By John Schaffner
Tough economic times often foster creative approaches to doing business and real estate has certainly seen tough times in the past couple of years.
A former residential real estate agent in the Keller Williams Buckhead office and a former Atlanta advertising agency principal have partnered to launch a new E-commerce product for marketing homes to prospective buyers through their cell phones rather than using those common brochures in boxes attached to agent’s curbside signs.
Mobile Intelligence LLC, which was officially launched June 1, is the brainchild of Frank Clementi, now a commercial real estate agent with the Ackerman Company, and Mark Goldman, former co-owner with Joel Babbit of 360 Media in Atlanta, which was bought by Grey International advertising.
Jill Harris, a Keller Williams agent in the Buckhead office who signed onto the service early, uses the slogan on her property signs: “Going Green … No Flyers.”
Goldman claims “it is an efficiency tool more than anything else.”
According to Clementi, the technical mind behind the product design, it is as easy as one, two, three:
Step. 1: A prospective buyer drives buy a house a participating agent has listed for sale and has an interest in the house. The buyer notices the Mobile Intelligence® text sign and decides to inquire about the home.
Step 2: The buyer enters the information from the sign into his or her cell phone’s text messaging screen, consisting of the property number (P-4308) and the texting number (59277), and then sends the text. The company has one number and each agent has their own code.
Step 3: The buyer immediately receives a text back from the Mobile Intelligence service with the information on the home, including the address, the price, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size, the agent’s name and phone number, etc. The potential buyer can then pick “get link” and pull up the electronic color brochure on the property.
The buyer now has a record of the listing stored in their phone that they can refer back to at any time. They can even forward the listing to their own agent.
While the buyer was receiving the information, the agent also immediately received notification about the inquiry, including the buyer’s cell phone number. The agent can then act on that information by sending a follow up text or by directly calling the buyer.
The buyer’s information has also been captured for viewing later through web interface, where agents can manage their leads.
Mobile Intelligence® provides a much needed service to realtors and agents to manage and interact with prospective buyers on the go, explains Goldman, the marketing brains behind the product.
“Not only does it support the concept of a green society, but the consumer remains completely mobile,” Goldman stated. “This is really a methodology that plays on the concept that consumers want information when they want it, not when we want them to have the information. So, if I am passing a home, without getting out of the car and getting a piece of paper and writing down an agent’s number, I can get every bit of information on that home on my phone.”
Clementi said a prospective buyer can actually do a virtual tour of the property on their Blackberry, I-Phone and just about any cell phone that has been manufactured in the past year.
“For me and my clients who are selling, it is a major plus,” said Harris, the agent who is using the service for four properties she represents.
Harris said she handles homes all over the metro Atlanta area—Sandy Springs, Vinings, Decatur, Alpharetta and elsewhere. She can’t always get to each of them with a new flyer when either the flyers run out at the street-side sign or there is a change in the offering. With the service the information is always up-to-date and readily available. And, she said she saves the cost of printing all those brochures.
“When people call for information, I think they are very pleased with what they get because it is different,” she explained. “When I call them to follow up, that is great for me because I know they already have information on the house and I can ask them what they think. It is new and it is techie. They like that. They are getting more than they expect,” she added.
Clementi added that when an agent goes to a prospect’s house and tries to book their listing, “it is another marketing tool they can offer.” The agent can update information on a house from her office or anyplace she has access to the internet.
“The important thing is that it is Jill’s account,” Goldman stated. “She is the master. She can add the number of listings she has and can change out her listings during a month.”
The cost to the agent is a $10 setup fee if the agent does the setup work and $20 if mobile intelligence does it for them. There is a $12 monthly charge per listing for the service.
Harris has four houses on the system, at a cost of $48 per month. She can move the sign from house to house and just change the information on the computer that would connect from the number on the sign.
Mobile Intellegence has six Atlanta agents from Keller Williams, ReMax, Edson Partners and Muffly & Associates using the service and a Dallas client as of this summer, shortly after the launch date.
Lynn LeCraw, managing broker of the Re/Max Greater Atlanta Buckhead/Sandy Springs office, met with Clementi and Goldman months ago. “I personally think it is a great concept since the average consumer prefers to have information immediately and loves to use technology to receive it,” she said.
The company plans to go nationwide with the program. They have people in Denver and Orlando interested at this time. The goal is to have 5,000 listings (not individual agents) on the service.
The system can be used in other areas besides residential home sales. One of the other areas is commercial real estate — providing space size, location and space floor plans. Also it has possible use with apartments and condos.
Clementi and Goldman started working on the program in November of 2008 and the official launch of the system was June 1. The web site is: www.mobileintelligence.net.