With Parts B & C moving closer to launch, we spoke with Beth Rudolf about what will be expected of agents, the dangers of non-compliance and how technology can support in easing the transition.
Tech of a Life Edition Two: Disruption: A huge opportunity
Let’s discuss: Positive Disruption
Our second edition of our new digital magazine, Tech of a Life, is packed with collaboration and ideas, hearing from forward-thinking industry experts on how to tackle disruption head on and their views on the future of the property market.
Grab a cuppa and dive into some really interesting interviews with Simon Whale, MD & Founder at Kerfuffle; Adam Day, International Expansion Leader at eXp; Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell, Director of property training platform The Able Agent and more.
Disruption: A huge opportunity
Simon Whale, MD & Founder at Kerfuffle, a PropTech marketplace and review platform connecting Estate Agents with suppliers, talks all things disruption and grabbing the right opportunities
I can’t remember a time when the industry has faced so much disruption. The storm of the last couple of years has flown in one black swan event after another, and we are seeing many Estate Agents saying they haven’t had time to take a breath.
We’ve all gone through the introduction of GDPR, which added another process in to the mix, the obvious external factors that Covid-19 and Brexit brought, the lettings fee ban affecting revenue streams and the increased compliance demands which are always lurking, agents are rightly wondering when things are going to level off.
Despite what’s been thrown at them, we must give credit to agents coming off the back of one of the strongest markets we’ve seen in a long time. Agents are incredibly nimble and pivot to survive better than any other industry I’ve seen.
With disruption comes opportunity, and while there’ll always be industry changes to areas like policy or consumer behaviour that agents need to evolve with, there are ways in which they can grab the right opportunities to thrive too. Here are some of the main disruptors I can see are headed our industry’s way…
Tech as a disruptor
Technology is a positive disruptor, whether you’re using it to drive efficiencies or keep up with legislation, it can play a great part in helping agents to deliver a more personal service. The efficiencies new technology brings into play mean agents don’t have to spend as much time on admin tasks and can spend more time where they add real value. Whether that’s prospecting new business or on customer service, technology solutions ultimately help agents do more of the parts of their job they love.
Despite the never-ending change of the last few years, with limited time to take a more helicopter view of their business practices, the demands of a busy market made it even more important for agents to look at what tools they’ve got in their agency to help them do their job effectively. When it’s come to purchasing technology to simplify parts of the job, it’s likely (and understandable) that some investment decisions could have been made in haste to digitise processes, without a cohesive strategy behind them.
The shifting market situation now brings with it an opportunity for agents to take a step back to lift their heads and really think about what technology is going to help them achieve their goals over the next 2-3 years.
To drive the most efficiency, the goal should be to have a ‘tech stack’ of PropTech solutions all working together, but what a lot of agents are working with resembles more of a Jenga pile. When new solutions are added into the mix which don’t work well with existing processes, you take one piece out and it can all collapse.
The truth is, there’s no one size fits all approach, so the challenge suppliers face is adapting their products and solutions to different set-ups for different business types, like smaller operators, to ensure they add real value in the right places for all agents.
Get on board with AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI), coupled with automation, is really gathering pace in the sector and will be transformational for our industry in picking up some of the heavy lifting when it comes to maximising opportunities for agents and their businesses. This is especially true within large databases where adding segmentation into the marketing mix to deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time is critical. With low stock, it’s getting harder and harder for agents to stand out in the crowd, so it’s important that agents explore everything that could help market a property well and prevent their emails from being unsubscribed.
Automation tools that can relieve some of the many jobs that are repetitive, will start to really make an impact for those agents who embrace it.
Automation also gives agents the tools to keep them compliant without affecting their day job. AML fines are a problem and they’re not going anywhere. The nature of agents’ businesses often don’t allow for roles like IT directors and CIOs who in other industries would lead on compliance responsibilities. That means agency owners are wearing multiple hats and often carrying the compliance load themselves or passing the baton onto a member of the team with other responsibilities, so processes can slip and lose consistency. It’s not surprising that things do get missed so automated processes and integrated digital solutions have to be the ticket to assuring compliance.
Increasing demand for self-service
The desire for self-service is something the industry needs to embrace and enjoy. Consumers want 24/7 access to key information – they’re used to it in every other industry (take banking for example), but property has been slow to adopt.
Getting people engaging with this in the right way is easier with lettings, as landlords have relationships with tenants for a longer period but seems trickier with ad-hoc property sales and purchases, as timeframes are less frequent.
PropTech solutions are packaging this up nicely, like movebutler, which enables agents to give clients their own login details where they can selfsubmit the necessary information when it suits them and see where things are at any time. It also lightens the load for agents, not having to submit this information manually and spend less time giving status updates.
Agents offering tools like this to incorporate self-service into customer journeys will likely become more memorable and favourable with consumers as the market develops and as more consumers demand convenience. In 5-15 years when the same sellers come to transact again, those agents who’ve delighted their customers with a robust customer journey are certainly more likely to be front of mind.
How we feel about disruption at Kerfuffle
When it comes to Kerfuffle dealing with disruption, we love it and we wouldn’t be here without it!
Our slogan is ‘making sense of the noise’. We live, sleep and breathe disruption and have to be like trainspotters looking ahead at what’s coming the industry’s way.
When we consult with agents we can see how they are struggling to keep up with everything coming their way and how much more competitive the landscape is looking. Whether that’s people breaking into the industry from other verticals or international businesses entering the UK market – some amazing businesses are popping up what seems like overnight that could change the market forever and in a big way.
We’re the canary in the cage – we have over 3,000 agents who interact with us and tell us about their suppliers, so we can share that anonymised information from their experiences. It’s fantastic for us so we can see what’s hot, what’s not, industry trends and what’s on the horizon in real time. It’s time to accept disruption for what it is – a huge opportunity!