Monday, December 15, 2008

Five Questions...

To make this blog more informative, I thought it might be good to start including interviews with experts from time, as they share their insights on their respective fields in a brief Q&A format, without being too self-serving.

Here’s a first try.

Five Questions for Matthew Hardy, CEO, Real Estate Success Tools

Matthew Hardy is CEO/President of Real Estate Success Tools, publisher of the real estate productivity software Real Estate Success Tracker - REST. Available for Mac and Windows in Single User, Multi User and Server versions.

In your opinion, what are the essential technology tools for real estate agents today?

A computer, phone and software that works.

For software, email is most important, then customer relationship management (CRM) capability.

Too often, agents think they can run a business with the built-in apps that come with their computer. These apps cannot collect and track real estate-specific data.

Where does Real Estate Success Tracker fit?

Large businesses have their own private database systems. That's what we provide for real estate agents, teams and offices.

You retain control of your data so that you can leverage it for your maximum benefit with options to accommodate any real estate business.

You’re selling software, but there’s a definite trend to Web-based solutions for functions like contact management. In your opinion, is there something Realtors may be missing or need to know about Web-based solutions?

Most (and the biggest) web-based solutions won't allow you to take all your business data with you should you decide to leave the service. It's a real oddity that the real estate industry tolerates this. But, you don't have to. For instance, with REST you can access your database from anywhere, but it’s your private system shared only with your team, partner or assistant.

How easy is it to migrate from one system to another?

Frequently, if agents want to switch contact/CRM solutions, they’ll find their old data is exportable, but in a format nearly unusable to them. For instance, the data in the exported file from some web-based service like Top Producer has been "flattened" (in database terms). There’s just too much effort required for most agents to parse the data so it's usable in another system.

We developed a conversion utility to do that work for the agent. Their copy of REST already includes their imported data.

Given the economic climate and state of housing market, what assurance can you offer realtors it’s a good time to invest their time and money in tools like yours, i.e what’s the payback?

What makes more sense, economically?: spending $50-100+ every month on a system designed to hold you captive, or spend $399 one-time and have absolute control? Put your real estate business in a system that embraces standards (PHP, XML, SQL, PDF) and you'll have the most options for responding to market changes.

The pros have expert systems that support critical activities like lead generation and lead conversion. A solution like REST helps manage relationships with prospects and clients with ease and flexibility.