Extract from Poll Immobilien: “Using digitalization as a driver for future success”

Photo: Wolfram Gast

Wolfram Gast: “Our goal is to position Poll Immobilien as an innovative premium broker in Europe. »

Von Poll Immobilien has significantly advanced the transformation in recent years. Wolfram Gast, Chief Digital Officer at von Poll Immobilien, explains exactly how the brokerage company has expanded its range of services for owners and buyers and how it should become more and more attractive to new partners and how the brand should continue to gain reputation.

Mr Guest, you have been driving the digital transformation at von Poll Immobilien at a breakneck pace for around three years. Where is the company today?
Guest: Three years ago, von Poll Immobilien stood for excellent advice in exclusive real estate locations. Today, the brand has by Poll Immobilien has not only increased its popularity but also redefined its positioning in the real estate sector. In addition to a focus on branding and personal competence, the company has placed emphasis on technology and positioned itself as a digital pioneer. Our more than 1,500 highly qualified real estate experts specialize in comprehensive premium services and also use the advantages of new technologies for customer advice and real estate brokerage. The development and expansion of consulting services using the latest technologies has led to a cultural dynamic within the company, characterized by curiosity, innovative strength, willingness to learn and a strong sense of belonging to the community.

How did you manage this change?
Guest: Flat hierarchies and effective communication channels across the network allow us to quickly identify and implement new trends and technologies. This emphasis on innovation has allowed Von Poll Immobilien to increasingly become a magnet for real estate professionals looking for a strong brand and the best technologies to grow their business. In addition to the introduction of a digital client portal, we have created an innovative brokerage platform with more than 80 digital tools and services that help brokers offer their clients cutting-edge, high-quality advice. Integrated tools save time, increase efficiency and our competitiveness in the market.

You mentioned the digital customer portal: what added value does this portal offer to customers?
Guest: With the introduction of our digital client portal, we have taken real estate brokerage to a new level. This all-in-one customer platform makes the evaluation, sale, purchase and financing of real estate particularly simple, convenient and transparent. For property owners and sellers, our customer platform offers comprehensive and user-friendly solutions if you plan to evaluate your properties, sell them, simulate a sale with von Poll Immobilien and actively or passively participate in the entire process of sale. The platform provides buyers with an efficient way to find properties faster, view them interactively and purchase them more successfully. Functions such as early receipt of real estate offers, interactive viewing rooms, online offers, individual financing solutions and financing certificates as proof of creditworthiness, as well as interactive property information regarding location , infrastructure, socio-economic aspects and accessibility simplify and optimize the purchasing process. In addition, everything is available at any time in one place, because all important documents can be accessed in a document manager.

What are the most important steps that you have implemented in the context of digitalization at von Poll Immobilien?
Guest: First of all, we developed a clear digital strategy. Our goal is to position Poll Immobilien as an innovative premium broker in Europe and to use digitalization as a driving force for our future success. To achieve this, we have targeted programs and training focused on innovation and change to promote our corporate culture and values. We have also recruited the brightest minds in various fields such as product ownership, business intelligence, software development, digital coaching, marketing and sales. It was also crucial to create a culture of disruption and digital innovation. We therefore rely on modern tools and working methods in the company so that our employees can work optimally together in responsible, customer-oriented and multidisciplinary teams. These dynamic work structures promote fast, productive processes that accelerate our profitable growth. We also attach great importance to the rapid implementation of prototypes and tests at customers' premises in order to be able to quickly provide digital services with high added value.

How did you get the entire company network to buy into this transformation?
Guest: In order to convince more than 1,500 colleagues to change and transformation, it is crucial to establish a common mindset and break down existing structures. Communication of the vision and objectives, the involvement of employees via InnovationLabs and feedback mechanisms as well as the role model function of managers are key elements. Providing resources, targeted training, agile working methods and continuous feedback make it possible to successfully implement changes and create structures that support innovation for the future. But change also takes time. And we take this time. And particularly important: as a business leader, demonstrate a willingness to change and be open to innovation in order to motivate and inspire colleagues.

What is the biggest challenge if such a change involves working in an established company?
Guest: Ultimately, there are three questions that move people and decide whether they want to get involved in a transformation and accept a CDO or not: “Can you help me? Are you worried about me? Can I believe you?' My biggest challenge was therefore to quickly establish a climate of trust with the general managers and my colleagues. This required an inspiring vision and strategy as well as a realistic roadmap. Reliability, transparency, continuity, experience, fairness, empathy as well as quick and verifiable successes and references were also crucial. By successfully overcoming these challenges, I was able to gain the trust of the network – the most important condition for advancing digital transformation together and promoting it every day.

Hand on heart: Where have you reached your limits?
Guest: The continued development of the digital service offering is of great importance to me. It is crucial to find the right speed that does not overwhelm our colleagues, partners and brokers as well as our customers. My idea is that there is a maximum speed that allows the organization to move to a mode in which innovation is optimally encouraged. The concept of “navigating the edge of chaos” from systems theory emphasizes that complex systems operate most effectively when they are close to chaos, but not completely in chaos. In this state, systems are flexible and adaptable to successfully cope with changes and challenges. Finding the right balance here is something that concerns me on a daily basis.

What are you particularly proud of?
Guest: I am very proud of our digital team, which has become a high-performance team. Each team member acts as the CEO of their own product and drives their topic forward with maximum personal responsibility and an entrepreneurial perspective. The combination of professionalism and team spirit, combined with a good dose of fun and enthusiasm for our projects – true to the motto “Play to win” – makes the team unbeatable. Additionally, it was not easy to join an established network as a new CDO and initiate such a change. Of course, there was also skepticism. But by digitizing real estate brokerage processes, we made the customer experience more transparent, smarter and more efficient while increasing agent efficiency, allowing us to attract more customers and increase our success overall. After much effort, a spirit of optimism has spread throughout the network, which inspires us all – regardless of our age – and encourages us to actively integrate these changes into our daily work.

What are your predictions for von Poll Immobilien?
Guest: In line with our vision and mission, we want to create digital added value for our customers at high speed. At the same time, we want to create an environment for brokers in which technology takes client acquisition, advice and placement to a new level and creates clear and unique selling points. Our goal is to use technology to create the best framework conditions for brokers so that they can attract more clients, provide them with even higher quality advice and ultimately make the entire brokerage process more efficient, transparent and successful for clients and brokers. We already have a busy development pipeline that will produce many new innovations by the end of 2024. Ultimately, we create optimal interaction between analog and digital premium advice in real estate brokerage – with the client deciding which channel he prefers.

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