If property teams are going to work better together, they need tools as mobile as they are. Enter Workplace: the new home for property collaboration.
Ryan Rodenbeck had a vision for a new kind of property brokerage. One that would use marketing and technology "to bring something to the table that no one else was doing".
Here's the story about how Workplace became a key part of that bold new vision.
Ten years ago, Ryan founded Spyglass Realty in Austin, Texas, US. But while his agents took the city's property market by storm, Ryan was focusing on something else too.
Something bigger than listings, sales and revenue. "At Spyglass, we focus on the company culture. We want to be unique. We want to have a family atmosphere. We don't want to lose our identity."
Great teams need great tools
As the business grew, the challenges mounted. "When you're trying to grow from a small to a medium-sized business, a lot of people don't realise how hard it is to get up that hill", says Ryan.
"As a business owner, you're working days, nights and weekends. You've put blood, sweat and tears into your work and you're trying to find the perfect work/life balance."
The way to become more efficient was 'with a great team and great tools'.
The biggest problem for Ryan was how to lead a business that had grown to over a dozen employees while continuing to manage his own clients.
"At some point, before you make it up that hill, you're wearing so many hats – you're a broker, you're a manager, you're a top-producing agent, you're also an educator – it's hard to put the pieces together."
Tools for better efficiencies
For Ryan, the answer was obvious: he needed to be more efficient. More efficient with his time. More efficient with his focus. The way to do that, he realised, was "with a great team and great tools".
The team was in place. The tools weren't. And finding the right one was more complicated because of the nature of the property business.
"It's not your typical work environment. Some people work in the office, but most of them are constantly on the move.
"We needed a tool that could be versatile, could be nimble, could be everywhere all at once. And we needed something that was easy to use."
The breakthrough came after Ryan read an article in an industry magazine a little over 12 months ago. "I read about a company that had adopted Workplace. I immediately signed up for the free trial and everything just fell into place", he says.
"The first thing I noticed was that it was very similar to Facebook, but without any of the distractions. Being able to put our team into this standalone system that was completely ours was great."
"Not just for the training and the communication – it helped us create a company culture that we just didn't have before."
Using Workplace to transform training, communication and collaboration
While Ryan admits that Spyglass is "finding new ways to use Workplace almost every single day", he identifies three use cases that have already transformed the business.
"Number one is agent onboarding", he explains. "Before, we would have a new agent come into our office and go over every different aspect of the technologies we use. That would take a lot of time."
"With Workplace, we can upload a series of videos to a group, which the agent can watch in their own time before they even set foot in the office. So by the time we arrive, we're really just giving them a personalised recap of stuff that they already know."
Ryan estimates that the new onboarding process saves around 32 hours of agents' time every month.
Ryan estimates that the new onboarding process saves around 32 hours of agents' time every month. "The second thing is that we put every new property listing into a group", he continues.
"I add my office manager, I add my marketing assistant, virtual assistant and every single thing we need is in that group."
"For instance, when I go to a listing, the first thing I'll do is a live video of the property so that my marketing assistant gets a glimpse of it and my stager can get ideas before they go to an appointment.
"If I'm talking to a client that needs to tell me something, instead of putting it on another system I add that to the group so everyone involved with the transaction is up to date on the latest information."
"In one word, the difference that Workplace has made for our company is 'efficiency'."
Finally, Ryan uses live video to stay in constant contact with his team. sometimes it's as simple as recording a message about a policy change or company update.
But because he can do it from anywhere, and agents will see it in real time through Workplace, it means no more waiting around to get everybody together in the office.
Ryan reckons it saves around four hours a month by removing unnecessary team meetings. "In one word, the difference that Workplace has made for our company is 'efficiency'", says Ryan.
Enabling agents to do what they do best
Geoff Perfect, Global Director of Small and Medium-sized Businesses at Workplace, looks at the bigger picture. "We're really proud of the impact that Workplace is having across the property industry", he says.
"We see businesses from the UK to Canada to Australia who are transforming the way they work together. We're really just removing a lot of the pain from the selling process with better tools for communication, for collaboration and just empowering agents to do what they do best, which is close deals."
Culture. Camaraderie. Education
Ryan's message to the rest of the industry is simple: "I would say that if you're an estate agent and you have not looked at Workplace, there's a whole world of efficiency, company culture, camaraderie and education that you are missing out on."
"It's going to allow me to achieve what I call 'scaling to freedom'. And I'm very happy to have it."