Real estate agents and brokers have traditionally taken up with franchises for their brands, compensation models and training. But another consideration may be increasingly factoring into some agents’ decision to throw in their lot with real estate brands: the technology they provide to affiliated brokers and agents.
Taking heed, franchisors are beefing up their tech offerings.
Re/Max is no exception. The franchisor, which claims more than 100,000 agents, recently launched a tech initiative aimed at putting better tools in the hands of agents, improving its national listing portal, the most popular property search site operated by a franchisor, and beefing up its intranet.
Re/Max shared details of these plans with Inman. Read on to get the scoop on Re/Max’s tech game plan.
1. New and improved agent tools
Re/Max recently rolled out free single-page websites and a mobile-responsive version of LeadStreet, Re/Max’s free lead management and listing syndication platform.
Powered by Homes.com, the single-page websites come pre-populated with agent information, but agents may modify their design and seamlessly tack on additional media, including videos, Zillow reviews and social media posts. Visitors who use the search tool that appears on these websites are taken to listing results and property details pages plastered with invitations to contact the agent.
The mobile-responsive version of LeadStreet makes it easier for agents on the go to control where their listings appear across the Internet, and it does a better job of pulling leads in from multiple sources, including remax.com, Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com.
2. Remax.com relaunch
Re/Max boasts the most popular national listing portal that’s operated by a real estate franchisor. The website has generated 15 million leads that Re/Max has fed to agents across its network for free.
Agents who respond quickly to these leads — which are deposited by remax.com into Re/Max agents’ LeadStreet accounts — can expect to receive more, while agents who drag their feet may find that free leads from Re/Max dry up.
Re/Max’s primary goal with revamping remax.com, which is slated to relaunch in the first quarter of 2016, is make the site easier to use from mobile devices. But the revamp will likely also include adding new features, such as a Spanish version of the website and functionality that will more seamlessly connect consumers with Re/Max agents.
The franchisor is also looking at ways to “leverage” the instant home valuations that it currently makes available on remax.com, said Tim Drouillard, senior vice president of information technology at Re/Max.
That could potentially include adding home value estimates to all property pages, rather than only making valuations available through a tool that’s walled off from remax.com’s search experience. Tacking home value estimates onto listing pages would be a progressive step for the franchisor, given the industry’s traditional distaste for the practice.
“We haven’t made any final decisions on those designs but that is something we’re looking at,” Drouillard said about potentially adding home value estimates to remax.com property pages.
3. Building a better intranet
Also moving through Re/Max’s tech pipeline are planned improvements to its intranet, known as “Mainstreet.”
Re/Max agents use Mainstreet to access Re/Max marketing and training materials, company news, company-provided tech tools, including LeadStreet and design software (powered by real estate software company Imprev), and a store where agents can purchase products from third-party providers at discount rates.
Re/Max plans to make Mainstreet more mobile-friendly and is considering building in an internal communication platform that could foster more collaboration between agents. The platform would complement or replace an existing referral network baked into Mainstreet, and might resemble platforms like Yapmo, Facebook At Work or Slack, Drouillard said.
4. Increase integrations with third-party tools
Re/Max’s tech strategy is centered around providing practical tools that a large share of its sales associates are likely to embrace. But the franchisor recognizes that its offerings may not meet the needs of all its agents. That’s why the franchisor plans to hunker down on integrating its own software with third-party tools.
“If we can’t provide it, then we’ll integrate with somebody who can,” Drouillard said.
An early step the franchisor took towards that goal was to add a feature to LeadStreet that scrapes agents’ emails for leads received from listing portals and then drops them into LeadStreet’s contact database.
Re/Max has also integrated LeadStreet directly with Zillow and Trulia through Zillow’s API (application programming interface), so that leads travel straight from the portals to LeadStreet, rather than through email.