Technology is here to stay in commercial real estate and, to be honest, is changing the way things are done throughout the property life cycle. Mobile technology, CRM software, and virtual reality are making those embracing these technologies more efficient and more profitable. However, your agents may be resistant to change and avoid the new tools available to them.
1. Choose Wisely
The first step in overcoming resistance to new technology is to choose the package wisely. When choosing a platform to implement, there are many competing priorities. Often, cost and capability are looked at first. However, when it comes to getting agents to use the new technology, usability is key.
It’s important to note here that usability is often mistaken for simplicity. But what you are really looking for is a straightforward, well-designed platform that addresses your business problems, rolls out quickly, requires minimal ramp-up time for busy agents, and enables engaged users to gain immediate advantage. Here is where user input is vital. Day-to-day users can provide much needed insight into workflow and feasibility, so put together a committee that accounts for every level of user -- from back end, to administrative, to those who will apply the technology daily.
2. Plan the Rollout
Once new technology has been selected and tested, the next important step is preparing a game plan for rollout. All too often, companies rush to implement new tools without sufficient planning. This can end in frustration when productivity dips as implementation problems are worked out. Multiple problems or stalled progress can derail the project as users abandon the new tech for familiar practices.
Consider starting with a pilot program of carefully selected users. This accomplishes two purposes. First, the pilot users can identify unanticipated errors or implementation difficulties that are particular to the procedures in that office. Second, the pilot users can serve as colleague-trainers and champions for the program, relating real world advantages when the wider rollout happens.
3. Communicate the Benefits
The third step for a successful implementation is communicating the benefits to the users. It can be all too easy to simply provide a quick training and command agents to use the new tech. This inevitably ends in resistance among the users, particularly if they feel they’ve had no ownership of the process. Ideally, you have been communicating with your team throughout the selection and implementation stages, informing them of the broad strokes of the selection process and detailing the benefits the new tech will deliver. The key is to get consensus, even an anticipatory momentum, that will guide your team through the learning curve of adoption.
Get this momentum started by utilizing your pilot users. Have them share their real world experience with the rest of the office. Set up learning lunches. Launch a “Tech Tip” daily email that provides shortcuts or use cases. Implement a contest that provides rewards to highly engaged users. And then, once the implementation is complete, solicit feedback and take it seriously.
By including the end users throughout the process and planning carefully, new technology can seriously increase morale, demonstrate team unity, and increase productivity from day one.