It’s real estate tech’s best sleeper story of super success. Tech Helpline, created and owned by Florida Realtors, is the real estate industry’s number one tech support service. By a county mile. I will bet you can’t even name who is ranked number two. Or three, or four, or any of their direct competitors for that matter. I can’t, and I am a consultant for them.
Where else in real estate tech or proptech can you make that claim? Where does a real estate related tech firm dominates a category so profoundly?
Tech Helpline is currently available to nearly half the Realtors in North America – more than 600,000 in the U.S. and Canada. You can meet some of its staff in person at NAR Midyear, Booth 818. But take a look at the maps below to get a perspective on its massive physical reach.
So why has this story not been told more broadly?
Is the story not sexy enough?
Tech Helpline has flown mostly under the radar perhaps because the media sees it as too boring. They keep doing the same thing again and again. The same way. While they are doing it better, it’s not because they are improving their technology as much as they are increasing the skills of their people. How do you write about that?
It’s easy to write about a tech product that adds an Artificial Intelligence feature as a cutting-edge improvement. That’s sexy.
But how do you make the fact that Tech Helpline’s team, including its staff of professional tech analysts, with almost 300 years of combined IT experience, helps agents fix printers that won’t print contracts, smartphones that won’t text clients, and laptops that crashed and won’t start up? That’s pretty boring, right?
Counter-argument: Tech Helpline is super-model sexy if you think of it from an agent’s or broker’s point-of-view. A shiny object doesn’t make their car payment or pay down their mortgage. Tech Helpline saves their bacon. Keeps them producing, gets them back to doing what they do best: making sales, closing transactions. Tech Helpline is a godsend for so many agents who are about to close a contract or run to a closing, but a piece of their tech fails.
If agents didn’t have Tech Helpline to reach out to and save the day, they would be stuck and so would some of their transactions. Customer service ratings plummet, deals get damaged, reputations are hurt, and more – all because of tech failures. Tech Helpline solves for all of that, every day, available to help 600,000 real estate pros. There should be a clock in Tech Helplines office: Billions of dollars saved in potential lost sales and productivity. How can that not be sexy?
Is the backstory boring?
And there’s the story of how Tech Helpline started.
There were no sexy VC funding rounds to grab the trade headlines. No stories of college geniuses who invented this tech solution while in school. The company wasn’t started in a garage. The first code wasn’t written on a napkin during breakfast in a coffee shop.
Florida Realtors saw a need. Technology was becoming part of their members’ day-to-day lives. The typical real estate agent was not tech savvy. They needed help. Florida Realtors responded to its members’ needs, and as the forward-thinking state association they had always been, Tech Helpline was formed. Born from Realtors, created by Realtors, to provide services to Realtors.
It appears because the industry created the technology service, somehow the media covers more deeply other firms that have 1/10th or 1/100th its customer base because they have a sexier backstory?
Counter-argument: In an age where almost every tech story begins with the founder of the startup staying something like, “When I went to buy my first home, I discovered the process was broken so I….” Most readers, I will venture to guess, will tell you that’s what has become tiresome.
We are entering an age when the “cool kids” are the ones that have been around the block and are still standing, providing the core services that make the industry work. Not the 1% club, or challengers, as Bain Capital’s Matt Harris so aptly pointed out in this excellent talk (paywall link – subscription required). The companies in the tech world that are supporting the traditional real estate players are the winners in 2018.
Tech Helpline fits that mold, and that’s why their backstory is so appealing: they not only are supporting traditional real estate, the come from within traditional real estate. That’s a backstory in 2018 that is exciting and indeed very rare.
Doesn’t size matter?
So many companies getting attention today have very few customers they serve, in comparison to Tech Helpline. It’s not a question companies are often asked by the trade media, and when they are asked, they rarely disclose their customer count.
Florida Realtors Tech Helpline’s growth has been nothing short of spectacular these last three years. Four news release headlines from 2016-2018 tell this remarkable growth story:
Florida Realtors Tech Helpline Adds Nearly 90,000 Realtors in 50 days – March 11, 2016
Florida Realtors Tech Helpline Adds Another 15,000 Realtors – May 3, 2016
Tech Helpline Records Another Growth Spurt, Adds 53,000 Realtors – May 11, 2017
Tech Helpline Adds Over 63,000 New Realtors, 10% Growth in Just Four Months – May 7, 2018
Then there is that number: 600,000 members served in North America, throughout the U.S. and Canada. The awesomeness of that number is just so compelling for a story just because of this achievement.
Just ask yourself this question: How many companies in real estate tech services that you know serve 600,000 agents and brokers?
Size does matter.
Bottom line: Tech Helpline is a great media story. It is most often the top-ranked benefit by MLS of what they offer to their members. I am still shocked that the NAR just hasn’t made Tech Helpline a standard member offering for every Realtor in the U.S. because nothing impacts an agent’s business life today more than their technology. Do you want to keep your agents productive? You need Tech Helpline.
The latest news release from Tech Helpline is here.