Helen Adams Realty Investing In Mobile: Six Month Update
During #ENCON2013 COO Scott Farrell and Marketing Director Jessica Sullivan from Helen Adams Realty took the stage to discuss their substantial investment in mobile by ensuring all agents are armed with an iPad while on-the-go. They are the first brokerage in The Enterprise Network to release such a program. While there were significant hurdles to overcome and questions to answer concerning implementation, cost and scale, the program has proved to be a success in its first year.
One of the issues they had to face right away was fine tuning the labor and infrastructure costs and figuring out exactly if the company could afford the new roles and products. While Helen Adams decided to pay for the initial iPad for new agents and have each agent handle the data plan on their own, they still had to examine their current infrastructure and see where they needed to evolve. For instance, having printers that would allow their agents to print directly from their iPad. They also needed staff who could assist the agents with troubleshooting, training and product development.
They started the program by supplying new agents and a small test group with iPads. This test group met weekly to discuss how they were using the iPads, their struggles, as well as foreseen benefits and useful apps they were incorporating into their work. Helen Adams learned quickly that the only way they would get complete buy-in on the devices was if their agents lived with/on their iPad. Agents have to be able to take it home and incorporate the device into their entire life before they start seeing the real value the iPad can offer to their business and bottomline. If this was achieved, it would help Helen Adams with agent retention and longevity for years to come.
Helen Adams also re-examined how they designed and implemented presentations on the new device. They added subscription services like Docusign and Zipforms to help agents in the field get the most out of their iPad. Jessica shared a story of a customer who decided to put an offer on a house. The agent created the contract on her iPad and had the buyers sign it, all from the living room of the home they were hoping to buy. This left a substantial impact on the customer.
The real estate business is changing and mobile has no doubt had a major role in its evolution. Helen Adams is ensuring their agents are ready for this change by leading their market in mobile and technology.
EN: Are you still giving all new agents iPads? How have you scaled this program?
HAR: Yes, all new agents still get an iPad. Most of our productive older agents have purchased iPads already. We did begin offering iPads to existing agents for an added monthly cost to their administrative fees, but we have only had one agent take us up on that.
EN: Are you still running the test control group and meeting weekly?
HAR: No we are not doing the test group. All agents are now on their own data plans so there was no reason to continue to test. We still look for feedback on how agents are using their iPad.
EN: How many agents have gone through this program?
HAR: Currently we have 53 agents using corporate iPads.
EN: How are you sustaining these extra costs?
HAR: Agents with iPads are charged a flat monthly administrative fee of $125 that includes the iPad and Rebrand. It is not an option for the new agents so we have had no complaints.
EN: How has your training program evolved as a result of this program?
HAR: We tried to add components into our program on the web platform which includes the mobile app. We are currently working on reformatting all training materials and will make a digital version that can be used in iBooks.
EN: What increase did you see in new agents joining Helen Adams Realty after starting this program?
HAR: We did have quite a jump in the beginning of the iPad project. It is hard to determine if that was strictly due to the technology and not our training program which was also enhanced. Additionally as the market has gotten better so has the general interest of people getting into the business. It is still a plus and a differentiator over our competition.
EN: Do you pre-load any apps, docs or presentations onto the apps? If so, what are they?
HAR: We now make sure all iPads have:
This is an exciting program and we’re excited to see how it continues to grow and impact the Charlotte real estate industry. The iPads have already become an essential part of their agent toolbox and as their new MLS becomes iPad friendly in the next 60-90 days, they foresee it will become more important than ever. Helen Adams has seen minimal agent loss since implementing the program and has created substantial buzz in their marketplace on their increased offerings and training.
What do you think of this program?