The Real Deal ZA
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The Real Deal ZA

The lockdown diaries, day #7: Is your real estate company efficient?

Wow, it’s been a rough few days and I didn’t get time to write, although there are 10+ blog posts in my drafts. I’m aiming to catch up and get them all out and finish my goal of 21 blog posts in the 21 days of lock down. Rough week because we’ve been super busy at Entegral with new enquiries flowing in. I honestly expected the opposite and a dooms-day scenario of a dead quite period. Shows you how unpredictable live and business is and how the wheel can turn!

More efficient systems saves you time & money

You can call me Mr Efficient. I don’t like slow systems and place a high value on code refactoring within the company. I also hate wasting time and why I avoid meetings that have no clear agendas. I hate sitting in traffic, so we started to work remote. I don’t like bureaucracy with its high admin overhead, so our company operates in a flat structure with less rules.

My believe has always been, if something has to be done more than once, it should probably be automated. For this reason we constantly tweak the automation of our processes and systems within Entegral. It’s become part of our culture, our DNA.

Today we can do more with less people, build features faster and roll out websites quicker. Efficiency leads to cost savings and nowhere is it more apparent than our cloud infrastructure. Because the majority of our code is now “serverless”, code efficiency and cost is now directly related. Refactor our code, and we save money. Everything seems to be linked like some biological system. The key is to keep all parts healthy and nurture it.

Is the real estate industry efficient?

I often wonder how this thinking of efficiency can be applied to real estate today. In particular, how efficient is real estate companies and agents? I know that some agents are ruthless with time management, and these are the guys that do the sales.

Thing is though, the average real estate business is not that efficient if you look at the time wasted:

  • Too much time is spent on buyers that are unqualified. Emails, phone calls, viewings, you name it.
  • Over priced homes to buy mandates, leads to an increased number of days on market, including marketing spend.
  • Many brokers are fixated on numbers and see how many agents they can squeeze into their offices. How efficient is your model if you have 100 agents with only 20% of them doing 80% of the sales? The 20% pays for the desks , coffee and marketing costs for the 80%. If the lock-down results in the 80% not coming back to work, you sit with 80% of empty office space.
  • As a result the commission paid has to over compensate for this inefficiency in many cases.

The lock-down provides the opportunity and some insights on how we can all be more efficient and do more with less. It also places more focus on highly efficient, smaller teams, that can take the punch when disasters like this strikes. The online agents have a head start.

It asks many other questions including whether it is worth while to build and run your own management systems and websites, or outsource it to companies who can provide better uptime and pricing and have smarter tech teams to drive things forward and keep up to date with the latest in tech.

Can you take the knock?

It remains to be seen how many real estate companies would be able to survive AC (After Corona). It is a really tough time for all business owners. Many are just waiting it out, while the more pro-active ones are retooling and seeing the opportunities.

I think if you run an efficient and frugal company, you have the discipline in place to better overcome knocks like these. It’s not like you suddenly have to jump in and ruthlessly cut costs everywhere, as you’ve been doing this all the time. You already have this frugal mindset and come prepared.

Do you have an effective team?

Through the years we’ve relentlessly worked at increasing the stability of our real estate systems and websites. It’s really a never ending quest and a passion of the whole team. If something breaks, we are on it faster than panic buying shoppers on toilet rolls.

Our latest generation Flex real estate websites have achieved 100% uptime since launch 2 years ago, and I’m very proud of this. It warrants a blog post on it’s own, because the serverless real estate platform is a beautiful showcase of automation and efficiency. We are an effective team building efficient systems.

There is the false believe that running your systems in the cloud protects you from any disasters. Thing is you still have to code for fail-over and have disaster recovery processes in place. We’ve learned this early on when we moved our systems to the AWS cloud almost 10 years ago and things were not as stable as it is today. We learned early on, the hard way, and we planned for failure. Point is, you don’t build an effective team in an instant, it takes many years of trail and error. There is no better time to focus on efficiency and build a more effective team than now.

The quote from AWS CTO, Werner Vogels, will forever be stuck with me. When we attended the 1st AWS ReInvent conference in Las Vegas he reiterated that even the best systems will fail:

No one knows what lies ahead and no one has the answers, but if you can think frugal and efficient going forward, you are on the right track.

I’m planning on doing a live webinar next week “Business as (un)usual”. Keep an eye out on the Entegral Facebook page for the announcement to follow soon.

I’m a big sci-fi fan, and Oblivion is up there with the best. It touches on the subject of ‘an effective team’… ;)



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