In this final installment on real estate brokerage software, I would like to review two important software building blocks for financial management and contact management.
Accounting software is an important purchase, whether you purchase the ubiquitous Quickbooks, Netsuite, or other general accounting software or an industry-specific offering from a vendor such as Lone Wolf.
Accounting software is a mature product extending back to the origins of business-oriented software, so I do not know of any of the major accounting packages that do not do a good job.
The challenge is that once your company enters all of its data into an accounting software system, it is enormously difficult to move to other onsite software or one of the newer accounting offerings that you can find in the ‘cloud’.
If your accounting software is aging badly or undergoing price hikes, you are faced with a difficult and costly move. Unsurprisingly, accounting software companies do not make it easy to move elsewhere. In spite of this, it is a worthwhile exercise to evaluate whether your current accounting software platform will be satisfactory over the next five years. There may be a point where the benefits of ‘getting a new car outweigh the benefits of keeping the old one’.
As for contact management, we are often surprised at how many brokerages do a weak job of managing contacts. A busy and successful brokerage touches thousands of people each year. Yet, there may be minimal efforts to gather and organize contact information that will enable the brokerage to serve more effectively and profitably.
Some experienced real estate sales representatives may have less than a hundred names on paper or in Microsoft Outlook. The old idea that an agent is as good as their Rolodex seems to have disappeared with the paper Rolodex.
CRM systems for managing brokerage contacts have long been notoriously expensive and cumbersome to set up and maintain. Although for years, we have used onsite CRM systems like ACT!, Maximizer, and Top Producer, we are excited about the new possibilities and cost savings in cloud solutions such as Salesforce (and customized Salesforce solutions such as PropertyBase), Capsule, and others. These systems are available with email and drip marketing, integration with websites and social media, staff intranets, user roles, and communication systems and available in ways that are inexpensive and easy to use.
What about integrated vendor solutions vs. separate products for accounting, information management, CRM, websites etc?
Frequently, software vendors will urge their customers to adopt their integrated software solutions. However, we have not seen that vendors provide top-tier solutions in all areas. Although they tout the benefits of integrated information flows, this presents security concerns and the challenges of putting all your eggs in one basket with one vendor.
As well, the newer cloud solutions from various vendors tend to play nicely together. The challenge with the newbies is the need to watch the pricing and corporate stability of the vendor. Practically, access requires an Internet connection.
I would love to hear your thoughts about real estate management software, in the comments or privately by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.