The Crucial Importance of Workflow Automation for Real Estate Businesses
Workflow automation has become an essential tool for businesses across industries, and real estate is no exception. The use of automation technologies in real estate has grown rapidly in recent years, offering numerous benefits to businesses that embrace it.
Still, the pace of uptake lags behind the more “tech-forward” industries, and many real estate and property management companies still conduct operations with traditional means. A 2020 Ernst & Young report found that 60% of commercial real estate executives felt that “competing priorities for time and investment” trumped their automation goals. As of 2020, a mere 28% of the executives had employed more than one automation solution across their organization.
What’s so crucial about real estate businesses adopting greater automation? And what’s holding so many of them back today?
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of workflow automation for a modern, real estate business, and why greater automation is crucial to stay ahead of the curve today.
Increased Efficiency and Operational Performance
One of the most significant advantages of automation in real estate is the capacity to increase efficiency, and with that, increase operational performance.
With workflow automation, specifically, real estate businesses can streamline critical business processes, such as property management, lead generation, marketing, and customer service. By automating repetitive tasks, operational teams can focus on greater quality, and improved customer experience. Sales teams, likewise, can keep their focus on pipeline generation, deal management, and doing “good” sales work.
Take for example a Maintenance & Repair process for a commercial real estate property:
In cases like these, the real estate operations team will conduct approximately 0% of the skilled work themselves – that is, the work contracted to an external service provider for conducting the on-site repair itself.
Instead, the real estate operations team will be occupied with the 80% clerical aspect of the process: receiving the maintenance request, investigating the case, coordinating with the service provider, relaying back with the customer, documenting the repair, handling the invoice and payment, and so on.
If even a fraction of this work can be automated (indeed, the majority of it can be), that would already constitute significant time savings for the operations team to focus their efforts on customer satisfaction, improved service quality, and other areas to which their skilled knowledge can be applied.
Enhanced Customer Experience
In today's competitive real estate market, providing a personalized and seamless customer experience is essential.
Automation tools like chatbots, email marketing, and automated follow-up messages allow real estate businesses to engage with their customers efficiently and effectively. It will be better to contact an outsourcing agency or a freelance developer to make a custom real estate software tool specifically for your needs. But the unintended consequence of these tools used in excess is that customers may experience a feeling of distance. For every perfect moment of automation is another customer wishing they could speak to a real person.
Workflow automation, on the hand, is less concerned with replacing human interaction.
Rather, automated workflows streamline the interactions between people (in this case, customers, operations employees, and service providers), and automate the repetitive tasks that occur adjacent to those human interactions: for example, updating databases, generating invoices, sending notifications, and the like.
The end result: less time interacting with systems, and more time available to have quality human interactions. And by providing a better customer experience, in turn, real estate businesses can leverage that to generate more business.
Improved Documentation Management
Real estate businesses generate a vast amount of data, from property information to customer data. CRM systems can help real estate businesses manage their customer and sales pipeline data effectively. These systems can also analyze data, providing real-time insights and reports that help agents make better decisions.
However, CRM systems typically do not populate themselves, so it’s yet another task for real estate sales and operations teams to handle. With hundreds or thousands of customers, this documentation burden quickly accumulates.
An automated workflow, on the other hand, can handle the documentation, population, and updating of CRM records automatically. Using rules-based logic and conditional steps, a custom workflow can be configured to take a customer’s data from your workflow system, and push that to the CRM or database where that customer’s contact record is housed.
Depending on the workflow itself, this could be an exponential efficiency improvement.
With new customer onboarding, for example, you could be talking about dozens of unique files and customer data points, all which could be automatically stored and updated for you. Not to mention, the improved quality control aspect of having rigid processes which require all of the correct information and documentation in order for the process to be completed.
Automation can help real estate businesses save money in several ways.
For starters, by automating repetitive tasks, businesses can reduce administrative costs, allowing real estate teams with time and budget to focus on higher-value contributions (lead generation, quality, customer experience, strategy, etc.). Additionally, automation can reduce the risk of human error, which can lead to costly mistakes.
Real estate businesses can also automate their demand generation processes, which – when used consistently – can reduce their advertising and marketing costs over time. That’s because the heavy lifting of implementing marketing and sales campaigns can be streamlined with a workflow automation solution, leaving teams with the bandwidth to focus on data analysis, strategy, and campaign performance.
Using one calculation, that could represent up to $4 million annual cost savings at the enterprise scale.
It should be reemphasized that the aim of automation in these examples is not to replace human contribution. Rather, the strength of automation in these cases is to automate the coordination of complex workflows and the execution of administrative steps, in order to provide skilled team members with greater capacity to carry out more “nuanced” work.
Finally, automation can provide a clear competitive advantage to real estate businesses. In a crowded market, real estate businesses that deliver better experiences will stand out from the crowd – specifically, those real estate businesses that invest human capital into acquiring and maintaining excellent customer relationships.
From the PR and branding perspective, real estate has nothing to lose on investing in “tech forward” positioning within the market. However, the real draw of automation within real estate is when customers experience the clear advantages for themselves: a seamless, fast application process; a painless and convenient repair experience; a truly personalized purchase journey, which wouldn’t have been possible without the capacity that automation provided the real estate agent. Those are the experiences that will win lifetime customers, and ultimately, greater market share.
In conclusion, automation is essential for real estate businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve. By embracing workflow automation technology, these businesses can increase efficiency, improve documentation management, improve the customer experience, save costs, and gain a competitive advantage. Whether you're a real estate agent or a real estate business owner, embracing automation is crucial for success in today's cut-throat real estate market.
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