In this episode Scott Fisher, the founder and CEO of SentriLock, discusses how an engineer ended up in the real estate technology business. Scott talks about the importance of security and how his company is focused on safety and compliance. Next, Scott gives a description of SentriKey, their newest product, and why it’s a natural evolution for agents. Scott also talks about how SentriLock handles data collection and why that should matter to real estate professionals.
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D.J. Paris 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real, the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris. I am your guide and host through the show and in just a moment, we’re going to be speaking with Sentry Locke, founder and CEO Scott Fisher. Before we get to Scott just a couple of quick reminders number one, please tell a friend about this podcast and one other real estate agent that could benefit from hearing from top producers and industry veterans like Scott and send them a link to our website keeping it real pod.com They can find every episode we’ve ever done in streaming right from their browser and also follow us on Facebook, you can find firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash keeping it real pod we post every episode we do there. We also as we’re recording episodes live, we broadcast them live on that Facebook page so you can watch in advance of us actually producing the episode and you’ll get early access. So again facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod and now on to our interview with Scott Fisher.
Today on the show we have Scott Fisher from Sentry lock Now Scott is the CEO and founder of sentry lock LLC, which is a subsidiary and the official lockbox solution for the National Association of REALTORS as an innovator with over 30 years developing and delivering technology solutions in the real estate industry. Scott has 24 US and foreign patents to his credit and is the catalyst for technology driven development for century lock now over 400,000 Realtors currently use sentry lock. And as we mentioned, they are the official lockbox solution for NAR if you’re not yet using sentry lock or their newest product century key which we’re going to be speaking about, please contact your local REALTOR ASSOCIATE association or visit century lock. And that’s century with an AI century lock.com. Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott Fisher 2:44
Oh, great to be here. Thanks for having me.
D.J. Paris 2:46
We are really excited to have you here. And I am we normally don’t have you know, what we do on the show is predominantly talk to top producers and ask them how they became successful. And most of our top producers that we’ve interviewed on the show over the years, we’ve done about 300 episodes or just under you century lakhs. So we thought this was a perfect opportunity to speak to the man behind the technology. And also you guys have some exciting news of a new launch that happened last month. And so we are actually I guess, almost two months ago now. And we’d love to talk to you about that. So my first question is for anyone out there who’s a realtor who might not be currently used utilizing century lock? Can we just talk define what century lock is and what it does?
Scott Fisher 3:30
Yeah, so essentially, like we started the company back about almost 18 years ago, and when we came in the market to do was to provide a competitive solution to the electronic lockbox that was out there, market being primarily dominated by Super at the time, which was owned by General Electric. And my partners and I started the business specifically to bring a competitive lockbox solution into the marketplace. And now it’s pretty much us and super out there.
D.J. Paris 3:55
And how did you get involved in the real estate industry? Are you are you an engineer or you’re an inventor, sort of what’s your background?
Scott Fisher 4:03
My background is engineering. And I’ll give you the short version. And we’d have to get some beer involved in this because it’s a long story. But my background goes back really 30 years ago. So back in the days and some of you will remember this some of you looking at me like I’m talking from the dark ages of computers is that my first product in this space was a terminal access software that was used by real estate agents to access or multiple listing service. This of course, is all pre internet pre browser. And what it allows you to do was use your dial up modems, if you might remember that from many years ago to access those proprietary mainframes download photographs, all the things that your browser does without even blinking an eye today was all done over dial up in those days. So my partner’s partner I business we we basically sold our products primarily through forest systems which again you know, ancient MLS names will pop up here, and ultimately more data management which would have the compass product and our product at one point was probably the most widely used terminal access software. So there was a software side of the business which we ran for about probably 10 years. And then as part of that, you know, getting exposed to other real estate technology needs. We looked into the lockbox scenario, because there were a lot of customers saying that they were looking for choices, new technology, new opportunities out there. And interestingly, my one of my partners had started a rapid prototyping business. This is back in the days when 3d printing was just coming on the market, the printers were, you know, half a million dollar pieces of equipment, etc. So, in house, we have this kind of interesting mix of engineers and software developers and people with real estate technology background, we created a lockbox solution, which we then partnered up with NAR, that became a majority investor in the business and promoted that to real estate agents. And now we have 400,000 Real estate agents in the US and Canada using our product and service.
D.J. Paris 5:53
And so, essentially, lock is a huge leap beyond going to Amazon purchasing a lockbox for $20, you know, putting a manual code in and, you know, hoping no one else gets gets access to that code. Right?
Scott Fisher 6:06
Right. Absolutely not, you know, the technology we focused around, you know, agent productivity, certainly the security, the product is important. You know, ours is, you know, one of the most independently tested, attack tested products out there. But to make sure the readers feel safe putting it on there, plus, it’s a differentiator for agents coming in to their clients, you know, if they put a Master Lock combo lock on the property. And that’s pretty, pretty benign, you know, you can get those at Home Depot. However, you know, bringing on something new the clients like this one is, this is the best technology that’s out there to help track your activity, the listing provide the data, we need to support the sale of the property, etc. So we think it’s a differentiator from a market perspective for agents promoting themselves to clients,
D.J. Paris 6:46
and additional security, because, of course, you know, realtors are the only ones to get access to those codes through through the sentry lock system.
Scott Fisher 6:57
Exactly, of course, you know, we’re app base now. So that makes the security even greater, there’s no code floating around unless it’s a temporary access solution. So again, It really tailors to what agents are using every day. And if nobody, if you don’t believe me about the security aspects, just go on YouTube, and look up any commercial lock product out there, that’s a lockbox. And you’ll find that there are certainly a lot of people very creative ways of getting into this product. So we, we think that we try to keep our product focused on providing the best possible security for agents again, as well as the data and the best customer experience for their clients.
D.J. Paris 7:31
Yeah, and you guys have a huge, impressive customer, sir, sort of satisfaction score of like nine, almost 100%, like 96%, which is saying a lot, because as we know, realtors tend to be very critical of technology, in particular, anything, where anything could possibly go wrong, they are going to want to blame the technology, you know, and your technology seems to seems to get blamed free almost because it’s so it’s so effective. And, and efficient. And, and I know you, but I really want to talk about sentry key, which is, which is your newest iteration. And we’d love to hear I know that you’re super excited about it, you guys just rolled it out. And we just want to make sure everyone on who listens and watches our show is aware of how to get access to it and what it does and why they should choose it.
Scott Fisher 8:17
So let me just give you a little background, the central key showing service products was an effort that we started about 15 months ago. So this was pre some of the current merger and acquisition acquisition activities occurred. So our board of directors and I and our leadership looked at this and said, we noticed there’s a lot of consolidation going on, this is showing service space. And we said, you know, this is a great fit for the lockbox side the access piece there like peanut butter and jelly, they go together very easily. You know, if you’re accessing the properties, usually in relation to a showing appointment that’s scheduled. So we said why don’t we add the appointment scheduling capability into the platform, leverage our great customer service platform, we have our call center technology, we have to really compete with the the showing times other products out there in the world. That was really the kind of genesis for it. Certainly today with the recent acquisitions in the industry that’s generated a lot of greater interest in the product. Now this isn’t an option or an alternative out there. We’re excited about the the interest that’s generated in the marketplace.
D.J. Paris 9:18
Yeah, we’re interested in a I’m in the local Chicago market and showing time is what’s currently built into our local MLS. Can you talk about sort of how agents would if they were interested in using sentry key? How they would you know, make the shift or or you know, how would they actually, you know, sign up for it to be able to schedule showings?
Scott Fisher 9:40
Yeah, so here’s how this is going to work. So initially, as we’re launching the product, we’re launching into associations and MLSs first as a kind of a platform play, simply because for us to try to go out and attack you know, a market of 1.4 million agents out there covering you know, a zillion different jurisdictions 1000 associations and MLSs we we said okay, let’s Go with that approach because then we can put the platform out there and then agents can subscribe to that. An important fact that we’ve been asked a lot about is do you hit does it require that the sentry lock lockbox platform be in place? The answer is in q3 it will not in q3 will offer an any MLS or association regardless of lockbox platform. Today, it’s just easier for us to launch on our own platform just to make it make that transition smoother as we kind of get, get our legs under it and get more customers on board.
D.J. Paris 10:25
So if anyone’s currently a century lock subscriber, do they have access to Century key today or not quite yet, or
Scott Fisher 10:33
not quite yet, it would take the association or MLS to basically engage our product on that level. And then the agents can basically purchase the additional functionality from through us for the platform, some of the MLS ism associations we’re talking to are actually rolling out the product system wide to all their agents and all their members that way they can utilize it. And depending on the association, or most might be the very basic integration or maybe as much as the call center integration. So different levels, different needs for different folks. But we’re seeing that activity coming primarily again, through the associations and MLS is initially.
D.J. Paris 11:08
So as the overall sort of vision for MLS integration with the software. So for example, the software that’s used here locally in Chicago is called M read. And right now in M read, I believe showingtime might be the only native option inside the software. However, do you see that going forward? You know, there would be two options or two or two choices, right? If you want to subscribe to you know, centric key that may show up natively as well inside of each MLS.
Scott Fisher 11:36
Yeah, I think you bring up a good point, certainly, some associations and MLS is one product to support. And that’s fine. And they may choose us, I may choose other options out there. But I believe you’ll see in multiple markets where there’s a choice of platforms, and there will be the little bug on the listing or whatever that’s either, you know, a central key showing or showing time showing. But I fully believe over the course of the next few years, you’re going to see where MLS is probably may adopt one or more platforms to provide their agents choice again, second, choose the platform that they’re they’re most familiar with or most comfortable with or the features or what they’re looking for. So I do believe you will see that there’s been some discussion right now within Rezo. Effectively the real estate real estate standards organization about potentially starting up a a showing service, cross platform functionality or interoperability kind of standard, which will be important, I think, in the future. Because certainly having multiple platforms in the market, you need to make sure those platforms talk to each other. That way, if an appointment is scheduled on one app, they can actually have it to show up in the other platform. So I think you’ll see some interesting things come out with that over the next six months to a year.
D.J. Paris 12:39
And so let’s I’d love to just get granular all the way down to the end user sort of experience, meaning the realtor experience using sentry key, can you just walk us through a workflow of sort of, you know, what, what can be done, how it works and sort of the the end game as well?
Scott Fisher 12:56
Sure, so just like any appointment scheduling platform, the first of all, the agent can set up the appointment, the calendaring, they can set up their itinerary for their showings, they’re gonna perform the all of the confirmation activity is all done electronically, either through the app or through telephone calls or through text messaging. So we support all the different communication platforms. Something is very interesting about our platform, one thing that we’re investing in as a lot is artificial intelligence or machine learning that’s related primarily around the appoint rescheduling. So we know that in showing services rescheduling happens all the time show listings go off market, you know, buyer interest changes. So what we know happens currently is there’s a lot of manual interaction between the listing and or the buyer’s agent, the sellers agent, trying to maybe you know, Justice schedules, we’re trying to bring the machine learning in place that can actually automatically do all that work for the agent. I can even take into account things like traffic conditions, it can rearrange the itinerary around saying gee, you know, there’s there’s a backup on Interstate 75. And you know, you’re gonna be late to your next appointment, would you like me to help reestablish a new appointment time or reorganize your schedule in a way that will be more effective, so we’re trying to do is give the agent more time with their clients. So they’re not worrying about all of those, you know, administrative kinds of tasks they have to do and really making that more effective for their, for their use of their third time in a day, we know that agents definitely today are stressed by the amount of time that their workload takes up for them. So we’re trying to provide a little relief on that so they can be more efficient, how they perform showings on properties.
D.J. Paris 14:23
Boy, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And that is very exciting. And I just sort of want to reiterate the how cool it would be with the with the AI module to be able to concept consistently evaluate showings, not just doing the rescheduling, but actually evaluate your current showing schedule and and saying hey, we might suggest a reschedule here, just based on you know, weather or traffic conditions, which is very, very interesting and exciting. Curious about will century key direct communicate with the customer or is it really only a broker to broker system or Agent agent I should say certain states call them agents, others brokers but realtor to realtor or will it also communicate directly with with the end user or with the buyer? So
Scott Fisher 15:08
it’s a good good question. So for example, on the buyer and seller side, certainly the agents can involve their buyer and seller in the communication process so they can receive the notifications, they can respond to this notifications. But it allows the agent really to decide whether or not that’s what they want to have their client do or does the client expect them to do that on their behalf. Typically, most of your appointment scheduling and always the, you know, the, the agents always going to vote with their clients because you know, schedules change, etc. But I think we’ve got a very nice mix of the ability to control that based on the type of client needs that you have. So, but there is the ability for that platform to communicate directly out to the clients, we have have a client app that allow those clients for your buyer, you can go around and track the properties you visited, manage all your showing appointment, your own schedule through that have your spouse or significant other as part of that process. So we realize involving in electronically and certainly with today’s incoming buyers, a lot of millennials that are very technology focused, they love to have that ability to see that information immediately make those adjustments, they expect they’re tethered to their phones, they want to use their phone as their primary means of communication. If you say we took a phone call, they’re like, What I don’t talk to me on the phone, I just want to do it electronically. So that’s the way that the product was built. And I will tell you that we designed this really from the ground up through focus groups looking at you know, other technologies out there. And so this was not something a bunch of engineers in a vacuum built, we had focus groups, etc, from agents around our area, help us design the key functionality that makes her life easier.
D.J. Paris 16:33
Yeah, that makes sense. It’s I used to my before getting into involved in real estate, I was an IT marketing person. And I used to witness daily, oftentimes the disconnect between the developers and the end user simply because two completely different personality types and skill sets and understandings. And being being that you did a lot of focus groups and continue to ping the realtors to make sure that the products are meeting their needs and their client’s needs is is obviously critical. And You’ve obviously done a great job of that with Century lock and also century keep. Well, I want to ask sort of the big question or what maybe it’s not the big question to our listeners, but but something that certainly is very prominent here in the news, especially around technology with some of the mergers that have happened, which is around data. And what is done with that data, is that data, you know kept private Is it is it sold? Is it parsed out and utilized for advertising purposes. So obviously, you know, can you talk a little bit about data collection? And then what you guys intend to do or not do with it?
Scott Fisher 17:38
It’s a great question. And I think that’s a great, very relevant question, what’s what’s going on in the industry with a lot of consolidation. So what we do with the data currently is there’s only one place that data goes to, and we take the access data, and we summarize that and send it over to na ours, Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun. And he uses that to help provide market reports to agents, the data doesn’t go to any third party that will utilize that data in any any other way we realize that the agents data, and the brokers data around the listing and the sale is incredibly important and should be kept private. And they are certainly doesn’t have any aspirations to use that data for anything other than products that would benefit real estate agents and keeping that data in the family basically. So we don’t use it for anything else either. We will use it to help agents promote listings to other agents that are looking for particular types of properties. For example, one of the great things we can do that’s been available on MLS for years but isn’t widely used is that buyer prospecting buyers are visiting particular types of homes, we can understand what that looks like, when new listings are placed in the system, we can give those listing agents an opportunity to promote that listing right to those buyers are looking for that type of property. So we can help, you know, facilitate, hopefully faster sale, more eyes on the property to basically provide the maximum value to the seller, and give those buyers the maximum out of choice letting new listings are coming on the market. Today, certainly the environment with the low inventories, listings coming going on the market and coming off very quickly, incredibly important to give those buyers an update and say, Hey, did you know this house just one of market, you could go check it out right now. Because at five o’clock today, it may not be on the market any longer. So those are our data usage that we actually put into place, but you’re not gonna see us out there selling the information, we have privacy agreement set up with the MLS and association that we will not read resell their information. So it’s safe. We’re a trusted provider in the marketplace. And we’ve never taken the data over 18 years that we’ve had and resold that to anybody. So and that’s probably a big differentiator, what are we doing? We’re not going to utilize that information against an agent or a broker in another some other sort of competitive way. And that’s where I think we deliver a distinct advantage in that space.
D.J. Paris 19:40
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And just a quick question, this was actually coming from one of our property management team members here at our company here in Chicago, which is do you ever anticipate moving into the self showing space so so being able to work directly with consumers not bypassing Realtors but for other purposes? is like I know show Mojo does that currently, are there any plans to sort of get involved in that vertical?
Scott Fisher 20:06
Yeah. So for on the the self showing side, let me tell you what we are doing. So we are doing it in kind of an adjunct market in the apartment rental space with a company called rally, rally uses the Sentrilock product and a lot of their listings for, you know, basically for people to go and visit an apartment that’s empty or vacant, and they can view it without the property manager having to drive across town to meet that prospective renter. But on the real estate sales side, most associations and MLS has have have rules restricting self showings. In other words, they want an agent present as part of their bylaws. So from a technology perspective, our product can do it today, we can certainly it’s certainly possible through our temporary access codes, etc. It’s been available for you know, 15 years, you can do that. So but we don’t have any direct desire to push into that space unless an association MLS found that to be, you know, a new way to do business or an advantage if that’s the case, our product certainly supports it. But we want to keep agents out of trouble with their local association and MLS. So we discourage the practice. And certainly, those associations MLS as if there’s enforcement issues, can can’t do that, on our behalf or on their behalf to try to, you know, limit that activity if that’s what their objective is.
D.J. Paris 21:14
And also, yeah, thanks for that. That’s, that’s particularly helpful. And I as somebody who came from the IT space, and just finds, you know, develop a roadmap stuff really interesting as the nerdy side of me loves to, to to, to ask about, are there, you’ve talked about some of the future, the future sort of features that your your team is working on. But is there anything else coming in which you may or may not be able to share, but curious if there’s anything that you could share about or what might be coming in version 1.1 or version 2.0 of Century key.
Scott Fisher 21:49
So on the showing service, certainly, you know, there’s a long roadmap of feature functionality that’s coming out. And so users, that system will see continued improvements, new feature functionality, things as simple as mileage tracking has been some best selling when asked for all tax purposes, just you know, some very simple things. There’s also some more complex features that will be coming down the road, that, you know, you’ll see, in terms of greater usability, greater flexibility, you know, more contact options, certainly better integration with our call center, these are all things you’re gonna see incremental improvements in some areas, and some some very interesting technology again, and machine learning that we’ll continue to leverage for agents using the platform. So what you see today is a very functional system provides the core scheduling capabilities that an agent needs. But there’ll be a lot of very interesting adjunct features that we have on the roadmap coming forth in the next 12 months that I think agents will be really excited about.
D.J. Paris 22:42
Well, once that happens, we’d love to have you back to to keep introducing those new features to our audience. But for right now, if any of our listeners who are realtors and are currently sentry lock subscribers wish to participate in the century key system, how do they make that transition to Century key?
Scott Fisher 23:00
Yeah, so the best thing to do is check with our association MLS see if they’re actively researching we are currently right now in conversation with associations that MLS is representing over 700,000 agents in the US and Canada. So like I said, we’ve had amazing feedback. Now, I’m sure not all those are going to choose to go with Century lock. But we’ve got a lot of market interest right now. And we have a number of customers are coming on board over the next six months. So good chances are we’re probably there’s some conversation that may be happening already, check your association MLS see if it’s on the radar, and if it is, they’ll be able to give you a better idea of timing.
D.J. Paris 23:33
And if they if they aren’t currently exploring that or if you don’t know whether they’re exploring it, you know, contact your local association and ask and and I think it’s important that if agents want choice that they should ask the associations work for the agents and the agents are paying, paying those dues and fees. So reach out to your local association, you know, ask them about century key and, and, and asked for choice if there’s only showing time. For example, if that’s the only option and you want to option to do century key built right into the MLS, you have to tell your local association what you want. So reach out to them. And and then yeah, and then as far as if you’re not currently a sentry lock subscriber, you were saying in quarter three of 2021, you will be able to sign up directly as well, we believe Correct?
Scott Fisher 24:20
Absolutely. Yeah. So the platform itself today can support non lockbox system users. But in terms of our rollout and overall planning, we said we’ve got enough interest in our current core customer base. Let’s address them first. But as we move forward here into q3, you’ll start to see and we’re in conversation with a number of customers that are not on sentry lock right now. We will see us rolling those into the platform as well.
D.J. Paris 24:44
Very, very exciting stuff. Well, I will let Scott get back to to his busy day. I was telling him just before we went on that I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through this. This conversation without passing out since I got my second vaccination shot yesterday afternoon and then just came from a workout I made it through. And I appreciate Scott’s patience, as I was sweating through this entire this entire conversation, but I think this was a really good conversation and an important conversation as well. And agents are, you know, it’s funny, we get out our show, we’re constantly pitched by publicists for different technology providers and services. And we’ve returned down pretty much everyone, because I’m never quite sure which technology provider is even worth talking to, or talking about the space is so large, there’s so many players, but century lock is a trusted name. Obviously, probably almost all of our listeners are either using it are familiar with it. So we are thrilled and honored to have Scott on the on the podcast. And we will definitely be bringing him back as the product continues to evolve. So if you’re not already using sentry lock, contact your local association and learn about it. And then also ask about century key and if they are working to get that integrated with their MLS software. Scott, thank you so much for being a part of the show. Thank you, I really, really honor you and appreciate your your patience, and, and your generosity of time we know how busy you are running a huge company, and having time to share with our podcast is really appreciated and for all of So on behalf of and also on behalf of Scott and myself, we want to thank all of our listeners and viewers for continuing to support our show. If the best way that you can continue to help us grow is just tell a friend think of one other realtor or real estate professional that could benefit from hearing this great conversation with Scott and send them a link to our show. The best way to do that, go right to our website, send them a link to keeping it real pod.com every single episode we’ve ever done is there to be streamed right from the browser. They don’t need to be a podcast person. If they are a podcast person, they’ll have them pull up a podcast app search for keeping it real and hit that subscribe button. And on behalf of the audience. We thank Scott for his time, and we will see everyone on the next episode. Thank you, Scott.
Scott Fisher 26:56
Thank you appreciate it. You did great by the way. You didn’t No, no, no, no, nothing. Your your vaccine didn’t affect you at all. You’re looking great.
D.J. Paris 27:05
Well, I’m gonna go pass out in about one minute, so I will. I will. It’s Scott also I was telling me when he got his first shot. He went on a bike ride afterwards and had that same experience of oh, maybe this wasn’t the best idea, but I’m glad we got through it together. Scott, you’re a great guest and thanks so much. Thank you