By finding smarter ways to train and develop staff, Workplace Pioneer Ryan Rodenbeck has brought people closer together and made work more meaningful for everyone. Here’s how.
“It’s so easy to get a real estate license,” says Spyglass Realty founder and owner Ryan Rodenbeck. “It’s why there are so many real estate agents out there. It’s also why we need to dig deeper, do more, and go further for our customers.”
Ryan’s outlook reflects his boutique agency’s mission: to provide a concierge service to buyers and sellers across Austin and create value over and above the ‘average’ real estate agent.
Making work faster
It’s also part of the reason that Spyglass was an early adopter of Workplace in 2017. “I read about a company that had adopted Workplace,” Ryan says. “I immediately signed up for the free trial and found there were so many applications for real estate that would help us work smarter as a company. Everything just fell into place.”
Two years later, the ways people at Spyglass are using Workplace continue to evolve. From Workplace groups that have become the foundation of daily collaboration in the office, using Live video to transform how teams present properties to buyers and using Workplace features to save over 30 hours every month on agent onboarding and training.
Using Workplace to enable the collective brain
And that last one is crucial. To enable people to stand out and excel in a crowded market, Ryan thinks you need three things. The right people, the right tools, and smarter training.
“I live for marketing and training,” Ryan says. “I want my agents to have the most exposure to the sector and I want them to be most trained agents out there.” What’s interesting is how Ryan and his team are using Workplace to deliver this ongoing learning and development.
“I really don't understand how people can run an office with a lot of remote workers and not have Workplace.”
- Ryan Rodenbeck. Founder and owner, Spyglass Realty
“Building a culture with agents that are professionally trained above and beyond requires a lot of documentation,” says Ryan. “So we use Workplace to document everything. Every piece of training we do. Even our monthly meetings or in-person meetings. We set up a camera and split things up into 15-minute segments of relevant material. And it all goes into the relevant groups in Workplace.”
Workplace becomes a searchable repository with a complete record of all the relevant knowledge in the business. People can find the information and training they need fast and from any device. And that’s particularly useful for a mobile workforce who spend a lot of time out of the office with clients or visiting properties.
Reducing the ramp-up time for new starters
It’s also a killer app for new starters. “Workplace is an awesome repository for enabling new members of the team to get up to speed,” Ryan says.
“All of the technical stuff like how to write a multiple offer, or how to determine land use. We keep it all in a Workplace group for agent onboarding. Then we just point them there to find and absorb the things they need to know.”
But it isn’t just for new members of the team. If anyone else has a question people can tag them in the post or share the relevant post link via Workplace Chat. “It cuts down on so much training,” says Ryan. “Being able to document our knowledge, store it in the right place, and find it easily is invaluable for us.”
Using Workplace to create a successful business
Multi-company groups in Workplace enable people to collaborate with external teams, partners, suppliers, and customers in a secure space. Spyglass is using them to demonstrate the extra value it brings to customers - and it’s proving to be good for business.
When the team lands a listing they’ll suggest setting up a Multi-company group with the client. If they’re up for it, Spyglass then invites them to the group along with its graphic designer, virtual assistant, and a stager. This gives the client a real-time view of all the activity that goes on in the background and showcases the skills and experience of the Spyglass team.
“We could do all this through email. But that takes time, it’s static, and there’s a ton of back and forth. Using Workplace changes all that. We post our timelines for staging, all the photos, and our virtual tours. Customers not only get a view of what's going on, but they also become a participant in the process. That’s really powerful and it’s been really good for us.”
By using Workplace to connect people with customers Spyglass teams can give a better service. They can also deliver against their commitment to creating value that’s over and above the average agency.
Building a connected culture
Spyglass is a busy place. People are in and out all the time and there are agents that don't ever come into the office. This makes creating a sense of community a challenge. But Ryan shares an example of how using Workplace has created connections between people even when they work remotely.
“Workplace connects you with your whole organization so you’re visible and can guide your company wherever you are. If you want that, you want Workplace.”
“You know, one of the biggest things we've done with Workplace is to use groups to build our company culture. We have lots of groups - they’re how we get things done - but we have one called ‘Boom! I got that!’ It’s a place where agents post their success stories. You know, like, ‘I just signed this $700,000 deal in North Austin.’”
People celebrate and share, they comment and add GiFs, and they learn the stories behind the wins. “It builds huge camaraderie and a healthy sense of competition,” says Ryan. “As a cultural tool, Workplace is huge! I really don't understand how people can run an office where a lot of people are remote and not have Workplace.”
The focus on culture is paying off. Spyglass recently placed third in the Austin Journal Best Places to Work awards. “It was a really big deal for us,” Ryan tells us. “The award is based on a survey of everyone in the company - how they feel about work, whether their voices are heard, if they have enough access to management. I don't think that would have been possible without having a platform as strong as Workplace.”
How would you sell Workplace to another business owner or CEO?
Ryan doesn’t hesitate. “Workplace is about training, it’s about company culture, and it’s about collaboration,” he says. ”It's about connecting you with your whole organization so you can be visible, so you guide your company wherever you are. If you want that, you want Workplace!”