Post Miami REW Summit Wrap Up
Following the REW Summit this past week in Miami, I am absolutely pumped! There were 100 of the best and brightest REW has in our fold, and an absolute TON of great ideas, suggestions and feature requests. I want to thank everyone who attended, and took the time to learn from us (and teach us) as well as for sharing your insights on where we need to improve and how our product can better serve all REW customers.
We covered a lot of ground at the summit including:
- PPC management
- Search engine optimization
- Lead follow up
- Web performance optimization (WPO)
- REW backend systems
- New REW products
What stood out the most? Closing more deals!!!!
Many of the sold out crowd were very experienced REW users, with quite large databases of leads, great traffic, and quite a few had large teams or even larger brokerages. A challenge they all shared (and every reader of this blog shares) is closing more of the right kinds of deals from the leads we already have. We need to improve our follow up systems as sales people and REW's backend needs to evolve with these improved systems in order to help agents using our backend to maximize their closings, and help our brokers stay on top of agents, holding them accountable to the system, and providing better tracking and training opportunities.
4.2 Feature add-ons and Launch
During the summit we demo'd the REW 4.2 backend and many of the new features. During the presentation we also received many great suggestions for future releases, however due to the fact that many of them are quite easy to conceptualize and incorporate, I have decided to delay the launch of 4.2 until the end of October so that I can sneak into 4.2 many of these requests that would have otherwise had to wait for future version releases.
Some of the feature requests I am "hoping" to get done:
- When a saved search is manually created or edited by a lead, there should be an option (checkbox) to have the agent assigned emailed with the details so they can follow up. Saving a search is a lead quality signal in our scoring system and is worth notification.
- Ability to edit or delete call notes. (Currently you can only add them)
- Give agents the ability to delete leads (only admins can currently) but have this option turned "off" by default
- Turn "require password" off for users by default on install (most of our members don't feel users need a password to create an account, it's just one more thing for them to forget.
- A next and previous button for leads while in the details screen (IDX)
- A single click ability to turn a recent search (via the backend) into a saved search for your users. (Notification will need to go out to the user that you have done so, and they will have to accept it, similar to autogenerated searches.)
- Copy an IDX snippet as a starting point for a new snippet
- Automatically import brokerage listings into CMS listings manager (by broker ID)
- Rewrite URL's for "manual" listings so they are more like IDX listing URL's
- Show originating keywords on "summary" page of leads instead of having to go to the visits tab
- Have a new lead flag for "Paid" vs. "Organic" on main screen
- New settings panel: "I want to be CC'd on" with checkboxes for each things we allow you to be CC'd on.
- Lead messages pop up (front end) - leave a message for your lead in the messages section and have it pop up a notification when the lead returns
- Address form autoresponders so they go to assigned agent (they currently come from super admin)
- Checkbox in settings to have "auto unassigned" simply go back to super admin, and not get reassigned automatically
- If email is changed on "bounced" emails (you probably manually fixed a typo) allow the lead to be re-subscribed
- More data in the "lead notification" email (recent properties, full contact info, last search etc.)
- Single click from email to login directly to lead details page for that lead
- Text option for lead details (same single click to lead details from mobile)
- Bulk unassign leads from groups.
Please note that there are literally hundreds of other suggestions and improvements that we have received and many of those are still in the design stage for future releases (this list is not exhaustive) so if you don't see your suggestion posted here, it may still show up in future releases. We of course need to cut each round of R&D off at some point so that we can launch a new version for our great customers.
Also note: Not listed here are any / all of the improvements ALREADY in 4.2 (such as social connect registration, who's online and many other features demo'd at the Summit).
Estimates for 4.2: We are NOT estimating upgrades to 4.2 until it is complete – however, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org to get your name on the list for estimates to upgrade. **REW Summit attendees are "first in line" for upgrades. If you attended the summit, Allison will include an invitation to get your name on the priority list when she sends out her thank you letter.
New REW Products:
On top of the major improvements to the backend / 4.2 system we are also working hard on new products. Some of these things are already in production / nearly complete and others are newly formed ideas that we had the opportunity to brainstorm at the Summit (see how much you miss if you don't attend the Summit? ;-)
Here are the projects that have been approved as priorities after our focus group:
- Native IOS APP (iPhone): Our customers universally agreed that having a "native app" in addition to our already full featured "web based" mobile app was desired. Andy and I went over specs for this yesterday; we bought some new Mac hardware (yeah pro with retina display!) and we have already started building the app. I hope to have something to offer folks by Christmas. Version 1.0 will be very similar to our existing web based app in terms of functionality, but with IOS native controls. We will post for feedback (and likely sneak in some improvements) and from there we hope to launch a full time arm of our R&D department dedicated to mobile / tablet based technologies.
- Single Property Websites: I have already been working on this product with one of our high end brokers Surterre Properties and we should have a demo of the first skins / styles again before Christmas.
- Premium Templates: Somewhere between a fully loaded template and an LEC there is room for new products. We have already beta tested these sites in some test markets and response is very positive; look for an official announcement on premium templates with lower than LEC setup fees, and optional no setup fee with PPC management options. (These are available now.)
- Open House Module: Create, Edit and Delete open house information via the new Open House module. Includes snippet for page creation and works in conjunction with the IDX listings import.
- Navigation Panel Control (new products only): New REW products will launch with the ability to turn on and off elements of your navigation such as left sidebar, right sidebar, footer, all etc - you can use this feature with upgraded websites but must mention you want these templates developed as part of your upgrade.
- New iframed IDX: Not only are there new designs available - our iframed product will now be available as a "broker model" with multi user lead management and the brand new 4.2 backend.
- More responsive products: LEC 2012 is already fully responsive (the first and ONLY fully responsive website / IDX product in our industry). Within 3 months LEC 2011 and 2010 will have responsive versions available and within 6 months there will be several other responsive options.
- Intelligent lead assignment: Allows brokers to custom tailor the "kinds" of leads assigned to agents based on a number or criteria.
- Lifestyle Listings Search: Partnering with onboard informatics, we have access to their proprietary "lifestyle listings data" - they have asked us to create an affordable "per website" module that ties into our IDX product.
- Optimize your own IDX: Access the entire normalized data sets and create custom titles, meta data, file rewrites and more.
- Improved Lead Scoring: Additions to the REW proprietary lead scoring system takes into account many more action items when sorting and scoring leads.
- Agent Scoring System: Broker centric lead scoring system (similar to our existing system) allows agents to be rated based on performance and required actions in the system.
- Mortgage Lending Integration: Many of our brokers partner with lenders and would like a separate module to allow lender lead access.
- REW Chat: Fully integrated consumer facing chat system including logging data to lead manager.
- Multi Site Backend: Feeds normalized lead data from multiple sites into REWLeads.com for more powerful data collection.
- Multi Language System: CMS specific integration for multilingual sites.
Addressing bandwidth (available labour):
REW is quite large (nearly 50 developers and support staff) but even so, our demand currently exceeds our supply when it comes to filling the hundreds of custom requests we get every month. Our problem is available space - we literally have not been able to add developers due to the fact that our existing facility is jam packed with talent. To address this I am pleased to announce that our interim facility is slated to be completed in just 1 month (November 1st, 2012) and will allow us to seat another 24 skilled and creative team members. It will take a month or two to get new hires up to speed, but come 2013 I promise there will be much less of a wait time to get projects into the queue, and faster completion on projects.
You said interim?
Yes I did: I wanted to get more staff in here quickly so I bought a "second" building, however the real REW Expansion is a much larger project and we have been working since the beginning of 2012 to design and build what will become REW's consolidated final facility by Jan 1, 2014. This facility is 15,000 square feet in the heart of the downtown core and should allow us to expand at a much faster pace as needed for the future and attract an unlimited amount of new talent. I am very excited to be able to take on this project, and it is because of the continued support and patronage of all of you, our amazing REW customers (our partners in this) that we are able to continue to improve our staff and products for the benefit of us all.
NEW REW HQ 2014
So I will end with a THANK YOU! Thank you to all REW customers, and a special thank you to all of you who made it out to Miami for the REW Summit - you are the trailblazers and you are genuinely appreciated. We hope you feel listened to and valued (because you are) and I am glad you are a part of what we do.