Keller Williams places tremendous emphasis in developing technology solutions for the agents and brokers who operate independently under their brand. The focus of KW Labs is to research, experiment with, and develop world class technology solutions for KW agents. Command, the Keller Williams’ smart CRM-plus solution, recently launched to limited availability (100K Agent Lab) in mid-February 2019, and WAV Group looked under the hood.
Background to Franchises Offering CRM
Opining on the events that led franchises to place CRM as a top priority proves difficult, but that movement has certainly occurred. I would argue that the CRM wars among franchises started with Realogy’s acquisition of Zip Realty, but there were plenty of smaller franchise organizations that included CRM before that (Realty Executives, Intero, etc.).
The Zip Realty acquisition was followed by RE/MAX purchasing BOOJ, an outstanding broker and agent website platform with integrated lead management, digital marketing, and CRM. Seattle, WA based Windermere franchise group built their own CRM that is now offered to the franchise group as well as other brokerages under the MoxiWorks brand, co-owned by Howard Hanna and BHHS Long and Foster. Upstart brokerage Compass purchased Contactually, a leading CRM vendor (Compass is not a franchise, but their focus on CRM relates to the topic). Berkshire Hathaway Home Services supports a variety of CRMs, but Salesforce seems to be the platform that they are focused on. The point being, CRM appears to be table stakes for franchises today.
Keller Williams has offered CRM through vendor partnerships for many years. An example is Market Leader, but there are many others. What we see with the release of Command is a departure from using vendor solutions and the embrace of building technology internally.
Here are a few notes that we took from the demonstration of Command.
Contact and Calendar Sync of Agent Owned Data
One of the biggest challenges to real estate agents is keeping their contacts synchronized between the software and many devices that they use. Good news here is that Command will sync with popular solutions like G-Suite and Microsoft Office Suite. Agents may enter or edit contact records or calendar appointments anywhere, and they will publish to Command, an agents’ phone, tablet, laptop, etc. Additional integration is supported though PieSync, supporting applications like Salesforce, or industry specific applications like Boomtown or Real Geeks. The core philosophy behind CRM is the ownership that agents and teams have in their data.
SmartViews and SmartPlans
The heart of any CRM is planning your work, working your plan, and reporting. SmartViews are the ability to look at your customers through a number of predesignated views, or views constructed by the agent. For example, you can look at customers with birthdays, customers not called in the last 90 days, customers in particular neighborhoods, etc. SmartPlans are actions designated to those views, like send a birthday card, make a call, send a market report. SmartPlans are design to automate and trigger activities for agents.
SmartViews and SmartPlans are straight forward and simple to use. It is worth noting, Command is integrated into the Keller Williams AI assistant, Kelle (pronounced “kell-ee”). A number of SmartPlans have activities that can be prompted or performed by Kelle. AI assistants are hard to develop (just ask anyone who tries to talk to Siri or Alexa), but Kelle works hard to support agents in Command.
My favorite feature of SmartPlans is the ability for Keller Williams agents and teams to share their SmartPlans with other agents and teams. In many cases, users offer these plans for free download and use, but agents, coaches, trainers, teams, or anyone else in the KW universe has the capability to sell SmartPlans that they create in its’ app store (more on that below). Select, pay, and load the plan. It’s that easy.
KW MarketPlace: an App Store
The cornerstone of any great CRM today is the capability to connect to other end point applications that agents use though APIs or Application Programming Interfaces. For companies that develop solutions that work with Command, there is an opportunity to have a presence in the KW MarketPlace, an app store. These add-on products that compliment Command have integrated billing with vendor renumeration and are often backed by the Keller Cloud Innovator Program. Keller Williams wants companies to integrate nicely and offer great pricing to KW agents.
Marketing Automation Campaigns
Keller Williams has crowdsourced the best practices for sales stages though their mastermind groups and tested them in KW Labs – Cultivate, Appointment, Active, Under Contract, and Closed. Each of these stages has related activities or SmartPlans. These can be modified, or you can load stages and plans shared from the marketplace, your friend, or a team. These plans are fully automated with listing data and customer tags.
The marketing campaigns support email, social, direct mail, etc., and include full ROI and lead conversion tracking. Keller Williams has direct connections to Facebook, Instagram, and Google for full featured dynamic ad integration and supports custom audiences and interests. The solution even suggests budgets, and has AI-driven dynamic weighting that will optimize an agent’s ad spend. Of course, because this is all integrated into Command, a lead generated from these activities makes a note in the customer record about the lead source.
The design studio, called Designs, for email, landing pages, social campaigns, print ads, etc., is integrated into this marketing automation. Print fulfillment is coming soon. For now, there is a great assortment of designs available and agents can load PDF templates if they have something new that they would like to add as a template. This design studio also features a webpage builder with widgets for listings, lead forms, etc.
Command has a lot of features that enable an agent to be hyperlocal. Each agent has the ability to create neighborhood insights to share them with consumers and other KW agents or use insights from other KW agents. There is an entire article about how Command is excellent at connecting agents and customers to neighborhoods. Great work was done here.
Command has a data doctor! The system’s AI features can tell you how healthy your contact database is, deliver database activity scores for benchmarking, and even allows an agent or team to compare their database health with others in their office, or against teams that have higher levels of production. It even uses your GCI goals to track back against activities to get you there.
Complete Referral Management
Allows agents to search for referral agents, supports jump ball referrals, and all referral commission tracking.
Other Painkiller Features
I took notes on some of the painkiller features that I believe are important. Chief among them is the integration with DocuSign. Keller Williams has made DocuSign transaction management a key offering and switched the relationship with DotLoop to premium (agents pay extra for DotLoop). Using the DocuSign API, Keller Williams has delivered an excellent workflow to connect transaction activates to customer records inside of Command. It seamlessly creates the transaction rooms, fills them with the customer record data and listing record data, hydrates forms, and so much more. Impressive.
Command has an excellent offer management solution. It enables agents to put an Offer URL in the private remarks of an MLS so other agents can summit offers directly into Command. Kelle is able to see the offer come in and put the offer details into the offer comparison tool for the agent to share with their seller. Of course, Command also support outgoing offers made on behalf of homebuyers. This reduces or eliminates the cumbersome effort to manage offers though email.
Command has complete NetSheet integration, full listing management, and syndication management.
All in all, Keller Williams has a full featured and comprehensive CRM solution for agents that is ready to go today. In the world of CRM, it is easy to create bloatware by baking in too many features. Some products call themselves a CRM, but really function as contact manager programs. I find Command to be just right. Plenty of functionality for 90% of the agents and easy enough for anyone to use with little or no training. Great job KW!