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"Getting the Cyber Help You Need -- When You Need It!"


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2/6/04 Interview with Matthew Ferrara

Matthew Ferrara Seminars and TECH HOTLINE
45 Osgood Street
Methuen, MA 01844
Biography

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Growth in Real Estate Technology

  1. Important developments over the last few years include the fact that technology has gotten real; brokers and agents have learned to distinguish between what is hyped and what is practical, return on investment has become a major criterion for buying products for better productivity.
  2. The gap is surprising between the real estate professionals who are really doing the business and the rest of the agent population.
  3. The great leveraging of the Internet for direct marketing and promotion has also been somewhat surprising; most agents aren't making a lot of money on just a web page, it needs to be used in combination with direct marketing.
  4. Agents have come up with innovative ways to employ direct online marketing, including better use of newsletter tools and partnering with companies that provide content for branding as a basis for a direct marketing campaign.
Online Marketing

  1. Online marketing is entirely different from paper marketing, which involves sending out high volume in hopes of getting small returns; online marketing is more targeted for small volume with higher return on value.
  2. A recent survey done by DoubleClick shows that online consumers' response to email marketing is higher than to web site promotions, so email is an important way to leverage online productivity.
Challenges to Successful Implementation of Technology

  1. Many brokers and agents tend to be unprepared for challenges when they adopt new technology, primarily in the areas of problem solving and support, where the challenge focus has evolved.
  2. Companies sprang up to deal with the earlier challenge areas of what to get and then how to use it (seminar and online training companies); the industry has gotten to the "uh-oh-its-broken" stage.
  3. The more industry business and sales depend on automation, the more serious it is when the automation is down.
  4. Although some industry organizations have done a good job in moving ahead with tech support services and hotlines that respond at the time service is needed, other (often smaller) organizations and some individuals do not recognize the importance of providing such help to members.
  5. A large service industry exists to service computers; individuals need to pay as much attention to keeping their technology up and running as they do to acquisition and learning.
The Productivity Curve

  1. Technology can now be adopted with a smaller investment of time because technology has gotten simpler to operate.
  2. Problems tend to come when something disrupts the technology and interferes with the real estate production schedule; as little as a 15-minute breakdown can be leveraged into thousands of dollars of loss.
  3. Support issues clearly have to be factored into the productivity curve to protect total return on investment; strategies include such things as internally creating a help desk or outsourcing it to give agents immediate support.
  4. Ferrara's company TECH HOTLINE provides tech support; last year, 97% of calls to them were handled without a wait; average wait time for the others was 4.5 minutes.
Tech Innovations on the Horizon

  1. Some new features that present technical challenges are going to become standard on everyday gadgets; one example is integrating use of Blue Tooth technology on cell phones and PDAs.
  2. Greater use of wireless tools in general in the office involves overcoming security, router and networking issues.
  3. A new round of technology investment will bring new users who need support for basic tools such as current versions of Windows; 40% of tech calls last year were from people running Windows 98 or earlier.
  4. A survey of other industries shows that top companies have either created massive internal help desks or have outsourced to provide on-the-dime support.
How to Boost Your Technical Support

  1. Look for support as specific to your industry as possible; online communities such as the Society are an excellent resource.
  2. The most important strategy is to look for partners to help you make better buying decisions and learn the how-tos, plus fix what is broken; the human element is as much a part of support as ultra-geek knowledge.
Favorite Web Resources

  1. Google should be named web site of the century because it is so powerful; its coverage of news groups gives you access to the minds of people to find similar problems and their solutions, e.g., search on a few words from your error message.
  2. The Microsoft support sites are often overlooked, Support.Microsoft.com or Microsoft.com/TechNet (very sophisticated).
  3. Other manufacturer sites can also provide answers: the Hewlett-Packard site is well organized by product/model number; the Intel site offers a glimpse of what is coming because the company has been driving many of the wireless changes.
The Society's Online Convention and Exposition

  1. TECH HOTLINE handled tech support last year and will do it again for April 2004.
  2. Assistance was given for such things as audio or log-in issues.
  3. TECH HOTLINE will preview at its convention booth a personal support plan for real estate professionals that parallels the services provided to corporate clients.
Contact Information for Matthew Ferrara:

(v) 800-253-2350
(f) 978-688-0055
(e) matthew.ferrara@mfseminars.com
(w)www.mfseminars.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Matthew Ferrara Seminars & TECH HOTLINE
Doubleclick.com
Google.com
hp.com
intel.com

Microsoft support sites:
www.support.microsoft.com
www.microsoft.com/technet