Alex had a great and successfully working real estate business.
He had many clients, but also many 12 hours or more hour workdays.
The money was good, but don’t ask him about his free time.
The conversations with his wife and kids were basically limited to “good morning” and “good night”.
That wasn’t what he imagined when he took on the challenge of building and growing his real estate business.
Very far at the back of his head buried under his daily operational tasks was a slight remnant of a memory. It was the fading memory of a phrase he had heard some time back in the past: ‘Work on your business not in your business’.
Remembering this was like being struck by lightning, because he realized he completely missed to work also on his business and not just create himself a job.
You might be in the same or a similar situation like Alex and have come to the conclusion that somehow you need to start to automate your real estate business.
But how do you automate it? And does it stop at only automating your real estate business or is there more to it?
The short answer are these steps:
- Identify all of your real estate business processes
- List them all (my favorite tool in this case are mind maps)
- Identify your real estate business processes that can be automated with tools or software
- Find suitable tools or software for these real estate business processes
- Gradually test and implement and improve the processes with these tools
- Identify the business processes that can’t be automated with tools or software, but could be delegated
- Create an operations manual for each operation
- Gradually find and test employees and/or freelancers to accomplish the tasks defined in the operations manual
- Delegate the updating and improving of the operations manual to a business manager (one of the very final steps)
Identify the business operations that can’t be automated and not yet delegated (for the moment being these are the ones you still have to do yourself)
About the longer answer you will read in my today’s article, that will give you some guidance for the different steps mentioned above.
What is (Real Estate) Business Automation
As you could already read in the short overview, a (real estate) business automation can take you out of the equation of manual work and delegating repeating tasks to different tools and further to freelancers and employees.
Tools in this case being chatbots and other automated communication methods (ai or not ai powered), email autoresponders, using real estate marketing funnels, and the overall integrations and synchronizations of tools.
Since the aim of this is to reduce your workload freeing you of more time you shouldn’t stop there.
Because there are still operations that can’t be automated, the furthermore costly method is delegation.
So with automation you leverage technology and with delegation you leverage other people’s time.
Which Real Estate Business Operations Can Be Automated?
This depends of course of the type of real estate business you have.
To give you some general inspiration I will give you different areas of a real estate business and the respective operations that could be automated.
They more or less refer to all kinds of real estate professionals, such as real estate agents, investors, developers, property managers and real estate services businesses.
1) How to Automate Your Customer Communication, Follow Ups, and Appointment Setting Automation
One of the regular tasks of a real estate professional is coordinating appointments, showings, meetings, working on and submitting important documents and managing and maintaining a client database and emails.
These repetitive tasks take up a lot of time and are thus great candidates for automation.
A good piece of real estate customer relationship management software (I wrote about some great ones already in this article), could for example automate the job of managing and maintaining existing clients.
Some will even integrate different email marketing tools, so the job of following up emails could be automated with an autoresponder.
2) How to Automate Your Real Estate Marketing
Sorry, but the creative part of real estate marketing can’t be automated just yet.
Creating a real estate marketing campaign still needs a human brain that can think strategically and creatively.
However, the task of generating leads and managing incoming leads or first contacts can be automated.
The automation will take place when working on the results in real estate marketing, once you have developed a winning campaign that gets results.
This means that when you are first contacted by email or through some sort of text messenger (e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.) and later on when doing follow ups.
The follow up part of those leads has a slight overlap with point 1 (customer communication).
Generally speaking pay per click advertising on search engines and social media is in itself also already a type of automation in contrast to cold calling, cold emailing or door knocking.
Instead of using your time to get leads using the latter methods you can leverage the audience of platforms like Facebook or Google to obtain these leads.
Of course, there will be some upfront time investment to reach the point where you have a winning campaign, but once you have one, the time to manage it will be significantly less than doing cold calls over and over.
3) Accounting & Finances
Accounting & Finances can really be a graveyard for your time, if you have to fiddle around with manual paperwork.
This includes managing and creating financial statements, transactions, accounts payable and receivable and more.
The main issue here is document management and therefore having access to them ideally in one central place in the cloud and being able to synchronize and integrate them with other accounting and finance software.
One example would be that all of your receipts for rents are issued from one centralized place and automatically synchronized with your accountant’s software (basically your account knows live what you are doing accounting-wise).
Additionally, respective people can be tagged and automatic and timely notifications be sent that for example when an invoice is pending.
The same is true for reminders to pay pending invoices.
The same software then also has access to your corporate bank account and synchronizes it likewise.
All payment processes can thus be reviewed end-to-end, streamlined and managed.
4) Property Management
The operational part of property management is less relevant to real estate agents and brokers, but rather to buy and hold investors, developers or property management companies.
Regular tasks in this area are usually:
- managing and organizing the progress of renovations and other projects
- managing and organizing maintenance work
- coordinating repairs
- communicating with tenants
- finding good new tenants
- vacating bad tenants
5) Property Inspections
The business process is less relevant for professional real estate services, but more so for real estate business that are involved in real estate transactions.
These are real estate agents, brokers, investors, developers and property managers.
Most of the typical repetitive tasks are:
- Scheduling inspections
- Manually collecting data
- Taking pictures and further analyzing them
- Preparing reports and certificates
By automating these processes inspections can be scheduled ahead of time, and booked directly by clients.
Moreover, inspection calls can be tracked, home inspectors can be matched, and by using pre-made templates reports can be completed faster on-site and generated in one click.
When You Can’t Automate Your Real Estate Business Yet
Then there is of course the case where the tasks of certain real estate business operations aren’t that repetitive or rather need some more decision-making on a case to case basis.
This is where a form of automation along with human intelligence comes into place.
In this case you should delegate certain tasks.
Here you also identify the processes, but instead of finding the right tools and software to automate it you find the right employees or freelancers to do them.
One important step before you find the right freelancers (e.g. virtual assistants) and employees is to create an operations manual.
This will save you a lot of time when you have to let go of an employee or have to change your freelancers.
By doing this you won’t have to explain or describe the job over and over.
So the operations manual is nothing fancy.
It can be a simple word document where you describe all possible steps involved for a certain task/ real estate business process.
Let’s take for example the process of pre-screening a property owner for a wholesaling investor.
In the operations manual the process could be described roughly like this:
- Load the phone script with the questions from [website URL]
- Load the lead excel file from [website URL]
- Before you call calculate the offer price by the formula provided in the excel file in 2)
- Call the leads collected in the excel sheet on [website URL] using the script leaded in 1)
- If the seller is open to the calculated offer price mark the seller lead in the excel lead as “open for deal”
Depending on which software you use those steps can vary of course, but I hope I get the point across.
5 Real Estate Automation Tools and Services
I can’t end this article without mentioning some of the well-known real estate automation tools and services that already exist.
So maybe you will find some options below, after you have identified the processes that could be candidates for automation or delegation.
Auto Cold Call Tools
These services are helpful when you want to automate your cold calling efforts or contacting leads for the first time.
The tools connect your call directly to voicemail so you can leave a personal message without having first a conversation.
Open House Management Software
This one helps you to collect handwritten numbers from open houses and avoids the hassle to transferring the data into digital form.
Many can even integrate with your real estate CRM.
Chat Bots is a huge topic that I have already covered in this article.
By using them in a Facebook ad campaign they can generate leads and at the same time nurture them.
You can prepare whole conversations and basically use them as what before was a customer service central where depending on what you needed you had to enter different numbers on the phone.
Many Chat Bots can be integrated into your customer relationship management software (CRM).
You can find more Chat Bot Tools in this article, but some are presented below:
Real Estate CRMs
This is another topic I have already covered in this article.
CRM means customer relationship management and what a software like that does is manage the whole communication process (including follow ups) for potential customers once they come in as fresh leads and coordinates all communication with your team (should you have one).
More real estate CRMs can be found in this article, but some are presented below:
Transaction Management Services & Remote Online Notarization (Delegation)
When you have reached an agreement and are ready to close a deal, there are services that manage the whole process for you.
This is where you go from escrow to final close, and this can present a high workload.
Many service providers offer these services in conjunction with their own software.
Below you can find a selection of providers:
By preparing early on for automation and delegation your real estate business and identifying major repetitive business processes you can gradually switch from working in your business to working on your real estate business.
The important part is to identify and define the right processes and regular tasks and find suitable tools and services.
Real estate business automation has become more than just automating an individual business.
Right now new disruptive business models in the real estate industry have risen based on automation.
These are property technology companies (proptech), and according to this magazine it’s a $100 billion opportunity: