One of the first things I did when working for the PropertyFox was to look at their internal (tech) systems.
As a fairly new entity in real estate at the time, they were using okay systems, but there were about 7+ – and none of them were owned. As someone that loves data, and understands how hazardous it is to run- and rely on multiple platforms stacked together like a Jenga puzzle, but more importantly how not being in control of ownership of your data can detrimentally affect the business, I quickly worked with the management committee to change this.
It matters who owns the technology and the data because that ownership leads not only to relationships, but having the ability to quickly make decisions, and pivot on the process or even business model where/if needed. Where this is not owned, you are locked in to working blind for the most part.
The 7 platforms were quickly whittled down to 3 robust overarching solutions:
- A centralised CRM that controls all their data (that they own).
- A highly functional & agile website that I modelled on an Airbnb methodology. Real estate sites are so stale – I wanted to bring fresh functionality and ease to the consumer. My larger intent was also to build a highly optimised, content-rich website that could take on the larger portals within the space – and we quickly did this.
- Cloud based email solution. I chose Gsuite – which also enabled the company to more easily share documents, receive mail from anywhere, have a lot of storage and of course have access to emails and documents even after staff should leave. The previous solution was really clunky IMO and super expensive to run.
Within the 1.5 years that I headed up Marketing for the company as CMO and part CTO; we also built out a new property valuation system with the help of data modelling – it was so effective that properties listed at our suggested price sold within 4% of that price – we also built a communications app that helps customers stay abreast of their property journey with the company. We wanted to make the process so easy for our customers that they felt they had more control, and had more information at their fingertips, but still felt the comfort of dealing with their human Property Managers.
Also working with an older market, we needed to ensure that we made the tech simple enough to understand so all our clients would embrace it and not be scared to use it.
Altogether my marketing style focusses heavily on consumers and their intent. Making sure that every step of the journey caters to them.
Behavioural Change & Tech
“Change” is one of the hardest concepts for us humans to face. Personal, career or staying up to date on the latest SnapChat lenses.
It was quite a journey to convince the management committee that in the long run it would be better for the Company to build out own technology platforms. Luckily for me, they trusted my rationale and together we researched solutions and with further rationale provided; switched. I make this sound easy, but the process was a good 5 months, with a good further 6 months to train the internal team on the CRM. There was a lot of resistance. However the systems have never been more robust, and they now have data at their fingertips; and by far a happier team too.
For the market, one of the biggest fears and misconceptions in the early educational stage was that PropertyFox was just a tech platform without any human support. This could not be further from the truth. In addition, I’ve listened to stories from the Property Managers who have spoken with and helped clients through some of the most emotional, and stressful times of their lives. During those times people still want a human being and not a chatbot, guiding them through the purchase or sale of their home.
Even at Airbnb although the Company disbanded all Call Centres (post also closing the Host Ambassador program which I was part of for three years) and tried to insist everything happens remotely via email or through the “Resolution centre”; eventually in this market they caved and brought in a local call number – so people could deal directly with other people. There is still a huge sense of trust that accompanies dealing with another person directly.
To suggest, utilise, educate and change the behaviour of an industry was scary and unfamiliar waters – even to me. It was really nice to see throughout my tenure at the Company how the questions simmered down and slowly changed to adoption and advocacy.
I’m very happy that I could be part of this company and on the forefront of change to an industry that really needed it.
Further products I put in the pipeline before my departure will cater to better lead management, marketing automation, referrals and rewards. I look forward to see how they build these.
If you are planning to disrupt an industry, don’t forget about the people that truly matter – your clients. Bring them along on the journey through your marketing channels.