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PropTech: Questions to ask before committing to a new product

Posted on 2018-04-24

There’s been a buzz around the PropTech movement for a while now as established industry suppliers launch new innovations while tech start-ups enter the property market.

 As the Private Rented Sector (PRS) expands and letting agents are required to comply with more and more regulations, PropTech products can help agents to find solutions to a range of new and long-standing problems.

 And with the upcoming ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants being introduced next year, effective use of technology could help agents to streamline their processes and explore additional revenue streams.

 We recently looked at how agents can use PropTech products to their advantage this year, and now it’s time to consider the process of choosing a product and the questions you need to ask yourself before committing to a purchase.

 Adopting new products and systems can be costly and time-consuming, so you need to prepare accordingly and make sure that any new services you purchase provide tangible benefits for your business.

1. Does this investment make financial sense for my business?

 There are various costs to consider when assessing the viability of a new service - not least the headline fee. You need to think about how the costs are broken down and factor in the length of any contract you're required to sign.

 It will also be beneficial to consider the impact on your staff - will this product/service make them more productive and will it have an overall positive impact on the bottom line of your business?

2. Does this product provide an effective solution to a genuine problem?  

Any new product or service you adopt needs to provide a solution to a problem faced by your team. What are the issues that get raised consistently and is there client feedback that come up time and again?

When it comes to tech products, it can be easy to get swept up in the ‘wow’ factor and any high-tech functionality that looks the part. However, some of the industry’s biggest tech successes are relatively low-key and pragmatic. It’s likely that many of your agency’s most significant problems revolve around time, administration and software and it’s these genuine issues that you need to try and solve with PropTech assistance.

3. Will the new products have implications for my team and will they need additional training?

It's all well and good signing up for a new service which is complex and offers many different functions, but you need to consider the effect this could have on your team.

Training takes precious hours out of a busy week and some firms will charge additional costs for training and ongoing support. It's so important that you get the most out of the tech you use - encourage your team to explore the limits and full functionality of each new product you adopt.

4. How much time will it take to effectively incorporate this product into everyday business?

Your team will hit the ground running with some new products immediately, but the majority of the time it will take a while to incorporate new services effectively.

The ideal aim is to get to a point where you can’t remember how your business ever functioned without this feature. If, however, you've got staff still not getting to grips with a product and questioning its value months after purchasing that could represent wasted time and money.

5. Will the product/service stand the test of time?

As we know from our everyday lives, tech moves quickly and adapts to solve new problems as they arise. Therefore, when considering a new PropTech product, you need to think about its longevity and sustainability. Is it solving a long-term problem? Will incoming legislation or industry changes render it pointless in six months' time?

Considering the adaptation period alongside how long you feel the service will be of value to your agency is just as important as considering the overall financial cost.

Taking on new products to help your business is an important part of the growth process. The weighing up and research period is crucial and should be given your full attention.

Communicate with your team, finding out their problems and what they need to make their lives easier. If you answer the above (or similar) questions in a predominantly positive manner, then the product/service under consideration could be a worthwhile investment.

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