My last two years in work have been particularly interesting, when I started my first role within property I didn’t and still don’t regard myself as a technology power-user, but like most young, relatively tech-savvy people find in the sector – digital skills in the property industry can be few and far. I got a head-start within this area from a misspent childhood tinkering with computers and a few years studying and practising digital marketing.
Below are my observations from executing a digital transformation within my work at Student Cribs and observations of other similar companies within the industry.
Here are a couple of quick wins that can delight customers, speed up workflows and free up more time to be spent on higher value tasks (Such as keeping your tenants and landlords happy!)
Website Mobile Optimisation
This is a big one, there are a ridiculous amount of websites within the property industry which aren’t heading Google’s warnings and ensuring a fast mobile user experience for users.
It’s not just about having a website that renders on a mobile device, it’s about having a website that is a delight to use and drives conversions for your company. (A conversion is a specific business goal – such as an enquiry for a property you have to rent or your property management services)
You’d think that some companies would have learned a thing or two after the fiasco that was Mobilegeddon. If your company has a strong organic search ranking and you rely on this for a source of leads this should be one of your top priorities this year. Even if you don’t rely on organic traffic this should be high up on your digital to-do list particularly if you rely on your website functionality for existing tenants i.e online payments or reporting maintenance issues.
If you want to see how your website performs on mobile just paste your company’s URL into Google’s Pagespeed tool. This will provide you with improvements you can make yourself (Or email over to your web developer)
Integration of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is also an area that’s advisable to look into. This is the stripping back of your website to optimise loading speeds, search engines favour pages which load faster and provide a better mobile experience – so future proof your website today to hold onto your search rankings.
Pagespeed Tools – Discover what’s slowing your website down or causing it to not render properly on mobile. Forward the report from this to your web developer.
Peopleperhour -If you don’t have a website developer in-house and are looking for one to work with remotely this is the place to find them.
Customer Relationship Management Software
Customer Relationship Management software has been around for a long time (Since the early 90s) but as with most tech they haven’t been utilised fully by property company’s, particularly in smaller estate agencies (Where you’ll often find leads in spreadsheets or god forbid – notepads)
Put simply CRM software is a place where you can store all of your leads (forget clunky spreadsheets) and have complete transparency across your sales team and stakeholders.
CRM’s are essential for both B2C and B2B users. They have value for any company that needs to collate information regarding communication with a customer throughout their customer lifecycle. An example would be a B2C letting agent that uses the tool for information regarding prospects that enquired about a rental whereas a B2B services provider would use it to keep track of companies they had made contact with or had shown interest in their product or service.
Once this information is in one place you can start looking at key metrics related to sales (a notoriously difficult area to manage) The real value in this software is the insight you can generate from the data. For example, you can track the volume of outbound calls made by an individual, their conversion rates and average lead response time.
It also opens the gateway for more advanced practice such as marketing automation and follows up scheduling. Once this information is stored within the cloud it also allows information regarding deals to be easily accessed by everyone within the sales team – so no more annoying repeat calls of the same lead!
Some Good Easy To use CRMs
Automated Transactional Emails & SMS
Automated emails and texts are an excellent way to improve the performance of all of your company departments, they can be used in a variety of ways from qualifying leads to sending reminders to either staff, contractors or tenants.
The easiest way to think about the applications of transactional communication is to analyse the processes that occur whenever something happens within your company. An example of email automation would be if someone enquiries about one of your properties you can send an email with a link with more information about the property or even a link to a booking system wherein they can book themselves in for a viewing.
Do you really think it’s a valuable use of your resources to employ someone to notify a tenant of viewing when a system could do this more effectively (No forgetting or late notifications…) and at a greatly reduced cost.
My Favourite Tools:
Transactional Email – Mandrill or Sendgrid
Contact Form 7 (If you use WordPress this should be your got to!)
Viewings.online (Coming soon!)
Transactional SMS – Twilio
E-signature software is a valuable addition to any team. E-signatures cut out the need to physically sign a document (Alarmingly a practice I’ve seen a lot with numerous requests to ‘print and post the contract’)
When you present the idea of switching to an Esignature solution to senior members of staff you may be asked about the security eSignatures. The majority of Esignature providers are suitable for business in the UK. Here’s a great example of a ESignature being used within the property industry to great effect.
Once you’ve got an eSignature solution set up stakeholders will be able to sign from mobile browsers on the majority of devices. Advance eSignature users can even set automated reminders. If you want to take it to the next level you could even build a fully customized solution using the Signable API similar to hat Arthur Online have developed (More on this in later posts)
So long story short if you’re still using pen and paper get eSignatures set up ASAP. Not only are they convenient you also have the added environmental benefit of using less paper!
Great Esignature Tools:.
No System Is An Island (Smart API usage)
The stitching of different software solutions together to provide a cohesive system for your employees to use is crucial in the long term. Keeping information in free software and spreadsheets seems like a cost-effective way of saving money at the start but can result in a massive drain on company resources when you begin to scale.
An example of this would be a property lettings company of 5 houses, manual data entry regarding information into multiple pieces of software seems like an easy (but error-prone) task during the early stages of a company. But as this company scales to 20 houses the level of data entry also scales with it.
It makes much more sense to invest the time in planning and implementing a cohesive ecosystem of software that plays nice with each other.
Some Good Starting points