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  • Brittany Gardner

Fewer Mistakes, More Peace of Mind: How to Use Transaction Coordination as a Competitive Advantage

Believe it or not, Hannah Hester started her professional career over a decade politics.

As a recent grad, Hannah had just started her masters in real estate and took on an internship for a lobbyist group representing the County Commissioners in Georgia. It was there that she met Ashley, a fellow lobbyist who years later would make the leap into real estate.

When a new admin job opened up on Ashley’s team, Hannah was the first person she thought of.

“I don't know what I did as a 21 year-old kid to impress her that much,” Hannah laughs. Armed with a glowing recommendation, Hannah nailed the interview, landed the job and quickly rose through the ranks to become the first ever Director of Closings for one of Atlanta’s premiere real estate brokerages.

With over 260 active agents and $1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’) in annual transaction volume, Hannah and the top producing team at Dorsey Alston have been killing it ever since.

For Hannah, the timing was right. But the process of transforming a transaction coordination system from a single Excel spreadsheet to an end-to-end customer experience platform was far from easy. Here’s a quick sneak peek at how she did it:

Ready to learn the whole story? Read on!

Ready for a transaction coordination system your whole team can get behind? Find out how operations aces like Hannah use PrecloseGO! to standardize communications across hundreds of transactions in a single click. Try it for free today!

Inside this interview:

  • Diving in Headfirst: From Admin to Closing Coordinator (and Agent!)

  • How Hannah and the Dorsey Alston Team Use Transaction Coordination as a Competitive Advantage

  • “This Is Bananas”: From an Excel Spreadsheet to a Seamless Transaction Coordination System

Diving in Headfirst: From Admin to Closing Coordinator (and Agent!)

When Hannah first hit the ground running with Dorsey Alston managing a team of top producers, there weren’t many systems to speak of. “They really needed a lot more structure,” Hannah recalls.

For her, joining the team as their admin was definitely a trial by fire.

“It was the most incredible opportunity across the board, but also to learn. I had my hand in absolutely everything, top to bottom — marketing, HR, R&D, listing coordinator, closing coordinator. We did showings, we did caravan catering, whatever it was — we took care of it. And I had my own assistants not long after.”

The journey was incredible, but intense. And after a couple of years, Hannah knew it was time for a change.

“I called one of our brokers, and I was like, ‘Hey, you know me, you know the team, I'm thinking I'm going to make a change at some point in the future. What do you think?’ And turns out, Dorsey Alston was getting ready to create a Closing Coordinator position later in the year.”

Once again, the timing was working in Hannah’s favor and in 2018, she re-joined the Dorsey Alston team. Only problem was, she had to finish writing her own job description, then figure out how to make it happen.

“We had an idea what we wanted to do, but no idea how we were going to do it.”

Hannah took on the massive task of designing the entire transaction coordination system for the brokerage and not only that — she also started selling real estate as an agent herself.

One of the first things she did was sit down with her brokers to see exactly what they had recently put in place to lighten the load for agents. Together, they asked two simple questions:

  • What do the agents need most?

  • What things do we already do that we can take off their plates?

Dorsey Alston’s leadership had brainstormed and implemented an entire list of ideas, including an automated ‘Just Listed!’ or ‘Just Sold!’ postcard with notifications that get sent straight from the FMLS to the marketing team, who then automatically generate the postcard and e-flyer — without the agents even having to ask.

Not only that, Hannah was also tasked with getting agents signed up and set up for their quarterly automated newsletter service — postcards or flyers with hyperlocal data sent to specific areas/mailing lists. Hannah got the agents zeroed in on the data areas, got their mailing lists set up, and even made sure no one overlapped.

It went well enough that the brokers had to tell her to stop signing people up after the 2nd quarter of mailings because they were sending over 6,000 pieces between the various agents enrolled!

The team at Dorsey Alston is BIG on customer experience. From marketing to transaction coordination, they use human-centric automation to keep their clients front and center.

The leadership team launched creative automations across the board but, above all, they knew the closing coordination bottleneck would be the biggest and most crucial problem to solve for their agents, so they brought Hannah back in to take their plan to ace-level execution.

Monitor all your transactions in one place with Preclose GO! With real-time notifications, auto-fill email templates and customizable Smart Views, your transaction coordinators have everything they need to keep your team productive. Sign up for free!

How Hannah and the Dorsey Alston Team Use Transaction Coordination as a Competitive Advantage

“Here in Atlanta, the main transaction management company charges about $500 a transaction. If our agents sell over $10 million a year, it’s free to them and if it’s under $10 million a year, it’s $199. The idea is to make the service readily available to the agents who need it most,” explains Hannah.

She and the leadership team at Dorsey Alston team knew that one of the biggest expenses agents can take on is an assistant. So when they noticed a local competitor promoting their help to agents looking for assistants as a recruiting tool, Hannah knew she could do one better.

Because taking on an assistant is a massive leap for agents — not only do you have to find the right one, you also have to train them.

And when it comes to choosing someone to represent your real estate brand, you can’t afford to get it wrong.

“I know what it's like to stand in the house and be asked questions by the client. I know how to answer tough questions with tact. I'm an agent that was taught by agents how to do this. We built our transaction coordination process so that it’s personal, we’ve kept the human touch. It's not a computer. I'm not someone getting $15 an hour, pulled off the street with a checklist. We offer our agents help from somebody who understands how they work.”

Hannah knew that many agents are simply too busy bringing in deals to set up the systems they need to effectively support their admins. She wanted to be able to hand them a plug-and-play system and say, “Here’s your help.”

So she set out building a system where agents could sign up, plug in, send her the contract — and the rest would be completely taken care of.

Since the agents already knew and trusted Hannah, handing her their transactions was a no-brainer. Plus, as a TC and Ops Manager who also moonlights as an agent, she knows exactly the type of tasks (and pressures!) agents must keep up with from contract to closing.

The goal for her was simple: Make the agents’ lives easier.

“I know what it's like to be standing there and be confused and scattered,” Hannah says. “The question was always, ‘How can I eliminate some of that confusion and make it easier for them to check on things?’”

As a self-described “straight up millennial”, Hannah has an appreciation for technology that saves time.

Here’s how she and the Dorsey Alston team leaned into virtual client communication during the pandemic.

Caption: For Hannah, the pandemic has brought on a welcome push toward better tech and better boundaries.

But even for someone with Hannah’s tech savvy, Covid-19 accelerated the need for better, faster and more transparent client communication tools.

“It feels like we hit the fast forward button,” she says.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Hannah has also noticed a shift in the way clients and agents perceive and manage their time.

“I think it's honestly helped our agents make some shifts as well. They’re a little more flexible in the ways they work with clients, and more open to ideas that allow different kinds of communication and ways to serve or represent their client that are more ultimately more efficient because we all had to shift our reliance on electronic ways of doing business,” she explains.

With a little help from Preclose, Hannah’s agents can access updates or transaction information whenever a thought pops into their head — even if it’s 10pm in the evening — without having to wait for Hannah to officially “clock in” the next day.

“When I first tried Preclose, it was like ‘Holy moly, I'm just using this without even trying.’ Now our agents can pull up any document at any time straight from their phones. Whether they’re standing right there in the house when the client asks them a question, or even if they get a text while they’re in line at the grocery store. They no longer have to wait on me to get an answer or bother with pulling up a person's address. It's all right there in Preclose.”

“This Is Bananas”: From an Excel Spreadsheet to a Seamless Transaction Coordination System

Agents on Hannah’s team know everything there is to know about each other — and they absolutely have each other’s backs. “It really is like a 300 person family,” says Hannah.

Still, the pressure of the job is very real. “I’m generally dealing with an overwhelmed crowd,” she says . As a moonlighting agent herself, Hannah needs to use her time as efficiently as possible in order to stay productive...and calm.

“I found Preclose by accident. Another transaction coordinator company that uses them here sent it over and I was like, ‘Wait, what is this?’ I'd been looking for some help and I knew I needed something more than Microsoft Office Suite to get organized. But I kept finding team-oriented, top-down software, so it was really difficult to find something that made sense.”

Hannah took advantage of the pandemic to sink into the system and set it up just the way she likes. “I just tweaked it and tweaked it — and it has just been humming ever since.”

“The amount of thought that’s handled by Preclose is unbelievable. People say to me, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’”

She attributes her productivity to three simple things: Her ADHD, the fact that she doesn’t have kids (just a super relaxed dog baby), and Preclose.

With Preclose @tokens, Hannah can customize her templates in two simple clicks.

“People with ADHD are very good at handling all the spinning plates. I have to take medication to make sure none of the plates fall, but our brains are naturally geared to handle this big picture. The medicine helps me get the details in the picture. Plus, I don't have children. People with children, you all are heroes,” she says. “I have the easiest dog on the planet, and sometimes I don't even know if I'm doing right by him.”

Hannah laughs, but she’s not joking. She is a big believer in the importance of self-care. Any part of the tech stack that can help bring a little more balance to her world, is something she takes 100% seriously.

“And honestly, the other thing is I have Preclose. It tells me what to do, it tells me when to do it. And if I don't do it, it pokes me until I do it, or until I poke the agents. That's really what I think is keeping us on track probably more than anything. It's one of the things you look back at and you're like, ‘I couldn't possibly have been doing a half decent job before we got this, there's just no way.’ Now with Preclose in the picture, it's just totally different.”

For Hannah and the team at Dorsey Alston, it’s all about evolving and innovating with the client at the center.

“Before Preclose, I would spend so much time looking things up before I could even send out an amendment. Now I just upload the amendment, click the drop down menu and tag whoever's relevant. The thought is gone. The brain cell amounts involved have dropped. And so, I can spend that time doing so much more. It removes the error in a lot of ways, so you get more time and energy to spend on other things like going more in depth. Now I worry about further details instead of mistakes.”

Whether it’s a due diligence hiccup or a global health crisis — with a customer-centric transaction management system at the center of it all, Hannah is able to relax knowing that she, her agents and clients are ready for anything.

Ready to try Preclose with your team? Check it out for free today!

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