Streamlined tech, innovation set RE/MAX apart
Chief Information Officer Grady Ligon shares why agents and brokers embrace the RE/MAX tech platform, and what tools are on the horizon.
One year into his role as Chief Information Officer for RE/MAX Holdings, Inc., Grady Ligon is having … fun?
"It's been really fun working with these teams who were not under one leader before and now are," Ligon said recently from his Dallas-area home office.
That first year went pretty quickly, Ligon said. But that's OK.
"It's not without challenges because it's work," he said. "It's a great organization internally. So that's all you wish for. Good people doing the right things for the people they serve."
And as the first person to inhabit the CIO role at RE/MAX Holdings, parent company of RE/MAX and Motto Mortgage, Ligon takes that distinction seriously.
"It's a big deal," Ligon said of his spot in the C-suite. "I am not minimizing the scale or gravity of the role. It's fun, but it's a lot of work."
Making tech work for RE/MAX and its agents
Ligon said he has had to "unwind a couple of things" to create a technological platform that works for RE/MAX as a franchisor as opposed to thinking like a software company.
kvCORE met Ligon's goal of streamlining technology at an organization where multiple products had been developed internally and implemented at different times.
"It has IDX websites, CRM, marketing campaigns, lead generation and things like that," he said, "so agents have the majority of their operational needs met in one platform. It's been a tremendous help."
MAX/Tech powered by kvCORE platform boasts 80% adoption rate
Less than a year later, more than 80% of RE/MAX broker/owners and 77% of agents are using kvCORE.
"Coming from other franchisor networks, I've never seen that level of adoption before," Ligon said. "Many offices had their own websites and CRMs. It was more than a little disjointed."
The trick? Making the technology easy and onboarding simple, he said.
With MAX/Tech powered by kvCORE in place, Ligon has turned his attention to back-office solutions that integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing.
"The big thing that goes along with that is rethinking our consumer platform, remax.com," he said.
Ligon plans to review the U.S., Canadian, global, and commercial RE/MAX websites and put them on a common foundation. He and his team are still mapping out the implementation, but Ligon thinks they can make significant headway in 2024.
"That's on the list of things to talk about," he said. "It's a big lift."
How AI can help agents check more off their to-do lists
Ligon keeps a close eye on innovations in real estate tech, and he believes AI could be a game-changer (and time saver) for broker/owners and agents.
"It's a little murky where it fits into the day-to-day work of a real estate agent versus all these shiny objects that get thrown around," Ligon said.
But think about it: AI could easily create property descriptions and help curate an agent's CRM.
"Take those off the list of things to do," Ligon said. "Finding synonyms for 'cozy' and 'cute' in property descriptions. Let something else do that. Let it curate your contacts so you can focus on real clients rather than prospects."
The challenge is that while AI can do 70% of the work, Ligon said, the broker and agent still need to do 15% up front to understand how to instruct it, and 15% on the backend to check for errors and "make sure it sounds like you."
Still, the time investment can pay off. "Let the machines do what they do well and let the people do what they do well."
But keep in mind, he said: AI is like a middle-schooler, in terms of development.
"There are going to be bumps," he said. "Some ugly things happening and some amazing things. We are in a really fun place right now to try some things and see what works.
"But don't remove it from your world if it initially causes problems. I wouldn't shy away from it because it keeps evolving and changing. The impressive stuff is right on the horizon."
The most important tech tool for agents? It's still the CRM
Even with all these innovations, the "basic blocking and tackling" of day-to-day real estate is using a CRM.
"The best one is the one you will use consistently," Ligon said, "and once you have done that, we can talk about the value adds that can augment and enhance it."