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Making the most of technology with Angela Raab

With Angela Raab, Director of Agent Development & Technology Advancement for FC Trucker

We can fall into some deep potholes with technology and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on products that people never use. For Angela Raab, the Director of Agent Development and Technology Advancement for FC Tucker - a brokerage with 920 metro agents and another 900 or so agents statewide – it’s her job to make sure that doesn’t happen. Angela says, "When technology companies are out there developing products, I think they need to keep five key things in mind. If the product isn’t usable, you’re not going to get the adoption that you want to see on the product."

"If the product isn’t usable, you’re not going to get the adoption that you want to see on the product." - Angela Raab


1. What’s the mobile experience?

Angela says, “One of the first questions I ask a tech company is, ‘Tell me about your mobile experience first. Don’t show me your demo on a laptop. Show me your demo on the mobile phone or a tablet’. The laptop version is probably going to be pretty good. If the mobile version is good, I know the laptop version is going to be good, but if the mobile version isn’t robust and it’s not good, man, that almost eliminates your company right away from consideration. I just went to one of our tech providers, and I said, 'Hey, when are you going to start programming thumbprint access so that my agents don’t have to type in their username and password every time they open up your app?’ They were like, 'Huh, we hadn’t thought about that', but that’s where it’s important to gather that feedback of how people are using it in the field, right? It’s so incredibly important to understand how big of an impact little changes like thumbprint access can have on your product and how your agents and brokerages might adopt your product based on little things like that."

2. What about API’s?

APIs are Application Programming Interface and APIs are how unrelated products talk to each other. Angela says, “All of these cloud-based and web-based products, in order for them to talk to each other, they use APIs. The problem is that when these tech companies are developing their APIs, they do a really good job usually when they first develop them, but as they work to upgrade their own products, the APIs break because they don’t program and develop with the idea of not breaking the APIs.” So one day a product may work, then a product update is released and all of a sudden, links don’t work. Angela says, “We spend the next three weeks playing catch-up, trying to put band-aids on stuff until we can figure out what went wrong with the API, and it makes us look bad. It inhibits our agent’s business, and it makes the company look bad. I think this is another really big issue in the tech space right now for real estate."

3. What experience does the company have in rolling out a product?

Another important question Angela asks is, ‘Do you have a rollout program in place?’ She explains, “When I am interviewing a tech company, one of my questions is always, ‘How have your past rollouts gone?’ and they look at me like, ‘I don’t know. Pretty well, I guess’, and I’m like, ‘Okay, but give me the statistics like how much of an adoption rate did the last three brokerages get?’ I get blank stares. That’s not helpful to me, let alone the fact that this is their product. This is their baby. They should be controlling and creating the rollout plan for a brokerage. I should be able to say, ‘I want to sign up’, and they should say, ‘Great. Here’s the 10 best practices for rolling out my product’, but I don’t get that, and so then I have to spend my time creating the rollout plan that really, should be systematically already created for me."

4. A support plan, right?

Angela also wants a guarantee that a robust support plan in is place. She says, “Recently, we replaced a transaction management system, and I will never forget. I met with one company who I thought their product was bananas good, like it was so good. I was convinced going into the meeting that that was the company we were going to choose, and one question changed my opinion on that, and the question was, ‘Tell me about the support process’, and they were like, ‘Well, I do all the support’, and I was like …Yeah. I was like, ‘900 agents are going to be calling you on the same day. They’re going to all call you’, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I think I can handle it’, and I was like, ‘Shoot’."

5. Communication

Finally, Angela wants to be assured that a tech company knows how to communicate with clients. She says, “I think a lot of tech companies miss the boat on communication. This is communication from the tech company to the brokerage and from the tech company to the agents. We had one company at one point that we worked with who sent a message directly to our agents when we were not expecting it, and it literally cost me eight hours over the next two days as agents started calling me with questions about this new initiative, and I didn’t know anything about it because they hadn’t communicated it to me first. It’s embarrassing if I have an agent calling me and saying, ‘I just got an email about this new product that they’re rolling out’, and I’m like, 'Really? I don’t know about it'."

Some things to think about

  1. Think about how a technology product integrates with all your other products.
  2. Check the mobile experience of a product – it is the day-to-day device agents use.
  3. Make sure it is easy to access with thumbprint technology.
  4. Does the company have experience in rolling out a product?
  5. What is the support and communication plan?




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Angela Raab