Archilyse is Asking: How is the Real Estate Industry Standing up to

Interview with Patrick Schmid, CEO at ImmoSparrow

Patrick Schmid, CEO of ImmoSparrow, talks about his company and how he is dealing with the consequences of the Corona outbreak. His company focuses on software development and data science in order to help real estate asset holders to obtain the most complete property information.

In the “Standing up to Sars-Cov-2” interview series, we feature personalities from the real estate industry. We want to promote the exchange and encourage all real estate players to stay strong during this challenging time.

1. In what ways were and are you – as a company – most affected by the Sars-Cov-2 outbreak (e.g. decline in orders, termination of operations, etc.)?

As a young company with a focus on software development and data science, the majority of our 25 team members was able to continue working on the implementation of the development roadmap, practically unhindered. Thus, the most comprehensive release in the company’s history was made in the middle of the crisis. 

However, our sales team was severely affected. Despite digitisation, we generally rely on personal contact and visits of our (potential) customers on-site. This activity was discontinued.

2. What measures (technical, organizational, customer-specific) have been taken in your company? What tips can you give others based on your experience?

The technical prerequisites for location-independent work were already in place before Sars-Cov-2. We have been relying on online calls, cloud storage and web-based communication and working tools for some time now. 

We have therefore switched to full home office mode and can thus ensure that customer service is guaranteed and that the team can work simultaneously and efficiently. The chat and video tool also makes it easier to organise. All employees are thus connected at all times. 

Wherever possible, customer appointments have been conducted digitally. Physical meetings no longer took place.

3. What was your approach, e.g. did you think in different scenarios? Which sources of information or methodological approaches did you choose?

Since the time horizon was unclear, we thought in escalation stages. We followed the guidelines of the Federal Council and the BAG and “translated” them for us based on our organisational structure, the capabilities of the team and also on the infrastructure.

4. Looking back on the last few weeks, what would you do differently today? What conclusions can you already draw from this?

We would probably make most decisions again in the same or in a very similar way. But there is always a potential for optimisation. We were fortunate to have been technically well prepared and to have a team with an affinity for this way of working. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues.

5. Where do you see the greatest challenges or threats in the current situation? How do you deal with them?

We sincerely hope that our customers – to a large extent those are the real estate agents – will be able to return to some kind of normal operation as soon as possible. This is only feasible, however, if people have an increased desire and the opportunity to take up a real estate transaction again, whether on the buyer or seller side. Ultimately, therefore, the greatest challenge is the uncertainty of the society.

6. Are there any positive aspects you can draw from this crisis? What opportunities are there?

Every crisis opens up opportunities and can unleash unexpected forces. You are forced to break new ground. In collaboration with a partner, we were able to develop and launch a new digital product in a very short time. Thus we were able to strengthen the customer’s perception of us as a driver for innovation. In general, I expect that this phase will lead to a sustainable increase in online affinity.

7. Let’s travel into the past before the crisis – what tips would you give yourself from today’s perspective?

Even in normal times, every company should critically review its own approach on a regular basis. Perhaps the greatest opportunities lie outside the box.

8. Let’s travel into the future and think of April 2021 – What will have changed permanently as a result of this crisis?

The crisis will sustainably accelerate digitisation in industries where it is possible. This phase will bring to light very clearly what can and cannot be digitised. Areas that cannot be digitised are now suffering greatly, but will recover. In industries that can be digitised, there will be a shift.
And then there are cases in between. I expect that for the latter, new solutions will increasingly emerge that combine the important personal contact with digitisation.

9. How are you currently preparing for the time after Corona? Are there any measures that you are already taking?

Of course, we also consider in which steps the organisation can be returned to normal operation. This requires some adjustments, e.g. in the office layout, in order to maintain the distances.

Thanks a lot, Patrick Schmid, for these interesting insights!

Stay tuned!

Read also the other exciting interviews with Marcelo Collins from Viva Real or with Jan Eckert of JLL. Our next interview partner is coming up soon.