Category Archives: Technology

Real Estate Tech

The State of Technology & Innovation in Real Estate

The integration and adoption of technology into every industry is inevitable, even in industries that are traditionally relatively slower to adopt like real estate. Tech developments are enabling professionals in the space to be able to facilitate easier, faster, efficient, and more secure deals for all parties involved. Below are some of the emerging technology trends that are being integrated into real estate now, and in the coming years, many of which have been accelerated by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

The AR/VR spaces have seen tremendous growth, and it seems with the onset of COVID-19 the demand and urgency to roll out these capabilities has only increased. With the need for limited contact during the pandemic, restricted travel, and work from home trends, it is only natural that AR/VR trends will continue to surface in the real estate industry.

AR/VR technology increases the efficiency of managing tangible spaces and properties. Buyers and investors can view homes, office spaces, apartment complexes, industrial properties, office buildings, etc. without having to physically visit these properties. This saves time and money. The benefits are plentiful and include:

  • Virtual tours to advance remote property viewing,
  • Increased efficiency of property marketing,
  • Web and mobile applications for easy accessibility (even if a user does not have a headset),
  • Detailed investigation of properties that saves time,
  • Potential to remotely cover all stages of the negotiation process,
  • More dynamic and real-time collaboration with architects, developers, GC’s, and brokers,
  • Ability to build out a space, input secured tenants, and decorate a potential property, and
  • Many other use cases and capabilities are being developed daily.

The increasing popularity of real estate mobile apps and websites to search for properties will only be enhanced by AR/VR technology. People are closing deals and investing in properties/land without even physically seeing properties and are saving time in eliminating those properties that they would otherwise waste view in person.

CRM, Automation, & Business Intelligence

CRM programs are still in an early stage of adoption in the real estate industry despite being around for a while, and regardless of having proven their incredible value to companies in every industry. This industry relies on, and has a heavy emphasis on relationships, so the value to having a great system is immense. In addition, the more a firm and its professionals can automate the sales and marketing process to supplement their activities, the more likely they will be to grow.

Further, not just helping with the management of relationships and sales but tracking and referencing data can really set firms apart as well. For example, “Business intelligence derived from big data is already one of the biggest trends in property management. It can empower a real estate application affecting the process of interaction of property owners, agents, and customers in the app. BI provides various tools for the optimization of decision-making. Business analysis algorithms are applied to get intelligent predictions defining the relationships of app users. Then, it is easier to give an answer to the question about what is going to happen. Reviewing internal data and analyzing business processes, BI is increasing your data-driven real estate business. With business intelligence software solutions, you can optimize your operations leveraging and processing all incoming data.”

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

AI and ML have a bit longer of a way to go yet compared to the other trends, but they’re likely a lot close to widespread adoption then you’d think. An article from Forbes, highlighted some of their potential use cases:

“Right now, property search sites rely on simple preferences like location and size to display properties for sale; in the near future, however, AI may enable these sites to recommend properties based on additional preferences, personality traits, and values.

AI will also be able to help predict pricing trends more accurately. This type of technology would look at historical trends in the market for an area, but might also take into account area crime, schools, transportation, and marketplace activity.

It may also make the buying experience faster and easier. Companies are already creating ways to digitize the entire homebuying experience — no more reams of paper to read and sign at closing.”

Crowdfunding & Fund Syndication

Purchasing real estate, especially in the commercial/industrial sector, obviously requires a large amount of capital, which creates high barriers to entry. Syndication through crowdfunding, (along with blockchain mentioned below) allows for part-ownership in properties. Similar to how crowdfunding has become popular for those wanting to invest in start-ups without the traditionally large amounts invested by private investment firms and angel investors, you can now crowdfund to invest in properties too. This easier access enhances the trend towards a “sharing economy” where expenses are distributed, yet relationships flourish, through sharing the tangible things that traditionally single people or businesses would own. This is further evident in the business space through the popularity of coworking spaces.

Blockchain

Blockchain is most often associated with cryptocurrency, but it is reshaping business practices in traditionally non-tech industries. Blockchain does not necessarily change how real estate business is done; however, it serves to mitigate many of the challenges that arise in real estate negotiations, creating a safer and more efficient approach for the industry.

Fraud has existed in every industry that uses paper contracts. Why try to develop fraud detecting software or practices instead of just getting rid of the real problem: paper. So-called smart contracts can link digital property ownership to the blockchain, preventing any altering of material terms once they are encrypted. The documents become impossible to forge as the cryptography keeps them safe.

Although records are impossible to forge, they are not impossible to update. Typically, up-to-date, and relevant property information can be difficult to obtain when dealing with real estate paperwork. Also, it often must be paid for. Blockchain, however, provides all the historical data on properties and relevant updates in real time, preventing the need for any intermediaries to provide and verify relevant information.

Real estate deals involve many different individuals: notaries, bankers, real estate brokers, and others. Blockchain allows the buyer and seller to reduce the time needed from some of these respective individuals for their deals.

Drones

Marketing has become less about specific products/capabilities and more about storytelling, creating an emotional attachment to material things. Creating videos using drones can help tell the story of properties while maintaining a cost-effective marketing budget. Different angles give a better big picture look into what a property can offer.

Furthermore, drones can also assist in estimating the value of a property. Not only can you see surrounding properties, but you can get a better feel of the surrounding community. Drones can be used to spot potential risks or maintenance issues, providing a more thorough evaluation of properties.

Conclusion

This article just scratches the surface here, as there are many other technologies rolling out related to construction best practices, architecture, maintenance, materials, marketing, etc. The industry is ripe for further disruption and optimization which presents incredible opportunity for those that embrace it and make the most of these emerging technologies.

 

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs.

Enterprise Level Salesforce.com CRM

Enterprise Level Salesforce.com CRM Implementations for Mid-Large Companies

My firm WIMS Consulting has been providing CRM implementation services since its inception (and personally I’ve been leading them for 15 years now), we have been platform agnostic (we work with all of the primary platforms, including Salesforce.com, Zoho, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others), however the firm has recently taken measures to beef up it’s partnerships and team in order to deepen its focus on delivering more large scale enterprise level Salesforce.com projects.

We have helped many companies of all sizes with their CRM implementations (from startups to enterprise level), particularly leveraging Salesforce.com and Zoho, and we will continue to do so. But the massive shift in approach that mid to large-scale companies have had to adopt throughout 2020 has really highlighted operational challenges, issues that a well-functioning Salesforce program would do wonders to mitigate.

When properly implemented, Salesforce will have an incredible impact on sales and marketing, operations, communication (internal and external), automation, and so much more. You can take one look at their stock performance and see how much value they provide to their clients.

Not only are we aiming to build out Salesforce programs from scratch, we are also highly capable of jumping into existing iterations that have gone a bit off course and helping to right the ship. Or we can come in after the initial phase or two and help your company supercharge it to take the functionality to the next level.

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now, yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. 2020 is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

One of the most important features, especially right now, is that Salesforce helps you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing Salesforce can be a significant commitment initially, if your company does it right (which engaging us significantly increases your odds of that), the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just under four months left in 2020, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2021 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

Launching an Equity Crowdfunding Collaboration

Launching an Equity Crowdfunding Collaboration

WIMS Consulting is launching a collaboration to assist startups and well-established businesses with launching their equity crowdfunding campaigns. We are partnering with The Arora Project and Striders Group (the team that brings you DiscoverCLT and more, further details about each below) to deliver this unique offering.  Not only will we help with the financial compliance component, but with the marketing, CRM, and PR as well to super charge your campaign’s effectiveness.

While we will assist companies across the USA, we are primarily focused on launching in Charlotte and Miami initially. The collaboration will assist with traditional crowdfunding campaigns as well. This initiative is also designed as an ancillary and related focus to the WIMS Consulting Fund service line which supports private equity, venture capital, and family office funds with their own firms as well as their portfolio companies’.

For some additional background and context on the experts we’re working with:

Krishan Arora, CEO of The Arora Project published the article below in Forbes that goes into depth about the nuances and what is required. This is required reading as the starting point for those interested in potentially pursuing this approach to growing your business.

“Equity Crowdfunding Will Revolutionize Fundraising For Startups”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/06/08/equity-crowdfunding-will-revolutionize-fundraising-for-startups/#3849fd8cc433

“The Arora Project began in 2016 as a full-service crowdfunding campaign management agency, helping creators globally raise over $75 Million in funding. Today we maintain our expertise in crowdfunding as well as offer a wide array of digital marketing solutions to innovative companies looking to launch the next big idea. The pride and passion we have for our projects has resulted in an exceptional service that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Striders Group provides, “marketing services that help you stand out from the crowd. With over 10 years of experience, we help businesses create their brand presence and achieve their goals. Our process is designed to empower your brand and outfit your business with the marketing tools needed to succeed.”

If you’re interested in learning more and/or setting up a discussion about whether your company would be a good candidate please reach out!

WIMS Client Spotlight Charlotte Phoenix esports

WIMS Client Spotlight: Charlotte Phoenix eSports

The Charlotte Phoenix are a professional eSports organization dedicated to enhancing the Charlotte eSports scene. Founded in 2019, the Phoenix have competed in several different video games and pro leagues. As a part of the CLT Esports family, the Phoenix value their surrounding Charlotte communities and support all efforts rewarding passions in eSports, gaming, art, and technology. Whether streaming games online or holding in-person LAN events in the Queen City, the Charlotte Phoenix are hyped to entertain their fans and fellow gamers.

They have teams for the following games:

  • World of Warcraft
  • VALORANT
  • Rocket League
  • Call of Duty (Challenger Teams)
  • League of Legends (Challenger Teams)

After rising #FromTheAshes with a brand-new look in 2019, the Charlotte Phoenix have spread their wings into more games in 2020, starting with VALORANT.

Visit the website and stay tuned to their social channels for merchandise deals, news on upcoming events, and exciting announcements throughout the rest of the year! If you’re interested in partnership or sponsorship opportunities make sure to reach out as well as it’s a truly unique time and opportunity as their audience and influence is growing rapidly.

WIMS Client Spotlight Close Off Market

WIMS Client Spotlight: Close Off Market

Charlotte-Based Real Estate Tech Startup Close Off Market, Inc. Launches New (Beta) Platform
Close Off Market is a unique technology platform that offers subscription-based access to off market commercial real estate deals in an efficient and user-tailored manner.

Close Off Market, Inc. and its team has been working tirelessly to solve a major problem facing the real estate community, tighter margins because of slowly moving deals and antiquated business practices. The platform leverages pre-existing technology, such as e-signature, CRM, ecommerce, etc. and then added its own proprietary algorithm on top to bring it all together. The business is built off the hypothesis that further enabling technology to add another layer of efficiency will help streamline the entire sales cycle and will make a tremendous impact on their users’ business.

If you’re in the commercial real estate industry you know how important getting access to the best possible deals at the best possible time can be to help increase the ROI on a potential transaction. Whether you’re a developer, investor, property manager, or otherwise having access to the best information, operating an efficient business, maintaining great relationships, and making timely decisions can make or break your organization.

Close Off Market has completely systematized the process to streamline the entire cycle and present its users with off market deals that are fully customized to their specific desired criteria.

Close Off Market’s co-founders are Clifford Blanquicet, Jr. and his wife Anna Blanquicet. Clifford is an entrepreneur and CEO of Blanq Real Estate, he’s also a commercial real estate broker, investor, and property manager. This problem is something he experiences daily and is extremely familiar with. Finding a way to solve it became a passion project of his that eventually led to the spin off and creation of the new entity.

He wanted a simple, automated, yet functional platform that expedited the commercial real estate acquisition process, while also providing invaluable insight into what his clients needed and wanted in their respective businesses. After searching unsuccessfully for such a platform, he noticed a void, and a potential opportunity. This led him on the path of creating Close Off Market.

After allocating the necessary resources and assembling a team, he and the company recently finished their internal development and testing phases and have now launched the initial beta platform to the public. While there is an extensive product road map in place that will continue to be rolled out in the near future, the existing iteration of the Close Off Market platform is ready for further user testing.

ABOUT CLOSE OFF MARKET
Charlotte-based Close Off Market, Inc. is a real estate tech startup focused on streamlining the process of commercial real estate acquisitions. The company offers a secure, cloud-based technology platform that provides subscription-based access to off market commercial real estate deals in an efficient and user-tailored manner. For more information, please visit: https://www.closeoffmarket.com/.

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The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 8 Call to Action Friday

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 8 – Call to Action Friday

Getting this in a little last minute today but keeping the streak alive nonetheless! Still in the mountains of Banner Elk, NC and wrapping up Day 14 of the fitness streak (only 90 more to go yet to meet my goal).

Again taking a bit of a detour with something that I make more of a thing going forward: Call to Action Friday. Wanted to shout out that I’ll be back down in Miami all next week. The schedule is already packed with client meetings, prospect meetings, networking events, and much more. I’ve said many times I’m ALL IN on growing the business more and more down there and this is another major step in the right direction. I still have some availability left but even if we’re not able to meet in person this trip please reach out and let’s at least set up a call and make a plan for the next time as I’ll certainly be back often!

Also, I’m still continuing to seek more and more content from entrepreneurs and professionals who are looking to create more whether written or video. If that’s a part of your strategy for the year please reach out and we’ll get something going.

Thanks for the attention while I keep getting these reps in and have a great weekend!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 7 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 7 – CRM: Gone Mobile

Today we’ve gone mobile, shooting from the mountains of Banner Elk, NC! It’s appropriate for today’s theme (we’re still drilling deeper into CRMs) about the mobile side of CRM.

Ideally, whatever platform you decide (or chose) will have a great mobile application as well. It can truly make a major difference with not only efficiency, but also with maximizing the program’s value. My go-to’s have great mobile apps of course (Zoho, Salesforce.com, HubSpot) but plenty of others do too.

It helps to be able to add notes/updates immediately after a coffee or lunch meeting, or after discussing an actual deal. I haven’t always been great at it either, but getting all the pertinent and timely data in the system ASAP really helps to ensure you don’t forget any of the crucial, and sometimes subtle details and information gleaned from those meetings. Further, being able to pull out your phone (when appropriate) to recall a key piece of intel can be valuable as well.

Why rely on your memory when you have a supercomputer in your pocket?

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 6 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 6 – CRM: The A-Team

If you’re following along (if not that’s ok too) today we’re talking about what you do as the next step in launching or redeploying your CRM. You’re going to focus solely on the A players for now. The main thing that is going to create momentum and keep you using the system is achieving ROI as quickly as possible. That’s the main benefit you want out of this and thus its the primary goal.

The quickest way to get there is prioritizing the A players first, aka your best clients and prospects. So after you’ve got the data, context, and all the other appropriate information about them in there you’re then going to focus on doing something about it.

You’re going to pick these people and go through them and schedule/pre-plan your out reach and follow up strategy. You’re going to leverage the task list, the calendar, reminders, etc. to layout the timing and content with which you’re going to conduct your outreach. And you’re going to leverage the CRM to systematize/automate it and take out the human element (somewhat, but not entirely).

By now you should have some sort of script that articulates your value proposition well along with a deck or brochure. Pre-schedule your follow up, and do between 3-7 touch points to make sure you see it through. Once you close the deal you can eliminate the subsequent steps as they’re convert. Put the email script in there, add some customized talking points, context, recall a funny joke or something they care about and set the entire campaign up in one shot.

The feeling you’ll get knowing this has been accomplished is going to propel you forward and create an invaluable supplement to your day to day activities. Give it a shot and let me know if you need any assistance.

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 4 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 4 (Intro to CRM) – For Entrepreneurs and Professionals Focused on the Journey

Today we’re going to cover a brief intro to CRM (Customer Relationship Management) for those who don’t know what it is, and for those that do, I just go into some quick initial steps to consider taking if you’ve been apprehensive thus far. I know it can be tedious to set up and maintain but the ROI is incredible if deployed correctly.

It’s really mind blowing to me how much resistance there still is out there. Frankly, it’s like turning down a superpower. If you want a little help or guidance please reach out! Whether you’re starting from scratch, converting an Excel File/Google Sheet, or you’ve been using a CRM for a while but are stuck in a rut, WIMS Consulting can help you take it to the next level.

In summary, my favorite/recommended platforms are:

Track your leads and prospects from website/marketing, intros from referral sources, lead generation, sales cycle, your existing customers and deal flow, etc.

  • Sync email, whether Outlook/Gmail
  • Sync Email Marketing: MailChimp/Constant Contact
  • Sync Social Media Accounts
  • Card Scanner app to streamline uploading business cards and converting them directly into contacts.

I’ll make sure to keep adding more and more value on how to continue leveling up your CRM and sales game throughout the year. Much more to come!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

LDR BRD

Leveling-Up the Loyalty Game – Welcome to LDR BRD By: Tom Schaefer, Jr.

What are those letters? We’ll get to that later, I promise it’s worth the wait. In my previous post, I went on and on about how Loyalty systems don’t work.  At the end of that piece, I explained that loyalty does work, it just seems the retail application was broken. They’re rewarding existing loyalty (which reduces the Lifetime Value, or LTV, of a customer that wasn’t going anywhere) but failing to convert new customers to loyal ones. If there’s something we’ve learned from Star Trek/Wars, Marvel, and even the gaming community, its that consumers crave something they can connect with. The obstacle here is translating what other mediums do well, into a retail or B2C environment.

Janet Robinson, former CEO of the New York Times Company, said it best –

“Repeat business or behavior can be bribed, Loyalty has to be earned”

But what inspires loyalty with your customers? First, we need to separate Customer Loyalty from Brand Loyalty. Customer loyalty comes from the buyer’s power on their own personal spending. They’re likely motivated by lower prices and competitive deals. The loyalty Ms. Robinson is talking about is Brand Loyalty, which is based on perception of the Brand and its value. Brands that focus on excellent quality in product, service, and a cohesive message, are much more likely to inspire loyalty in their customer base.

After all of this research into loyalty/reward programs, I went and did something about it. I created a loyalty platform that ties into the basic fundamentals of building strong brand loyalty. I could tell you all about Aristotle’s 7 causes of human action, defining the 7 ways we make decisions and take actions, or go through some other psychological triggers, but the answer is much simpler than that. Create a quality product or service, provide excellent customer experience, and unify under a strong message. Once that is in place, the rest is as easy as paint by numbers.

My system plays into 4 areas that help grow customer loyalty: Trust, Character, Excitement, and Community. First, we extend the excellent customer experience outside of the standard financial transactions. Using a common platform like a CRM program, helps us stay in touch with our customers, understand their actions, and allows them to provide us with feedback to make their next visit that much better!

 

Enter LDR BRD (but where’d the vowels go?)

I’ve been so excited to share this with everyone! I’ve spent most of my professional life in Sales and Marketing, and leaned on quantitative data for most of my decision making. We use tools like Lead Scoring to determine which people are more likely to buy, and which are just window shopping. Then it hit me…what if we could do the same with loyalty? It’s a messy, qualitative, emotional category that isn’t easy to track. So how do we do it? I took a sample group of people who self-identify as “Brand Loyal” and interviewed them over a couple weeks.  Turns out their actions oftentimes spoke louder than their words. They were more likely to make large purchases from their preferred brand, share with friends and family through word of mouth/social media/online reviews, and fall into the habit of making regular purchases. Loyal customers should make up at least 20% of your base, but will account for 80% of future profits. It’s time to find out who they are (and what they care deeply about)!

 

Ready Player

We took the traditional lead scoring model, and made is public facing. This effectively turns loyalty into a game that adds a competition component to a system that doesn’t separate the loyal customers from passive return business. We have a system in place to track activity both inside and outside the traditional financial transaction. Did someone share a post on social media and tag your business? Get Points! Did someone invite their coworkers or friends to your bar for happy hour? Reward them! Did someone make a large purchase? Don’t let it go unnoticed! Our system also incorporates Feedback Loops (similar to popular games like Fortnite, with each new season giving players a reason to re-engage), so everyone gets a chance to shine, regardless of the previous activity. This allows new customers to feel like they have a chance to benefit in the system, while longer tenured customers continue to benefit from past activities. The purpose of this system is to identify and reward loyal business, all while turning your customer base into your own personal marketing army!

What about the name? I was inspired by the classic video game displays that list the current high scores. The leader board gives new players a number to beat, driving competitive behavior. At the end, you can only use three initials to describe what you are.

Leader Board became LDR BRD.

Are you ready to play?

If you have any questions about LDR BRD or would like to discuss how this platform can transform your business and drive revenues, fill out the form here or email me and let’s talk: tschaefer@wims-consulting.com.