Clareity recently received a press release saying that Carolina Multiple Listing Services had selected ShowingTime to serve as its new MLS-wide Appointment Center vendor. It prompted us, as industry analysts, to re-visit the showing service space here on our blog. Clareity has always been a proponent of MLSs offering showing services. While we recognize that some brokers want to use such services as a kind of competitive advantage, it is clearly more convenient for everyone—buyers, sellers, and their agents—for there to be a single method of collaboration. And, that’s the heart of it: the core purpose of MLS is to offer services that enable cooperation between multiple brokerages and other parties.
There are several fine showing services companies out there, and Clareity encourages our clients (with or without our assistance) to look closely at the competitive offerings. There are some features we believe are key to success:
- Great online experience. We hear stories of agents who have a “Schedule a Showing” button next to their listings, yet still get calls from other agents who want to schedule a showing. These agents tell them, “Please schedule your request online,” rather than calling them directly. Clearly they don’t want to miss any showing requests, but they’ve experienced the benefit of having requests come through an online system, where everything is logged. Being able to respond easily to requests is key; having the option to use an app or two-way texting is ideal.
- 24/7/365 service, both online and telephone. Real estate happens at all hours of the day and night, whether a client, a buyer, or a seller is on the East Coast or in Hawaii.
- Mobile friendly. No matter what device they are using, agents should be able to schedule or confirm showings, see upcoming appointments, view showing instructions, request feedback from showing agents, respond to showing feedback requests, share listing activity reports with sellers, get push notifications of showing requests, and more.
- Synching to “real” calendars. It’s important to have a system that synchs to whatever calendar users rely on so that they can take advantage of their usual appointment reminder system, whether that’s the “dinging” of Outlook or the vibration of their mobile phone.
There’s one feature of ShowingTime in particular that we’re quite partial to: ShowingCart. This lets agents logged into their MLS find listings they want to show, put them in the ShowingCart (like a cart on any shopping website), then continue “shopping” until they are ready to “check out”. Once an agent checks out, all the requests are submitted at the same time. ShowingTime includes a “SmartRoute” feature that automatically assembles the stops by the quickest route, and enables the agent to see the stops on a map. One can also insert non-showing stops, such as the agent’s office, coffee at Starbucks, lunch, etc.
Clareity continues to see an increasing number of MLSs choosing to include showing services in their offering. If a good service has been selected and put in place, we see high adoption and member satisfaction. We look forward to working with our clients in 2015 on more showing system selection processes!
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