Do you wonder why your real estate business requires so many subscription services? From real estate referral sites to technology and marketing platforms, and social media services, seemingly everyone wants a paid piece of the real estate industry action.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the number of systems and services you require to run your real estate agency, I can empathise.

The revolving door

The main frustration for principals and real estate agents, I believe, is not knowing what services you genuinely need and which you can do without. Seemingly every day there’s a new service that comes knocking on your door, to which you’re told you must subscribe.

Often these are costs that you’ve not budgeted for, and even though these fees are in small amounts, $30 a month here, $150 a month there, they can add up and make running a successful real estate business feel like ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

Today, I help explain why the new business world is better than the old and how a strategic set of software subscriptions will have you running and marketing your real estate business agency cost-effectively, from anywhere.

This is part one and focuses on operational costs. Next week we will look at the marketing tools you need.

Fear not – you’re not alone

The truth is that running a business, any business, is going to require operating and marketing costs. But, look back over the past 20 years or more and you’ll realise that running a business back in the 1990’s or 2000’s wasn’t as easy, cost-efficient or flexible as it is today.

A client of mine, CEO of One Agency Group, Paul Davies, has been running real estate business for over 35 years and shares his experience; “It’s so important to have the right real estate operating model. Operating costs are critical to survival in a downturn. Loose track of your costs and as fast as commissions and revenue come in the front door they’ll walk straight out the back door into the pockets of staff and suppliers. No real estate business owner wants to be on the proverbial treadmill”.

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Real estate is not alone. Businesses across all industries have an array of systems and subscriptions that make up the marketing, sales and day-to-day running of their industry ecosystems, be it travel, motoring, finance and so forth.

As a digital marketing agency, my business requires more than 30 subscriptions to cover all the tools needed to provide a full spectrum of creative services to our real estate clientele. Keeping a close eye on what my total subscriptions fees are, and ensuring my licensing is correct and head counts maintained ensures we never pay for more than what we need.

Low entry barrier and switching costs

Starting a real estate business from scratch is so much easier today than ever before. You no longer need to purchase and install on-premise software. Software-as-a-Service and now staff-on-demand style services have moved to the cloud. Giving rise to more subscription-based offerings, which allow us all to pay only for what we use and have very low, in fact no, switching costs.

As business owners, we can opt-in and out of month by month subscriptions at a moments notice. That’s why my preference is to stick with the monthly option (even if it carries a slightly higher fee than the annual alternative).

With the rapid evolution of technology, it’s essential to be able to pivot to a better solution (when it comes along) without needing to wait out an annual contract.

So, what systems do you need to become a super agent or a super successful real estate agency?

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The business basics – computers, email and document management tools

With the advent of laptops, tablets and smartphones, you can now run your business on the hop, from the ‘home office’, cafe or even the car (while parked of course).

In the future, real estate agencies may consider co-location workspaces. This style of office space is on the rise and more businesses like these are making their way to the suburbs.

Google, Microsoft and Apple have all evolved to a point where we can subscribe to their services over the cloud, with email and document storage accessible anywhere there’s WIFI.

In fact, because Google is a vital part of promoting your business, I’ve now switched my entire agency over to Google’s G Suite and have everything from my Google Business page to Google Ads fully integrated. In fact, both Gartner and Forrester have picked Google as the leader in cloud and content collaboration tools and identified them as the most secure option available.

All types of operational tools are hosted online and available through the cloud today, including accounting software such as Sage, Quickbooks, Freshbooks and the one we use which is Xero. Then there’s contract signing with tools such as Adobe Sign or DocuSign, and of course, there’s online banking too.

Password protection

One word of caution, however. Now that we have so many parts of our business operations or marketing systems hosted in the cloud it’s vital to have a stringent process for managing licenses, access details and most importantly everyone’s passwords.

Today, password management, or the Vault as its known, is serious business, with tools such as Keeper, Dashline and 1password to name just a few.   

The good news is, as I mentioned at the start, many of the tools you need today to run your real estate business are low cost or no cost subscriptions. You no longer need to outlay hefty upfront costs for on-premise systems.

Next week, in part two, we’ll delve into the tools needed to promote yourself as a real estate agent or agency, and I’ll share the subscriptions that my team and I use.


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Written by Melanie Hoole

My team and I specialise in helping real estate and property professionals perfect their personal brand, build a first-class digital profile and implement inbound marketing activities to attract leads. If you are unsure which direction to take with your digital marketing contact me for help.

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