Fluidity is at the Heart of JohnHart’s Custom Real Estate CRM

Over the last few decades, we’ve seen leaps in technology that completely redefined the world as we know it. It stands to reason that technology capable of redefining our global community could be useful in redefining real estate. And for anyone not paying attention, redefining real estate is what JohnHart is all about. We recently broke down how we’re using agent liaisons to offer unparalleled support to our agents. But today we’re looking at the technology JohnHart is using to bring our community together. A huge part of this lies in a customized real estate CRM developed specifically for JohnHart’s use. CEO, founder and broker Harout Keuroghlian took some time out of his busy schedule to outline the brokerage’s tailor-made SwarmCRM and how it’s helping JohnHart to redefine real estate for the modern world. 

Seeking Fluidity with a Custom Real Estate CRM System 

Customer relationship management (CRM) offers a method of organization and connection the modern world demands. It seems that these days, a CRM platform exists for virtually any business you can imagine, real estate included. A cursory Google search will produce countless real estate CRM systems. Yet, JohnHart took the curious approach of ignoring these in favor of developing their own custom CRM. 

Photo credit: Envato

“Why would I want to buy a real estate CRM from someone who’s never worked a day of their life in the real estate industry?” laughs Harout Keuroghlian. But JohnHart’s tailor-made real estate CRM is anything but a joke to him. When pressed about why he felt his brokerage needed its own devoted CRM as opposed to the myriad of software and systems already available, he boiled it down to a single word: fluidity.

“When JohnHart was developing a customized real estate CRM, there wasn’t a single one on the market that integrated listings, marketing, and properties about to hit the market,” Harout expounds. “A lot of them integrated MLS properties, sure. But the MLS only features properties that are actively on the market. And that wouldn’t work for us.” 

Harout is referring to a unique benefit that JohnHart enjoys as a one-owner brokerage: the ability to share all of the firm’s listings including off-market properties. We covered JohnHart’s unique relationship with off-market properties recently. Since JohnHart has the rare opportunity to share its off-market properties, real estate CRM platforms that exclusively pull from the MLS just won’t cut it. 

Improving Communication Across a Community of Professionals

But off-market properties aren’t the only reason Harout began working closely with developers to create his own real estate CRM. It’s common for JohnHart agents to complete a higher volume of transactions than they would at another brokerage. This has to do with the company’s unique business structure. But with such a frequency of transactions, agents were running into a problem: more open houses than they could physically host. 

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“Before we built our CRM, agents would need to spend valuable hours (maybe even days) calling around to find agents who could cover their excess open houses,” reveals Harout. “I don’t want to say this was a waste of time, but it certainly wasn’t efficient. So, we built a feature into our CRM that allows an agent to syndicate an open house to our entire database of 400+ agents with just the click of a button.” And just like that, JohnHart reduced one of the most tedious agent pain points to a two-second task. 

In JohnHart’s custom real estate CRM, processes piggyback off preceding tasks for further streamlining. “Say that you as an agent accept an open house from another agent,” Harout offers. “You’ll automatically have access to marketing templates with your headshot and signature built right in, including flyers, email graphics, you name it.” 

A Real Estate CRM by Any Other Name…

JohnHart unveiled its personalized real estate CRM in 2017 under the name Swarm. Through weekly updates, it’s been steadily evolving to fit the shifting needs of the company ever since. But why name it Swarm? 

“What do you imagine when you hear the word ‘swarm’?” asks Harout. “I think of a coordinated collective of individuals coming together to work toward a larger, greater goal. With the Swarm CRM, we have a group of agents, clients, and community representatives connecting in an automated relationship.” 

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This all leads to the question: is a real estate CRM necessary for success in the modern market? “It all goes back to that old adage about ‘working smarter, not harder’,” begins Harout after a moment of consideration. “Technology like the Swarm CRM is important when operating at such a large scale. I’d never tell someone they couldn’t achieve success through hard work, consistency, and other tried-and-true ‘old school’ methods. But I do feel like the Swarm CRM is necessary for managing the large number of transactions our agents do.” 

“A Tech/Media Company That Just Happens to Sell Real Estate”

Harout may stop short of saying his custom real estate CRM is vital for general real estate success. But he has no such reservations about crediting Swarm in the company’s mission to redefine the real estate industry. “We were one of the first (if not the first) real estate companies to develop our own CRM,” he states matter-of-factly. “Technology has always been a huge part of our plan to redefine real estate. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the reason we’re redefining real estate.” 

A comprehensive understanding of modern technology has helped JohnHart to remain firmly in the eyes of its clients in ways previously unimaginable. Harout admits, “When we first started JohnHart, I’d often say that we’re a tech/media company that just happens to sell real estate.” 

Developing a CRM For Technophobes

As a brokerage boasting over 400 agents, you’re bound to come across a technophobic agent or two. It sounds like a heck of an obstacle when technology is at the crux of your company mission. But as Harout points out, Swarm wouldn’t be what it is today without the input of the technologically-averse. “Sometimes, it takes a user who’s painfully uncomfortable with technology to find the simplest solution to a difficult problem,” he explains. “We need a real estate CRM that everybody can use. And we closely monitor Swarm to see which aspects people are using and which they’re avoiding.” 

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So do the less popular features end up on the chopping block? “Not necessarily,” Harout replies. “When aspects aren’t being used, we have a choice: teach or eliminate. As our agents know well, we offer daily coaching sessions based on pain points that we notice. These extend to Swarm, which was built with the most technologically-averse agent in mind. But it’s often those agents whose feedback is the most instrumental in the ways we continue to develop Swarm.” 

A Cautionary Tale for the Modern Era

But these technologically-resistant agents highlight the shadow of technology; a darker side that hasn’t escaped Harout’s attention. “Technology can make it easier for us to do great things, but we don’t want to rely on it so heavily that we get lazy,” he cautions. “I actually understand the agents who are hesitant to use a real estate CRM. Sometimes, I even struggle against technology. There’s a human element of our job that should never be automated. I’m talking about sentiments like ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Birthday.’ We have technology that allows you to put yourself in front of more people more often. But if you lose that human element, you’re going to lose some important people too, no matter how well you use the technology.” 

Using the Swarm CRM to Improve SEO

But there are also features of the Swarm real estate CRM that Harout feels are being overlooked by agents. He’s convinced this isn’t the result of daunting technology. Rather, agents are simply missing the benefit of these tools. “One Swarm tool that I think should be utilized more is the Professional/’I Trust Them’ template,” Harout begins. “This allows an agent to easily add business contacts for trusted vendors including phone numbers, emails, and websites. Just dropping that website link can really improve an agent’s web traffic by improving their SEO. But most agents don’t have a firm understanding of SEO.”

Understanding SEO

Harout’s referring to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a method that websites can use to boost their rankings in search engines like Google. SEO takes into account web traffic. So, say an agent shares a vendor’s website link on their ‘I Trust Them’ page. For this example, we’ll use Plumb & Plumber Plumbing Company. Let’s say Plumb & Plumber have 50 people a month searching for them in Google. When those people search for “Plumb & Plumber”, the plumbing company’s website is the first suggestion that comes up in Google. But if traffic is already coming to an agent’s page that also has “Plumb & Plumber” listed on it, the agent page might come up as the second suggestion.  

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Now, let’s say that Plumb & Plumber are fantastic plumbers (why else would we recommend them?) but aren’t very savvy when it comes to SEO. They put in the bare minimum effort into their website. But our agent is chugging away, always adding updates and optimizing their agent page. And our agent’s traffic is going up because of their efforts. A few months down the line, when someone does a search for “Plumb & Plumber”, the agent’s page could be in that number one spot. And when a guest visits their site to click that Plumb & Plumber link, they may also get an idea of who to contact when they want to sell their house later this year. The Swarm CRM is built to make this kind of community synergy simple. But the agents need to use it accordingly for it to work.

Making Contact Collection Easier at Open Houses

Another feature of Swarm that Harout feels is currently underutilized is a check-in tool for open houses. “Before we had the open house check-in tool, people needed to manually fill out a form,” Harout explains. “But after Covid, no one wants to touch a pen 30 other people touched before them. And even if they did, that leaves our agents to decipher their handwriting and spend time inputting their information into a system the next day. With the open house check-in option in Swarm, they can do all of this simply by signing in on a tablet or phone the agent provides.” 

The benefit to an agent is obvious: new leads instantly added to their database. So, why are they hesitating? Harout speculates the hesitancy has to do with agents simply not clearly understanding the quality of the rewards reaped by such minimal efforts. He hopes that through future training sessions, they will recognize the value and streamlined simplicity of this contemporary approach to lead collection. 

Bringing the Agents the Best Real Estate CRM 

JohnHart’s Swarm real estate CRM has been instrumental in the execution of some of the company’s most successful ideas. And though it may not be the only route to success in modern realty, it certainly increases an agent’s chances. But when it comes to JohnHart’s ambitious goal of overhauling an established industry, Swarm may be just the edge they need. “I’ve made a promise to my agents to always give them the very best,” Harout admits solemnly. “The other real estate CRM models were all missing something. But I control Swarm. So I can say without a doubt that this CRM is the very best.” 

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