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NutsandBolts Technology Featured

Just like finding a great property before it’s listed, being among the first to adopt a new technology can propel your business ahead of the others.

This is not your grandparents’ real estate world. Bold ideas and disruptive technology are transforming the way we do business, and the real estate industry is no exception. Business as usual might be safe, but it won’t launch you into the future, and the future is where you’ll find success in today’s real estate sector. However, not every new idea is a good one. You have to be a smart “early adopter” to get the best edge on your competitors.

The Mindset of an Early Adopter

Early adoption doesn’t begin with the technology. It begins with a mindset that’s open to new possibilities. Early adopters also routinely demonstrate the courage to make a big change on the leading edge of a trend.

Just like finding a great property before it’s listed, being among the first to adopt a new technology can propel your business ahead of the others. This mindset will lead people to call you an early adopter, but it is more an attitude of being open to new ideas for personal and professional growth.

Getting in Early: Graphly

At present, we are adopting Graphly to help us monitor website traffic, forecast revenue, view gross and net revenue numbers, improve rentention rates, and deliver our service more effectively. We have always gathered data about our members’ needs, goals, and demographics for many years but never have had a way to quickly and easily analyze and communicate that data with our team and our investment counselors. We believe Graphly will help us with aggregating this information, understanding it, and better sharing it with our team.

3 Technologies that Transformed My Real Estate Business

2013: Podcasting

Expanding from radio into podcasting remains one of the biggest transformational events my business, which I co-founded with my wife, Kathy, ever experienced. We are still deriving the benefits today. In 2003, I was fascinated by the new MP3 player. I had one, of course, so I could listen to my music anywhere. At the same time, Kathy was hosting a radio show, “The Real Wealth Show,” about real estate on a San Francisco network. Then, a big announcement came out and changed everything:

Apple announced the launch of the new iTunes podcast platform. Now, we would be able to download and listen to radio shows on demand.

Don’t laugh: At the time, it was a really big, relatively unknown deal. I immediately started looking at the iTunes platform and quickly realized that there would be very little competition for our show because there were very few podcasters. Even better, since the radio station was already burning every show onto a CD for us to archive, it would be relatively easy to convert those CDs to MP3s. I knew if we were on the platform, our show would be the one that appeared in the results of a search for real estate.

We acted quickly. Soon we were building a huge audience and what is now a large population of loyal listeners. The show, which is still running, remains consistently in the top real estate podcasts on iTunes.

Of course, if iTunes had flopped, the outcome might have been different. However, since Kathy was already hosting the radio show, it was not an overwhelming task to put a few resources toward changing the format of the show to fit the new platform. The gamble was a good one, and it definitely paid off.

What went right: We got in early, stayed the course, and reaped the rewards of dominating a new technological niche in our space.

Lesson Learned: When considering a new technology, look for opportunities to make a significant mark on your industry.

2014: Implemented a Cloud-Based Business Structure

One of the biggest changes we have ever made to our business structure is taking our large office in Walnut Creek, California, and all its employees working in the same physical location, and putting it online using a platform called Basecamp. This gave us a highly flexible system for connecting with each other, sharing information and tasks, and keeping track of what has been accomplished, who is managing various tasks, and what remains to be done. Over time, we were able to transition our entire workforce from a physical presence to a remote one, saving our company a great deal of money and making employment with us an extremely attractive opportunity.

What went right: We identified a platform that would serve our business’s needs and, after implementing it, saved a great deal in operating costs by creating a remote workforce.

Lesson Learned: Look for solutions all the time, including in places you never expected to need them. In the past, every business had an office. Today, many find they are an unnecessary luxury.

2017: Live Chat & Chat Bots

In March of 2017, we decided to introduce some new customer-service representatives to our website. These “chat girls” were a live-chat feature that placed a little pop-up window on the screen offering to answer questions for users. This was a great resource at the time, but maybe even more useful were the logs of all the interactions with investors. When chat-bot technology reached a point where we felt it was no longer too “glitchy” for public use, we boiled those interactions down to a top-50 list, loaded them into a custom chat-bot, and started using that bot, nicknamed “REAL-E,” to answer common questions and direct people around the website.

This was a great transitional move as well as being transformational. The bots are able to answer all the routine questions without assistance, while our “chat girls,” who still work for us, by the way, can leverage their now-considerable expertise to help with more complicated inquiries. They remain the caring, friendly, human voices on our website.

What went right: We were able to use information we already possessed to optimize a new technology as soon as it was truly ready.

Lesson Learned: Look for places in your business where you can help employees evolve. Technology does not have to be about replacing people. Sometimes, it is about helping your business and your employees evolve together.

Keeping Ahead of the Curve

Keeping up with the latest technological innovations can be difficult for busy investors but strengthening your early adopter mindset will make the process easier. Keep up with the latest in inspirational ideas and concepts by selecting a few blogs or news sites to read regularly for information – or try out a podcast or two! One of my favorite blogs is called “Abundance Insider” by Peter Diamandis, a Harvard-educated doctor with an undergraduate degree in molecular genetics and a graduate degree in aerospace engineering from MIT. His favorite saying, “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself,” is exactly the type of mindset early adopters should practice!