Is Zillow A Great Broker?

by Victor Lund on July 23, 2015

Zillow is not a broker. Well, technically they are registered as a brokerage in many states and hold brokerage licenses, but they do not market themselves as a brokerage. The point is that they provide a lot of broker-like support for agents that are noteworthy and remarkable. There are plenty of brokers who can take a page out of their book and improve their business. Specifically, brokers can learn from the way that Zillow provides technology tools and communicates and trains agents. Wth the acquisition of of a transaction management solution they complete a broker-like set that includes agent websites with IDX, marketing, lead management, mobile, digital signatures, agent ratings, CRM, not to mention a pile of consumers.

Zillow Academy

Zillow has a full on training, technology, education, and support group. They have live agent events, record educational webinars, develop tutorial videos for using Zillow, and invite agents to read and discuss topics on the Zillow Pros Blog.

Seriously, only a few brokers could have a full time employee doing this sort of thing. I am not sure of the number of agents that would be required to support this type of FTE, but I would guess that it’s probably somewhere in the 350 agent range. Franchises do a pretty good job of this. So does Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Some large MLSs do this too. If you need a roadmap for excellence, take a look at this Zillow Academy page http://www.zillow.com/academy/UpcomingWebinars.htm

Zillow Say It RightDrip Marketing

Zillow also pushes content out to agents in bite-sized pieces via email.  In fact, it was this email piece on Phone Scripts for Success that prompted this post.

What I liked:

  1. Subject Line: Success is on the line, Phone Scripts that Work. It’s kinda punny – line – phone…… you get it.
  2. Strong Offer: Free Scripts – Zillow cannot do the work for agents, but we all know that door knocking and phone calls build business in the best possible way for agents.

Ingredients of a broker training program

  • Drip Marketing
  • Webinars
  • Training on Demand
  • Office meetings
  • Office Manager training
  • Quick Start Training
  • Help Desk
  • Video Training

WAV Group can help your brokerage put together training and communications that will transform your company. They are ideally designed for large firms. Call Victor Lund if you want a consult.

p.s.  Brokers need to choose to outsource all of this stuff to Zillow, or be better than Zillow.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John Leonardi July 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Just a thought, what if brokers instead of limiting their MLSs ability they partnered with their biggest tech partner – their MLS. Allow it to leverage and offer a host of services in the local market instead of each broker spending thousands of dollars trying to differentiate themselves through technology (that is replicated 100’s of times) that agents are receiving free from ZG or R.com. I think that the MLS can save brokers lots of money if they worked closely with brokers delivering Zillowesque type services.

Reply

Victor Lund July 24, 2015 at 2:52 pm

No doubt John. In your market, brokers use Instanet and all of our broker clients in that area are delighted with the service.

Forms management and transaction management are tools that are often best operated market-wide. In some areas of the country have overlapping transaction management systems with three to five used by different brokers. It is a mess. What ultimately happens is that brokers wind up needing to learn them all in order to do transactions. It is very much like cloud document storage and data sharing. I use Office Online, Box.com, Google Drive, Drop Box, and Own Cloud because people share documents that way for different projects. It is not making my life easier, it is making it more complicated. The same holds true for Transaction Management.

Other services are more likely to be competitive to brokers who are seeking differentiation – like agent websites. Most brokers do not want the MLS to offer agent websites because they see that is something that identifies their consumer service offering in a brand-differentiated way. The MLS needs to serve up the data, but not the application.

There is no clear battle line between MLS services that level the playing field vs. providing great partner solutions to brokers. That is for you to figure out with your brokers (and you do a great job according to your brokers that we work with).

WAV Group recommends that MLSs do annual surveys of their agents and brokers to look at product adoption and product satisfaction to solicit the opinions of brokers and agents alike. We especially recommend these because we will often get hired to do them. The results allow the Board of Directors of the MLS and MLS staff to have constructive strategic conversations that are fundamentally biased by the voice of the customer (broker and agent). In some circumstances like the Houston Associaton of REALTORS, you also solicit feedback from the consumer. Sometimes they provide the most meaningful feedback. We can help with that too.

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Leslie EBersole July 26, 2015 at 11:38 am

Zillow fills the void for agents and teams who don’t get what they need at home. Brokerages and consortiums like Leading RE can provide training and brochures and signs, but those are now low value services. What agents need is lead generation and support for business development, and if they can’t get it from the brokerage then they’ll increasingly go buy those high value services on the open market.

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