London-based agency London Executive provides a niche market offering dealing solely with prime central London properties. They purchase and then manage the residential property profiles of international investors and the technology they use to support this client base is critical. The company made the change to MRI Sales & Lettings in 2005, converting from a server-based system. “We had many issues such as irregularity and reliability of the software itself, no automatic letter publishing and problems with publishing properties to portals especially as we could only show one picture per property,” explains COO Georges Verdis. “With many of our investors being overseas, they need to see the property in detail before making their purchasing decision and the technology we used was not supporting this.” Having made the decision to change technology they reviewed three systems in total, “and although MRI Sales & Lettings was more expensive, it has been worth every penny,” says Georges.
Once a purchase is made, London Executive typically offers the property onto the lettings market. With the complexity of client accounting, a further criterion for selection of their IT was the accuracy of the software in managing this side of the business. “Because it’s cloud-based we could give our auditors access to the data,” explains Georges. “They were delighted with how it handled the reconciliation of client accounts, it was very accurate.” A key improvement at the outset was to use MRI Sales & Lettings to improve the company’s website. “Our mission was to ensure that customers can access any property within three clicks. We have a simple and fun branding and we wanted that translated into our website to convey the same impression to the end user.” MRI Sales & Lettings offers clients three options when it comes to sending data to their website and the choice is influenced by the level of flexibility they need. London Executive opted for the most sophisticated option which takes the data from their system in XML format. While this offers the highest level of flexibility, it does require specialist knowledge and typically third-party involvement from web designers.
The ‘wow’ factor
The team at London Executive was amazed at how easy the integration was. “Everything went very smoothly and on schedule. We could play with the feed and look at how it worked with different designs and test it. The ‘wow’ factor when we understood what we could do was just incredible,” enthused Georges. One of the things they decided to do early on was to move away from the commonly accepted practice of customers accessing pictures of properties first. “With MRI Sales & Lettings, customers could do a virtual tour of the property straight away which gave us a competitive advantage.” But even this was not enough for Georges who constantly strives to exploit the best that technology can provide. London Executive was, they believe, the first estate agent to exploit Microsoft-based technology Virtual Earth which provides a virtual aerial view of properties. “As many of our clients are overseas investors, they wanted to see where a property is located in relation to other properties in the street and our prospective tenants want to understand things such as parking availability and heights of surrounding properties,” he explains. “This is an incredibly impressive piece of technology. Our customers could not believe their eyes when they saw what we could offer. It has definitely led to us getting instructions and I even had a client ask me to keep a property on the site even though it had rented so that he could show it to all his friends!”
The technology also had a big impact on other stakeholders in the business. “Staff now go straight onto the website to show properties and our landlords and tenants are logging in and find it a more enjoyable experience,” says Georges. “They can track down data in what is a very transparent system so we are no longer tarred by the industry brush of ‘sneaky estate agents’ as everything is there for them to see.”
Open and connected
While London Executive operates in a niche market, MRI Sales & Lettings and its ability to link with other applications has had an impact on the business’ image. “MRI Sales & Lettings has allowed us to compete with bigger offices with much less cost.” But Georges and his team will never allow themselves to stand still with their technological development. “We have plans to integrate flash presentations and digitally enhanced audio and we know that the software will integrate easily,” he says. “MRI Sales & Lettings has given us the possibility of carrying out every dream we have had. We have lots of ideas and have never heard the team say no. They always support our ideas and seek to find out how we can work together to integrate them into the system.”