Tim Neary catches up with ReNet BDM Fletcher Norman to discuss the features of their CRM system and how what started as ‘a couple of ideas in the Coff’s Harbour surf’, is now helping agents to be more productive while spending more time in the field.
Matt Carpenter of Star Partners, a user of ReNet for 5 years also shares his story and links the success of his offices to the implementation of the ReNet CRM system.
He describes switching from a simple, unsophisticated excel program to ReNet as a life changing experience, which turned “dumb data” into usable tracking data.
You will also find out:
- How ReNet helps to manage multiple clients on a large scale
- The level of engagement that can be achieved before a visitor’s even left the open home
- How ReNet’s task system is helping to exceed client expectations
Tune in now to hear all this and much, much more in this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!
Announcer:: The top 100 agents are the best of the best. Listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are the practises, actions, and beliefs of the most successful agents in Australian real estate - Raw, honest, and completely uncut.
Tim Neary: How is everyone? It's Tim Neary here. I am editor for Real Estate Business and host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents podcast. Thanks for tuning in. We've got two very special guests on the show today. The first one is Fletcher Norman. Fletcher is the BDM at Renet. The second guest is Matt Carpenter, who is one of the owners at Starr Partners in Merrylands, Wentworthville, and Pemulway.
Welcome, Fletcher and Matt, and thanks for being on the show!
Fletcher Norman: Pleasure to be here!
Matt Carpenter: Thank you very much, Tim.
Tim Neary: Fantastic. Now, I think we'll get straight into it. Fletcher, maybe we can just start by ... if you could give us a bit of an idea what Renet is and how it helps the industry.
Fletcher Norman: I'll start by saying Renet now is in its 18th year of operation, of continuous operation, starting out of a couple ideas in the surf at Coffs harbour, right through to who we are today with thousands of agents across Australia and New Zealand utilising our system. So, we started out just doing basic websites right through to today with a fully operational CRM, which utilises apps on both Android and iOS to enable agents to be more productive, and to spend time - where they need to be - out in the field talking to sellers and potential sellers and buyers.
Tim Neary: And, in terms of being more productive, Matt now, you know all about being productive. You're ranked 25th in the REB to 50 sales offices for 2015, and you are a user, aren't you, of Renet? Can you give us an idea of where you implement it in the business? I guess we'll lean more into how use technology in driving the growth of your business.
Matt Carpenter: We've been using Renet for much of the last five years now, it is a massive part of our sales business. We've run a team of 12 sales people in the sales admin team, including sales people of about 20. Every single person is an active user on Renet. It allows us to manage multiple clients on a large scale by sending alerts out to them or putting that a lease has been sold, and allows our sales guys to maintain direct connection with their buyers, our listing agents direct connection with our ... with their sellers. And, really, it's a system that we couldn't work without today.
Tim Neary: How many years have you been using it?
Matt Carpenter: We've been using it for the last five years.
Tim Neary: And, if you cast your mind back, how's the business changed, do you think, from before you started using it to how it is now?
Matt Carpenter: I used to utilise an Excel programme. So, an Excel programme was how I used to maintain all my buyers and my sellers, and the day I merged that Excel programme to Renet was a life changing experience. It created dumb data into usable tracking data, and there's no looking back. I would have to say that an agent at Renet doesn't have a database, that doesn't collect client details and able to mince those on a daily basis. You're just leaps and bounds behind the other agents out there.
Tim Neary: I mean, I love the way that you say that, it takes ... it took dumb data and turned it into smart data. And, you were just saying off air, as well, that there were fantastic reporting systems that you use as well.
Matt Carpenter: Yes, that's definitely true. So, there's two components. One is the servicing of reports to our vendors, so this morning at seven o'clock this morning, I've sent out 25 vendor reports to my 25 current vendors on the market with all the details on all the inspections that have feedback from the buyers, feedback on price on their property, and I was able to send out 25 reports in literally 30 minutes with the way that Renet has their reporting system set up.
It's gonna be followed up today with a phone call to my vendors to make sure that it's going well setting out for their open houses on Saturday. And then, there's the other side, the KPI tracking the staff, they're able to look at KPIs from their gross income of listing agents and selling agents, to buyer showings, to appointments, to market appraisals conducted. There's a number of different reporting facilities within Renet. We mainly look at the activity reporting systems, but there's even logs of how many new clients have been put in that month into the system, so we could see the growth of the salesperson's connection to people.
One of the big things that Renet's just introduced over the last, I would say, six months was a scoreboard, and the scoreboard allows our sales guys who are competitive with the near industry to be competitive amongst themselves. At the moment, looking at the scoreboard for January, I'm leading the team. I've been on very closely targeted by my business partner Daniel Star who is very, very close behind me with point score.
And, that allows us to look at the activity of each salesperson, and see where they're tracking.
Tim Neary: I guess that's ... I mean, leading from the front, Matt, so good to hear that. But also, you know, just as you said, sales people are competitive by nature, you're running three offices. So, you would have, I imagine, a healthy size sales force running with you. So, this give you an opportunity to not just allow them to track what they're doing, but for you to manage and to put in place things that you need to do to get them to get going.
Matt Carpenter: Yeah, absolutely, most definitely. So, our ... every person who works within our business in our sales department has a peer or an older person, such as myself - when I say "older," been in the business longer than others - and they have one-on-one appoints each week with each salesperson that they are managing, and they are able to look at the tracking and see how many appraisals they've done, how many properties that we've split, the number of buyer inspections that we've conducted, and look at this general overview of their activity. And, numbers don't lie. At the end of the day it tells us exactly where that person's been issued at that time in the month. So, the new scoreboard that's been introduced by Renet is, without a doubt, a big tool within our business.
Tim Neary: Fletcher, just to come back to you if I may for a second, this software - the CRM system - is obviously working well and Starr Partners is using it nicely. What's on the menu, what's on the plan for the rest of the year, and for 2018?
Fletcher Norman: I'll address that in a minute if I may, Tim, I just wanna hark back to what Matt was saying about dumb data, and I agree with you. The massive difference between a data base, which is effectively dumb data - being a sales spreadsheet and a CRM - and one of the main areas that Renet matures that data enables businesses like Starr Partners at Merrylands to grow use by a touchpoints manager. So, we run an algorithm that tracks all those individual tasks that an agent does, and a buyer does, on daily basis, you know? In a market, particularly like Sydney, where you might have 150 people looking to purchase a home that fits into a particular buyer category. Be it, say three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully detached home, you might have 130, 140, 150 people that matches that buyer criteria.
So, we try to automate as much of the contact points with buyers as possible, and then we track those interactions by emails, open home attendance, private inspection attendance, offers, all of those things. And, the list of the top 10 people who are potentially the purchaser of that property changes every single day. So, it enables the agents to contact that top 10 while still keeping in touch with people who either they have only met once - a buyer at an open home, with those people still getting "just listed," "just sold," and "price reduction" emails. So, we keep that cycle of contact going in the background, and the agents don't have to anything. The system does a lot of that for them.
So, that's where we're changing the dumb data into smart data, and then agents like Matt can go out to a vendor and say, "Well, Mr. Or Mrs. Seller, I got these 150 people sitting here. I can send an e-brochure right now stating that I've listed this property and start the ball rolling on the actual sales process."
So, what we're doing in 2018 is taking that and taking it to the next level.
Tim Neary: When you've got the data working for you, then it allows you as an agent to just go out and just concentrate on those dollar productive activities.
Fletcher Norman: Absolutely, and that's what ... you know, we have a mantra in product development, and myself as an ex-agent and business owner, I always as the question, "Okay, but how is this going to help an agent list and sell more real estate?" If we can't quantify and answer the question intelligently, quite simply we don't do it. That's why we've created things over the last 12 months, like the scoreboard, like the app, which allows you to sync automatically with the database. So, an agent can stand there or their PA can stand there at an open home, punch in a person's details into an open home.
If they're already in the database, he can match his lies. So, there's no duplicate entries, there's no mess data. And, if there's made a copy of the contract and everything live within the system, that person before there's even lists the open home gets an email with a copy of the contract, any other disclosure statements that's require under each different state and territories legislations.
So, then, when they go home, they might have been through five, 10 open homes over a two day period in a weekend. Well, we know that if they're a Renet client, they've got all the activities. They've got the information, the agent has potentially bulked SMS’d them to thank them for attending the open home and requesting vendor feedback.
So, 2018, we're consolidating that position and finding out through people like that who's very heavily involved in giving us advice and feedback, and fairly bluntly, too, which is exactly what we want. We're going to take those and extend upon them, you know? We've got a raft of improvements coming through the app, and within the software that we just want to make agents jobs easier, so they can either list more real estate or spend more time with their families, It’s up to them.
Tim Neary: I like the way you've put that as well, list more and sell more, probably because that essentially is the cornerstone of the business.
Fletcher Norman: Absolutely, and that's why we're proud to have - I'm not going to say exactly how many - but, you know, we are proud to have a significant number of our offices in the to 50. You know, we're talking double digit percentage points, which, when you look at the quality of the businesses in the top 50, that's something we can be very proud of and we hope those offices are very proud of.
Tim Neary: Obviously, doing something right there. And, I liked the discussion that we had this morning around taking dumb data and making it smarter, and taking that smart data to allow the agents to do what they do best, to do the productive stuff, and list more and sell more properties, which is what we start to see in the rankings what we do, that more and more of those that are getting into - particularly - the top 50 offices are doing more business, more efficiently, more smartly.
So, it is certainly the future of the real estate industry.
Fletcher Norman: Absolutely, and if I can just tell a little story, Tim and Matt, at our sister company, I Reality, I often get referrals from them and vice versa, and we often get people calling in who say, "I need to list and sell more real estate, I need to list and sell more real estate, so I need a dedicated email marketing platform that enables me to do that."
And then, the guys who were taking those calls come across to me and say, "Fletcher, these people don't even have a CRN. They're still running of spreadsheets. They're still running off sheets of paper in the office. We can't do anything with that until we've got a feed going backwards and forwards and sharing data.
It's still ... it doesn't surprise me. It's still horrifies me, that agents aren't allowing themselves the opportunity to breathe a little bit by using a CRM, it doesn't Matter which one, it could be us, it could be somebody else. But, using a CRM, does long dollar productive activities, so they can have those intelligent conversations and breathe, and take their kids to school, or pick them up from school, instead of saying, "I'm so busy, I'm so busy, because I'm doing stuff that a system should be doing for me."
Tim Neary: Yeah, and that goes back to what Matt said earlier on - isn't it? - when he went from five years ago to working off the Excel spreadsheet or those Excel spreadsheets into using the CRM system, into using Renet, that it changed the business - changed his world.
Just listening to you both speaking, it's becomes very clear to me that the place to smart is with the smart data in a smart CRM system, and then the business can grow from there.
And Matt, the proof ...
Matt Carpenter: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: Yeah, and Matt the proof of the pudding is there for you in the eating, ranking 25th in the top 50 sales offices across the country for the year.
Matt Carpenter: Thank you, look, amongst the Starr Partners groups we have multiple CRMs that the other offices use, and there are multiple CRM systems out there. I'll tell you that working with the team at Renet, and we work on a daily basis, it has just become an absolutely fantastic CRM system, and I couldn't more highly recommend it. I think in today's day and age, I've been with the Starr Partners group for 20 years, my only job out of school and I'm 38 now, and today more than ever, clients are making you more accountable for what you promise, and you have to deliver at an exceptional rate. They just expect that.
One thing that Renet does is they have a task system, which at the moment now I'm looking at it and I got 47 tasks to do today, those tasks I would never have done in a previous life, because they just wouldn't be there in front of me to do. And so, therefore, they allow you to keep that accountability level up with the vendor. So, if you say to them you're going to speak to them on a certain date, it makes you accountable, because the system's gonna make you do that.
And, I think that's one of the fantastic things about Renet, is their tasking system. And, the trial system that is set up against clients once you've been out to see them.
Tim Neary: I mean, that gives a nice picture of ... you know, you talk about 47 tasks, that's a lot of things that need to be done. Though probably small little things, they're a lot of things to remember, to hold in your mind, and remember to do them all. They might be small things. I might be a vendor on the other side of the table who's waiting to get some feedback from you, just a two or three minute telephone call, that'll mean a lot to me when I get it, but it will mean even more to me in a negative way if I don't get it.
This way, you don't have to remember to do that, it's there for you. It comes up, I guess, on your dashboard.
Matt Carpenter: Absolutely, and it even has an SMS system that I highly use with SMSes through the system. I'm able to send an SMS, whether a bulk SMS, and that SMS will be sent out saying, "Hi Tim," or "Hi, fletcher." It's personalised and gives the direct information that I want to give regarding the seller in the street or the seller that's relevant to new property, straight onto these phones, and actually comes through the system showing that it's my mobile number.
Just that SMS system alone, I can tell you, is catapulting our business and our exposure ten fold. And, it's something I couldn't live without today, the SMS function on Renet.
Fletcher Norman: That's absolutely fantastic. And, if I can just ask, Matt, would you mind sharing ... I'll just say that Matt sent out our CEO a string of texts messages over the weekend that had this week, the entire Renet team, absolutely bouncing off the walls, because we've been working hard on a couple things. And, Matt, would you mind just telling that story?
Matt Carpenter: Yes, over the weekend Renet, especially on a Saturday, is highly used by my team, with data entry at open houses, with vendor reports going out to vendors straight after open houses, with text messages going to buyers thanking them for coming through to our open houses, and automated emails with contracts attached to those emails. It was just phenomenal. Saturday, we had massive numbers through our open houses - our over 50 open houses - run by our team on Saturday. And it just went perfectly, the whole system just went without a glitch, and it was brilliant what the development team has done at Renet has just really amplified the system and the year.
And, I was actually getting responses back from my vendors on Saturday to the vendor reports going out with constructive comments to move forward to get their property sold, so it was just a brilliant Saturday.
Tim Neary: Nice work, and Fletcher, I can understand why the team was bouncing off the walls. I mean, those are strong words, "It just ran perfectly."
Fletcher Norman: Yeah, the guys have been doing a lot of work to ensure that agents can do things with speed, because as we know if agents can't access or do something immediately, chances are they're not going to do it.
Tim Neary: Matt and Fletcher, it's been terrific to have you on the show this morning, I think we might leave it there, there's ... I know that Matt's got 47 things he still needs to get done today so I won't hold him up any longer.
But Matt and Fletcher, thank you very much for taking the time to come on the show and give us your insights on the CRM system and what you're doing over there at Renet.
Fletcher Norman: My pleasure, and happy to do it anytime, and Matt, congratulations again for hitting number 25.
Matt Carpenter: Thank you guys, greatly appreciate the opportunity today, and thank you to Renet for everything they do for us. Guys, have a wonderful day.
Tim Neary: Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, you can follow me too on Twitter at TimothyJNeary is you want to do that. If you enjoyed us today, please leave a five star review on iTunes, it's the best way for listeners to find us and to get the great content we're putting out. As always, realestatebusiness.com.au is where you'll find. There are plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia.
Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next week.