By Connie Adair
When you work in business and a system doesn’t work, what do you do? If you’re Costa Ntoukas or Pavel Choulguine, you create something better.
BrokerBay co-founders Ntoukas, the CEO, and Choulguine, the CTO, designed a modern front desk software/brokerage ecosystem designed to reduce call volume by 43 per cent and make confirmations three times faster.
In about six months, 300 to 500 agents were using their BrokerBay technology. Now 18 months later, the Ontario-wide system is being used by over 25,000 agents in the GTA alone, says Michael Gruenstein, director of sales.
The all-encompassing system integrates real estate functions and streamlines the day for agents, front desk administrators, buyers and sellers, says Gruenstein. “It’s the most modern and intelligent platform capturing, accessing, booking, centralizing, notifying and messaging, sharing, tracking, recruiting, auditing trails, communicating and guaranteeing 100-per-cent safe delivery of all appointments to wow administration, agents and customers.”
The current inefficient process for appointments goes something like this, Gruenstein says. “Co-op calls listing broker. Listing broker calls seller. Listing broker calls co-operating broker. Co-operating broker pages agent. Repeat. Hold times. Missed appointments. Missed feedback. Missed confirmations. Paging. Angry sellers. This process is way too cumbersome and it’s a source of too many mistakes, frustrations and costs” for brokerages. He says 4.5 million calls are made each year in Ontario to request and confirm appointments.
BrokerBay eliminates the need for IT people at the brokerage (servers are cloud-based) and reduces the amount of work for front desk staff by 40 to 50 per cent so they’re free to do more important tasks, the company says. The system also acts as a recruitment tool because “younger, newer agents love technology,” he says.
Messaging and notifications are tracked, and an automated algorithm triggers notifications if messages are not picked up. It tracks engagement of buyers, sellers and agents.
“Clients are also telling us that due to BrokerBay in these times of more remote workers, they’re really loving the chat and modern communication tools we provided, as opposed to the one-way paging they’ve been using,” Gruenstein says.
In a nutshell, it consolidates functions in one seamless cloud-based system that was designed to be accessible to all ages and interests. Agents who don’t want to be engaged don’t have to be.
Those who want to take advantage of the system but aren’t comfortable with technology will find the system easy to use because it’s intuitive, Gruenstein says. BrokerBay ran a test with two 60-year-old individuals, who had worked as administrators for 20 years. They tried BrokerBay and another system without instruction. It took them four minutes to book an appointment on one system and 35 seconds on BrokerBay.
Gruenstein says administrators won’t lose their jobs to the technology. “It frees up more time to do important tasks and offers them a better view of the organization.”
Sellers have options for how to communicate. If they’re old school, notes will tell everyone on the system they need a phone call. Otherwise they can opt for text or email correspondence.
Broker Bay also has the largest verified network of “off market” properties across Ontario, Gruenstein says. That provides a tool so agents can write more business and trade sensitive listings (assignment sales, coming soons, exclusives).
Showings are down dramatically due to COVID-19. “We’ve seen a sizable growth in the number of listings being added to our exclusive network. Sellers and agents are leveraging the network to premarket properties now more than ever,” Gruenstein says.
“I built the system I wanted to use as an agent,” says Ntoukas, a licensed broker for 14 years. He no longer sells real estate, instead running his company full time for the past two years.
Before BrokerBay, the systems in use were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s and had not evolved with the times, he says. In 80 per cent of offices, systems were hosted locally. The brokerage had a server beside the reception desk, but that has been replaced by the BrokerBay system.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” Gruenstein says.
The premium service costs $10 to $15 per user per month. Visit BrokerBay.ca for more information.