CENTURY 21 Canada fast-tracks Google Workspace migration with Suitebriar
For over 40 years CENTURY 21 Canada has been making the dream of homeownership a reality for clients across the country. As a member of the world’s largest, most recognized residential real estate brand*, CENTURY 21 Canada’s almost 400 offices and over 10,000 network members adhere to the highest standards of service & professionalism in the industry. These standards of excellence have helped CENTURY 21 Canada capture an impressive 20% of the Canadian real estate market and has resulted in CENTURY 21 Canada being home to several of the global brand’s top offices and 7 of the top 21 agents!
Achieving and maintaining this level of success requires a productivity solution that supports 24/7 communication. As anyone who’s purchased or sold a property with C21 knows, your agent is available to you any time, day or night. That requires a robust email system that is capable of delivering millions of emails without interruption. Unfortunately, that was not the experience CENTURY 21 Canada had with its legacy email system. Using a competing email hosting solution, agents and employees were not receiving emails, messages weren’t being sent and access to their messages was spotty, resulting in missed opportunities and serious frustrations.
Accustomed to taking their success into their own hands, many agents had begun forwarding their CENTURY 21 Canada email to their personal Gmail accounts to avoid disruptions in communication. To Jack Miller, CENTURY 21 Canada’s Chief Technical Officer and project champion, “we were getting what we paid for with our legacy system and that was serious reliability issues and our users were frustrated.” Differing from other industries, the majority of CENTURY 21’s agents and employees are actually independent contractors. As such, corporate can not mandate that they use a particular technology, especially when that technology is failing.
Although email reliability was an issue organization-wide, making a change would require intense planning, training and communication. After all, CENTURY 21 Canada is a large organization of 10,000 users and nearly 400 locations spread across a vast country.
Knowing that many users were forwarding their email to a Google Workspace account, CENTURY 21 Canada’s CTO was interested in learning exactly how many users were already using an alternative email platform. “As a part of assessing our current environment and researching possible alternative platforms, we found that 30-35% of our users were already using Google Workspace. That’s 4,000 users that were not only familiar with the product but were successfully using it to close business.” To Mr. Miller, that statistic would significantly reduce the cost of training users and boost adoption rates.
Another consideration for the C21 implementation team was to identify a solution that would “future proof” their infrastructure. Google’s investment in the future development, support & success of the Google Workspace product paired with its compatibility with other tools as well as the projected adoption rates by staff made Google Workspace the best solution for their needs. The next step was finding an expert to lead their transition.
“Identifying Suitebriar as our Google Cloud Premier Partner, was critically important to the success of Century 21 Canada’s adoption of Google Workspace,” explains Mr. Miller. “This transition was a lot of work. I can’t imagine doing a migration without a partner. At our scale, it would have been very difficult.” Suitebriar managed the technical migration of data, working to ensure the Century21.ca domain and mail was routed properly and spam filters were set up appropriately. This is a sizeable achievement considering the large number of emails, domains & users. Suitebriar’s deployment team also fielded any questions for CENTURY 21’s launch team.
To kick-off the implementation internally, CENTURY 21 Canada’s headquarters announced the migration at the annual corporate conference in September 2017 in Quebec City. “The feedback from our agents to the announcement was excitement,” shared Chiyoko Kakino, CENTURY 21 Canada’s VP of Marketing. “From the agent’s perspective, to be successful, they can’t have downtime. Moving to Google Workspace eliminates that.” The implementation would begin in December and continue over the winter to minimize interruptions during the slower winter season for residential real estate in Canada.
Ongoing communications with all 10,000 users were regularly shared including instructional videos, reminders, and documentation. Suitebriar, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, also conducted 2 days of onsite training with project sponsors in a “train the trainer” format. Suitebriar also provided recordings of the trainings to be used during the onboarding process.
In February 2018, after a 60 day implementation managed by Suitebriar, CENTURY 21 Canada’s entire organization was using Google Workspace. “A technology roll out at this scale can be a big pain,” according to the CTO. “This was a kitten. It was one of the smoothest technology implementations in my 20-year career thanks to Suitebriar.”
CapabilitiesWith the busiest season for real estate fast approaching, CENTURY 21 Canada’’s staff is poised for success with best-in-class email and an IT infrastructure that can be easily molded to fit the needs of the business, one of the enterprise-level benefits of Google Workspace. By utilizing Single sign-on (SSo), C21’s users can now conveniently access the high-value real estate products that they use daily which integrate seamlessly with Google Workspace. The company expects to integrate a number of industry products in the coming months including the addition of a new CRM system. This integration is particularly enticing to the C21 IT team as Google contacts will make it extremely easy for users to conduct business.
In the short term, the C21 IT team is actively moving their file storage to Google Drive, the file storage option built-in to Google Workspace; a transition that is scheduled to be completed by the new year. They are also working to roll out company level calendars to the 400+ franchise locations to facilitate training within each office. They are also utilizing Google sites to share documents with these locations.
Outside of the IT team, the adoption of Google Workspace and Google not only facilitates sales it also grows the business by being a differentiator in attracting new agents to the team. A selling point C21’s marketing team has already started to advertise ahead of the summer season!