As a commercial property brokerage, over time we were becoming increasingly aware of how important it was to find a way of automating how our business handled and managed landlord information. We realised that if we didn’t find an automated solution, we’d quickly lose our competitive edge in the cutthroat world of office and industrial property.
With this as our motivation, we started investigating software options we could use in order to do this. Luckily, business technology software is moving forward in leaps and bounds – and there are many exciting things happening in the space. As far as Black Pepper Properties was concerned, we needed a property stock system that would:
- Be worth the time and effort integrating with our existing work processes
- Meet our specific needs as a property brokerage in South Africa
- Provide sufficient support and training
- Provide a roadmap to eventual success using the new system
After numerous meetings and some investigation of our options, we became aware of the Gmaven Broker Platform, spearheaded by tech entrepreneur Will Harris. We became convinced that it was an excellent fit for our business – both technically and practically. Although Gmaven was a new entrant to the marketplace, we believed in the team and what they were doing, and knew that the system was technically sound and would become increasingly valuable once Gmaven attracted a wider user base.
In fact, the entire future success of Gmaven depended on how many landlords would adopt the system and send information to it: their success would be our success.
Effectively, Black Pepper was a test-bed for Gmaven, and they relied on us to give them end-user insights as to how the system should work. Using our specialist property knowledge, we were able to guide their team on adding functionality that would benefit us as property brokers – and so the market in general.
Then came the question of deciding between leasing or owning the system. If we bought outright ownership of Gmaven, we would have had an asset of several million Rands. But, with the software’s given lifespan of around five years, we would have to reinvest once this period was up. With this in mind, we decided to lease the system so that we could always have access to a cutting-edge technology that is continuously upgraded.
After we’d selected Gmaven as our preferred software provider, Black Pepper Properties as specialist advisors had several key roles:
- To oversee the safe and efficient transfer of our database across to the new system.
- To oversee the website redevelopment with an API link/switch to Gmaven, and the stock clean-up/integration of fund/private stock vacancy schedules.
- To ensure the marketing material generated by the system was presented accurately, and in a format that would create a good impression with clients.
By aggregating shared information enhanced by our own layer of intellectual property, Black Pepper Properties is now able to offer a far improved offering than before. Sharing information ultimately drives economic growth due to the ability for contributors to share information with a potential financial benefit from doing so.
Of course, the transition to Gmaven was not without its problems and challenges. These included issues such as getting over the psychological adjustment of using a new system every day, and the opportunity cost of adoption versus not proceeding in implementing the system.
However, by committing to the new arrangement, learning the system, and realising the advantage of the long-term productivity gains we’d enjoy, it was more than worthwhile to take on the challenges.
As a result of the Gmaven implementation, Black Pepper now enjoys the following:
Access to current market information, which can be distributed rapidly to clients.
For example, today we’re able to compile and send a property report to a prospective client in under 5 minutes, whereas before this task would have taken hours.
Access to a vacancy information feed directly into our system from the property owner or manager’s vacancy schedules.
This happens within a maximum of 3 days from vacancy schedules being released, at a 98% level of data accuracy. It allows us to focus on transacting and winning new clients, with a near-complete menu of high-quality information on available space options.
The ability to easily generate and hold comprehensive information
on all relevant properties within a geographical region which is now wider than we could previously cover.
Above all, adopting Gmaven has allowed us more time to reach out to property owners and tenants, as well as to manage existing client relationships. Importantly, efficiencies arising from Gmaven has allowed us to run our business more efficiently, therefore freeing us up to take the business to the next level.