We Going To Be Discussing All Things IDX Broker
Chad Barczak has over twenty-five years of experience in business management and ownership. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA, both from the University of Oregon. Currently, Mr. Barczak is the CEO for IDX, LLC in Eugene, Oregon.
Even before co-founding IDX, Inc., Mr. Barczak was a seasoned entrepreneur. He has a proven record of developing and implementing strategic marketing plans resulting in enhanced corporate identities and increased company revenues. He is a marketing, sales and business development veteran of several technology companies ranging from inventory management to real estate.
Specialties: Mr. Barczak has extensive knowledge of the real estate sector, with an emphasis on technological applications and real estate-specific online marketing trends. He has worked with Realtors and brokers from across the United States to increase traffic to their websites through the addition of applications, lead generation and marketing tools.
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right show it’s episode 244. We got a great guest and I’ve got my great co-host Robert Newman. Our guest is Chad Barsac. He’s the CEO and joint founder of IDX broker. An IDX broker is a technology that not only my own company, but Robert’s company uses extensively. I’m going to let Chad quickly introduce him and then we should be able to get on with the interview. Chad, can you quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Chad: Sure. Hi, my name is Chad Barsac and, I’ve been doing the IDX stuff for about 17 years. We, I and a partner started it in 2003 and I’ve been plugging away ever since. I’m a bootstrapped company from the get go and we’ve expanded our operations one day, one customer at a time over the last 17 years. And now we’re happy to say we’re one of the largest IDX and MLS partners out there. In the space its still, independently owned and we’re just happy to be here and happy to service the independent agents, small entrepreneurs that are out there and especially the teams in small offices. So that’s kind of our bread and butter. We also like to partner with other web developers because we’re truly a data platform for people to customize on top of which you guys are both familiar with. So, that’s kind of why we exist and who we are.
Jonathon: Yeah. Great. And I’ve got my co-host, Robert Newman. Would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new, listeners of yours? Robert?
Robert: Sure. I’m the CEO of the inbound REM. We’re a real estate SEO focused lead generation company. And I blog a lot. You can look at that at inboundrem.com.
Jonathon: And I’m the founder of Mail-Right. We provide a WordPress website, but also a load of other functions using the power of Facebook to get you quality leads. Go to mail-right and find out more about us and how we could help you get more leads. So, Chad this thought of… We’re mostly real estate agents and some brokers, I feel listened to the show and I’m glad to say more. Everyone does, you know, in 2020, a lot of agents would say, you know, what’s the point of having your own website? What do you see that are still the benefits for agent having their own website presence and not relying on other platforms or their broker to provide some website platform for them?
Chad: That is a very good question because a lot of people out there are saying. Well, you can’t compete with Zillow and you can’t compete with all these other big portal sites, but that’s really not the only reason you have your website. You’re not trying to get number one, necessarily an SEO for homes for sale. What you’re trying to do is create your own brand, create control over your brand and have it be a supplement to your entire marketing plan. Meaning, you know, you want to have your own website. You do want to advertise on the portal sites and promote your listings throughout any other portal site or even blogs or Facebook, any other, social media you can. So it’s a multipronged approach.
Chad: If you don’t have your own website, you don’t have control over that. You can’t control your own branding. Once you get the leads in, then you as an entrepreneur, you always want to brand yourself, even if you’re with a franchise or, a larger office, you always want to retain control for your own your branding. And so we always, we see individual entrepreneurs all the time. Calling us they’re with a major. They get free website tools from their major franchise.
They still want to brand themselves brand their team. And they want to be the individual entrepreneurs. That’s why agents got into this in the first place. They want to be entrepreneurs. They want to have control. That doesn’t mean they can’t use all the tools that their, office gives them for free, but they have to supplement that with their own website. And there’s a ton of tools, a ton of vendors out there that have great website tools for those individual entrepreneurs.
Jonathon: Yeah, I think it was before I throw it over to Robert. i think that was a great answer because I really see as the kind of a hub of all your online marketing activities should be the website really, shouldn’t it?
Chad: Yup, absolutely. You know, and then when you’re, when you’re looking at lead gen strategies, and when you’re looking to try to generate lead gen, it is that multipronged approach. That is just one element of your entire marketing plan. And if you can consolidate and then actually funnel them in to your website via the multipronged approach, then you have one mechanism in order to manage and marinate those and get them to close, or get them to list with you at the end.
Jonathon: I love that word. Marinate. Robert, over to you.
Robert: So I’m going to step it back for a second guy because I think that our listeners fall into two buckets Chad. We have our wildly experienced real estate agents and brokers that have been doing this for 10 or 15 years, and they know exactly who you are. And some of those guys are in my Facebook group, and they’re no doubt tuned into a slide watching anxious to hear what you have to say, but we also have another very big block of users, which are inexperienced agents that are just starting off in their career year one through three. And they probably don’t really know, like they may not even really know what IDX stands for, which is Information Data Exchange. And they certainly don’t understand the core principle of what, how, or when you use a tool like IDX broker.
Robert: So if you don’t mind, I will take a single second to give my definition, and then you’re going to step in as the, and, and correct me. So, the way that I understand IDX is that you have companies like real estate webmasters who built an internal tool, and it takes the data from the MLS boards and it reorganizes that data to present better on their website platforms. IDX Broker is a tool for people that are going to build their own websites. And we don’t, like guys like me and John doesn’t necessarily have the resources to build an entire IDX. So then what we’re going to do is we’re going to look for a partner who’s already built it for us, and that’s where IDX broker steps in. And they give us the opportunity to reorganize the data from the MLS’s, and we can do all sorts of amazing things with that data such as control when we’re asking for registration, which affects lead flow. We can control the way the layout of these search results look inside your website, which for some higher experienced users is very important. And that’s where, in my opinion, IDX broker stands alone. The customization of the data coming in from the MLS’s. Would you agree with that? And do you have any additional comments?
Chad: Yeah, I couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s exactly what we do. So if you think about an IDX broker, basically as a platform, we are essentially the engine and we partner with other people, either they’re individual users that, are managing their own website with a DIY over the engine, and everyone else builds the chassis and puts all the aftermarket parts around as if we were a car. So, I like to use that analogy because we’re everything that drives that car that makes that car move on the data side. You can customize the look and feel and all the extra stuff on top. But we partner with people. We have 1300 individual partners on the web development side that basically build chassis around our platform that are in our engine.
Chad: So it’s a nice position to be in because, first of all. You know, the 1300 people, they certainly could go out there. They could query data from the MLS, they can build a one-off the system and they could probably scale that across one or two MLS’s, but there’s 800 MLS’s out there. They’re all different data sets. There is no data standard across all 800. There’s no national data set. What we do is we take all of that garbage, put it in and standardize it, sanitize it, and then push it back out to the individual regions or individual agents. And so we give them much-localized format and it’s very difficult to scale on a regional or individual basis. That’s why we’re here. That’s all we do all day long. And then we leave it to the individual experts with our web designers in those areas that work with the end client. But the real estate agents customize that and basically customize the chassis all around that standard engine. And so, you know, we’ve pretty much dialed in the scale and the infrastructure there, for example, and then what we do is speak, because we do the heavy lifting on that. Everything’s driven through our hosted servers. Like for example, if we were a portal site, we’d be one of the top six portal sites for real estate search traffic, which gives additional extra SEO benefit of course. So we get over 4 million unique users across our entire platform each month.
Robert: Wow. That’s a serious, serious number. Now I have a lot of deep-dive question, John, I don’t want to.
Jonathon: It’s difficult to know where to take this conversation because of the different type of audience, but one area that we’re trying to explore with you, before we go for our break is the importance of WordPress and why you have state. So, I’m looking for the right word. Your focus has always been the IDX, but then staying with WordPress open source. Why have you not decided to go to pure SAS model, but still keep to some extent in the WordPress ecosystem?
Chad: Well, you know, with real estate agents, over 50% of the real estate agent websites out there are built on WordPress. We love WordPress. We have a great plugin. The plugin is available for free. Basically you download it, but you have to have an active subscription with us. So we are playing in the WordPress world, but then you have to have a, you know, it is, we are a SAS model business. So you do have to pay for a subscription. We’re not a not-for-profit. And so we charge a very fair rate, I think, in order to get the data to flow through that login. We also have another product that’s called IDX broker home, which is,, basically all inclusive, built on WordPress. We have our own WordPress framework from an acquisition we made, from.
Robert: Equity! You bought equity!
Chad: Yes. We bought equity. Built on equity, and we did that. It was from the grant. It was a ground up framework for the real estate markets specifically. You know, so we have, we have a lot of history with WordPress. We love it.
Jonathon: I feel though with the changes are actually, feel some of the changes that I sense that you’re going down. I’m very relieved. I think you’re choosing to go down. I get the feeling that you are slightly moving yourself more as the provider, the data then, and allowing third parties to work with you. I sense until recently that there was a move that may be in, reducing the importance of those partners and promoting your own solution. But I feel, about a year ago there was a change in philosophy. But that’s my own fantasy. Has that been ongoing discussion inside your own company?
Chad: The only ongoing discussion we’ve had is how to expand our developer network. That is probably our most important kind of channel. And I would much prefer to grow our channel. with developers because for a number of reasons, they’re highly technical, they do complete customization. So I think they do a really good service for the end-user. They’re able to attack on their own additional billable hours by using our platform. And so they can monetize our platform further. You know, we would be Robbie remiss to say that, retail, isn’t also important.
Retail is very important to us direct to channel because we get people calling up all the time saying, I don’t have a web developer. Can you just help me? I want to work with you guys directly. So we certainly by default have that, but our main goal, our business plan is all based around developer channel. And we are dedicated 100%, have been for the last 10 years. We’ve paid out over $12 million on commissions to a web developer partners over the years. And I love that number to grow even more, which you truly see them as partners in this equation.
Jonathon: That’s great to hear, over to you, Robert.
Robert: So, one of those deep-dive questions you covered briefly, but I’d like to spend a second more on is. You guys did buy equity, which at the time that you bought it, was one of the more prevalent WordPress schemes that was selling itself automatically as a IDX broker integration, kind of WordPress website theme, which may be throwing a whole bunch of technical jargon and a small handful of the people that listen to the show. And then everybody else is going to know exactly what we were talking about. And I built I want to say 20 or 30 projects on top of equity. So I’m curious to know though, you guys, if I’m not mistaken, you haven’t made that many acquisitions, is that right?
Chad: We’ve only really done two so far. So agent evolution and then agent marketing in 2017. Now that’s not to say we haven’t tried. We are buying, we are looking for companies. We are looking for, proper fits. I think one of our biggest, opportunities to scale our business is to find a CRM. For example, we have kind of a light CRM. We partner with a ton of our web developers who have their own CRMs. We’ve talked to a lot of them about partnering and we just, we would like to see a partnership or a larger acquisition in the CRM space. So we’re actively looking, we’re always out there looking opportunities at any given time.
You know, there hasn’t been the last three years. I always have some sort of a deal on the table. Haven’t closed on any, it’s been a competitive market. And, you know, I think, you know, we came in first place with, agent evolution and agent marketing and we’ve come in behind first place every other time. So expectations,the market and economics certainly now with COVID and everything, there’s certainly some challenges on the valuation side, perhaps there’s opportunities also for a company like us to find, somebody who could use the help from a scale stand.
Robert: When you’ve got guys like Compass buying the team of 40 that was contextually. Then you’re up against pretty bloody stiff competition just because they wanted to get their hands on the technical know-how. So that basically that team of 40 can go ahead and build them, their own real estate CRM. So I, don’t envy that position that you’re in, because unfortunately there are some really big players like CEXP and who knows maybe even compass, isn’t happy with the 40 guys that they got and maybe they feel like they need more.
Jonathon: Well, it didn’t seem to go really, you know, that was part of the sale because I did interview the CEO before I think a month before it was, stated that compass was born. I sensed there was something going on because Zach who was the CEO, it just didn’t seem to have the energy of somebody really trying to drive. I just sensed something that was going on.
Chad: The due diligence process, whether you buy side or sell side is always a challenge. And certainly now with great consolidation going on in the real estate market, particularly prop-tech and the industry that we’re in, there’s always conversations around it. You know, our stated goal here is, you know, we want to be a leading player moving forward. We know consolidation is happening and we’re going to be a larger company moving forward. And we’re going to compete, with those that have deeper pockets. Sometimes we come in second and sometimes we miss an opportunity, but we’ll be in the number one position at the right time. And we’re happy to keep plugging away. You know, we’re entrepreneurs at the end of the day, so we don’t give up, we just dig in harder.
Jonathon: Right? We’re going to go for our break folks. When we come back, we’ll be delving in all the world of IDX and IDX broker. We’ll be back in a few moments’ folks.
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Jonathon: Welcome back. We’re having a fascinating conversation with the CEO of IDX broker. So Chad, well obviously in the world of WordPress, I have a leading podcast which often gets number three in the WordPress ecosystem where I just did my 500th episode early on this morning. You know, there’s been a lot with Gutenberg now, for the estate agents Gutenberg is a page building website, building visual editor that the parent company of WordPress also made. He’s trying to push through and it’s been an ongoing project for the past two years. Isn’t it? How do you see Gutenberg radio affecting not only your own product, but how, IDX broker can be used?
Chad: Well, I mean, I think that you know, we’ve known about that for a while too, and, you know, that is a big kind of sea change in the WordPress world and everything. So for us, it doesn’t fundamentally change our business model. You know, we’re always going to have plugins, or we’re always going to be compatible with, the new supported versions of WordPress. And it doesn’t really change. We’re not in the web design business per se. We do have a IDX broker home product that is somewhat, more of a concierge service. It’s not a DIY.
So those, that are really using WordPress, on their own. It’s really going to affect them and how it interfaces with IDX. We’re not a company that promotes or supports necessarily you doing your own WordPress. We prefer that you use a WordPress expert, or use a full-service product like our home product. And so, it doesn’t really change our business model. Will always be compatible and work with the latest supported versions, of course. And so that is a sea change though, for sure.
Robert: I have some questions here, and this is more… If I accidentally put you through your paces, I apologize. But I am curious to know, because you may not. You probably haven’t been on the front line selling your product, except maybe in a very broad sense in a long time. So when I say showcase, IDX, Agent Fire, Wolfnet, I-home finder, there’s a laundry list of other IDX providers that do in theory, what you do and for the people listening to the podcast, would you mind giving us your elevator pitch about what makes IDX broker different than all of those and the many, many more I did not just mention IDX providers.
Chad: Sure. First of all, we probably have hundreds of competitors that technically take MLS data, push it through their own system and then, provide a customizable solution. What make us different is the scalability and the scale at which we do that. We do that across every single MLS that’s out there. And we are the only ones that are out there at a national scale that also take every single piece of data and push it back to the user. In every other case, they’re standardizing the data at scale and creating core data or data fields on their own and pushing it back out in a sanitized, and their own standard process. We don’t do that. We’re not the ones to say, Hey, in Florida, we think this is the standard. And that’s the same as an Idaho. So what we do is we take the local data, we put it through our system, make it scalable, and this is the difficult part of what we do and push out every single advanced and extra field that they offer.
Chad: Nobody does that at scale. And that is the key difference. Now we have, I mentioned hundreds of competitors. We may have somebody in Florida, that’s built a one off solution. They spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars building their own data solution that works perfectly with that MLS and scale that, and move that into Idaho because those data fields won’t match. And so from the beginning, we’ve always been kind of data geeks, and that’s our bread and butter. We really, really feel as though it’s important to keep that data local and locally focused at scale. Which sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not, but we are the only ones that do that. And so that’s our biggest competitive advantage, but those other competitors that you mentioned, they’re all great companies. I know them all, and they all have a, ‘within this commoditized data world’, they all have their own unique advantages. And so I would, I think people out there, they just have to look at what they’re looking for in a vendor and we may or may not be a fit for that.
Robert: Right. And so, that everybody, listeners so that, you know, the reason that I, and I’m not speaking for John, I’m only speaking for me, the reason that I’ve consistently used IDX broker, it’s interesting that you would just leap off with those specific examples because Florida is, most of the time, a heartbreak and a headache for anybody in the web development world. And why might you ask? Because their MLS’s have fields for things like docks that are walkable, that literally is a data field that they have in some of their MLS stuff. And that’s, I’m just giving you a simple example. They have fees, no fees on the golf score side. So when you start saying like a Florida MLS data set, you might have as many as 20 to 50 additional details in that data set that another MLS would not have when you get a client who is trying to compete against local Florida companies for website stuff.
Robert: And they’ve got vendors like Rezi who offer all of that data inside a condominium building, like you have 30 amenities that are listed as part of the data set, which obviously you want on your website, but these other website vendors, these other data providers that Chad is mentioning in bulk. They, for the most part don’t allow for that. Whereas IDX broker does, if the data field is there, we can do something with it. That is why I’ve consistently opted to use IDX broker over your competitors. Because when you are building bigger website projects or you’re talking to customers who are more particular, they’ve got to have that data. They just, they feel that they have to have.
Chad: Absolutely, I’m glad you mentioned that because, to that individual user and that individual data set, that is the most important thing that they have to search and compete on and then create SEO around. You know, walkable dock, for example; that’s a perfect example. That’s the only reason they may even want to use our product because they can spill search tools around that. And so, that’s great. That’s why we did that. And so in general, that is the rule. And then we have that at scale.
There are always exceptions. There’s always going to be vendors out there on an individual basis that may do that as well. But that’s our, that’s our competitive advantage at scale. We’re also the largest provider from a market share standpoint. We’re probably twice as big as our next best competitor. And so everybody else is kind of, they’re moving at a slightly smaller scale. And so has its challenges at times, you know, we’ve been doing this 17 years and you know, it’s a big ship to move from a data standpoint. And so we’re always looking at ways to optimize and make our data faster, better and stronger.
Robert: So John, I have some questions that relate. So, I happen to think that your product is pretty fantastic, Chad. But there are things that I, think that it’s lacking. And I would, like to ask you some questions about some of those things. If John doesn’t want to take his turn to ask you some questions. John, do you want to cue up something?
Jonathon: I’m happy to let you know. I think the main thing is that your apart, you have your internal solution, but as you said, you really concentrate in working with your developer network. But the beauty of it, because it’s WordPress is that if you get fed up with this particular developer, you can find another developer can’t you? Or you get fed up with your hosting provider. You can find another hosting provider. And then you can move it can’t you? Were with, some of the other payers that we’ve talked about. If you stop paying, you lose everything, don’t you Chad?
Chad: You know, I can’t speak to our competitors out there and how they handle it. As long as you’re on our platform, you can pick from any of the 1300 web developers or do it on your own. We have a direct relationship. So you pay for our services separate from the web developer, and you can use anyone you want. And if you’re not having a good time with one of our partners, it’s unfortunate, but you know, we have 1,299 others you can choose from. So yeah, you know, we are a fairly standard platform out there. A lot of people do use it. And so there is a, that scale does come in, come into play and it gives people a lot choices. And whether they’re on WordPress or anything else, it’s not dependent on WordPress at all.
Jonathon: I just wanted to. Because I think that’s one of the great strengths. So, we could probably. We got about enough time for about one question and then hopefully stay on for another 10 minutes. Is that okay if we call a bonus? So Robert, after the next two to three questions, so you probably got time for one more question, Robert, and then we will end the podcast. Then you can continue the questions in the bonus content. How does that sound, Robert?
Chad: Alright give me that hardball
Robert: Well, alright. I don’t know. I’m gonna make this first more gentle and very broad.
Robert: So overall you’ve always had my business at IDX broker, but I have been watching with a great deal of interest. Some of the things that some other providers like Showcase, in particular, are doing where they’re doing watch parties and they’re creating a different type of engagement around property search. I think that my question is which yields better. Like it yields a slightly higher conversion type mentality, onside the website because our objective with using your tool most of the time is to create a conversation between the user, during the search and the person.
I’ve always felt the IDX broker without a huge amount of work. And by the way, I do that work. So I know what I’m talking about. Like it’s hard to make IDX broker work right to start those conversations. In other words, to get registration, your registration stuff has remained fairly basic. May I ask you the question of, do you have anything on the horizon? Is that even on your radar to potentially address inside your system?
Chad: So we have a product roadmap that’s three years long. At this point, we prioritize that every quarter and we do have new things that are going to drive engagement for lead gen. And it is a slightly different approach for us, our approach in years past, and which basically the live system that you’re working with now and seeing is more of hands-off. We’re going to give you the data. We’re going to give you all the custom tools around manipulating that data. And they’re going to leave it up to you to figure out how you’re going to use those tools. So we provide the tools. We don’t necessarily show you how to use them, or necessarily even give you an instruction manual on what you should or shouldn’t do. We’re taking a new approach now at lead gen because we have a lot of users that are looking for things like that, just out of the box, rather than creating it themselves or using third parties, for example.
Chad: We also didn’t want to step on the toes of our developers because a lot of developers do lead gen. They do SEO, PPC. They do an SEM, all kinds of monetized services that we didn’t want to provide those services and compete with our own developers. So we do because of our business model, we tread carefully there because our partners are so important to us. So with that said, you know, lead gen is one of our top priorities and integration. So you’re going to see new things like our API’s are much more robust now to integrate with CRMs and other third party tools. You will see in 2020, much more integration with other third parties. We just signed a deal with Home Junction, for example, and we’re doing these things called market reports, which has been in demand for a long time.
Chad: That’s coming out in like a week or two it’s in QA final, QA right now. And then new widgets will be coming on with that. That is a lead that is focused entirely on lead gen out of the box. We’ve paused on that before, because we had other partners that created market reports, and that was how they did their business on top of our platform. So we have treaded lightly, the other competitors that are doing that. You mentioned, they may or may not have a developer partner program, so they’re not worried about it. They’re adding those new services. So we have a little bit more to keep in mind and you know, part of our overall business model. We do tread lightly.
Jonathon: We can end the podcast part. So Chad agreed to stay on for another 10-12 minutes, which you’d be able to see on the Mail-Right YouTube channel and on the Mail-Right website. We have a full transcription of the whole interview plus some extras. So Chad, what’s the best way to find out more about your company and about you.
Chad: So idxbroker.com, agentmarketing.com, and then you can just, look me up on LinkedIn, add me. And, I’d love to collaborate with any potential new partners out there.
Jonathon: Yeah. I’ve got to say that your support team, especially Steven, I give a shout out to Steven and he’s a really great guy and he’s helped me personally quite a bit. So give him a gold star when you see him.
Chad: We’re very proud of our support team. Thank you.
Jonathon: Robert, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to?
Robert: Oh, if they must, they can go to inboundrem.com. All the information that you ever need to know about me or anything else that I do is there.
Jonathon: And we’ll be back next week. I’ve rustled up some guests, in the next couple of weeks. I think they’re going to be as good as Chad. I think has been a fascinating conversation. I think it hopefully opened the eyes about why it’s important to have your own website, your own presence in 2020,. We will be back next week. See you soon folks. Bye