I think I am like most entrepreneurs. I'm constantly looking for opportunities to do something new or to improve what is already being done. You are probably a business owner yourself, or you work for someone that is constantly pushing for improvements in technology and marketing to grow the business you are involved in, so you understand.
Because of that mindset, I like to take time at the end of every year to review the past 12 months: What worked, what didn't work, what was learned, and what is the plan for the coming year? So, for my article this issue, I am doing an abbreviated version that I can share with you as it relates to Delta Media Group. Hopefully, it will inspire you to do the same, and hopefully, it will give you more insight into Delta Media Group® as a major provider to the real estate vertical.
What are the Highs of 2021?
Building and Launching Local Showings™
The industry was rocked by the sale of the most widely used property showing management platform this year. The day that the announcement was made, I, with the support of Delta's management team, decided to launch Local Showings with a no-sell guarantee. As I sit here at a local coffee shop thinking about this decision, a short eight months later, we have our first MLS launched with more to follow. This rocked the industry so much that we are actively talking with three-quarters of the industry. Local Showings is a huge success for Delta and the real estate world.
Search Engine Optimization Success
We undoubtedly have the best SEO in the industry, and it got even better in 2021. Our sites are quicker, our blogs are deeply integrated into the property and local market data, and our SEO ranking has improved. In a year full of significant SEO ranking changes, this is a huge win, especially as I see the success of our business partners. This is the result of paying attention to SEO for 20 years, a fantastic platform, and an even more amazing team at Delta.
Buying and Remodeling a new Office Building
Undoubtedly 2020 was a year of change, and it changed how I viewed Delta's workforce and Delta's office space, so it was time for another shift in 2021. I purchased a new office building, completely gutted it, and remodeled it specifically for a telecommuting hybrid workforce. Next month the new office will open complete with a three-thousand square-foot cafe and large outdoor patio. Ten years ago, I would have never imagined having an office with such a large cafe and a large outdoor patio where team members could come and work the entire day in either of those areas. It seems almost bizarre to me, but I consider this a huge quality of life win for Delta's team members for 2021.
Expansion of Deep Integrations and Automations
The Delta team massively expanded our technology platform integrations this past year. For some major industry technology and marketing providers, we have the deepest integrations available right now from anyone in the space. This makes me proud because of how this benefits all the DeltaNET® users.
The Best Support in the Industry
We have the best support in the industry. But, more importantly, the high of 2021 is that the entire Delta team is working hard to make our support much better. The management team is not happy with just being the best when compared to other providers; we want to achieve an even higher level of support satisfaction.
Deploying a New Server and Storage Infrastructure
This past year we deployed a new server and storage infrastructure for the DeltaNET and other platforms. For over five years, we have enjoyed 100% uptime, but we knew we had to make significant changes to support our growth in the future. It is shocking that we currently peak at around 100-million sessions per month, and that is massive. I am proud that our team executed this deployment with minimal hiccups.
Launching Three Technology Advisory Committees
Saying that we listen to our customers is not just marketing, and this year we launched three technology advisory committees composed of dozens of our top partners. As far as I know, we are the only technology company doing this at this scale. We share what we are working on, we listen to their business, technology, and marketing needs, and we respond! But the biggest thing that I have seen come out of these committees is how groups of companies can work together within their advisory committee to benefit and grow their specific technology and marketing eco-system, especially with franchise groups. This is a massive win for 2021 for Delta and our partners.
Implementing EOS at Delta
I was and am hyper-paranoid of continual improvement as Delta experiences massive growth, so in 2020 I introduced EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to the Delta management team. As I type this, we have EOS fully implemented at Delta. This has benefitted not just Delta but Delta's partners (customers) as well, which is a huge win.
What are the Lows of 2021?
I was reluctant to share some of Delta's lows for 2021, but I think it is good that I am transparent. So as I share the lows, I will come from the perspective of what was learned in the situation.
Not Having an Office Building to Use While We Remodeled it
In hindsight, that was a huge mistake. I, and the management team, assumed too many things with a telecommuting work model, especially when adding so many new team members throughout the year. I will never make this mistake again. We are more intentional on team culture in a telecommuting model and more intentional on team training. Not having an office building to use for six months has been painful, and it had a negative impact on the business.
Creative Studio™ Pains
In 2021 we launched a new marketing platform called Creative Studio, and it was a huge win and a huge failure that we then had to turn back around into a win. Creative Studio made it more complicated for the sales associates to create marketing pieces when it originally launched, and we will work diligently to make sure that mistake never happens again. With the sales associates, we have one opportunity to win them, and we need to execute perfectly from the start. As a result of this failure, we instituted the following changes for all products: An ongoing monthly management team product review cycle; intentional product development with an emphasis on user experience along with technology; intentional product Quality Assurance processes; and earlier involvement from our partners through our monthly technology advisory committee meetings.
Not Meeting our Internal Support Metrics as We Grew
Honestly, this was frustrating and very disruptive to Delta's overall operations. Even though at our lowest, we still had the best support in the industry, our business partners were so accustomed to phenomenal technical support they noticed the decline. This will never happen again. As a result, we had to make the following business improvements: Proactive technical support metrics, so we are proactive in staffing rather than reactive; ongoing platform and career development training with technical support; intentional career development within the technical support team itself, so it is a career path on its own and not just a conduit into other departments.
Having Hiccups as we Deployed our New Server Hardware
Sometimes when you experience success for so long, you get caught off-guard, and that is what happened with our new server hardware deployment that was also a high for 2021. The reason it was a low for 2021 is because while we still met our uptime commitments, we could no longer tout the 100% uptime that we had achieved for the five years before this. In hindsight, we delayed moving to new infrastructure management tools for too long. Unfortunately, we also delayed this upgrade for too long, and this will not happen again. We already have plans for working on our next major upgrade in 2022, so we are no longer caught like this, and we can once again tout 100% uptime.
What are we Doing for 2022?
Note: These are only major highlights that I can share publicly!
Massively Staffing Up and Training Up Our Support Staff
At Delta, we are working to raise the bar even higher for quality of support. We are very focused on this for 2022!
More Search Engine Optimization Improvements
Work is already underway to improve our SEO platform. When you are #1, you can only go down, so we are pushing hard to be even better at SEO.
Solidifying Our Telecommute Work Hybrid Model as We Continue to Grow
Telecommuting is here to stay, and at Delta, we are intentional in making this model work. Our team members love the fact that they can work from anywhere, and I love the freedom it gives them. We will be even more intentional in developing this model to the benefit of our team members, the business, and our partners.
Yep. You heard it here first. DeltaNET 7 is already in the works. While DeltaNET 6 is the most advanced CRM in the market, in my humble opinion, we are working to further the customization of the DeltaNET with version 7 and bring massive simplification to it as well. More will come out soon, but we are already excited about the direction of DeltaNET 7 and what it will do for those using it.
Pushing Open Standards in all Products (DeltaNET, Local Showings)
I have been pushing Delta's integrations since 2015. Right now, we have hundreds of integrations, a flexible SSO platform directly within DeltaNET 6, and very robust APIs for all Delta services. This is why we are the business hub for all of our large clients today. Massive expansions are already in the works, especially in the area of open APIs. They will become much easier to use and manage and more robust in 2022, especially for DeltaNET 6+ and Local Showings.
CMA / Presentation Product Launch
We have been working on a CMA product that, quite honestly, will also double as a presentation product. We took what we learned from the Creative Studio launch, and we have been working on polishing up the product before launch. By the time you read this, it will either be launched or be very close to launching, and we have big plans for this in 2022.
Training and Resources Center
Another new product that is very close to launching is our new Training and Resources Center. This has been in development for quite some time and may also be launched by the time you read this. The most promising part of this platform addition is that it is built in such a way that our business partners can utilize this to power their own unique training and continuing education. We also have big plans for this in 2022.