Implementing commercial real estate technology in your brokerage will give you a competitive advantage. Period. But it can be difficult to know which technologies are right for your business, and the adoption of technology by brokers can be equally challenging.
Ikea Green, Director of Operations at Feldman Ruel Urban Property Advisors, faced an additional challenge when assessing potential CRE software solutions for its brokerage. Feldman Ruel — a Washington, DC-based 11-person real estate agency specializing in retail, office, industrial, mixed-use, multi-family and development — opened in early 2020, on the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic. Green was tasked with ensuring that her brokers were always successful, but especially during an exceptionally difficult time in commercial real estate.
Read on to learn more about Ikea’s strategic goals as Director of Operations and what technologies Feldman Ruel uses to stay ahead of their competitors.
Q: Can you give us an overview of Feldman Ruel as a firm?
AN: We were founded in 2020 by Josh Feldman and Ian Ruel, who together have over twenty years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. They both started their tenures with one of the largest commercial brokerage firms in the country. Now we are a total of eleven; eight officers and three staff positions, including myself. We serve the DC, Maryland and Virginia markets.
Q: How would you define the core responsibilities of your role as Director of Operations at Feldman Ruel?
AN: My core duties consist of:
- Oversee effective operational procedures across the company
- Implement and review operational policies and guidelines for the organization
- Oversee customer support services
- Track the company’s revenue margins and perform budget controls to maximize profits
- Ensuring staff and agents have the resources they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively
Q: What does Feldman Ruel’s tech stack look like?
AN: We use Apto, CoStar/LoopNet, Crexi, Reonomy, ArcGIS, Box and DocuSign to name a few.
Q: And what do you think is/are the most important tool(s) you provide to your brokers?
AN: The main tool we provide to our brokers is our CRM, fit. A CRM database is a lifeline in our industry, so it’s very important that whatever we use is reliable, and Apto was that and more for us.
Q: How do you ensure that your brokers are successful with the technology you provide them?
AN: It is important that I keep the lines of communication open with all agents. Agents talk to each other, and if there’s a piece of technology that my agents let me in and they think it’s going to be great for the rest of the team, I’m going to listen and do the demos, do the research, do the free trials to see the pros and cons. If you want brokers to actually use the technology, it has to be something that they are excited about and see its value. By carefully testing the different options, I can demonstrate that value and make the agents want to start using the technology. technology right away.
Q: What sets Feldman Ruel apart from your competitors?
AN: What sets us apart from our competitors is the fact that we like to build long-term relationships with our customers. This is an industry teeming with transaction brokers who only care about their commission on a deal. Trust and true relationships are built over a long period of time, and it’s what sets us apart from our customer relationships over transactions.
Q: And how does your company use technology as a competitive advantage?
AN: Our philosophy is to combine advanced technology with old-fashioned hard work. Although we are a modern technology company, here at Feldman Ruel we try not to cut corners. Our motto has always been that you have to spend money to make money. That is why we invest heavily in our marketing department to ensure that we have the latest marketing software, digital camera equipment that can record video in 4K, etc. We also have efficient data software for the agents. That plus the basic needs like a CRM keeps us at the top of our game.
Q: How did the company find success in 2020?
AN: We started the company on the edge of the pandemic. As soon as we opened our doors, the country shut everything down. We were considered essential workers, so we had no choice but to be successful. So we put our foot on the pedal and never got off the gas. And we reminded our agents every day during the onset of the pandemic not to see this as an opportunity to take a break, but to be consistent and the work will pay off… and it did. also.
Q: How do you plan to improve your internal technology in the next 6-12 months?
AN: We are actually in the process of starting up our property management department, which will start shortly. So it was quite fun to get to know the different software and technology in the property management industry.
Q: Which trends in CRE technology do you follow most closely?
AN: The pandemic was a huge eye-opener for us and it exposed us in areas where we may have fallen short. So one of the CRE technologies that I really enjoy following is the instant digital engagement trend (including property video tours). Many CRE companies have had to adapt since the pandemic and figure out how to deal with sellers/buyers. It was a good reminder to keep an eye on what new technologies are becoming available and to be ready to adapt to changing demands in the market.
Q: What advice would you share with other CRE Operations professionals who could assess their in-house technology?
AN: Have an open door policy with your agents and staff and listen to what they have to say. Sign up for various CRE webinars. There are several free webinars that vary in topics, but usually the agents discuss different software, technology, and trends to watch out for.
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