The Journey to a Paperless Brokerage

As a Brokerage, technology solutions are coming at you left and right with the goal of going paperless. Well we all need to begin looking at moving in this direction have you asked yourself the first question yet; What do I need to know to successfully implement a solution? Take a look at the article below as it outlines 5 crucial points in ensuring your Brokerage success in implementing any new technology solution.

The Journey to a Paperless Brokerage

Real estate has been a paper-and-pen-centric business requiring many face-to-face interactions to complete a transaction. Regulating bodies have required documentation of historical transactions be stored and archived for decades in some jurisdictions for audit and legal purposes. This has resulted in large storage facilities of paper records that are costly to maintain and difficult to search.

The benefits of having a paperless brokerage are obvious, but it can be a very difficult transition process, not only for your back office but also for your agents.

As independent businesses, agents have autonomy with regards to how they operate, including their transactions. As any broker who has implemented other changes with their brokerage knows, moving your agents to a new process is a daunting task.

Agents will encounter technology and device issues. Agents will revert back to their old processes. Agents will threaten to leave the brokerage, but most won’t. Agents won’t be able to find time to attend the training sessions. Agents will complain that it is costing them time and money.

How to tackle these problems?

These concerns are valid and need to be addressed, but they are not valid reasons for delaying your decision to take advantage of the business process improvements technology has to offer. If you follow the steps below during your implementation, your brokerage will have a smooth transition from paper heavy to paperless.

The most important part of making a large business process change within your brokerage is full support from the owner, brokers, associate brokers and back-office staff. A positive attitude and full support from the administrative team within your brokerage will ensure that any issues encountered during the process don’t deviate agents and the back-office from the plan… and there will be issues, but that is to be expected when making the leap to paperless.

Back-office support is the single most important factor in a successful project. Work with your back office and your software provider to assign a project manager and then build out a plan. Most vendors will have a recommended approach to implementing your new software solution. We recommend getting the agents comfortable using the software, because they are the most important stakeholder

After they are comfortable with the technology, start to implement new business processes that will make the brokerage paperless. For example, with Repree, we train the agents on creating contracts and using electronic signatures before we show them how to create their electronic trade records or submit documentation to the back office. Teaching agents everything at once is overwhelming.

Within your plan, make sure that you are including communication. As you would with a home you are listing, you need to market the new paperless solutions to your agent. They need to be aware of the benefits and outcomes and how they can take advantage of them.

Ensure that your plan includes the following communication points:

1. Awareness

Provide ample notice to your agents that the brokerage is going paperless and why the brokerage is going paperless.

2. Desire

Sell the new process to your agents. Explain to them that going paperless will save them time and money.

3. Knowledge

Provide education to the agent on the software but also any of the process changes that will be happening in the brokerage. We recommend a three-pronged education plan that includes live on-site or virtual classroom training, videos and user guides available online and email support if they have any questions.

4. Activation

Clearly communicate expectations and when the new processes are going to be in place. We always recommend that the new processes should go live soon after training has been provided.

5. Reinforce

This is probably the most important item! Continue to communicate with the agents after the new processes are in place. Send out educational tips to the agents regularly, congratulate and praise the agents for making the change and update any processes that might need to change as a result of the paradigm shift. Take it slow – progress is more important than a timeline.

Finally, going paperless can take a while. It’s very difficult to set strict dates in your plan for having every agent paperless. A slow and smooth transition will be remembered as a positive change as opposed to a sharp and difficult transition that happened very quickly. The most important metric to measure the success of your brokerage going paperless is progress; each week, make sure you have more agents and more transactions being managed online.

When it’s all said and done, your brokerage will be able to take advantage of the benefits of paperless real estate. The cost savings for the back office and the time savings for your agents make change worth it.

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