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When have we overautomated the real estate industry?

By February 12, 2015 One Comment

Last week, I got a series of emails from a national real estate vendor — nine emails all in one day, followed by six the very next day. One subject line was, ironically, “6 worst real estate technology mistakes everyone makes.” Other stories alluded to tips and tricks. I chuckled, knowing what had likely happened — the company’s long string of emails was probably intended to hit my inbox over the course of several weeks or months. Their customer relationship manager system must’ve had a glitch — an extended action plan of managing my value and creating a relationship had malfunctioned and instead sent me a load of junk mail that I didn’t read.

I enjoy getting the system-generated email and text reminders from my dentist for my upcoming appointment, or the email from Amazon, YouTube or my favorite store of “things I might enjoy.” But I do wonder sometimes: When we take too many steps away from personal human interaction, what do we lose (including potential business) by either removing ourselves or even screwing up our intended connection through computer glitches and mistimed communication?

Systems and efficiency have been the focus of real estate coaches since before fax machines were a regular office sight. No real estate broker would have believed 20 years ago, though, that those “systems” would be computers sending text messages to clients based on preset conditions or that an electronic signature would be allowed as a legal form of acceptance. But in attempts to do a greater volume of business and use technology to our benefit, at what level does this automation become unhelpful? How can we continue to harness these powerful systems to our benefit — but avoid losing track of our clients and referral sources?

Thank goodness for multiple listing service (MLS) client portals, electronic signature programs, showing feedback systems, database management and even word processing with spell-check! We’ve been blessed with incredible professional ease and opportunity for substantial economies of scale compared with our forerunners 30 to 50 years ago. And yet, as we allow the ease of automation to enthrall us, take a step back and ask, “How is my technology decision dangerous? When does it take too much of my human interaction out of the equation? When have we automated too much?”

I don’t have the answer to these questions, but I worry that if we don’t spend more time considering them, we may just create systems, processes and scenarios that are smart enough to ruin our businesses. These systems, technology and automation decisions are shaping the immediate future of our business; it could be very shortly that we see real estate practiced in a dramatically new way or model.

Worse yet, we as individual real estate professionals could become near-obsolete with a few oligarchical teams running each major market. Something to ponder the next time you commit to letting the CRM, computer, website or email drip campaign “do it all” for you.

Matt Templeton is the team lead for his team of thriving real estate sales professionals at Keller Williams in enchanted Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Email Matt Templeton.

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