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How to Choose the Right CRM for Your Real Estate business

What is CRM
CRM stands for client relationship management, a program that facilitates and enhances your relationships with your prospects and clients resulting in closing more deals and better client support. Service providers were the first to discover this resourceful tool for their customer care and after-sales services, reaping the benefits of having organized data on their clients. Many of the companies saw a tremendous increase in success, integrating CRM more and more into the realms of sales, marketing and real estate. It is only beginning to change the way businesses handle their relationships with clients, closing more deals and generating higher revenues.

How to choose a CRM system?
Choosing a CRM provider is a just like buying a house. It is important when you are searching for your CRM to consider all of your current wants and needs, as well as future desires for growth and expansion. Once you have found “the one”, make sure to re-evaluate and be firm with your decision, because as everyone can agree, a move is a hassle.

In today’s market, there exists a plethora of different types of CRM solutions that makes choosing the right CRM confusing and time-consuming. Knowing a few important key factors will help you to filter through all the available options, speeding up the process of choosing the right CRM.

Filter #1: Specialized CRM vs. General CRM
When choosing the right CRM solution for you, the first step is to know and understand why in the real estate market a specialized CRM is a more profitable than a general CRM.

A General CRM requires a great deal of your time, effort and investments for it to be tailored to your business sector, in this case real estate. Every CRM consists of “contacts” as a base element, but general CRM’s are missing a crucial element for the real estate market, “properties.” It is a long complicated process to add the ‘property’ element to a general CRM (and to make it work with Listing/MLS Software) that will only vacuum up your time and money. In other words, for a small business the investment to transform a general and free CRM to a specialized CRM is pricier than paying for a commercial specialized CRM.

So the conclusion is that a specialized CRM for Real Estate is the option of choice with both the “contacts” and “properties” elements already included.

Filter #2: Web-based vs. PC-based
There are both PC-based CRM applications (that runs on your personal computer) and Web-based applications that can be accessed through the Internet. Although PC-based applications may seem more convenient in the beginning but there are some disadvantages as well.

  1. PC-based CRMs lack some of the very useful features that define a professional CRM (As an example, ‘gathering the client information directly from your website’). Most of the PC-based CRMs are nothing more than a Contact Management system which is the most basic feature of any CRM. In this sense, your email applications such as Outlook, Thunderbird, etc already provide some sort of contact management.
  2. PC-based CRM systems are only accessible via a single computer. For additional users you need to purchase additional licenses.
  3. PC-based CRM systems are not scalable, meaning that the information/data cannot be directly managed and shared between different users. Scalability may not be important for a single agent, but for a brokerage company is a necessity.
  4. PC-based applications are platform-dependent, either Windows-based or Mac-based. This issue narrows down your choices when searching for a CRM system that is available for your operating system. On the other hand, for accessing Web-applications it doesn’t matter from which operating system, or even computer, they are accessed by.
  5. PC-based applications are completely dependent on your own personal computer and that can cause tremendous hassle in the event of:
    1. If your computer malfunctions and it need of repair. This means your business activities will be paused for as long as it takes to fix the issue.
    2. If you lose your computer for any reason your entire clients’ data will be gone.
    3. If you simply decide to change or upgrade your computer or it’s operating system (for example upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7). In this case you need to think about whether your CRM system is compatible with your new operating system. If yes, then you’ll need to think about how to transfer the CRM data from your old computer to the new one.

    On the other hand, Web-applications are always managed and maintained by professional companies (the CRM service provider or the hosting company). So maintaining and accessing the important data of your business is much more convenient when using a Web-based application.

Using a PC-based CRM application instead of a Web-based application is like storing away your money under the mattress rather than saving it in the bank.

Filter #3: Commercial vs. Non-Commercial
It is interesting to know that there exist a handful of free (non-commercial) CRM applications in the market. Most of these non-commercial CRMs are general and not specialized. Based on filter #1 specialized CRM is what you should look for. Nevertheless supposing there are some specialized and non-commercial CRM systems, still they should be avoided:

  1. With non-commercial free software there is no support or quality assurance which is an important requirement of any business.
  2. The non-commercial applications are ‘as-is’ and unless it is not backed up by a large community of volunteering developers, there will be no future enhancements or upgrades which is absolutely necessary because of the ever changing web technologies.
  3. Non-commercial web-applications are not easy to deploy and maintain. So either you should be an IT-savvy or eventually you should consider the cost of hiring someone to implement it for you.
  4. Even if you personally have the technical capabilities to deploy a web-application, you might want to spend your time and focus on your own business rather than going into the technical details.
  5. Some of the free solutions in the market are not actually free. There are either some hidden fees or they’re only free for limited number of users or a limited time. After that, they demand you to pay some sort of monthly service fee per user. These types of providers tend to be very expensive when you really become dependent on them (SAAS model that we’re going to described in the next article).

Starting off with a cheaper or free CRM system and then migrating to a better commercial solution is not advisable because converting and transferring your clients’ data from the old system to the new one will be timely and costly. Sometimes business owners feel that they’re doomed to stay with a weak or expensive system forever because they cannot bare the hassles of such migration.

Filter #4: On-Premise vs. On-Demand (SaaS)
On- demand or Software as a Service (SaaS), is a service (instead of an owned software) that is hosted and managed on the service provider’s servers, allowing you to focus on your business rather than worrying about technical boredom. The advantages of the SaaS model are:

  1. They do not need high initial investment.
  2. The time for setting up the system is usually immediate.
  3. You don’t need to worry about the technical aspects.

The disadvantages are:

  1. The services based on SaaS are expensive and the charges are usually based on per user/per month. As the number of users grow you the per month fee will continue to climb for using their services. The cheapest SaaS service for CRM (with very limited features) costs around $180/user/year up to $3600/5 users/year (the service will be given for a minimum of 5 users).
  2. Usually there is a one-time set-up fee on top of a monthly fee based on your number of users.
  3. SaaS is a type of service that is shared between hundreds or even thousands of different clients of the service provider. This causes the features and options not to be flexible, bounding you to the features that they provide.
  4. Your business data is on shared servers (though it’s not accessible by other clients) but is accessible by the service provider.

With On-Premise, the other option, you purchase a license to use the CRM system on your own server, leaving control in your own hands.

  1. These solutions usually only require a higher set-up fee allowing you to worry less about the monthly payments.
  2. Depending on the number of users, the initial investment will be returned in less than a year as opposed to monthly payments of the SaaS model.
  3. If the license model is per-user, the charge is less than the per user charge in the SaaS model.
  4. Usually you need to have some technical knowledge to install and maintain these systems. Although it is not very complicated and you don’t need to know about computer programing , some providers offer complimentary installation services. Otherwise, there are 3rd party companies who do the installation for a small fee.
  5. Naturally, the setup time required for this model is not immediate (one week on average).
  6. Since the software is installed on your own server you will have control over your own data.
  7. The system is more flexible and adding new features and options are easier in this model compared to SaaS model.

Filter #5: Per User vs. Unlimited Users
‘Per User’ is a license model where you are charged a fee based on the “number of users”, the end users of your CRM. Meaning as your number of users (agents) increases, the more you will have to pay. Being the case for most On-Demand (SaaS) models, as your company grows the more time and money will be required to support your larger system. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have ‘per installation’. In this license model rather than paying per user, you pay only a one-time fee for the installation of the provider’s system onto your own server. As it is clear this is usually the case in On-Premise models.

Introducing Realtyna CRM for Real Estate
Realtyna CRM is a commercial and specialized CRM for Real Estate. It is a web-based program based on On-Premise license model meaning that you can install it on your own servers. Realtyna CRM generously enables you to have an unlimited number of users with a one-time purchase (which is rare amongst all the specialized CRM systems).

More interestingly there is another product of Realtyna, the Membership & Payment Gateway. This allows you to receive membership fees from 3rd party agents, rendering them the CRM services furnished by Realtyna CRM installed on your own website. In another words it enables you to lease CRM services to other agents.

Realtyna CRM needs to be used with its base application RPL (Realtyna Property Listing). Realtyna CRM and RPL together will provide you with both “contacts” and “properties” elements for creating a specialized CRM environment. RPL enables you to add, display and search properties on your website. Realtyna CRM allows you to gather information about your website visitors, generating leads and assigning them to particular realtors (agents).

For realtors CRM simplifies the sales process by:

  1. Gathering the information about the website visitors (leads) through forms that are editable by the website admin.
  2. Assigning the new contacts or leads to particular agents.
  3. Organizing all the data on the leads and prospective clients including:
    1. Personal data
    2. Requests and requirements
    3. Events, notes and information about the deal process
    4. Reminders about special events on clients
  4. Automatically suggesting the deals that are matched with the requirements of the clients.
  5. Sending instant automated emails and notifications to clients and realtors (for example when a new matching property becomes available).

Introducing Realtyna CRM for Real Estate