Google Cloud Results
IT spend reduced by half, from 27% to 13% of expenditure
• Provides a reliable and effective email service that cuts IT costs and reduces low-level IT queries
• Supports company compliance with the POPI Act by improving management and tracking of document access and changes
• Reduces the need to travel by using Hangouts Meet, saving money and enabling more frequent conference call contact with franchisees
“The real estate sector is facing a lot of disruption from technology, but our vision is that our agents will be tech-enabled. Our strategy is designed around building relationships and human interaction, and that’s where G Suite comes in.” - Barry Davies, Director, Chas Everitt
Offering real estate clients a dynamic, forward-thinking service has helped the Chas Everitt International Property Group to grow significantly in the past few years, expanding from 60 to over 120 agencies. Founded in 1980, the group has franchises all over South Africa and has recently extended its reach in the west of the country. “We’ve had a strong amount of organic growth in the past two years and a lot of our operations have also grown,” says Barry Davies, Director at Chas Everitt.
“The real estate sector is facing a lot of disruption from technology, but our vision is that our agents will be tech-enabled,” says Barry. “To accomplish part of our mission statement, we provide our agents with the best tools and technology, so they can deliver excellent service to their clients, the sellers and buyers. Our strategy is designed around building relationships and human interaction, and that’s where G Suite comes in.”
Chas Everitt’s previous email service was unreliable, and as a result its IT costs were too high. “Our franchisees are not tech focused, they just need a service that works. Losing a lead because the email service is down could cost you thousands of rand,” Barry explains. It looked for a way to solve its email issues, but also to improve its working processes. G Suite was the answer.
Reducing downtime, eliminating costs
Running a franchise business means implementing systems for agencies of varying sizes and maturity. “Email is our primary method of communication, but we were suffering from a lot of connection issues, including downtime and spam blacklisting,” says Barry. “We were having to offer extensive internal support to franchisees and agents, so we ended up employing more and more people. Subsequently, our IT costs were taking up 27 percent of our expenditure. But our focus should be real estate, not IT!”
“In order to address legislative changes, we are reworking our document management process. Drive is really helpful as we can see exactly who has access to certain documents and encourage everyone to use only up-to-date versions.” - Barry Davies, Director, Chas Everitt
To solve the problem and open up new ways of working, Chas Everitt and Google Cloud Premier Partner Opennetworks implemented G Suite Basic. “We decided to make the switch within 90 days; to move everyone over within that period,” says Barry. “We did a lot of pitching to key players to explain the benefits of the product, supported by Opennetworks, with a strong buy in from the executive committee.”
Beyond Gmail, the Chas Everitt head office now uses Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Forms to work more collaboratively. “When I draw up a purchase agreement, I can work on it simultaneously with the two attorneys who need to see it, which is quicker and easier than sending it back and forth,” says Barry. “And for important documents such as purchase offers, if I update it in Drive then I know my administrators have access to the latest version, rather than an obsolete one they downloaded two years ago.”
Drive has also made it simpler for Chas Everitt to put systems in place for complying with the South African POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act, which came into force in 2018. “The POPI Act was signed into law in 2013, and all our agencies are aware of it, but don’t necessarily know what they now need to do,” Barry explains. “In order to address legislative changes, we are reworking our document management process. Drive is really helpful as we can see exactly who has access to certain documents and encourage everyone to use only up-to-date versions.”
Travelling less, meeting more
Hangouts Meet has also transformed the way management works across the franchise network, both in terms of travel and training. “One of our main challenges is the amount of time we have to spend in franchise offices,” says Barry. “It’s very expensive and many areas in South Africa cannot be reached by air. Over the last three years, thanks to Hangouts Meet, we’ve probably cut down our in-office time by a third. As opposed to visiting a remote office four times a year, I visit maybe twice, but at the same time I’m in contact with them over Hangouts on a four to six weekly cycle. It’s very cost effective.”
Training content is also produced using Hangout Meet software. “We have an internal platform called the Chas Academy and have been producing content for that using Hangouts Meet,” says Barry. “We predict that by the end of this year, 60 percent of our training will be done online, and by the end of 2019 it will be up to 80 to 85 percent.”
Going Google for the long-term
“We were ahead of the curve in South Africa in deciding to switch to Google products in 2012, and we felt the benefits straight away, especially in terms of being as compliant as we can possibly be, which is crucial to our brand and reputation.” Barry Davies, Director, Chas Everitt
Thanks to G Suite, Chas Everitt’s franchisees no longer require constant support with their email, and as a result its IT costs are down. “IT spending went down from 27 percent to around 13 percent of expenditure within three months,” says Barry. “It has meant we can focus on developing our technology strategy, rather than just providing support. It’s been six years now since we moved and, other than one or two global outages, we haven’t experienced any issues with email downtime. The service is reliable and effective.”
Now, Chas Everitt hopes to develop its franchisees’ knowledge of the G Suite ecosystem further and encourage them to start using Chromebooks too. “Again, we’re leading from the management side to show exactly why switching to Chromebooks makes sense,” says Barry.
“We were ahead of the curve in South Africa in deciding to switch to Google products in 2012, and we felt the benefits straight away, especially in terms of being as compliant as we can possibly be, which is crucial to our brand and reputation,” says Barry. “We wanted a global partner for the long-term who could support us with everything we want to achieve. We made the right choice.”