Remote work is beneficial for employees and helps businesses cut down costs and save time. But is it possible to build remote businesses in fields where customers prefer face-to-face meetings?
For instance, in the world of real estate, the first few meetings with a possible customer are crucial for establishing trust. This doesn’t mean, however, that the business part (the brokerage) can’t function from a virtual office.
Virtual brokerages are no longer a novelty — they’re often quite successful. Still, not all virtual brokerages do well. That’s because there are a few crucial steps you need to follow to establish a solid foundation for remote work.
So, if you’re thinking about building a remote brokerage, here is what you have to do:
Get a broker’s license
A brokerage can’t legally function without at least one person having their broker’s license. Ideally, as the business owner and administrator, you should be the person qualified to run a brokerage.
Why? Because during your education as a broker, you learn a lot about the real estate business and other essential aspects of being a broker. Plus, can you really entrust the very core of your business to a complete stranger, even though they are a professional?
Once you have your license and some experience in the field, you can start thinking about opening a virtual brokerage.
Get the right tools
A virtual office needs a series of digital tools to facilitate an easy and productive work environment for the team.
First, you need a solid collaboration tool that allows real estate agents to upload/download, edit, and collaborate on documents, images, videos, and other digital assets. Second, your agents need to be able to communicate with each other in groups or individually, so you’ll need a chat system that includes these features.
Other tools should support your relationship with customers and leads. For instance, Archie’s personalized follow-up messages allow you to stay in touch with leads and customers without too much effort, thanks to its automated processes. And if you use a CRM, you should find one that can communicate with your mailing or messaging tool. This way, you can follow the status of your leads and apply various degrees of personalization to encourage customer loyalty or get word of mouth going.
On the other hand, you also need tools to keep you organized. Most virtual brokerages use project management software that keeps track of everyone’s tasks, sends notifications, tracks spending, and gives the manager a bird’s eye view of all the projects.
You should also use tools that allow you to take notes in an organized fashion and a document management system that can filter access based on a user’s credentials for an extra layer of protection.
Find trustworthy partners
Trust is a hot commodity in the business world. Businesses need to gain their customers’ trust to be successful, but they also need to find trustworthy partners who can support their efforts to grow.
The term “business partner” is a bit of an umbrella that covers a range of positions. Partners can be your investors, stakeholders in the company, or employees, to name a few. So, who would you build your virtual brokerage with?
Some new entrepreneurs may feel more comfortable starting a business with friends and/or family, but this is a tricky road. Friendships and even family ties get strained when money is involved. Plus, you’re better off with a professional with solid experience and expertise in your field.
To connect with trustworthy partners, you need to put together a thorough vetting process that includes their financial state, interest in developing a virtual brokerage, and how they can support you in the long-term.
Design a clear management structure and style
All successful businesses have one clear leader who is in charge of final decision-making. This is especially important for a virtual office. Differences of opinion and lack of consensus are common in the business world; the decision-maker’s job is to listen to everyone’s advice, check the data, and make a choice that will benefit the business as a whole.
Real estate brokerages — virtual or not — must have a clear management style. You are working with professional agents who may be more experienced than you, so there’s no need for micro-managing. However, it’s important to make sure they fill in their reports and submit their requests on time.
Furthermore, many virtual brokerages may find that a hybrid work environment is suitable for their needs. In this case, it becomes a bit easier to supervise everyone since you’ll have at least a day or two when the entire team meets in person.
The key elements to a successful virtual brokerage are trustworthy partners, experience in the field, valuable tools that allow for remote collaboration and contact with customers, and a clear management structure.
You’ll also need a broker’s license – a must-have in this line of business, and confidence in your skills and the skills of your agents. Virtual businesses require a bit more open-mindedness and flexibility than classic ones, but the rewards are worth the extra effort.
|This article is part of Buildremote’s contributor series. If you’d like to share some insights about how you run your remote company, learn more here.|