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    Go Digital or Go Bust

    March 22, 2021

    In real estate, we spend a hell a lot of time buried in administration. Further, you can’t guarantee that every client will get the same level of service.

    Pat McCarthy doesn’t have these problems. Twelve months ago, he took McGrath’s Sutherland office – fully digital. In Sydney’s Sutherland shire, with 2000 property managements, 35 agents and five offices, he made a strategic investment in technology. He spoke to leading Australian real estate trainer, Lee Woodward, about how he implemented a Digital Vision.

    Every member of his team can now deliver the ultimate experience. He says, “In the past, it was almost up to the individual agents. Some would provide the experience that we laid out for them and others would leave key pieces out.” Not now. He adds, “We needed to get the agents back to being dollar productive. So listing, selling, prospecting, negotiating. Everything else was just a distraction.”

    Going digital has focused agents on what is important. Pat says, “We’ve been able to strip a lot of admin stuff out. Over the next eighteen months agents will shift away from wanting a full time sales EA to a lead generator, a person that’s going to help make more appointments and help take out more buyers.”

    To shoulder the administrative load, he went with the Realtair platform. He says, “They had the right vision for where we wanted to end up. It was clear it was going to do all the heavy lifting for the guys so that we could change their own business model.” And it’s been a great move. Pat says, “We probably started 12 months ago – so when COVID hit – we had the ability to be able to sign contracts electronically. We could do listing proposals. We could support our agents, regardless of where they were. So if they were operating from home, we could still provide great support for them. A lot of them, we dragged kicking and screaming but they are now thankful that we had the vision.”

    Agents still do what they do best – build relationships and alter their communications according to the needs of the client. But Realtair…

    a) Pitch – the pre-listing kit, which moves to a proposal

    Pat says, “From our perspective, the agents love that product. It’s an easy win. They’re not going to push back on that one too much. It’s the start of the journey. So if they start with that, then we can roll out the other pieces, reasonably easily.”

    b) Sign – the ability to sign Agency Agreements without having to physically have the form

    Pat says, “If you go back and think about what it used to look like, which was terrible, we had these triplicate forms. Then there was the Agency Agreement. If you made a mistake and you had multiple parties, it was a three to four hour process to run around and get those all signed again. Now, if you make a mistake and it’s hard to do that in a Realtair environment, to turn that around, it’s five minutes.”

    c) Flow – the workflow management system

    Pat is the first principal to go ahead with enabling his agents to sign something on glass. Pat says, “The experience for the agent and for the vendor is dramatically improved. Email is just a nightmare within a business. As you start to scale up, if you think of just the settlement process, which is quite clunky. As you get bigger, what typically happens as you approach settlement, the agent starts to email the Accounts team. The Accounts team are under the pump, doing all the settlements, they don’t reply. So the agent thinks that nothing’s been actioned. So then they start to escalate the emails. It just creates a terrible experience for everyone. If you fast forward into a Flow environment, as you move through that process, it just triggers communication back where it’s at without having to do all the emails. So the agent’s quite aware where it’s up to, without having to proactively email, to find out.”

    Assessing the current climate, Pat says, “It’s going to be harder and harder to be a little independent agent. You’re either going to have to be small, or you’re going to have to go the other way and be big to compete. The business models are such that the agents are getting paid bigger splits. And so the only way that you can sort of manage that in a profitable way is through scale and volume. The big guys can add so much more value back to the agents. It’s going to be harder and harder to compete against that.”

    Things have changed. Go Digital or…1 July 2020