February 15th 2021
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and so, when COVID-19 landed on us in the busiest real estate market in decades, we realized some changes would need to be made.
People wanted to see property. Buy or sell property. Or both. And Agents want to represent them. And yet everyone was struggling to work within the rigid restrictions of travel and limited interaction.
Although real estate was declared an essential service we elected to keep our head office open to agents and public alike. We realized that by individual choice access to the office would be reduced. As a result we introduced Sky Slope to our back office infrastructure. Through that program our salespeople could access all documents related to their transaction, and generate and execute forms, manage the deal remotely, including receiving and signing trade record sheets, generate e-signatures and so on all from the comfort of their home office.
At the same time, and again as a means of making remote access easier, we transformed our accounting to an electronic format. Whether it be deposits that accompanied offers, weekly staff payroll or agent commissions, we now utilize e-transfers and direct deposit.
Because large group gatherings were banned, it looked like we wouldn’t be getting much use out of our training centre in the foreseeable future, so we set up a corporate account with ZOOM and began conducting information and training sessions virtually. What a great experience to see a large percentage of our company on screen and interacting – almost as rewarding as getting together.
Video, which has always been a big part of our marketing and communication strategy, got a boost as well. We doubled the size of our studio/green room to add more versatility and to accommodate guests for any interview format. Along with our weekly update video, we produced special series such as ‘First Time Buyer’ and ‘Real Estate Investment’ each running 9 or 10 sessions. Then we boosted these on Facebook and reached a target audience in the 13,000 – 14,000 range each broadcast. The video services are available to all our agents and many took the opportunity to both do promotional as well as one on one personal messaging.
And because of the encouragement to restrict personal interaction as much as possible, we realized virtual tours of property would be more and more important. We have for a number of years had iGuide technology in house. We upgraded our camera and equipment to the latest version, thus assuring video quality would be as bright and sharp as possible. And with strategic alliances struck between i-guide and organized real estate our home virtual tours would automatically be featured on any homes listed by us on realtor.ca
2020 was a year of navigating our way through the challenges of COVID. As a result we have implemented a lot of changes. Now hopefully in 2021 with case numbers declining and vaccines being rolled out, we will see the pandemic relegated to the history books. It will be great to get back to the enjoyable aspects of life we formerly took for granted. Public events, social gatherings, dining out. And in real estate, open houses, in person training and so on. But many of the changes we’ve adopted due to COVID will remain in place. The ones that streamlined our business. Would they have come about anyway? Perhaps. But COVID accelerated the process. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.