JP Piccinini, CEO and founder of JP and Associates, REALTORS®, in Frisco, Texas, launched his real estate brokerage out of his house in 2012 with three agents. He recalls how his third-grader at the time helped get them set up on Google Drive. Piccinini’s firm has come a long way in the past six years. Last year, the company—now with about 1,100 agents—closed nearly $2 billion in sales. But one thing hasn’t changed: Piccinini still follows the rule of thumb that any technology platform he implements needs to have a worthwhile return on investment.
Piccinini and other highly successful brokers from around the country shared tips for adapting technology during the RISMedia Power Broker panel at the REALTOR® Broker Summit in Nashville, Tenn., on April 5. The piece of technology that Piccinini is most proud of is an app called ODASI—On Demand Agent Services Inc.—that he developed to help agents connect with each other and request help with tasks such as putting a lockbox on a new listing, hosting an open house, or doing a showing.
As the leader of a virtual brokerage, Piccinini doesn’t have the support of an office manager, so his firm has adopted a highly tech-savvy culture. Now, when recruiting agents, he expects them to be comfortable using tools like ODASI and others. Because the company has matched its tech culture with its recruitment technique, JP and Associates, REALTORS®, has one of the highest retention rates in its market. And the agents at his firm are more likely to buy into new tech tools the firm adopts.
While Piccinini grew his burgeoning firm while simultaneously implementing new technology, other well-established brokerages might be looking for tools to modernize their systems and work more efficiently. Fellow panelist Rebecca Thompson, vice president of agent development at @properties in Chicago, who previously owned her own firm and has worked as a consultant for real estate companies on technology and growth, says “agents have SOS (shiny object syndrome)”—and sometimes brokers do as well. She encourages broker-owners to look at what they can beta test and integrate into their current systems. Developing a detailed process for rolling out a new platform is essential, says Thompson, as is designating roles and making sure staff are on board who will sing the technology’s praises.
It’s crucial to pinpoint the specific problem your brokerage is experiencing before you can choose a piece of technology to solve it, says Christina Pappas, a third-generation real estate professional and district sales manager for The Keyes Company, a 90-year-old brokerage in Miami.
In terms of favorite tools, Slydial is a handy app Pappas enjoys because it allows you to call all your associates at once and leave a personal voicemail—and it shows as a missed call on their phones. She’s also a fan of RealScout, which is an app that allows agents to brand themselves and communicate with customers through a more customized home search experience. But with 3,500 sales associates, Pappas knows that not every app or platform her company adopts is going to fit every agent’s needs.
Pappas’s brokerage has created Keyes Next Gen, a group described as a Young Professional Network for her company. Because agents often have information on the latest technology before brokers do, she isn’t shy about asking her associates what products they’re seeing in the field and what’s next. They spend two days a month demoing new tools in a webinar, and all agents at her firm are welcome to sit in. Then, they decide together if the product is a “no,” “maybe,” “yes, solves an immediate problem,” or “something for the future.”