By Marianna Levine
“I can get and send information from anywhere in the world now. I was able to work from the Palace in Jordan,” enthuses Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Sag Harbor office manager, Patrick McLaughlin, as he points to a picture of him shaking the Jordanian King’s hand. He is happily describing how the real estate agency is being positively affected by the latest telecommunications technology.
McLaughlin is specifically talking about Prudential’s decision to train its employees in the use of smart phone applications such as MobileMe and StreetEasy in order to insure the most efficient costumer service.
As a matter a fact, while walking through the Sag Harbor office several employees where asking each other about how to download certain apps, or discussed what they learned from Prudential’s Technology and Marketing Director, Matt Austin’s most recent workshop on using social networking sites for your business.
Austin explains “Prudential was the first company to partner with StreetEasy out here in the Hamptons. We started using it well over a year ago. We found that other agencies that had developed their own app were in the end just confusing consumers as they listed only their own properties. Because StreetEasy was the number one property search engine in New York City we thought it made sense to use it here as it’s basically the same clientele.”
Broker Richard Kudlak likes how his new iphone and its numerous apps give him and his customers instant visual information.
“You can show people pictures right away,” he said. “It provides instant data while you’re out in the field.”
Broker Helen Atkinson-Barnes agrees, “Every day I’m discovering new things I can do with my iphone.”
This mobile technology is particularly helpful in a profession where the employees are often away from their desks. For example the MobileMe application McLaughlin mentioned allows brokers to sync their emails, calendars, and contacts to their Macs or PCs back at the office. The StreetEasy application allows them to find information and photographs of houses in any area and represented by all agencies on their phones to show clients instantaneously.
McLaughlin further explains, that although the aps tend to work best with iphones they can still be used on other smart phones such as Blackberries, which several brokers such as Gioia Di Paolo still uses. He says it is just personal preference, which dictates which smart phone a broker uses, although several have just switched over to the iphone because of its better visuals and ease of use.
“With my iphone, I can send video, photographs, and files from wherever I am. This ensures all the information I have and give is totally accurate,” McLaughlin details.
He pulls out his iphone to demonstrate how it works. Through picking an area or street, he is able to instantly find all brokerages listings and show pictures, and details including size and price to a client.
McLaughlin continues to clarify that Prudential made a corporate decision not to create their own app at the moment, because they preferred taking a more inclusive approach to listings, giving clients as much information and choice as possible.
“We (Prudential) could have created a vanity app that would only show our listings, but we decided to work with StreetEasy instead so that we could combine with all other company listings. It doesn’t mean we won’t do our own at some point, but whenever we do one it will be inclusive.”
Austin mentions that Prudential will be launching a new website in the spring.
“We are building a whole new website from the ground up,” he said. “I think it will be something really cutting edge that will really change the way our business works.”
When asked how these applications have impacted Prudential’s business, McLaughlin says, “I think our brokers feel more empowered by it, and it gives our customers the type of service and instantaneous information they want and expect now. The use of this technology is very service driven, as is everything we do.”