The 2020 Real Estate Back Office Systems Guide
Dealing with listings, recording payment, tracking sales, commissions… as a real estate broker your job reaches far beyond matching a for-sale property to a buyer. There are many things you need to monitor and decide on - business, agents, marketing and so on. For many brokers, work starts affecting their mental health. When asked, almost half of brokers said they feel overwhelmed by their work.
To reduce overwhelm and increase control over their business, many brokers use a back-office management tool. Some simply rely on spreadsheets or whiteboards. Many brokers find that these solutions aren’t sufficient - they’re not customized, don’t allow for easy tracking, collaboration and don’t have any security features.
Instead, they turn to applications that have been specifically designed with a real estate broker in mind.
So how do you select which tool you want to use? There’s a lot of choice, so you may not see the wood for the trees! This guide will run you through the most important features to take into account, looking at the main features and what you should look out for.
This way you can evaluate any current platform on the market.
KPI dashboards generally allow you to track your business KPIs in real-time. Not all back-office management solutions will have these included, however. But real estate deals are so fast-moving that you’re likely to miss out on important deals or transactions. So try to find a tool that has a way to display the most up-to-date information. That way you’ll know whether things are going as planned, or whether you need to take urgent action.
A tool that tracks KPIs, should also have a way to set goals against those KPIs. If it doesn’t, you’ll still need to use additional tools aimed at performance management -- making your life more complicated than necessary.
It’s important for your agents to know what is expected of them. You can set their goals based on your overall business strategy -- and if your strategy changes, you should be able to easily change the goals you set for your agents.
Reports tend to give you a more in-depth view of your business, compared to dashboards. Some tools only create basic production reports -- showing you production per agent or per team. It’s better to look at tools that have a more advanced reporting function. You’d want to create reports on a larger number of metrics, including things like average selling price, GCI per agent, number of listings, etc... So reports should really allow you to have an in-depth view of what your agents are doing and how they’re keeping up with their targets.
While a good tracking system allows you to understand what’s happened in the past, you won’t know what will happen in the next few months -- you’ll still need to rely on your gut feeling.
That’s why an increasing number of tools allow you to create forecasts for what is in your agents’ pipeline. With direct access to your tool’s secure environment, agents can keep track of all their upcoming deals. The tool then automatically calculates what you can expect to see in terms of production, commission and profits over the next months -- and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Most brokerages need to process dozens or hundreds or commission checks every month. And with up to 20% of commission calculations being incorrect, there a huge need to automate this process, it’s incredibly important for both you and your agents that commissions are correct every time. At the same time, you and are calculated quickly, so no one is wasting time on admin.
Your agents will thank you! Many agents have reported that, upon closer inspection, they often find errors in their commission checks, costing them hundreds of dollars a month. A system that protects their commission is more than likely to boost your retention rates!
At the same time, you’ll also save money because you’re not paying out too much commission. Mistakes can happen easily and they’re likely not to be in your favor!
Data integrity and security
Agents should have access to your tool in a secure way. You’ll be processing a lot sensitive information, so it’s crucial that you protect your clients’ data. This means your tool of choice takes care of data integrity and secure, password protected access for yourself and your agents. It makes sense for individual agents only to see and edit information that is relevant for them. For instance, you should be able to set their privilege level so that they can see their own KPIs and those of their team, but not of other agents.
As you’ve noticed by the list of features in this article, it’s highly recommended to use a tool that is feature-rich so you have everything you need in one place. Nonetheless, most brokers will use more than one system in their business. This makes sense -- you want to use the best solution for every problem you encounter. And these solutions become even better if they can talk to each other and exchange information automatically. Once type of tool that a lot of tools integrate with is a transaction management tool. If you manage to combine a back office and performance tracking tool with a transaction management tool, you’ve got almost your entire business covered by just two systems -- saving you time and money.
Another point to consider is how easy it will be to switch to this new tool. If you’re already using a back-office management tool, can you easily import your existing data from one tool in the other? Or, in case you’re using a generic spreadsheet or other solution, how much time would it take you to get this solution up and running? Of course, this also depends on the level of available customer service. Solutions that have an accessible customer service department are helpful here -- sometimes it’s good to just speak to someone on the phone to quickly solve a problem.
Of course, these features aren’t all you should consider, but they are the most important because they’ll impact your day-to-day work the most. Next to these, look into things like the quality of customer service, reliability of the tool and whether or not it’s easy to start using the tool.
Lastly, you’ll probably want a tool that is as future-oriented as your business -- and has feature updates include as standard. That way, you know your tool is invested in the continued growth of your business.