Contributors from members of the Copper team
Houwzer is a young startup that puts a new spin on the real estate brokerage. With an innovative pricing model built on social currency and a tight integration with technology, the team is rebuilding the real estate brokerage model from the ground up to create a more competitive marketplace while still building consumer trust. Houwzer is on a mission to democratize real estate by helping consumers find a better way home.
Founders: Mike Maher (left) and Kevin Baird (right)
“In traditional real estate brokerage, everyone is using antiquated systems and manually managing their day-to-day operations. We saw this new emerging service software and realized there’s a great opportunity for that to be developed in real estate.” - David Speers, Director of Sales at Houwzer
Why They Ditched Top Producer & Zoho and Married Copper
From his past experience in software and technology, David had tried all sorts of CRM systems. When he made the switch from software to real estate, he and his team started using Zoho, as “Salesforce was ridiculously expensive, clunky and very hard to use.”
“For the few months we were using Zoho, everybody slowly stopped using it. When I would bring up the sales report during weekly sales meetings, everyone would just be out of touch,” David recalls.
“It was like pulling teeth, just to get agents to input data. Real estate agents are simply just not used to sitting at their desks [the] whole day putting data into CRMs. They're out in the field on mobile phones all day showing houses, so getting them to do data entry is next to impossible.”
The Houwzer team had also tried using a real-estate specific CRM, Top Producer, which couldn't gain popularity among the team members because of its antiquated user interface.
A Better Google Apps Integration
Since the Houwzer team is full of heavy Google Apps users, David looked for an alternative solution with Gmail as its core integration. As soon as he found out about Copper, Houwzer made the switch right away. “It was just enlightening to see how deeply Copper integrated with apps our agents use day in and day out,” says David.
Now, Copper is part of Houwzer’s core technology for staying organized.
For legacy systems like Salesforce and Zoho to integrate with Gmail, David would be forced to pay extra for a third-party app. “And the way in which they did it was with such clunky technology,” he recalls.
With Copper, his team has visibility into every deal thanks to the Chrome extension right inside their Gmail. With the extension, agents can communicate with clients, and it has become the Houwzer team’s number one point of interaction.
Copper and Real Estate Agencies
David and his team know how to leverage the mobile-first nature of Copper. The game-changing feature for the Houwzer team was the ability to automatically log phone calls. “Real estate agents are always on the phone, so the ability to automatically record that gives us new insights into our data,” says David. “This is something a lot of brokerage [firms] and agencies are just not doing. Coldwell Banker spends close to 5-6 million dollars on a proprietary CRM solution that nobody uses,” he laughs.
With the Copper mobile suite, David now has agents in the field writing emails that are synced in real time to the Copper web application — no BCC needed.
Lead tracking is one of the core sales activities in real estate. David often checks on leads to make sure their shelf-lives are shorter than a couple of days. He does this by looking at two metrics: the last time his leads were contacted and how many times they were contacted. “I want to make sure leads aren't going stale and just hanging there with no follow-ups,” he says.
Speers also likes Activity Reporting, which helps him get insights into individual performance, such as who’s making more contacts. Activity Reporting helps him create more leads and spread leads accordingly across the team.
Two Pipelines: ‘Buying’ and ‘Listing’
Platforms like Zillow and Trulia are the top lead sources for real estate agencies—they advertise on those platforms and gain leads. Houwzer’s leads typically come from Zillow, Trulia, and Mailchimp, which are then sent to Copper. Once they receive commitment from the lead, David creates an opportunity.
“In real estate, there are two numbers that matter,” says Speers. “One: [the] value of the property that you are listing or buying. Two: the actual revenue or profit you're making from that deal.”
As a brokerage firm, Houwzer’s revenue comes from a percentage of the value of the deal. So David created two custom fields, one representing the value of a deal and the other representing a deal’s revenue.
In real estate, you can represent people who are selling a house and/or people who are buying a house, and each side involves a completely different process. So, David and his team set up separate pipelines for “buying” and “listing.” Both pipelines include multiple steps before a deal can be closed. “It’s better to keep pipeline stages longer than simplifying them; this way we can more clearly identify the roadblocks to remedy. Before Copper, there was no way [of] identifying them,” says David.
Easily keep track of showings in Copper.
And see how submitted offers are coming along too!
“My goal is to do something with as few clicks as possible when it comes to CRM,” says Speers. In the past, Speers compared how many clicks it took him to do certain things with various CRM systems. “Copper blew all of them out of water,” he adds.
“It’s about the philosophy — the idea of automating as much of the data entry as possible.
Agents would rather go closing more deals than making sure their CRM is up to date,” says Speers.
Overcoming the Fear of CRM in Real Estate
“In real estate, people aren't used to using CRMs. While they’ve been managing customer relationships manually, they still manage to exist without CRMs,” says David.
According to David, having to convince—if not force—agents to manually input data is why Coldwell Banker and other traditional real estate firms are having trouble with proprietary systems. As 95% or more realtors in the country [U.S.] are subcontractors, he says, companies can't have a mandatory office tool. “If you sat them down and made them use it, they’d be an employee,” says David. At Houwzer, staff members have a lot more say than in a traditional brokerage, as everyone is an employee.
“If you can get a team to start using a CRM, it’ll change everything,” says Speers. “All of a sudden they’d have open data between people, no more data silos, up-to-date insights into deal flows, and your projections will automatically be accurate. If you’re a sales manager and director, you can really plan and anticipate. CRM makes a world of difference,” he adds.
“Copper is an amazing product and I’m sure the real estate industry will greatly benefit from it."
"At Houwzer, our goal is to leverage CRM like no one has ever done it in the real estate space simply because our model dictates that we have to be efficient, and there’s no way to do that with Salesforce and other CRMs,” says David.