Originally posted on RETechnology
By: Kelly Phelan
One of the principles of running a lean business is eliminating redundant processes, like duplicate data entry, and automating others in order to free your team from the grip of time-wasting tasks. Because brokers rely on dozens of elements--websites, accounting solutions, document and transaction management, and beyond--it can be difficult to untangle the knot of over-complicated data in order to streamline a business.
That's why many enterprise-level brokers are increasingly turning to all-in-one solutions to handle the lion's share of their back office needs. Using one solution rather than several unrelated solutions means that data flows freely between components, eliminating mistakes and wasted time.
Currently, there are only a few companies that offer all-in-one solutions. Today, we're evaluating one company that offers a full suite of solutions that encompasses accounting, a "front office" intranet, document and transaction management, brokerage and agent websites and more.
We spoke with Teresa Powers, a long-time Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies' Complete Enterprise Solution user, to hear about her brokerage’s experience with the software. Teresa Powers is the Director of Operations for RE/MAX Professionals in Lakewood, Colorado. Her firm adopted Lone Wolf's accounting solution, brokerWOLF, in 2006 and added the company's front office platform, WOLFconnect, and document and transaction management solution, loadingDOCS, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
One reason Powers' brokerage repeatedly turned to Lone Wolf's solutions is because even though they're feature-dense, they're easily adaptable to her business's unique needs. "Any canned software program thinks that they know how you should run your business, but that isn't always true," Powers says. "We have our systems in place, and we're able to take Lone Wolf's software and make it work with how we like to run our businesses and how we like to function. That has always been very easy to do."
For RE/MAX Professionals, that means handling the needs of a multi-office, high volume production company that serves 400 agents. "I've got files being processed at eight locations and so to have everything go into one system, pretty much 99 percent error-free, is huge for me," she says. "We close over 6,000 files a year and it just saves me so much time."
Powers' experience with Lone Wolf began nine years ago when her company transitioned to accounting solution brokerWOLF. "Our system before used to make so many mistakes between the data going from one program to another to the final accounting piece of it."
With brokerWOLF, Powers is able to manage all of her agents, their commission structures, agent billing, transaction records, and much more from a single solution. "One of the advantages that I like is that it's really, really hard for the staff to make a mistake on a closing. You're able to input different specifics into the program for each agent, such as their fees that need to be deducted from their closings. All of that's pre-set so they can process the files quickly and efficiently."
After six years of using brokerWOLF, RE/MAX Professionals added WOLFconnect to their arsenal of technology tools. WOLFconnect is a virtual front office management system that helps agents stay connected to their brokerage even when working remotely. Or, as Powers puts it, "It's a place for agents to go to get what they need from us."
That ability to access important information from anywhere has even saved staff payroll for Powers' firm. As any broker knows, sales volumes fluctuate with seasons. This summer has been particularly busy for RE/MAX Professionals, but WOLFconnect has eliminated their need to staff up and down with the changing seasons. "Because everything's online and everybody understands how to do it, each of my staff can help another office at any time without physically having to go to that location," says Powers. "If we have one office that's in a lull for that week, staff members are able to help another office while still functioning in their office."
Powers and her company also benefit from the seamless flow of data between WOLFconnect and the rest of the Lone Wolf Complete Enterprise Solution. "Before, we'd get a new agent and we'd have to enter them into multiple systems," she says. "We don't have to do that now. We can enter them in one place and everything updates simultaneously. It's been a huge timesaver."
When it comes to saving both time and money, Lone Wolf's document and transaction management solution, loadingDOCS, has been a big winner for RE/MAX Professionals. Unfortunately, this was something the brokerage learned the hard way.
"When loadingDOCS first came out, we went a different route, which was a big mistake," Powers explains. "We tried a couple other products that were very cumbersome and, again, we had double input."
That all changed when her firm switched to loadingDOCS last year. "We don't have any more double input with files," she says. "The systems are updating at the same time. It's helping to keep us compliant and we have proof that we're trying to be compliant."
Powers also estimates that going paperless will save $2,000 a month in document storage costs. Her brokerage has multiple storage units where paper documents are currently stored. As soon as the deadline for retaining those records passes, Powers looks forward to "doing the final shred" and closing down her units.
At the end of our interview, we asked Powers if she had any parting words for other brokerages considering the switch to Lone Wolf's Complete Enterprise Solution. "It's definitely worth it," she says. "I think people are a little intimidated because it is a lot of work to do a transition for any type of software change, no matter what field you're in. I've done a lot of software transitions in different industries and it was probably one of the easiest transitions I've ever done. You just need to ask questions and look outside the box."