CHALLENGES: The agency’s previous email provider was unreliable, provided little support, and didn’t have enough storage for archiving important documents.
RACKSPACE SOLUTION: Rackspace Hosted Exchange
BUSINESS OUTCOME: The agency now has the ability to check email on the go, ample storage for archiving documents, and immediate support for getting the most out of Exchange. Controlling their own email allows them to build their brand independently of their broker.
Based in Austin, Texas, the Eitel Group is a four-person team of real estate agents managed by father and son Russ and Patrick Eitel. Over the past seven years, the group has won numerous accolades, ranking in Austin Business Journal’s top ten real estate groups and placing third among Keller Williams’ 800 or so Austin agents. Last year, the group made $20 million in sales.
Being a successful real estate agent requires staying on top of client communications, often while out of the office. After a frustrating experience with a previous email host, the Eitel Group searched for an easy-to-use service that would allow them to field emails on the go, reinforce their individual brand, and archive important documents without worrying about storage limits. Rackspace Hosted Exchange solved all of these problems.
The Eitel Group sought a new email host when their previous provider proved unreliable. According to managing partner Patrick Eitel, “The servers would go down, and it was hard finding someone to talk to about it.”
The group is currently partnered with Keller Williams, which offers its agents company email accounts, but the Eitel Group opted for their own mailboxes via Rackspace Hosted Exchange because of the Rackspace reputation for stability and support. “They have Keller Williams email addresses,” he says, “but the thing I like about using Rackspace is that I’m not relying on their servers. If they were to go down, there would be nothing I could do. I’d just have to wait for them to figure it out. With Hosted Exchange, I have a contact at Rackspace that I can call.”
Switching email providers was painless thanks to Fanatical Support. Eitel says, “Rackspace walked us through the whole migration. It ended up going seamlessly.” In the rare event that a glitch occurs, the Eitel Group is empowered in knowing they have 24x7x365 access to the Fanatical Support team through a variety of channels: email, phone, and live chat. Consumer-focused email hosts don’t guarantee a support response, let alone a timely one, but Rackspace has more than 100 specialists for Microsoft hosted products ready to help with issues that arise.
Hosted Exchange allows the Eitel Group to maintain their individual brand identity, regardless of what broker umbrellas them. “If I changed over to another broker, I obviously wouldn’t be able to use my Keller Williams address anymore,” Eitel says. “I like Hosted Exchange because it gives me the ability to brand myself, and it’s transferable, no matter what brokerage I use.” The Eitel Group’s motto is “Building Relationships for Life,” and maintaining the same addresses regardless of broker allows them to do so. In the event that the Eitel Group switches brokers, there will be no need for mass emails alerting clients to changing contact information.
As far as other options go, Patrick prefers the professionalism and business focus of Exchange to consumer products like Gmail or Hotmail. “I’m firstname.lastname@example.org. Lots of Realtors have a Gmail address or something like that, but my email makes me look more like a company. It’s more professional.”
Ample storage space was another must-have for the Eitel Group, who found their previous provider incapable of handling the bulk of documents they needed to archive. “A lot of my business is attachment-heavy, because we’re working with a lot of large contracts,” Eitel says. “Often, when I help someone buy a house, I’ll also sell it down the road. I have to have those documents archived.”
After switching to Hosted Exchange, Eitel says, “The storage capacity is huge. With Rackspace, each user gets 25GB of storage — more than twice what we got from our previous host.” As an added bonus, the Eitel Group’s team members can access shared documents from any computer.
For real estate agents, one of Hosted Exchange’s biggest advantages is its mobile syncing feature, which enables the Eitel Group’s agents to be instantly alerted to new emails on their mobile devices. “I’m in a business where I’m in my car, and I’m never really in the office,” Eitel explains, “If you miss an email, you miss a lead. When a client is looking at 20 different agents, the one who responds first gets the job. With Hosted Exchange, I can respond immediately, which gives me a major competitive advantage.” Hosted Exchange’s mobile sync is compatible with iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. The agents can also use Outlook Web App to check their accounts from any computer, any time.
Since their move to Rackspace, the Eitel Group has been thrilled with Hosted Exchange. Having control over their email allows the Eitel group to build their brand, and it’s simple enough for the least tech-savvy among the group to use. If they have any questions, there’s a Racker to answer them. So far, though, it’s been smooth sailing. “The good news,” says Eitel, “is that, besides our initial migration, I haven’t had to use Fanatical Support. I haven’t had any issues, but I know there are people I can talk to if I do.” Would Eitel recommend Hosted Exchange to other real estate agents? “Absolutely. We’re saving so much time and hassle, it’s a no-brainer.”
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