Phone systems are important for any business, but they’re the lifeblood in real estate.
The importance of each call and the fast-paced nature of this business mean that realtors need phone systems that differ significantly from those used in other businesses. However, some phone system providers only offer one solution for all businesses, which is often inadequate in real estate.
This article discusses some of the most important features to look for in a phone system customized for real estate businesses that may not be included in a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Top 5 Features of Phone Systems for Real Estate
Most businesses use extensions to allow customers to speak to a particular person or department. While realtors do use extensions in this way, they may also use them to provide callers with information on a specific listing. This use of extension works best with an auto-attendant.
For example, an agent can post a sign in the front yard of the property saying something like, “Call 1-800-555-1234, Property Listing 4.” When someone calls the phone number and gets the auto attendant, one of the options is for the property listings. After selecting that option, the caller can select the extension for the property of interest.
The auto attendant plays a recorded message providing basic information about the property. After hearing this message, the caller can leave a voicemail for the agent responsible for that listing. The auto attendant sends the caller’s message to that agent as an audio file attached to an email message.
An agent can set up this use of extensions by recording a message for each listing, assigning an extension to each message and routing each extension to the responsible agent. The agent can then set the voicemail contact method to email for each extension and associate each extension with the corresponding agent’s email address.
Realtors spend more time on the road than most other business professionals since the majority of their time is spent showing properties to clients. They also need to catch up on paperwork from home, making a mobile phone service essential.
Realtors can simply use a mobile phone with any phone service to meet this requirement, but this option may not provide them with the other phone features they need.
A better solution for supporting mobile devices is to choose a service that offers an app to allow a mobile phone to act as a regular extension to the agency’s main phone number. This provides seamless service between the office and road.
Such an app also lets realtors make calls that show their business number on the recipient’s Caller ID, rather than their personal cell number. This capability enables agents to separate business and personal calls. Hosted phone services often provide these apps at no additional charge.
3. Virtual Numbers
A realtor working in a large, nationwide agency may need additional phone numbers known as virtual numbers or direct inward dialing (DID) numbers.
A phone service can be programmed to forward incoming calls to a virtual number, whether the phone is mobile or fixed. These phone numbers can, therefore, serve as a gateway between a public switched telephone service (PSTN) and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Virtual numbers are particularly useful for monitoring marketing campaigns.
Assume for example that a real estate agency is running a campaign that uses multiple marketing channels such as online, TV and radio. Each channel can provide a separate virtual number, and the call detail records (CDRs) will show the source and destination numbers for each call.
This capability allows the agency to easily track the success of each channel separately and calculate their return on investment (ROI).
4. Internet Fax
Real estate agents routinely need clients in remote locations to sign documents and return them. Physical fax machines are the traditional method of accomplishing this task, but they have some limitations. They’re relatively slow and require toner and maintenance on a regular basis.
Most real estate agencies are migrating to online faxes, which use the internet to transmit documents. This technology enables a realtor to upload a file to the agency’s private branch exchange (PBX) portal and enter the destination fax number. The phone service converts the file into the required format and sends it to the destination as a regular fax.
If a document must be signed before being sent, the realtor will first need to print the document, sign it and scan the hard copy into a PDF file.
To receive faxes, the agency needs to associate each realtor’s email address with an incoming fax number through the PBX. The PBX will then convert an incoming fax into a PDF file, attach it to an email message and send it to the corresponding email address for that fax number.
5. Ring Groups
Real estate agencies with a large number of agents will frequently need ring groups to share the load of handling incoming calls.
Many business phone systems offer this functionality, which allows the agency to create multiple extensions that receive incoming calls in several ways, including:
The agency can distribute call volume evenly or according to a priority with ring groups, and they can also skip extensions that already have a call. Creating a ring group requires the agency to specify the type of ring group and the extensions belonging to it.
24/7 Phone System for Real Estate
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a phone system for real estate are the additional features you may add to your answering service. Virtual receptionist, appointment setting, and voicemail prescreening are just several services you may choose to optimize your phone system for real estate.
Not only do these solutions enable you to provide better service to buyers, sellers, and other parties, but they greatly improve your productivity.