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The technology working behind the scenes at one of South Africa’s leading real estate businesses

Posted 3 years ago in Small business by Emma Izatt
Posted by Emma Izatt

One of South Africa’s leading real estate agencies, Rawson Property Group, is also a successful family run business. Bill Rawson founded the business in 1982 and soon outstripped the competition by delivering expert customer service. Jonathan Rawson, the current strategic director, inherited and enhanced that focus through clever use of technology.

“Before joining the family business, I spent six years building tech-driven services companies. Very different to the property sector,” Jonathan recalls. He eventually decided to exit these various firms and apply what he had learnt, specifically how technology can improve the customer experience, to the real estate space.

“I noticed that there was a lack of innovation in the property sector,” says Jonathan. “Outdated methods were failing to keep up with growing administrative requirements and customer demand. I saw the gap and went in search of a solution.”

Taking care of business

Property transactions can be a stressful time for buyers and sellers. Real estate agents need to ensure that they keep their customers well informed and satisfied throughout the process. They have to be ready to respond to customer queries whenever they might happen. They also need to make sure their customers have the support they need to make all decision confidently. The property business is really just a people business. However, the sheer volume of financial requirements and accounting administration can make the job seem almost impossible.

“Accounting can bring with it a burden of admin that can practically tie you to your desk for months,” says Jonathan. “In our business, that just won’t work. We need to be mobile. We need to view properties and meet customer’s needs anywhere at any time, and without dropping the ball on our paperwork.”

Automating admin

The solution came in the form of cloud-based accounting software. It has enabled the Rawson Property Group to automate many time-intensive tasks.

“We started using Xero in 2015,” notes Jonathan. “We were drawn to its automation function. The built-in ability to predict certain transactions, reconcile them and allocate them to the right fields. That has made the job far easier and now we produce reports that look like they took ages for a human to compile. It’s a very intelligent engine working tirelessly behind-the-scenes doing the work for us.”

Calum Wedge, financial director at Rawson Property Group, describes the Xero platform as a professional ticker taking care of business in the background. “I leave it running all the time and use it at home and at work on my laptop or tablet. I love that Xero has almost gamified the accounting process. It manages the administrative workload and lets us to focus on more customer specific operations.”

“The best thing about Xero,” concludes Jonathan, “is that it’s really intuitive to use. It’s not the sort of software platform that requires an inordinate amount of training. It’s very clever and smart and does a lot of the heavy-lifting for you. In addition, it’s a growing product with a vibrant community behind it.”

A final word from Calum sums it up: “I love everything about Xero, everything.”

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