Greg Robertson: It was a giant hassle for realtors to learn two MOS systems and having to buy two separate pieces of software to access these systems. It was a big problem. That problem came down here in Orange County where half the county went to one system and the other half went to another.
The realtors here hated it because they did both businesses in North County and South County, so they had to buy two pieces of software and learn two systems. We saw this as an opportunity.
Eddie and Dan went to work and they created a software program that can log into both, and all function keys would function correctly. We were able to add macros to make it easier to work. The average realtor was still pretty high up there – like a 58-year-old person and they weren’t computer-savvy at all. To walk a real estate agent through to help them find what port their modem was on was a nightmare.
We add a lot of innovations beyond the fact that it was compatible with both systems. I began to sell the product through the real estate associations here. There was the Newport Beach Association of realtors and the Anaheim Association of Realtors.
They all had these realtor stores where you can buy contracts and for-sale signs. The vendors that made the MOS systems basically had these stores selling software and the associations were not making any money off it. If somebody wants it, they needed to join the MOS, they have to pay the MOS dues, and they have to buy this piece of software.
Let’s say it’s $100. Typically, the realtor would have to buy two of them. One for South County and one for North County. I went in there and started going to these real estate associations and said, “Listen, I’ve got a program. It works with both. You sell it to your realtors for $100 and I’ll only charge you $50. You make $50 every time you sell it.”
There was some skepticism there, because there’s this young guy. At that time, I was driving a 67 Volkswagen bus – like a hippy van. I parked far and walked to the place. We were operating out of Maggie’s garage, but it worked as advertised. It was easier to support because it found the modem. The phone numbers were pre-installed. We just left everything as it was because we were lazy. We didn’t deal with those kinds of support calls anyway.
We just began to get some momentum here locally in Southern California. We used these real estate associations as our distribution channel, then we got into MOS organizations. Then again the MOS organizations are separate from the vendor making the software. The MOS organizations would license the software from these vendors of Moredata and PRC. They saw that we had a better product than the actual MOS vendors, so we began to do site licenses like enterprise contracts with these MOS vendors or MOS organizations.
That began to grow and we went to different national conferences and we met other MOS executives. I found the same situation around the country. Like I said, Seattle is on one software and Tacoma on another. We have Saint Paul in one system and Minneapolis on another. Dallas is on one system and then Fort Worth is on another.
One trick I used to do a lot was, I would print a pamphlet of our product. Back in the day, I’m talking about five and a quarter diskettes and three and a half diskettes. I would write a letter saying, “Hey, it was great to meet you. Here is that software I was talking about that worked with Moredata and PRC. Hopefully, this would make your members happy!”
And I would put this package together and send them randomly. I could get the names of these MOS executives. I’ve never met them personally but I send them a FedEx package because they probably wouldn’t remember if I met them anyway. What everybody does with FedEx is that they open it.
I began to get a lot of phone calls, because this is an actual pain point that they had. Subsequently, we would be huge in places like Omaha and Nebraska, so we would fly to Omaha or Cleveland a lot. I always felt like we were like this rock band that had this huge college following in some random college somewhere because the news gets caught on there.
We just began to grow and grow that business. Along the way, we met some other people in the business that were making reporting software. It’s something called CMA which stands for comparative mark analysis. This is a report that agents use to help them communicate or present to their sellers what the agents think the home is worth.
It compiles MOS data and does some statistics, some compilation, and calculations, and they can print this report and show this to the seller and say, “I did this work. I think your home is worth this much.”