The Holy Grail - Agent Adoption
If you’ve ever worked in the real estate industry then you know that agents have an aversion to using new technology (which is funny because they’re the ones calling out for new technology in the first place!). Every year brokerages, boards, associations, and franchises across North America throw hundreds of thousands of dollars into their tech in a fruitless effort to make their agents happy. Meanwhile, the tools collect dust because agents do things their way.
Regardless, agent adoption is a battle worth fighting. The potential ROI for your business is huge.
But how do you actually get your team on board with the technology you’ve chosen? The key to successful adoption is to thoughtfully plan and execute your rollout. This quick guide will take you through the steps of a successful rollout in four stages: Inform, Train, Launch, and Reinforce.
Running a real estate brokerage means you’ve got two groups to educate when you rollout new technology: staff and agents. It’s important to consider each group individually when planning. Start with your staff because they’re the ones who will champion your message to your agents.
Make sure that everyone on your staff—from the bottom to the top—understands why you are implementing this new technology. Explain the business value it has for the organization, your agents, and highlight any potential value it has for the staff.
Once everyone’s up to date, level-set expectations with your staff about the reality of adopting new technology. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows getting started (and adding technology to your business isn’t as simple as downloading an app to your smartphone). Systems must be adapted to your infrastructure, whether the technology is customized for you or whether you adapt your operations and workflows to the technology. It takes time to get acquainted and it’s not uncommon to see a spike in workload with any system implementation.
As you socialize the coming changes with your staff, be sure to get their feedback about the resources they’ll need to support the system and be successful with it in their role. Put together an FAQ and keep it updated (this will come in handy when you hire new staff).
Next, you’ll need to sell your agents on the idea of new technology. Start with the key benefits up front. The benefits are not the tools themselves, but the way in which the tools will make the agent’s life better. Then, dive into the features and functions that power those benefits.
You’ll want to deliver your message in a variety of ways: fact sheets, FAQs, email announcements, tips to prepare for the new system. Keep things simple, but feel free to deliver visual and valuable content to increase engagement. You’ll want to make sure that every office and company meeting highlights your implementation, and be sure to start spreading the word well in advance of the rollout date.
Everyone’s excited by now – great! But you’re not over the hump yet. Training is just as critical, if not more so, than getting people to accept the new technology. This is the point where the product comes to life or falls flat. It’s not only important to show your team how to use the features but also to educate them on the smartest workflows and business rules to follow in order to drive consistency and get the most out of the system.
Ample time should be dedicated to training before a system is rolled out. The more users that are trained, the greater the likelihood of adoption. Some companies find success in offering a certification or incentive program for successfully completing a system training.
If training has been successful, you’re ready to ROLL OUT! Launch day is the final critical step you’ll complete on your quest for a successful rollout. Make a big deal of this leap forward for your company. Celebrate with an event, promote it throughout your offices, recognize the people who made the implementation possible. A little razzle-dazzle goes a long way to making a lasting positive impression of the system’s debut.
All good things aside, don’t forget this launch will also be the first day everyone is using the new system. Be prepared for a little chaos. Staff ambassadors are a great way to alleviate some of this chaos. Assign contacts for agents to reach out to—and likewise for staff—make sure they have a clear pathway for product support.
The transition period between implementation and adoption can also be known as the period of Change Management. Adoption is a gradual process. Even if you can comfortably mandate technology across your brokerage, agents will need time to get to know the new tools and the changes in workflow. Once the train is rolling however, it’s simply a matter of feeding the flames to keep it steaming down the tracks.
Keep the positive momentum going despite any resistance. Agents who are hesitant may be swayed by the success of their peers. Use case studies to showcase real business value that different agents are seeing from the system, and ask them if they’d be willing to act as a reference for agents struggling with it.
Two-way communication will also increase the chances of successful adoption. Let your users know that you’re listening and open to feedback. New systems can expose deficiencies as much as they uncover opportunities, and your efforts to get the system to stick will be much more effective if you’re taking into account the real user experiences being had. Use tools like Q&A discussions at Sales meetings, small user groups, and surveys to collect actionable feedback.
At this point, congratulations are in order. You’ve taken the necessary steps to get a system up and running in your brokerage, with your agents and staff behind you. That’s no small feat! The tricky thing about the real estate business is that your office has a revolving door (and next month you may have new eager faces running around your brokerage). Don’t make the mistake of thinking new hires will adopt your systems by osmosis. If you want each and every user to get the most out of your systems, if YOU want to get the most out your systems, you’ll need to give everyone the same resources up front. Integrating systems and workflow training into your onboarding program will guarantee that everyone in your company is working together.
Something to Take Away
Stick to your guns. While you’ll never get 100% of your agents or staff to use and/or love any technology, you can take the steps outlined above to make adoption more likely and ensure you get what you wanted out of your new technology.