Want the secret to being successful in real estate? Well when it comes to using technology to compete, the secret is out. With a few simple investments, you can be 50%, 60% even 80% ahead of your competition on the tech-edge. In fact, it’s so easy to create a technology-driven advantage on your competition that it’s almost worth saying, don’t worry too much about your so-called competition!
In fact, if you look at the numbers, technology’s advantage is amazingly simple. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2005 Technology Efficiency Study, staying ahead of the average agent with everyday technology is better than a 50/50 opportunity. Let’s break it down:
NAR surveyed 2500 brokers and agents regarding their technology usage; 81% of the respondents were agents. Almost sixty percent of these were in the business under 5 years, but 85% were in the business at least two years. They were fairly good producers, too: 34% did between 11 and 20 transaction sides, while 39% did more than 21 sides. Was it just a hot market? Possibly. So the study asked, what tech tools are you using to make this happen?
First, only 95% said they used a cell phone. Huh? Are 5% of your competitors telepathic? No, no, must be payphones. Never mind; let’s move on. Now 78% said they used a desktop computer. Does that mean that a quarter of the industry doesn’t have a computer? Well, maybe they have a laptop. Not likely, considering that only 55% reported they owned one. So, somewhere, in between these two numbers, a sizable number of your “competitors” either rely upon sharing a computer in the broker’s office or use a pencil. Up to a quarter of your competition could be standing in line to use an office computer while forty-five percent are chained to a desktop somewhere, unable to take their computer to listing presentations, open houses and buyer tours. A nice, light laptop would put you ahead of half to two-thirds of your competitors going head-to-head at listing presentations. Smile sympathetically to those poor desktop users, who don’t stand a paper-cut’s chance with their pokey-paper-print-outs.
It gets better: Only 33% of respondents said they had a Palm-based computer. That leaves two-thirds of the competition walking around flipping day-timer pages, missing appointments and forgetting important tasks. Even if we factor out the experienced paper pushers, the majority of the sticky-note-enabled agents out there certainly can’t check email on their pads or show listing photos on the road. And unless they get messages by carrier pigeon, more than seven out of ten of your competitors remain virtually disconnected from email without a handheld handy.
To be super-successful with your technology, consider that only 8% of those surveyed owned a Blackberry or Treo-styled device capable of making phone calls and checking email on the go. Essentially, unless it comes in a voice mail, nine out of ten of your competitors have no idea if their customers are trying to reach them when they’re not in front of their desk; barely half could check email, even if they found a WiFi hotspot for their laptops.
Fasten your seatbelt, because the ride gets wild. Thirty-two percent of the respondents said they did not use the internet to generate leads. One out of three REALTORS basically said, Internet? What Internet? And they call themselves the competition…. but I digress. For the two-thirds of agents who get leads from the internet, the highest ranking source of leads was their company’s web site; MLS sites ranked second; personal sites ranked third. The key secret here is to avoid spending thousands of dollars that so-called competitors are wasting on their ego-stroking personal pages, and focus on company-generated leads which don’t require you to create, maintain and finance yet another dot-bomb personal biopage. A sub-set of the survey – about 7% of respondents – said they derived 40% of all leads from the internet and did the same number of transaction sides as the entire survey sample. Guess you’ll have to watch out for that seven-percent group: but heck, remember that a full third of your competitors don’t get any business from the web.
Finally, if you read the study, it’s no secret how to stay ahead of the average competitor, especially when it comes to staying in contact with consumers. A full 59% of the group reported they use the phone to stay in touch. In a Do-Not-Call-day-and-age, that merits a you gotta be kidding me! response from yours truly. The good news is that while 6 out of ten of your competitors will be tied up double-checking phone numbers and leaving voice mails all day, you also won’t have to worry about the 71% who don’t use email to follow up with consumers. Well, that’s probably not news, considering that more than half of email inquiries from consumers still go unanswered for days on end; who would expect agents to use email to stay in touch, either? About one in five agents said they communicated with consumers more than six times annually; but 40% of them are still using postal mailings, which means a good proportion of them will end up broke this year after feeding the ink-monster in their printer and paying Uncle Sam to hand deliver. Only about 2% use an electronic newsletter – great news for a savvy agent like you who not only wants to contact consumers more than six times a year, but do so at a near-nil cost.
All in all, the numbers definitely add up – to a great opportunity for any agent with a laptop, a PDA, a cell phone and a personal email newsletter – to use technology to stay ahead of the so-called competition.
This article was authored by Matthew Ferrara of Matthew Ferrara Seminars Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Matthew Ferrara Seminars Inc.
For additional reading on technology's transformation of the Real Estate Industry, as wel las a few tips and tricks, read this brief article from Monster.com