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Three Questions with Michael Spickes of TourZazz

Left to right: Michael and Stacy Spickes of TourZazz with G. Sax.

by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.

This week, we sat down with Michael Spickes, CEO and Cofounder of TourZazz. We chatted about the interesting developments over the last couple of years in the showings space and what goes into a company name. Enjoy!

Q1: TourZazz was a regular participant in RESO’s recent Showing Subgroup. The actions of this group led to a series of new fields that should make it easier for MLSs to offer more choice in showing solutions to their customers. How do you think that endeavor went and were you satisfied with the results?

Michael: The implementation is still to come, but the exploratory process – based on our experience as an active participant – was enlightening to us. The different showing services, many of them quite good, bring different models and unique values. 

At TourZazz, we consider buyer agency our differentiator in the showing services ecosystem. When it comes down to it, we’re seeing things from a buyer’s agent perspective in the showing/touring space. This is probably considered a less standard approach from the listing transaction. Historically, showing services have benefitted from the listing side of the transaction.

We jam with buyer agency. That’s why we’re proud to be part of this conversation. Our team will provide in-the-field experience about what happens in the car.

Q2: What is your assessment of where we are today with new showing solutions on the market?

Michael: In February 2021, there were only a couple of us in the showing space. We started TourZazz in 2019. It’s been interesting to see what new entrants are doing to solve what they think showing services need.

Personally, the noise caused by the Zillow purchase of ShowingTime unnecessarily distracted me by leading my team away from our core. We accelerated our roadmap to focus on putting out a competing product. We were always going to do that, but it switched from 12 to 18 months to 12 to 18 weeks.

Before all that, the 1000watt agency helped us get clear on our value proposition from the buyer side. The industry noise pulled us away from that for a moment, taking us away from why we were born to begin with – to support buyer agency in the showing tour space. We believe that we are solving a human problem that a call center dependency cannot handle.

It’s uncomfortable for people and for MLSs to switch platforms, but freedom of choice is important. Having one major showing service on the market exposed the need for different organizations to work together for more choice. Getting the interoperability up and running became a critical need.

I’m passionate about this, because I am a real estate practitioner and because we work with brokers.

​Inflexibility and the status quo are our enemies. Schedules frequently change. We have written millions of lines of code to convert what is unpredictable about a showing tour into controlled harmony as another point of excellence for our rock star customers.

Q3: Your company name is unique and not necessarily attached to the idea of a showing. What can you tell me about your company name?

Michael: I went through about ten different iterations of the name, including ShowZazz.

Ultimately, some people around us knew that we needed a differentiator from what was already out there.

A Texas license plate that reads "TOURZAZ."Early on, we had about a 50-page website on Wix, and we’d come back from a car ride and say that this venture is about the tour – the babies that need to go number 2 like right now and anything that takes your perfectly manicured tour plan – no parking, no lockbox, etc. – everything that could possibly break the experience.

Our biggest frustration was relying on a call center to change the appointment. I wouldn’t get a call back for three hours after my tour was already done. So our focus became the full tour experience.

I came up with multiple company names to account for this fresh focus. I read some great articles on branding messages, and there was a certain ping and a twang about what we landed on.

We went from ten names down to five down to three. It used to be TourZazzy, but I needed it to fit on a license plate, haha.