are able to record and analyze an unprecedented amount of data on consumer wants and behaviour.
“61% of REALTORS® from our nationwide survey said their clients were interested in sustainability topics and the benefits that sustainability provides, such as comfortable living space, access to frequently visited places, and reasonable operating and utility costs.”
She is adamant that green education needs to be offered from the corporate level, and says that executives need to be just as aware of the changing eco-expectations as the agents who are selling these homes out in the field.
“First and foremost, get educated. As the percentage of millennial homebuyers continues to grow, it’s important that real estate professionals can answer the questions that are important to buyers. At NAR, we offer a Green Designation program as an added professional credential to help teach agents about new developments in sustainable building, as well as an in-depth understanding on how to value, list and market homes with green features”.
This is where I get excited. I want to know exactly how the big industry players are reconciling ethics with economics and getting the right properties in front of the right prospects, to ultimately meet a consumer need.
Ironically, the answer lies in the ever-onward march of smart technology.
“We’re now able to search for MLS listings based on their green features. A client might not even know that they’re asking for a ‘green’ home but because they are searching for the trademark benefits, such as lower utility bills or connected technology, standardized datafields allow these features to be accessed by agents in the same “language” regardless of their market,” she says.
“Appraisers can now assign value to green features or certifications on properties and once this data is entered, it “lives” with the property, allowing future buyers to better understand the home’s operation and performance”.
MLS systems are also incorporated with a ‘green’ category to make the process easier for agents.
Pretty cool hey?
It seems that the same “smart” upgrades that consumers are seeking for their homes, such as smart thermostats, renewable energy systems and wellness spaces are being used by the industry to better market these sustainable homes to the growing population of buyers that want them.
According to Amanda, the journey has only just begun. Business leaders have plenty to look out for, so can’t afford to become complacent if they want to stay relevant and in tune with the needs of their customers.
“Well, our Centre for REALTOR Technology is keeping a close eye on trends related to smart homes, the internet of things, and healthy indoor environments, so stay tuned”.
There’s no doubt that we have a lot more to learn from Amanda and her team as we continue our progression through the NAR Accelerator Reach® Program. I very much look forward to sharing with you what we discover.
Green is good, for you and your business.
The Future of Proptech with Dr Mike Messig
I sat down with Dr Mike Messig, tech genius and ActivePipe CTO, to find out what trends we can look forward to (and what we should be wary of) in the era of proptech.
People have always tried to predict the future. In the past, predictions involved visions and crystal balls, while predictions in modern enterprise have a greater focus on modelling and forecasts.
This isn’t magic.
When we’re thinking about the future we’re actually looking at what is happening now and what has happened in the past. When a change happens in a general direction, we call that a trend, and when we notice a trend, we ask ourselves if we can trust that this trend will stay on that trajectory.
One person who thinks a lot about trends is Dr Mike Messig, our resident tech guru and industry oracle. In a recent trip abroad I caught up with Doc Mike. He told me about a few things he sees becoming big things in the next few years, and why he’d put money on them.
What is Proptech?
Proptech is technology for people in the property industry.
A smartphone isn’t proptech.
Proptech is the smartphone app that lets agents and brokers manage their properties on the move.
Every industry has exploded or been flipped on its head by changes to technology. Proptech is the wave that is washing over real estate and will make the market of the future almost unrecognisable to the market of today.
Why Marketing Automation is a Game-Changer
In the past, marketing campaigns required a lot of leg work. Brands put themselves in front of customers with expensive ads in local papers, or with time consuming letterbox drops.
“We’re seeing a lot more people explore marketing automation, and that number is only growing,” Doc Mike says. “People invest money on marketing automation because they can count on good returns.”
When marketing is automated it is much easier to personalise. It’s the modern equivalent of putting brochures into personalised envelopes but it’s about a billion times quicker and way cheaper.
With the way things are going brochures will be extinct pretty soon.
“Imagine trying to explain what a brochure is to a kid in the future,” Doc Mike laughs, “they’d think you’re nuts.”
Can Proptech Fix Problems with Proptech?
The funny thing about technology is that it often introduces a new problem in the process of solving another problem. What’s the solution?
At least according to Mike.
A good example from real estate is the agent publicity dilemma. As email started to dominate as a way for people to communicate, agents had to choose between managing their digital presence and important time making deals out in the field.
There was no way to solve the problem by reverting back to the good ol’ days, so proptech introduced a clever solution.
Make your digital comms send themselves!
When email first arrived it made global communication lightning fast. Improvements let us do cool stuff like smart sends, where a digital campaign waits for a customer to do something before targeting them with a personalised message.
This is all possible thanks to things like machine learning which is going to make everyone’s life easier.
Can Someone Please Explain Machine Learning and Neural Networks in Plain English?
Doc Mike says that machine learning and neural networks are ways of making computers train themselves and to perform better over time.
According to Mike the trend towards machine learning and neural networks is “through the roof”, especially with big guns like Google, Facebook and Amazon throwing billions of dollars into this kind of technology.
What does this mean in terms of proptech?
Machine learning and neural networks help build technology that addresses the needs of your database, such as software that can predict how contacts will act before a contact has even approached an agent for enquiry.
“Agents who use these technologies will uncover leads that they don’t know are there,” Mike says.
“With digital methods you find out how people will act before they know themselves. This gives anyone a clear advantage over competitors and helps grab commissions that can be worth tens of thousands.”
List Buying is on the Way Out
For a long time, list buying has been a normal practice for agents. It has often been seen as a way to get in touch with a lot of people quickly, but that practice of list buying will probably not be around much longer.
“We see list buying a lot in the US,” Mike says. “This is funny because in most other respects the US is way ahead but in terms of list buying, they often trail behind.”
Mike explains that bulk sending to bought lists is a quick way to get blacklisted. People think list buying can put you in front of a lot of people quickly, but the reality is that it can lock you out of conversations with people forever.
This is why people say that a trend away from list buying is a trend towards forming and nurturing relationships.
“I feel like I’m hearing the term ‘customer for life’ a lot more than I used to,” Mike realises. “There is definitely something to that.”
What does this mean for those lists you bought?
Don’t be frustrated that you’ve spent money on lists in the past. Just be grateful that, if you’re smart, you won’t be spending money on lists in the future.
What is the best approach to Technology?
When we think about trends, often we think about fads. We imagine that a trend is just something that comes and goes. This is not necessarily the case. A trend is a direction, that we assess by judging the past and the present to predict the future.
Often technology changes so quickly that it’s hard to determine the difference between trends and fads. Mike says that we should watch the people around us to figure out what’s coming next.
We also need to be bold.
The most successful people and brands in the future will be those who are open minded and prepare for challenges and opportunities that come out of nowhere.
That’s a trend you can bet on.
How Company Culture Helped Us Win 3 Australian Business Awards
If you follow the Australian Business Awards or are a friend of ActivePipe on social media, you may have heard that we took out their Software Innovation, Technology Innovation and Marketing Innovation awards for a second year running.
Being recognised amongst a pool of exceptional business talent is undeniably awesome and I couldn’t be happier that we get to celebrate these wins twice in as many years. But for me, the beautifully framed set of certificates now hanging at the top of our Melbourne office stairwell signify something far more important than profit margins, market placement or software algorithms.
What wins like these really show me, is tangible evidence that our team is doing exactly what it has set out to do. We’ve worked together, as a collective, to achieve an incredible set of goals by utilising the different skill sets, strengths and even weaknesses of each individual.
Through an eagle-eyed approach to creating a strong and inclusive company culture, each member of the ActivePipe family has felt confident to express all the fresh ideas that led to our product being as successful as it is. By giving the team unequivocal freedom and trust, I’ve discovered that the proof is well and truly in the pudding; a well-nurtured team give back in spades, and then some.
In the age of the start-up and a worldwide decline in lifelong brand loyalty, it’s a mistake for any leader to overlook the role of culture in strengthening their business. In droves, millennials are turning their backs on the traditional suit-and-tie job, unless it comes with a lifestyle balance and culture that aligns with their values. This means that if you want to attract top talent, you’ve got no choice but to get on board and rethink what you have to offer those that are offering forty-plus hours a week to you.
You don’t have to drop everything, run out the door and buy a foosball table and bean bags (although it doesn’t hurt, I’d be facing mutiny if I dared remove ours). What it does mean is stopping what you are doing, taking a step back and evaluating the happiness of your staff, and if you feel something is amiss, implementing a three point plan to address it. Get this part right and it won’t just be awards you’re winning, you’ll see every facet of your business winning as well.
Start With Your Why
This first step is the most important. Why are you here? What is the purpose of this business? If your only answer is ‘making money’, then you’re going to have trouble building an authentic connection with your team. Think deeply about your goals and make these plans known to all new interviewees.
If you haven’t already, work with your current staff to come up with your purpose together. At ActivePipe, we did this by identifying three words that truly define us: hustle, inspired and easy. They drive every avenue of our business and we know that if they’re being fulfilled, everything is chugging along just fine.
Live and Breathe It
Don’t pay it lip-service and then fall back into old habits once the novelty has worn off. You need to work hard every day to maintain culture. Live and breathe it! Keep the momentum going with team-building days that get everyone out of the office, communal spaces that encourage mingling and interiors that inspire creativity. Constantly remind your team how important your ideal culture is and make sure you always lead by example.
Pay it Forward
Encourage innovation outside the confines of the office and give kudos to those who strive for it. If a team member achieves something cool, let them know it. Be present in your company, not just a faceless suit behind a computer screen and be the company that’s known for giving back to the communities that support it. We see real estate brands doing this well, often promoting junior sporting teams and local events.
Remember, success is for sharing. Break bread with your staff and immerse yourself in your community.
The benefits of a strong, unified company culture
Maybe you think this all sounds a bit fluffy.
Perhaps you’re right, but in my experience, building a company culture that you can be proud of is no exercise in kumbaya hand-holding. If you get it right, staff retention rates will soar and your flawless brand image will attract customers in the thousands.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: no matter what someone’s job title is, whether they’re your right-hand woman or a fresh-faced graduate, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and humility.
Live by this everyday and it won’t just be your accountant that thanks you for it, you might even pick up an award or two along the way.
Shane Colquhoun: A Winning Principal
Shane Colquhoun is the principal of LJ Hooker Nerang, which was recently crowned ‘Regional Sales Office of the Year’ at the 2018 Real Estate Business (REB) Awards. He believes that cultivating team longevity through individual coaching and exceptional office culture are the principles behind a winning principal. At publication, his office has generated 122 appraisal requests through ActivePipe.
AP: Congratulations on your real estate success this year, what does it mean to you to see your office getting this type of recognition?
SC: It’s a reflection and an appreciation for all the hard work that you do over the years and it’s a big tick for the culture that we have here. It’s nice to be recognised with awards but it really assists with the culture.
AP: Is there a particular highlight from the last year that you’d like to share with us?
SC: Moving into the new office was definitely a massive highlight. After years of having the goal of giving the team a better working environment, having it come together was something very special.
AP: What are the qualities that you believe got your team to the top?
SC: I’d have to say that working as a team and having team longevity helps. Recruiting and training are a big part of a business but when you’ve had people here forever the business will improve every year. It’s nice to bring people in who become part of the turning cog in a machine and working well, so it’s easy for new people to start because there’s a lot of long-termers here.
AP: Tell me about the everyday routine of your agents. What are the little things they do each day that sets them up for success?
SC: Everyone is coached individually. At the end of the day, everybody has a strength and a weakness and it’s about highlighting the strengths rather than working on the weaknesses. If someone has been working in real estate for ten years and has a weakness, I think it’s always going to be there, so we support in the weakness and grow the strength.
AP: Your office has generated 122 appraisal requests through ActivePipe, which is huge! How do you make sure that ActivePipe is incorporated into the daily routine of your agents?
SC: It’s a non negotiable. We have it in the office and you have to use it, whether you’ve been here for one day or for twenty years. It’s one of those automated tools that makes people’s jobs easier.
AP: What advice do you have for agents who are just starting out in the business of buying and selling homes?
SC: God help them!
No, I’m joking. I was actually driving to work today thinking just how lucky all these new agents are with the technology on offer. They need to utilise the technology but also remember that it’s all about talking to people. Too many agents rely only on the great technology and believe its going to be the answer to all of their wishes but at the end of the day, you still have to talk to people. You have to build relationships over the phone and touch base as regularly as possible. I look back at when I was a successful sales person and I didn’t have any technology, I didn’t even have an email address, it was all about knocking out 30-50 phone calls a day.
If you did that many phone calls today, with the backup of this fantastic technology there’s no excuse for anyone joining the industry today to not make it work.
AP: What mistakes do you see other principals making that are inhibiting their business?
SC: At the end of the day, it’s growth. It’s not putting on enough sales staff or failing to grow your property management team.
AP: What would you say to agents who are thinking about giving ActivePipe a try?
YES! But, remember that you can’t rely just on the technology. If a contact is in real estate mode, they’ll open your emails but if they’re not they’ll probably click out of them, so for those times you have to have other things in place to stay front-of-mind.
Everyday Things You Can Do To Inspire Your Team
With KPIs to hit, listings to win and commissions on the line, real estate is often considered a game of numbers and hard sells. It’s a high stress environment and the pressure is almost always on. This means that agent burnout is a real problem in the industry and leaders need to take a stand. To create healthy work-life balance and increase job satisfaction, principals must look out for their staff and promote a positive work environment that inspires self care, self belief and self motivation.
Here are eight easy ways to inspire your team and get the good vibes flowing in your office.
Build Core Values
This is where you need to start. At the heart of every good business is a set of strong and well defined values. Why does your company exist and why do you do what you do everyday? Once you work out your purpose, jot it down and use it to keep yourself accountable. Remember, this is your moral compass, so if you stray, the first person you’re letting down is yourself.
Set Clear Goals
You’ve established your values, so now it’s time to set some short, medium and long term goals. Where do you want to be in one, five and ten years time? For a team-building exercise, get everyone in your office to share these objectives and then brainstorm ways to achieve them. Having clear direction and a team of colleagues rooting for you is incredibly motivating, so always embrace opportunities to collaborate.
Offer Up-skill and Personal Development Strategies
The benefits of encouraging your staff to seek extra training are two-fold. On one hand you will have a team of highly skilled professionals that love what they do and on the other, your staff will feel supported by you. Not only will they work harder to achieve your vision, but retention rates will be high because they feel like you’ve got their best interests at heart. Ask them what they want to learn about, you might be surprised by their answers!
There’s nothing more motivating than a bit of friendly competition. Why not introduce a fun leaderboard that doesn’t just focus on sales numbers but includes referrals, emails sent and any other interesting ideas you can come up with? Sales agents tend to be competitive by nature, so use what makes them tick to get some extra energy out of their 9-5 grind.
Public Recognition of Achievements and Show Appreciation
If they’ve done a good job, tell them. Public recognition isn’t hard but it goes a hell of a long way.
Give Them the Tools They Need
You wouldn’t tell a plumber to do their job without a spanner so why would you send your agent out in the field without the right tools to back them up. Prospecting technology such as ActivePipe is an essential component of an agent’s daily routine. It takes the hard work out of nurturing their leads to sale, whilst streamlining efficiency and improving your brand’s public recognition. If you’re not on it, give it a go.
Update the Decor
An easy way to make people feel good is to create a nice atmosphere through simple interior design improvements. You don’t need a $20,000 renovation, research shows that having just a few plants around an office space lightens spirits and even cleans the air for you. Take note of the culture in your office. If your team is ducking out for a caffeine hit every couple of hours, why not invest in a coffee machine that not only hits that sweet spot at 3pm but also encourages a space where people can chat.
At the end of the day, none of this matters if your team doesn’t trust you. The only way to cultivate that trust is to be transparent in everything that you do. Talk about the business’ progression regularly and encourage an open door policy where staff can ask any questions they may have without judgement. Always be straight with your answers because people can smell bullshit from a mile away.
Humans respond to authenticity, so don’t just be a boss be a role model they can rely on.
Rising To The Top With Glen Coutinho
When it comes time for REB to announce their ‘Top 100 Agents in Australia’ each year, the ActivePipe office is always abuzz. Our agents consistently place in top positions, so as you can imagine, we can’t wait to get our little mitts on the prestigious list and congratulate these real estate superstars for their outstanding achievements.
2018 did not disappoint.
Of Australia’s top five agents, three are ActivePipe users and we couldn’t be more proud of them. Taking out the number five spot this year is our friend Glen Coutinho, the Director and Senior Auctioneer at RT Edgar, Boroondara. With 33 years experience and a whopping $340, 529, 700 worth of sales under his belt in the last twelve months alone, he’s an undeniable powerhouse of the industry. ActivePipe was lucky to catch him for a quick chat and to pick his brain for the secrets to his success.
AP: Hi Glen, thank you so much for speaking to us today and a huge congratulations for being named the number five agent in Australia. You’ve had an incredible year, what’s been the highlight for you?
GC: The highlight for me is that I’ve been able to achieve all this whilst still having three and a half to four months off for the year. I was able to travel to America with my family and manage my customers whilst I was away, which means that the system works well for me.
AP: So you managed to achieve that elusive work/life balance?
AP: What are the qualities that got you to the top of the real estate game?
GC: I believe my greatest quality is loving people. My biggest strength is spoiling my customers. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, I just always make the effort to acknowledge the success of all my clients. I spend most of my time with people and I just want to spoil them.
AP: Tell us about your everyday routine. What are the little things you do that sets you up for success?
GC: I start my morning between 7:30am and 8am on social media. I wish all my clients happy birthday, acknowledge special dates and all those types of things. I do this by 8am and then send out some gifts to my clients and get on the phone. I make 30-40 calls a day to past clients and I’ve done that consistently for 33 years.
AP: How do you incorporate ActivePipe into your everyday routine?
GC: It’s an important part of my routine because ActivePipe is the touchpoint for all my customers that are on email. I’ve got almost 30,000 customers and a lot of them get sent an ActivePipe email every week. It’s especially important for the local and overseas contacts that I can’t keep in touch with. It means they can get an email with my face on it and an update on the market.
AP: Do you think this has helped you in your pursuit to be one of the top agents in the country?
GC: It certainly has helped! I meet so many people that the sheer volume can be hard to keep up with. If I forget to ring someone, ActivePipe is like my backup. Say I’ve been chasing someone for twenty years and I forget to ring them for six months, they’re still getting my face in front of them every week. Each Thursday, ActivePipe puts my face in front of 5000 people and most them think that I’ve written the emails individually, so it really works in my favour.
AP: How important is embracing technology like ActivePipe for the future of real estate?
GC: Look I think it’s critical, especially if you’ve been in real estate for a long time. The younger guys are doing it but people in their 40s to 60s think they don’t need to. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that you do. It’s a critical part of business in the 2000s and will continue to be moving into the future.
AP: What advice would you give to agents who are just starting out in the business?
If you’re just starting out, you need to be in the office and at your desk by 8am. You need to consistently make 40 to 50 calls a day and you need to make ActivePipe a critical part of your business. If you want to make the best of ActivePipe, you need to get it in front of 1000 people very fast. If you’ve got 1000 people getting one of these emails every week, you’re in the game. By the time you get to 10,000 contacts, it comes down to sheer numbers. You can’t lose.
Let’s Talk About Competitiveness and Drive in Real Estate
Whether you call it football or soccer, there is no denying that FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar. Fans around the globe huddle around the TV and get ready to watch their country battle it out on the world stage.
To celebrate this prestigious event we got in contact with our SVP North America, Mike Feller, who was lucky enough to play soccer for the US National team. Mike talks about the importance of self-motivation in real estate and how agents can channel their competitive spirit to drive more sales.
Mike, who are you going for in the World Cup?
Usually I’d be going for the USA but we didn’t qualify for the World Cup in Russia this year. If I had to pick another team it would have to be England because I almost feel bad for them. They’ve had such a tough run lately!
How did you get into playing soccer?
I started playing soccer when I was five years old. I didn’t really get serious about the sport until my sophomore year in high school but after that, things escalated quickly and by my senior year, I was playing on the US national team. I competed at this level for three years and was recognised as one of the top 20 soccer players in the country for my age group. I travelled a lot and had some great experiences, but was prone to injury. At one stage, I got hurt badly and that splintered my professional soccer career. After rehab, I decided it was time to hang up my boots. I went back to school, got my MBA and have been working with several startups ever since.
What parallels can you see between real estate and football?
Working in the industry for the past few months has made me realise that there are a lot of parallels between playing professional sport and selling real estate. Both professions are driven by a level of competitiveness, work ethic and an innate desire to succeed.
Tell me a little bit more about the importance of determination and drive for agents to succeed?
There are a large number of agents in the US, and the space is very competitive. In addition, the real estate industry is full of external influences, so agents need to adapt to a fluctuating market that they have no control over. Most of the time, the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is self belief, perseverance and drive. Just as athletes need to push through injuries and unforeseen circumstances, agents need to find new ways to overcome obstacles that they inevitably face.
How can agents train themselves to be better at their jobs and get an edge over their competitors?
To stay fighting fit, agents need to embrace the fact that they are running a business. They need to understand what drives their success, like the key conversions they need to pay attention to if they are going to turn a profit. If they adopt this mentality and truly dedicate themselves, they will be able to separate themselves from 90% of their competition. Another thing they need to do is ensure they are in tune with technological developments in the industry. Advancements are happening quickly, so agents need to understand what tools are out there and how they will help improve their business operations. The more relevant they are in that regard, the more likely they are to win listings and ultimately head a successful business.
Any other finals thoughts?
There are a lot of parallels between real estate and the sporting world. At the end of the day, self-belief, work ethic and competitive drive separate the winners from the losers. If you can simply harness those elements, you will succeed.
The Surprising Benefits of Going Green
Does driving across town for client meetings, writing a million contracts and spending hours on the phone negotiating a selling price when you’re meant to be on annual leave sound familiar?
Life as a real estate agent is indisputably hectic, so it’s fair to assume that the last thing on your mind is worrying about the impact your job has on the environment.
Last week, we spoke about the growing popularity of eco-homes and how house hunters are looking towards a green future. Today we are going to talk about how real estate agents need to get on board, practice what they preach and start implementing sustainability practices into their everyday routine.
Going full rainbow-warrior is daunting and unrealistic, so we’re going to talk about the small, daily changes you can make around the office. If everyone gets involved and implements these simple strategies, you’ll be doing your part for the environment and saving some cash along the way.
Get your green thumbs ready, here are our top tips for an environmentally friendly workplace.
If you can’t reuse it, refuse it
The key message of this year’s World Environment Day was to ditch single use items such as plastic cutlery, straws, shopping bags and take-away coffee cups. These days there are thousands of affordable reusable options out there, so there is no excuse to keep buying a new water bottle every morning.
Your local discount store has plenty of stylish utensils so why not stock up the office kitchen with products everyone can use. As an added bonus, many local cafes offer discounts for those who bring reusable coffee cups, so have some fun, branded ones the whole team can use!
Change your printing habits
Gone are the days of flyers, mailouts and OFI pamphlets; the marketing world has gone digital and so should real estate. Invest in some office tablets. They are incredibly versatile as you can email on-the-go and even use it to register attendance at an OFI. If you absolutely have to print, make sure the default setting is ‘double sided’ and you only use recycled paper.
Greenify your office
Leafy ferns aren’t just pretty, they filter pollutants from the office environment and clean up the air. Research tells us that work spaces which embrace plants and natural light boost morale and increase productivity. So take the team out to the local nursery and choose some gorgeous greenery to spruce the place up.
Be mindful of the way you transport
The reality is, agents need their cars to get around so we’re not suggesting that you ditch the wheels five days a week. To offset your emissions, consider teaming up with a work buddy and car-pooling every couple of days. Sharing the vehicle will save on fuel and toll costs, and might even encourage you to dust off the old bike and peddle your way to work and optimal fitness.
Remember you are what you eat
Our idea of what qualifies as food has changed dramatically in the last 100 years. Sadly, it is one of the world’s most wasteful industries but it’s easy to make a stand by buying fresh produce that supports local farmers. Not only is organic food more nutritionally beneficial than that from the supermarket, it’s far less likely to come wrapped in plastic and transported from the other side of the world. Don’t buy your lunch each day, bring it from home in some funky tupperware and you’ll save money and improve your health.
Embrace energy saving tech
Have you ever thought about how much electricity is running through your office? Lights are on, heaters are in full-force and everyone has their computer plugged into a wall. These are things that we never really take notice of but make a huge difference to the energy bill at the end of each month. Turning off your computer when you go home and installing some energy efficient light bulbs is a great place to start. As a rule, turn off any appliance when it’s not needed.
Take one step at a time and don’t be disheartened if you slip into old habits occasionally. So long that your hearts in the right place and you can get a conversation around sustainability happening in your office, you’re already on the way. You’ll save money, improve your health and be surprised at how much fun being a greenie can be!
What GDPR Means For Australian Businesses
We’ve already spoken about what the implementation of new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) mean for our clients in the UK, so today we will turn our attention to its impact on Australian businesses.
“Privacy Acts” are data protection laws which regulate the collection, use and disclosure of personal information about individuals.
These acts promote transparent data handling practices and business accountability.
To give individuals confidence, the Government enforces the Australian Privacy Act of 1988 which requires business to:
- Implement a ‘privacy by design’ approach to compliance
- Demonstrate compliance with privacy principles and obligations
- Adopt transparent information handling practices
GDPR is another layer of protection which you have to be aware of if your business operates in the EU.
Will GDPR apply to your business?
You should prepare for GDPR, if your business:
- Has an office in the EU
- Has a website targeting EU customers
- Has a website mentioning customers or users in the EU
- Tracks individuals in the EU on the internet and uses data processing techniques to profile individuals to analyse and predict personal preferences, behaviours and attitudes.
If needed, seek specialist legal advice to ensure you are prepared.
So what information applies?
The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’, meaning ‘any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person’. This can include data about your race, religion, beliefs, union memberships, sexual orientation etc.
Are you a Data Controller and what are the implications?
Your business is classed as a ‘data controller,’ if you determine the purposes and means of processing personal information. If you use email marketing software to communicate a product or service to a database you are a data controller. If this sounds like you, refer to the Act and its related articles, as outlined below.
Data controllers should:
- Comply with GDPR Principles relating to how you process personal data (Article 5)
- Implement data protection policies to ensure you comply with the GDPR (Article 24)
- Implement technical and organisational measures to show you have integrated data protection by design and by default (Article 25)
- Consider if you require a data protection officer to monitor and advise on compliance with the GDPR
- Undertake a compulsory data protection impact assessment (DPIA) prior to processing data
- Keeping records of processing activities under their responsibility
Are you a Data Processor and what are the implications?
Some GDPR requirements apply directly to data processors. Whilst these are less stringent then for data controllers, processors must still understand their responsibilities.
The relationship between controller and processor generally needs to be set out in a contract, which includes specific clauses such as:
- The processor may only process data in accordance with documented instructions from the controller (Article 28)
- The processor must ensure that persons authorised to process personal data have committed themselves to confidentiality or are under an appropriate statutory obligation of confidentiality
- The processor cannot engage another processor without the authorisation of the data controller (Article 28)
- The processor assists the controller to satisfy its responsibilities in terms of security obligations, data protection, impact assessments and DBN notifications.
Like data controllers, the processor must also implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk (Article 32).
Mandatory data breach notification
As a rule, data controllers and processors must advise the relevant supervisory authority of a data breach within 72 hours.
Refer to Article 33 and 34 of the act for exceptions to this notification requirement.
Overseas transfers of personal data
Under GDPR, personal data may be transferred outside the EU to countries or international organisations that provide an adequate level of data protection.
GDPR sets out the details the EU Commission needs to consider when deciding whether these third parties ensure an adequate level of protection (Article 45).
The European Data Protection Board is required to provide the Commission with an opinion assessing the adequacy of a country or organisation’s level of data protection (Article 70(1)(s)).
In the absence of an adequacy decision, overseas transfers are permitted in some limited circumstances, on the condition that individual’s enforceable rights and effective remedies are available and where appropriate, safeguards are in place. These safeguards include:
- The data controller has approved ‘binding corporate rules’ that enable transfers within a corporate group
- The data controller has entered into an agreement that contains the ‘standard data protection clauses’ adopted by the EU Commission or a data protection authority
- Approved codes of conduct are in place and the recipient controller or processor gives binding and enforceable commitment to apply appropriate safeguards
- An approved certification has been made by an accredited body and the recipient controller or processor gives binding and enforceable commitment to apply appropriate safeguards (Article 46).
- In the absence of an adequacy decision or appropriate safeguard, overseas transfers are permitted in very specific situations.
The new sanctions are severe.
GDPR gives supervisory authorities the power to impose administrative fines of up to €20 million or 4 percent of annual worldwide turnover. They’ll go with whichever figure is higher, so you need to be vigilant.
This article provides a commentary on GDPR for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how GDPR might apply to you and your organisation.
Not all aspects and interpretations of GDPR are fully defined yet. Therefore we encourage you to work with a legal professional to discuss how GDPR will specifically apply to your organisation, and how best to ensure your compliance.
What is GDPR and How Can ActivePipe Help Agents Gain Consent?
GDPR, the new EU data protection law coming into force on May 25, 2018, treats the data controller as the principal party for responsibilities such as collecting consent, managing consent-revoking, enabling right to access, etc. Real Estate agents are data controllers.
ActivePipe is the data processor agents use to communicate tailored property information to their contacts via email. GDPR requires agents to get new and explicit permission from the contacts in their email databases to send them email after the 25th of May 2018 unless they have an existing record of such consent.
This is the process of Permission Passing, where the agent reaches out to his/her email contacts to establish opt-ins.
The Good News!
Industry statistics on permission passing success (getting the opt-in) range from 10% to 50%. Whilst seeing database reduction of 90% to 50% might seem highly undesirable, the benefits of a list of email subscribers who actually want to receive your emails are very significant. Your freshly permissioned data will provide:
- Better Open Rates
- More Conversions
- Superior Delivery Rates
- Lower Costs
- Higher Personalisation
- An audience genuinely interested in what you’re communicating
How ActivePipe is assisting agents with consent?
ActivePipe’s customer Terms & Conditions require agents to warrant by 25th May that their email contacts have given consent as required under GDPR. For agents requiring assistance with re-consent, ActivePipe provides an Update Your Preferences tool which can be sent from the ActivePipe platform whereby their contacts are invited via a Manage Your Preferences landing page to opt-in or opt-out to receiving communications from ActivePipe.
A contact (data subject) who wishes to revoke consent for his or her personal data will contact the data controller (his/her real estate agent) to initiate the request, even if such data lives on servers belonging to ActivePipe, the data processor. Upon receiving this request the data controller (agent) would proceed to request the data processor, ActivePipe, remove the revoked data from their servers.
To streamline this process ActivePipe will provide a Delete My Profile tool in the agent interface before GDPR takes effect on 25th May 2018.
Creating Software Your Customers Love
I have met a number of incredible business people trying to get their startups off the ground. They’ve had a good idea, turned it into something tangible and have customers prepared to give it a go.
They’re on the right track but then I see them make a common mistake. They put all their money and effort into marketing the application rather than developing a beautiful product their customers love. To compensate for a mediocre experience, they find themselves taking their users out for dinner in an attempt to reduce churn.
I hear lots of tech companies in the industry say things like, “take this guy out to dinner” or “you need to build a relationship with this person to get in there”.
I believe business owners need to spend less time schmoozing and more time thinking about the relationship between their customers and their platform. What’s the point of creating software if it doesn’t engage?
This is why at ActivePipe we invest more into our development team than any other part of our business. We nurture them knowing that a well looked-after dev department produce better products that minimise costs across other areas such as finance and support.
When we built ActivePipe we had big ambitions. We wanted it to be the best marketing automation platform out there. Not just in real estate, but across the board.
We looked to the future and tried to visualise what the marketing managers of today will be using in five years time. We want to make their lives so easy that they look back and wonder how they survived before we came along.
After doing extensive research and trialling every email marketing platform out there, we realised what was missing. Busy agents need an application that allows them to build a campaign in minutes. Other products were clunky and time consuming and we knew that we could do better.
Although our initial launch wasn’t perfect, it was good enough that we didn’t need to take anyone out for dinner and since then, we’ve become obsessed with creating the world’s fastest and simplest email builder.
This dedication and customer-focussed approach has created amazing relationships with all of our users. The proof is in the level of activity we are seeing and at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important.
We don’t need lock-in contracts to secure their business. Our clients love our product and that’s the best relationship enforcer you can possibly have.
Becoming a Power Agent With Sherrie Storor
Earlier this year, I wrote an article about how delighted I was to join ActivePipe and its dynamic group of empowered women.
The tech industry is often thought of a man’s domain. A room full of numbers guys hacking away at their computers whilst a spirited debate about the fluctuation of bitcoin ensues. What I discovered was vastly different. This was an eclectic group of males and females, working together to propel the company forward and support each other with their individual goals.
The real estate industry is no different.
A few weeks ago, my colleague Alison and I were invited to attend the Women in Real Estate Breakfast Series hosted by coach, mentor and elite property agent Sherrie Storor. The event brought together a panel of gutsy and tenacious women, all at the top of their real estate game. They were there to celebrate female skill set and achievement with a takeaway that was clear:
Women in real estate have backbone. They have to if they want to lock down listings in a competitive market and survive in an industry built on competition. From top selling agents and CEOs to an auctioneer who offered bid calling lessons to anyone who dared, the panel showcased the diversity of female talent in the industry.
It wasn’t all serious business though, from Moet at the door, to eggs benny and a great view across Albert Park Lake, everyone was there to have a laugh and make new friends. Even if, being 6am, there were a few bleary eyes about.
Sherrie’s journey as a mentor and speaker began when she was selling elite properties at McGraths in New Farm, Brisbane. After personally selling more than 850 homes, she realised she had more to give and that her experiences could help other agents reach their full potential.
Everyone was looking forward to hearing Sherrie’s tips on how to be a powerhouse agent and we’re thrilled to share them with you.
Find your edge
Reflect on your strengths and use what makes you different to set yourself apart from the rest.
Analyse your digital presence
Google yourself and stalk your social profiles to see how potential clients would perceive you. Clear out anything that damages your reputation or is off-brand.
Use live video on Facebook and Instagram to get properties seen more
Sporadically posting a couple of pics on social media just doesn’t cut it anymore. If you want to showcase your properties and your personality, use live and unedited footage. The bloopers make it extra entertaining.
Send video messages to buyers after open homes
Stay front of mind with a short thank you video that will also remind them of the properties best features.
Have a structure for your sales process
Up your efficiency and minimise errors by proceduralising your sales process. You’ll gain consistency and each step will become second nature, making your life easier.
As someone who often looks at real estate from the outside-in, it was great to find myself in the thick of it and to see just how much women are accomplishing.
With Sherrie’s tips you will be a power agent in no time!
If you want to connect with her community, join the Facebook group Real Estate With Heart.
3 Ways MVP Will Help Your Business Thrive
I’ve spent the past 15 years working with startups.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of coming up with an incredible idea that no-one has thought of before.You have this huge roadmap with hundreds of intricate details and dozens of features mapped out, and you just can’t wait to get it on the market.
Then it comes time to turn that big idea into a reality.
This is when potholes appear in your perfectly tarmacked road. Team members leave, money is tight and the technology you need hasn’t been developed yet. All of a sudden you realise there is no way you can have a perfectly polished product out in a couple of months.
As someone who has been down this path before, I know how discouraging it can be but I also know a way you can get past this. A way to get your product to market, in the shortest possible time.
This version might not be as advanced as you originally planned but it will help by giving you valuable insight into what your consumers really want.
If I’ve learnt anything over the years, it’s that the final product never turns out quite like you expected it to. You assume you know what the marketplace wants but inevitably it’s the person using the product that will shape it’s evolution.
From marketing to development, that’s why we live and breath MVP in this office.
So what is MVP?
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product and involves releasing a version of an app or website with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters before it’s final form. It will gauge audience reception and allow their feedback so you can develop a final product that satisfies all their needs.
How do you put MVP in place?
Begin by identifying the most important features of your product. To do this you need to understand your target audience so that you can define priorities and know which features to implement first.
These tend to be the simpler tasks that actively solve the consumer’s core problem. The most important thing is that the MVP is compelling enough to convince your public to buy-in. If you’ve got money in the bank, you’ve got resources to allocate towards improvements.
As you begin adding in new features, you will find that you are solving your problems naturally and coming up with concepts and new angles you didn’t think about when you started this journey.
That’s the beauty of using your customers as active participants in your product’s evolution. They’ll add just as much value to your business as you do to theirs.
The basic principles of MVP permeate through every department at ActivePipe. We use Agile Methodologies and a lean start-up model to ensure we are flexible and have the ability to pivot when new opportunities arise.
What benefits have we seen so far?
Product Goes to Market Quickly
There is no use sitting on an idea waiting for the next bozo to come along and pitch it before you do. It will completely ruin your plan before it even gets off the ground.
Going to market with an MVP product quickly establishes your authority in the space and will test if there is any demand before you put all your energy into a potential dud.
It also allows you to gather and enhance your user-base so you have paying customers helping to build your revenue stream and finance further development.
Implementation costs are reduced
Starting with a simple product reduces the cost of staff and will ease some of the financial pressure more traditional businesses face from monstrous upfront fees.
If you reduce the likelihood of making a mistake by taking your time to implement features, you’ll save money from not having to backtrack and fix those misguided ideas later on.
Valuable insight is gained
This is arguably the most beneficial aspect of going to market with an MVP. You are able to create a feedback loop that helps foster development. You work directly with your clients and analyse their behaviour and preferences, allowing you to test key hypotheses and gather user information.
Just as you thought you wanted to be an astronaut when were a space obsessed eight-year-old, where you start your journey is not necessarily where you should finish it. Validating a product idea in the real world is crucial to its success and there’s no use haphazardly wasting your resources building a product that hasn’t been tested.
What Our Data Protection Policy Means For You and Your Clients
Everyone has heard about Facebook’s data harvesting scandal which saw the personal details of 50 million users sold and used for political campaigns.
As a result, legislators are doubting whether social media platforms like Facebook can police themselves.
Data privacy breaches of this kind are becoming more frequently exposed with big names such as Yahoo, Sony and Adobe slammed for misconduct.
This has raised major concerns in the general public and created the need for privacy professionals in corporate compliance.
At ActivePipe, your data protection is our priority and that’s why our team have bent over backwards to ensure it is protected.
On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation Laws (GDPR) are coming into effect in the UK. They seek to ensure businesses are responsibly processing personal data.
Rather than being a one-off phenomenon, these laws signal a far greater regulatory muscle being exerted in the privacy and security space. It’s part of a global trend to create tougher privacy and security requirements for businesses operating in the online space.
Companies must now think long-term because GDPR is not going away. More countries are establishing data protection laws and businesses now require privacy professionals who are well supported to manage risk and promote trust.
ActivePipe UK is one of those businesses whose Privacy Pros do data protection well. Our customers’ data is safe and secure, and ActivePipe’s business will ultimately benefit because of it.
ActivePipe attained ISO 27001 certification in March 2018. ISO 27001 is the international information security standard published by the International Organization for Standardization.
It specifies a best practice management system to bring information security under control and subject to very specific and rigorous security requirements. These are entirely complementary to our GDPR compliance roadmap.
ISO 27001 requires that ActivePipe systematically examines information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts. It implements a comprehensive suite of information security controls, and adopts an overarching management process to ensure these controls continue to meet our security needs.
What does this mean for ActivePipe’s customers?
Even more data security! ISO 27001 certification gives ActivePipe’s customers even greater assurance that their data is routinely safe and securely managed.
For those in the UK, we have developed an industry approved GDPR Data Hygiene survey to collect opt-in, making compliance simple.
For those elsewhere, it shows our commitment not just to your data security, but to your customers security too. It also means that when similar laws come into place we’ve got a solution ready to go.
Embracing Innovation in Real Estate With Sherry Chris
When I last caught up with Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate (BHGRE) President and CEO Sherry Chris, I was thrilled to get an insight into her career and what has driven her success so far.
This week, I want to shift our focus to the future.
Sherry Chris is renowned for her innovative approach to business and for finding solutions to problems that agents don’t even know they have. As such, she is the perfect woman to chat with me about the future of real estate and what’s in-store for the technology that supports our industry.
In our conversation, she spoke of three key areas agents should keep in mind to make the best out of the ever changing technology landscape.
As you can imagine, we were pretty quick to get on the topic of social media and how important it is for staying relevant.
“It’s how we connect with one another, both personally and from a business perspective, but when I look across our industry, no-one is really doing it effectively.”
BHGRE made a strategic decision to align themselves with the wider Better Homes & Gardens brand, which includes a magazine with over 40 million monthly readers. As a result, their consumer channel has exploded, and they are able to share design and decorative ideas that help their brokers and agents connect with the consumer on a different level.
“Through the magazine, we have access to a huge database which we can market to directly and use for predictive modeling. This implementation of social media and technology has been very kind to us”, she says.
“I’m very active on social media. I manage two Facebook pages as well as one Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter page. This means I personally connect with thousands of people in our industry every day.”
It might take a little creative thinking, but there will always be ways an agent can leverage the power of social media and use it to drive the success of their business.
“The key isn’t a secret at all, you just have to be authentic and always keep the end consumer in mind”.
When it comes to tech, Sherry says it’s all about moving with the times.
“We continue to build technology, we continue to partner with technology. What we look for are the very best end-to-end solutions for our brokers and agents”, she says.
Three and a half years ago BHGRE’s parent company, Realogy, made the decision to buy ZipRealty, which they recreated into Zap, a technology platform that helps their affiliated agents and brokers stay in sync with their customers, grow their business and thrive in today’s real estate landscape.
“We build our own internal technology, including our digital marketing center, CRM and all of the tools and products that attach onto those. This helps our agents be more productive and connect with the consumer at a deeper a level”, she says.
So where do BHRGE’s savvy tech-heads want to go next?
“The buzzwords out there are AI and machine learning, both of which we are working on diligently”, she says.
These days, data is everything and Sherry’s team wants to effectively utilize the huge amount that they’ve amassed throughout the years.
“We are working on how to use data to predict when people are most likely buying and selling a home, and to get out in front of our competitors and be the ones who help them move into the next phase of their lives”, she says.
There’s nothing groundbreaking in the concept of keeping your customer front-of-mind, but as real estate moves forward and technology embeds itself further into our lives, it can be easy to forget that at the end of the day, this industry is about people.
What’s the point in building fancy new systems if they don’t improve the experience that your clients have working with you?
“I wanted our company to stand for something and that’s why we launched a values driven brand that celebrates Passion, Authenticity, Inclusion, Growth and Excellence (P.A.I.G.E.).These are our core values and they really mean something special to us”, she says.
“It means sending a handwritten note, picking up the phone and thanking somebody or doing something before you’re asked”, she says.
When I reflect on everything I’ve learned from Sherry, I feel grateful that she shared her time and wealth of knowledge with me.
I also feel incredibly proud to work for ActivePipe, where so many of the values Sherry spoke of are values that are hard-wired into the everyday running of the company. Hard-work, customer-centricity, and a focus on creating strong culture are the cornerstones of this business’ success.
When it comes to technology, we’re continuously striving to be at the cutting edge of predictive analytics and we are harnessing the power of data to enable customers and agents to have conversations that enrich both of their real estate journeys.
It seems we are on the right track and if we continue looking to Sherry Chris for inspiration, I’m sure we’re going to do just fine.
Check out part one of our interview with Sherry; “The Sky is the Limit” here.
The Sky is the Limit for Sherry Chris
There are few names in real estate that command respect more than Sherry Chris and if you’ve worked as an agent in North America in the last twenty years, there’s no doubt that you’ve been influenced by this powerhouse CEO and the company that she leads, Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate.
Renowned for its exceptional culture and value-driven approach, the BHGRE(R) brand wouldn’t be where it is today without a hell-of-a-lot of hard work and a guiding hand from its vivacious and determined leader.
Sherry Chris doesn’t mince words, so it was with great pleasure that I got to spend time discussing her formidable career and the factors behind BHGRE(R).
She starts by telling me how standing proud and staying true to her core values are key to the business’ success
“We don’t hide behind ourselves. We want to make the industry as a whole a better place which might sound idealistic, but it’s not. It’s a way of doing business that allows you to walk out of the building every night feeling good about yourself”
Sherry’s real estate career began in Canada nearly 30 years ago when she was a young banker looking to buy her first home.
“I was in my twenties and thought I could probably do this better than the agent who was helping me. So I got my licence and started selling real estate.”
She quickly realised that her skillset was better suited to helping other agents sell property, so she soon had her broker’s licence and was managing a group of offices.
“All my life I have helped people and I’m a strong believer in, no matter what you do, exceeding customer’s expectations; surprising them, delighting them and being what is referred to now as a ‘servant leader’, where your mission in life is to serve and hopefully teach others to do the same. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, you can put this into practice.”
Eventually she moved to the US and In 2008, she launched the BHGRE(R) brand.
“There were a lot of bumps along the way but I look at them all as learning experiences. Everything that I did, every accomplishment and every learning experience prepared me for BHGRE(R). We were a pure play start-up: we had no customers, no revenue, no listings. I was employee number one. I had to build a team, build a value proposition, find some franchisees and launch the brand.”
And launch it did. Today, BHGRE(R) has hundreds of offices and thousands of affiliated real estate agents located across North America.
Despite this tremendous achievement, it’s quality of service that drives Sherry, not the size of the brand.
“We’re never going to be the largest brand in real estate. What we aspire to is being the best! It’s having a group of people that align with us because they believe in what it is we’re doing. You can accomplish anything by taking a group of people who believe in a certain way of doing things and who believe in standing for something and giving back to the world.”
In looking at what I can take away from my chat with Sherry and lessons that I can apply to my own career, the most resounding traits to me are those of strong work ethic, tenacity and remaining humble in success.
She finished with some great words of advice for all of us looking to carve out our own opportunities and make the most of what we have.
“There are many people who go through life, saying ‘I didn’t get this’, or ‘I lost this listing,’ or, ‘I didn’t get this job.’ We all have the same opportunities. You just need to get out in front of those opportunities each and every day.”
“The sky’s the limit. If it’s going to happen, it’s up to you and you alone.”
Check out more exclusive interviews in our ‘Women in Real Estate’ series here.
ActivePipe Year In Review 2017
What a year it has been!
In the past 12 months we have reached some incredible milestones together;
We released over a thousand new features, tripled the size of our team and won three Australian Business Awards.
We are incredibly proud of our achievements but in the spirit of startups, we aren’t stopping there.
Stay tuned for even bigger and better things in 2018.
We’ll catch you next year!