Inman

Forget email: Use Slack to build a better real estate office

By August 11, 2018 No Comments
Forget email: Use Slack to build a better real estate office
REPOSTED DIRECTLY FROM INMAN NEWS. THIS CONTENT HAS NOT BEEN MODERATED BY WFG NATIONAL TITLE.

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Real estate brokerages can’t function without collaboration.

Agents need to communicate deal status, discuss contract obstacles and ask for insight from brokers and colleagues. Closing coordinators need to know escrow milestones, marketing assistants want to know how many bedrooms the new listing has, and admins need to relay important messages.

The best agent teams are especially communicative, thriving off of each other’s deal flow, market insights and collaborative marketing.

Although many of today’s CRMs, transaction suites and brokerage business platforms include chat tools and even office news streams, communication isn’t the intent of the solution, it’s an added value.

Yet, those solution-specific tools aren’t for every agent, they limit who has access to whom and shrink the reach of the office’s collective expertise.

Slack is a business-wide communication solution that could benefit countless real estate offices, especially those full of agents tired of having to separate critical client messages including invites to happy hours and open houses.

It’s also the primary driver of meetings, story ideas, event planning and general operations here at Inman, which became a totally remote-worker company in 2016, and Slack’s capabilities helped with that transition.

The system allows for instant messaging to specific people and groups, an ideal way for teams to assemble, especially when mobilized by the companion app for either iOS or Android.

The small-screen version sacrifices nothing in terms of functionality or efficiency, allowing teams and individuals to dive quickly into specific channels or see a preview of recent direct messages for quick access.

Document and image attachments can be grabbed from native files on your phone or by allowing Slack access to your camera. Best of all, conversations had on the go will be right where they should be when you sit back down in front of your browser. It’s an exceptionally well-done app.

Organizing Slack

The core of the software is made up of channels, which are categorized “chat rooms.” Real estate offices could easily use them accordingly:

  • Office news: Birthdays; sales meetings, etc.
  • Open houses: Promote across the brokerage
  • New listing broadcast: Announce new agreements
  • Current deal help: Get colleague feedback
  • Marketing feedback: Share creative efforts
  • Industry news: Legal updates and Inman headlines (perhaps?)
  • New team members: New agents and staff
  • Market updates: Reports, what the market is up to
  • Breakroom: Fun, harmless gossip and shared links
  • Coaching: Advice and education

Smaller brokerages can go so far as to create channels for individual transactions, managing all conversations, documents, images and data in one spot.

Discussions under each channel are chronicled by day. Slack makes it easy to know times and dates of each comment, and it allows for a perpetual backtrack of conversations and searches by person and date.

Keeping everyone on the same page, err, app

Slack can also share documents, which may not be great for long-term integrity of contracts and agreements, but it’s helpful for marketing flyers, images and non-critical items.

Slack can also allow brokers to oversee agent teams in multiple offices.

One particularly sharp feature is Slackbot, a programmable alert system. Slackbot can be programmed to send daily reminders to teams, individuals or the entire office for things such as continuing ed reminders, holiday party updates or important office-wide announcements.

Users can mark themselves as active, away, working, in a meeting or use a number of identifiers to let others know of your work status.

Slack can also launch voice or video calls, and its app directory has more than 1,500 third-party integrations, including Salesforce, Marketo, Dropbox, Google Calendar and Evernote. And each plug-in and general Slack command can be accessed quickly with “/” shortcut, e.g. “/Facetime” to start a Facetime call or “/Leave” to leave a channel. Try “/Giphy” for quirky humor.

The benefits of a communication tool like this are many, starting with a more meaningful, streamlined communication chain that can actually facilitate office camaraderie in an industry that is known to be lacking it, given the sense of competition and independence that permeates larger offices.

Also, the mere presence of an advice channel may encourage more new agents to seek help and experienced agents to offer it. Documents can be uploaded that explain best practices, branding standards, marketing tips, inspirational pieces, franchise rules and help videos, among other such content.

Brokers can also feel more confident in the security of Slack. It can consolidate confidential communications into a single silo, as opposed to worrying about how many different email accounts an agent may be using to run deals.

Perhaps the most critical benefit is that it can clean up an agent’s inbox, freeing their email to handle only client communications and interactions with new leads and deal information. When there’s less in your inbox, it becomes easier to keep tabs on everything and to never let urgent matters fall through the cracks.

There are more people in the business world who are bad at managing email than good at it, and in real estate, there’s too much vital content subjected to those bad habits.

Give Slack a try.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

The views and opinions of authors expressed in this publication do not necessarily state or reflect those of WFG National Title, its affiliated companies, or their respective management or personnel.

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