How Milwaukee's Fastest Growing Real Estate Brokerage Is Winning Market Share
a dotloop Case Study
The benefits of integrating your accounting and transaction management systems
A new breed of tech-forward brokerages is leveraging integration between platforms like dotloop and Loft47 to maximize their productivity and multiply their business.
When Ted Schaar decided to open a new brokerage specializing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s high-end North Shore, he knew he would need to grow quickly despite stiff competition from established firms. So along with business partner Joann Vetter he devised a two-prong strategy.
First, they would provide exceptional client service, offering better expertise, flexibility, and speed—all necessities in a fast-moving market.
Second, they would use technology to maximize the effectiveness of their agents, both in providing more relevant data and in having software automate as many tasks as possible, freeing them up to do the person-to-person work that closes the most business.
The plan worked.
Before it was a year old their new firm, RE/MAX Gallery, had garnered a 15% market share of the highly desirable Mequon area, including listing the highest value residential property in the county. Their agent count has been growing steadily and the firm is poised for continued growth.
Making Technology Part of the Plan
Schaar, who oversees RE/MAX Gallery’s technology stack, had already proven himself an effective agent in his twenties when he was recognized by Coldwell Banker as one of their 30 Under 30 to watch.
Schaar stood out not just for being considerably younger than most high-performing agents, but for also having a nuts-and-bolts understanding of digital technology. He could appreciate how a transaction system might work for the average user, and then “look under the hood,” asking support engineers about APIs, HTML5 compatibility, and platform integration.
So when he began to plan how to structure his own brokerage, Schaar knew that getting the technology right would make a huge difference in how fast he could grow.
Going Fully Mobile
One of the challenges of being a broker/agent is that you’re limited to being in one place at a time. You can’t be out showing a property if you’re back at the office doing paperwork. But if you can do your brokerage office work on your phone or tablet, you can get pretty close.
Before setting out on his own, Schaar had already discovered the real estate transaction management platform that would allow him the power and flexibility to fully operate while away from his office: dotloop.
– Ted Schaar
The clean look of the platform–whether on his client’s computer, tablet, or phone–was exactly the kind of technology he wanted as touch points with his customers.
And he and his agents could easily customize their forms.
Thinking like a broker, he found even more to appreciate.
Technology That Builds The Team
Because it’s completely end-to-end, dotloop keeps data from acquiring errors due to reentry and keeps the myriad details and people needed to complete a transaction from falling through the cracks. Once the transaction is begun, dotloop shepherds it through to completion and then beyond—digitally archiving all documents and communication for seven years. No need for the broker to rent storage space for filing cabinets.
Additionally, Schaar recognized that as he built his team of agents, would give him real-time insight into every deal, as well as close monitoring of his agents’ performance. Knowing that to succeed he would need to recruit agents who would be committed to learning and improving, he wanted a way to accurately assess their work so he could give the kind of honest feedback required for high performance.
Dotloop allowed Schaar access to all these features, whether on his computer in his office or on his iPad at an open house. And it provided all this at a cost that allowed RE/MAX Gallery to keep overhead low.
Finding the equivalent in accounting software proved to be more of a challenge.
Hunting For A Back Office Solution
For his back office accounting software, Schaar knew that he needed a package that was designed specifically for real estate. With trust fund compliance being one of the top areas of broker liability, he wanted to make sure he had a system in place that would automate the whole sequence.
The first accounting package that he chose was from a leading vendor. It worked as advertised. But only up to a point. It wasn’t fully mobile.
There were other drawbacks, such as the steep learning curve. He felt that it was designed to be used by an accountant, not a broker. But it was the lack of mobile access that caused him to quickly abandon it.
Schaar tried a competing product but again ran into the same issues.
So with pressure growing, he decided to adopt a cloud-based accounting system that had been recommended by a trusted vendor. It was Loft47, provided by the Vancouver, B.C. startup that is revolutionizing the back office for real estate brokerage.
In contrast to the three days of training required to learn his first accounting software, Schaar was onboarded to Loft47 in a single, sixty-minute session. As he began using the platform, he found he could complete a transaction in about five minutes—a task that would take an hour on the previous systems. Because Loft47 is cloud-based, Schaar could work securely from anywhere using a mobile device. All this, and Loft47 was about a tenth of the cost of what he’d been paying before.
Needless to say, Schaar has been a very happy customer.
But there was another bonus as well. Loft47 and dotloop are integrated.
Gaining Efficiency Through Integration
Synergy occurs when two factors combine to create a result greater than the sum of their parts. This is the effect that RE/MAX Gallery has been benefitting from by using dotloop and Loft47 together.
Once a transaction is entered into dotloop, it can be seamlessly imported into Loft47, with the final documents sent back to dotloop after completion. It’s that simple. The data is entered once, saving time and greatly reducing the chance for errors.
Because dotloop and Loft47 automatically take care of the many details that require so much of a broker’s time, Schaar is able to give more attention to the things that make his business grow. It’s obvious to him that both companies were created by real estate people who understand the process from the broker’s perspective. He finds peace-of-mind in the fact that they are both stable companies that will continue to support and improve their products.
– Ted Schaar