Clients Bailing From Advanced Access Sites

While doing some Googling for ‘Advanced Access sites’ the other day, I came across a blog from www.WebNewsForUs.com that made mention of several great looking Advanced Access sites. Upon recognizing many of the agents in the post, I clicked on the half-dozen hyperlinks and wasn’t surprised to find that ALL of the FORMER Advanced Access clients were now hosting their real estate websites elsewhere. I knew that several of them weren’t active on AA’s forum anymore and had gone elsewhere but was surprised to see that ALL the ones that were touted in the article had left. Just another example of the problems that exist at Advanced Access and why some of the greatest sites (as well as agents) that were once hosted there have bailed out. Are YOU a former AA client, and if so, WHY did you not renew with them?

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31 Responses

  1. […] MoonMaiden wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWhile doing some Googling for ‘Advanced Access sites’ the other day, I came across a blog from http://www.WebNewsForUs.com that made mention of several great looking Advanced Access sites. Upon recognizing many of the agents in the post, I clicked on the half-dozen hyperlinks and wasn’t surprised to find that ALL of the FORMER Advanced Access clients were now hosting their real estate websites elsewhere. I knew that several of them weren’t active on AA’s forum anymore and had gone elsewhere but was surprised to see that ALL the ones that were touted in the article had left. Just another example of the problems that exist at Advanced Access and why some of the greatest sites (as well as agents) that were once hosted there have bailed out. Are YOU a former AA client, and if so, WHY did you not renew with them? […]

  2. Some of you reading this may recognize the url versus the name. Basically I left Advanced Access because I out grew them and was tired of excuse after excuse. Waiting for them to fix a huge problem of bad urls in 3.0, the continual down time, despite the “upgrade”, not to mention a host of other issues. Having bought an AA site was not a mistake. The site paid for itself many, many times over in the past and I Iearned a lot through their forums and made some great friends there. I was a lot happier there when the Morris owned the company.

  3. Gene – What did we call it black Friday? black Monday? Leading up to that point it had been a love/hate relationship with Advanced Access due to the QuickHomes and ‘server’ issues then when black Friday hit – it was too much. I had been forgiving up to that point but to experience that – what was it – about 58 hours of downtime…
    There is a happy outcome though, just be brave enough to leave, cut the ties and you will survive! and chances are be better for it. AA sucks with the URI structure they use, servers, email, contact management, et all. Any AA client that has any questions about leaving – drop me an email, I can let you know it is easier than you might think!
    I’ve been working on my site since Summer – content and organizing, right now admittedly it needs some polish…working on that too, anyways I am very sorry you all are still having problems. I feel your pain.

  4. No one can say that blogging isn’t addicting and I have to give you credit Gene for finding a niche and running with it.

    I do have to say that I fully agree with Darla’s last comment when she said, “just be brave enough to leave, cut the ties and you will survive!”

    If Advanced Access isn’t the right solution for you or for other agents I get that. However I will tell you that for some people it is a lifeline and they do appreciate the services offered by Advanced Access and are more forgiving and understandable at the unfortunate short fallings the company has gone through over the course of time now.

    Everyone has moments in their life where they treat others or companies like an ass. Sometimes that is deserving too in my opinion but because we all wear a different hat and have different needs is there really a point to be constantly standing on a soap box and complaining about a company that you yourself still use for free?

    Just some thoughts I thought I’d share as a former employee of Advanced Access.

    JJ

  5. Gene,

    I enjoyed your contributions when I was on the AA forum.

    Advanced Access was my second platform and it was far better than the first. Still, the company did have increasing reliability issues with downtime. Obviously, those issues still exist.

    As you know, the site comes with a lot of stock content which makes it easy for web beginners. When I started with the platform, it was possible to rank pretty well even with some of the stock content. Now, it is called duplicate content. So, in order to rank well in the search engines, AAers are obliged to write new, original content which the system allows them to do.

    It seem almost inevitable that as a Realtor develops original content, the next step is to develop original search engine optimization. Google mentioned at Pubcon in December that Word Press is very search engine friendly. So, I have moved over to a Word Press platform and am working to optimize it with my provider.

    Nothing stays the same except change.

    Larry

  6. I made the move as each time AA went down it would cost me money. When you have 24+ hours without a website that brings in at least 10 leads a day that is very costly. If anyone of those was a buyer that would be thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

    There is no excuse for this. A company this size should have the ability to have a remote backup server that can come online in the matter of minutes if the main server fails.

  7. Comment to John Jones.

    Blogging ISN’T addicting. It’s a waste of my time. I still have to chuckle at people who still think that blogging is the answer. It may appear to work for some but it’s not going to get you leads. I can attest that it helps but it doesn’t sell that house for you. This was a previous Marketing Managers attempt to foil AA clients as instructed by those above her and it stemmed from the Yahoo Debacle. I’ll agree that it helps in certain areas of marketing but don’t waste your time doing it day after day. As a Realtor, your bottom line is business and getting leads. Focus on that and think outside the box to get it. Blogging leads to flaming and prospective clients WILL NOT want to read that. The smart ones with cash now know how to find out everything about you and if they see you flaming, they will go elsewhere EVEN if they agree with you.

    I took over the marketing solely for one home because the owner was frustrated that her Realtor had not done enough. It is a 3 million dollar ranch house. Within three days I had recieved over over 100 leads for that home and it wasn’t done with an AA site or blogging. As a previous employee of AA, I can attest to the fact that they are just to limited for what you need especially at the price you are paying. AA forces limitations upon their people and as the Customer Support Director, Aron Spegon, was recently quoted as saying, “we want to reduce the expectations of our clients”. That comes from him through Justin Davis because the company is failing.

    Long story short, blogging isn’t a waste of time but there are much more productive things that you should be doing with YOUR time especially when TIME IS MONEY!

  8. Scott

    You seem very knowledgable. I would be interested in knowing what services you offer in your new business. Any link / contact details you can provide

    Katie

  9. I have been an AA customer for the past 4 years (coming up on 5 in May). I got my annual renewal notice today, and called to inquire about the 4.0 package. Of course they told me that I could switch to 4.0, which would not only double my yearly fee, but would also incur an additional $400 setup fee?!?!? I mean, are they serious? In the past 4.5 years with AA, I have seen no enhancements whatsoever, in terms of my websites abilities. Even my interface to manipulate my website still looks like Windows 95. They don’t even have a Java-based photo uploader!??!? I mean, do they seriously think I am going to renew, when they’ve shown me nothing in terms of upgraded services, etc. Could you imagine if Windows released a new operating system every single year, with absolutely no changes whatsoever???

    This brings me to my next question…where is everyone going? I’ve looked around at a few other providers that deal specifically in real estate websites, but it seems like there are millions!

  10. Cameron asked “where is everyone going?” I can tell you that many are going to Point2. Within the past year, I have moved these sites for my clients:

    http://www.StroopeGMAC.com
    http://www.BarbaraReevesRealtor.com
    http://www.JoeJanus.com

    I am currently in process of moving another right now and I have had inquiries from several other prospective soon-to-be former AA clients.

  11. Well not only are clients bailing but ePro as well as several other organizations have dropped AA as an approved supplier. Even after AA paid the $20+k annual partnership fee. Too many complaints were the reasons cited as the reason for their dropping the agreement.

    I suppose that AA is simply being characterized unfairly by their disgruntled ex-employees and paying customers. Poor AA, just the victims in the whole matter…

    Pobre Abstract Abscess. I simply jumped the ship before they turned things around… lol. How are things going over there Cpt Smith? Enough life boats for all those egos?

  12. I’ve left Advanced Access after being with it for 5 years. Despite the many outages, I renewed in 2007 because at least the forums were helpful for SEO and other web site improvement tips. As an inducement to renew in 2007, AA agreed to give me 13 months for the cost of 12.

    The forums have disintegrated into a justification by Advanced Access for its abysmal level of performance. The outages continue. A couple of months ago I received an email from AA which basically was offering a new “service” – I could pay them for leads they generated. As far as I was concerned their efforts would be in direct competition with my own efforts at lead generation. My dealings this year with customer service were typical: they could not determine the exact date my contract was due to expire. I sent in the required written request to discontinue AA’s website service and put “when current contract expires” as the date of non-renwal. I subsequently confirmed that AA had, in fact, received my request.

    I had purchased my domain name from another vendor despite efforts from AA that I not do so. Therefore, I, not Advanced Access, had control of my domain name. Because I think the non-renewal would be effective next week (remembers no one could give me the date) I have just changed the Cname and other relevant information and pointed the domain to my new website on my new host. As a result of my Advanced Access experience, I vowed I’d never again be locked into a template site for my main website. I do have as Point2Agent professional site as my secondary site. Point2’s level of performance and service is hands above what AA’s is.

    While my new site is still a work in progress and not as elegant as I would like, it is mine. I am slowing learning the ways of CSS. I’m not sure if my site will take a hit for a while with Google and some of the other search engines. However, in the long run I am convinced my business will be much better off without Advanced Access.

  13. From what I understand AA is losing upwards of 900 clients a month.

  14. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. They just posted that the virtual office was fixed but with no explanation what the problem was or why it has existed for several recent days. Even now, the back office is slow to respond and posting on the forum is impossible since all you usually get is ‘page can’t be found’ after clicking submit.

    900 clients per month!! How many months are left before the coffers are empty?

  15. With the last count count I was given being at 25,000 clients, it seems like AA is losing approx 3% of its client base a month. AA has dropped their Outside Sales Department and now only has telemarketers driving their sales. So figuring they are bringing in about 50 clients a week from their telemarketing room they are probably losing about 500-700 clients a month.

    Is anyone really surprised that this has happened to AA though? The problems started well before Dominion took ownership. You couple the current housing market issues with bad decision making at the top and I guess it accelerates the sinking.

    AA has continued to lay off employees and no longer has a “New Accounts Specialist” who helps the agents get their website started. It is completely up to the agent to fill out the online forms to have their website generated. Bottom line for them from what I am being told is that if AA continues to maintain a profit margin of 25%, the current management regime is happy. Losing profit margin… lay off more employees.

  16. You need to get better contacts at AA Juan… you’re being fed inaccurate information… the only layoffs there have been are positions that are either no longer needed, or have been duplicated by DE anyways. Who else has been laid off? Sales? No. Support? No. Billing? No. QC? No. MLS? No. Marketing? No…. so… ok I take that back a bit, 2 from billing (duplicate positions already handled by DE)… Who am I leaving out… no one I can think of…

  17. Actually no, I don’t. I can think of 3 people just off the top of my head, all from departments aside from billing. Regardless, since you don’t really exist, “Yeah you” Im not going to bother with a retort.

  18. Yeah, I’m just a figment of your imagination… you can think of a whole 3 people… oh but let me quote

    “AA has continued to lay off employees and no longer has a “New Accounts Specialist” who helps the agents get their website started.”

    Can’t have it both ways 😉

  19. Being that you won’t disclose your identity how can anyone know if you truly have or could have information regarding the goings on at Advanced Access?

    And yes, AA continue’s to let people go. I would also consider the treatment of their sales rep’s as essentially forcing them to resign. When you cut their income by 40% it is forcing them to leave. Why is it that there is only 1 “Outside Sales” rep left? Where have all of the Inside Sales Reps gone?

    It is sad that in order to cover poor management decision making, the company decided to void the contract agreements that were in place and not pay their employees on commission earned. I know for FACT that several ex-employees have filed greivances with the Ca Dept of Labor Board and AA will likely be reviewed.

    And tell me this. Does AA still have a NAS dept? Or is this simply the case of blind loyalty and the blind leading the blind. Enjoy it now, because once Fidelity (or anyone else for that matter) buys DE, do you really think they are going to leave the existing management team in place?

  20. I’m not here to really defend AA… only those employees that do what they can to make things run the best “we” can…

    You might be right about the sales dept, I’m not part of it, so I’ll give you that. You have access to all of my posts here, do you truly doubt that I work there? As for disputes, hey, more power to them, if I didn’t get paid like I was promised (no matter who it was) I’d be doing the same.

    Does AA have NAS? No (and you I’m sure know that). Well, technically they are still there. They are now part of customer support, however they are still helping customers out (new and existing). A few left as they didn’t want to be part of support, however none were laid off. That being said, you’re pretty knowledgable of the industry (as is gene and a lot of people here) how many other companies (Z

  21. gah, stupid enter key… as I was saying, z57, homes.com, p2a, etc have a “NAS” department? You might know better than I and say all of them… I however don’t think so…

    Most companies (non RE related) that I’ve purchased things like this through (ISP’s, webhosting, etc) will start you up, tell you here you go, have at it. If you need help call support. In an effort to streamline customers online experience changes were made and clients have a website up and running pretty much right away, rather than waiting months and months for help, pointing stuff, etc. Now, it’s live except for the domain, which you can point at any time after the site is live. Pretty much like every other company out there.

    I’m not a company mouthpiece (have you actually read all my posts?) however I’d rather not have to worry about my job because I try to stick up for my fellow co-workers who usually get dumped on by others (customers, ex-coworkers, etc) and have to answer to someone over it or try to defend myself about something that I post. It’s much easier this way.

  22. I finally obtained a refund of $5553.39 from Advanced Access by winning my case against them in small claims court and winning on appeal when AA appealed the judgment against them.

    The refunded money included all of the money I paid them to allegedly optimize my website, host my website, and to reimburse me for monies that were allegedly paid to add me to third party directories (I never received confirmation from AA of which directories I was listed in and was never shown what the listings looked like or how much they cost, but I was still charged $1,000.)

    Despite repeated phone calls and emails, I was unable to get AA to pay on the judgment until I called their parent company Dominion Enterprises. When I finally got a hold of someone at Dominion, AA finally responded to my request for payment of the judgment and I received a check a week later.

    I’m glad that my saga with AA is finally over and I can move on to a bigger and better website. If I can be of any help in your case against AA, please post your email address and I will contact you privately.

    ~Amanda
    Real Estate Broker & Lawyer

  23. I’m trying to be a former AA customer. However I can’t seem to get the quality care person to call me so I can finish the cancellation! I have some time before my next billing but I would like to get this done by the time my new site is finished.
    I’ve been an AA customer since 2003 and now they want to drag their feet. They are really leaving a bad taste in my mouth!

  24. I have been in dispute with AA since first signing up with the 4.0 version in Dec 2006. From the start, the back office was very slow and the templates were real dogs with most of them not even functional. According to AA, they were working of fixing the templates and time after time, there were many bugs – including bugs in their featured homes. I have never released my site for publishing on the web and have insisted they keep the site on hold until we get resolution. After many phone calls where I was had to endure very abusive treatment trying to get resolution or cancel, AA has activated my site under their .myasite.com tag on the domain. I understand 4.0 is working much better but I am hosted with another company and I am quite happy without AA. I am considering taking them to Small Claims as they never performed according to their contract. They, however, have practically held me hostage and are now charging me for monthly hosting per their 12 month contract. I feel like I have no recourse – it took them almost a year to get 4.0 working well enough to effectively host my site. It makes me CRAZY!!! Any ideas on reporting them to BBB or other entities?

  25. Kay, why didn’t you just cancel? Sounds like a big headache could have been avoided had you left when you found a new host.

  26. If it were me, I would simply walk away. Find another company. There are lots out there with better products like famousagents.com, even myers or point2.

  27. I have my site with them but am becoming increasingly unhappy with them.

    • Kelley,
      I can tell by the number of recent hits that there must be something going on again at Advanced Access that must be upsetting their clients. Take my word and many other agents, you WON’T miss AA if you do decide to jump ship. Speaking of ships, I’m always surprised that theirs is still afloat!

      It doesn’t look like much has changed with AA sites, though. For example, looking at your site, your testimonial page, your out-of-area Realtors page, and so many of your pages aren’t even indexed by Google, INCLUDING your About Kelley page. When I was with them the Web Gorilla insisted that everyone remove their links to get back in Yahoo’s good graces and they cowed down to his request even though it had major flaws. He lasted only a year but it cost AA a number of long-term clients.
      I ended up at Point2Agents and had four sites with them until they increased their prices and stopped offering free Basic sites. Two of my were Professional versions. I can actually make changes faster and ftp them in a matter of seconds. My sites still maintain their #1 ranking on Google including several others that I now host. Currently, I don’t see any template company that would excite me enough to recommend them to fellow agents.

  28. Well Advanced Access may be on it’s way down but with Aron Spegon and Jamie Griswold having been recently fired maybe things will improve. Who knows!

  29. I’ve heard alot of not so nice things about Advanced Access. I’m thankful I did not choose to go with them. I use a company called Busy Agent Pro, and they have been wonderful. I’ve had my sites with them for about a year and their customer service is timely, friendly and very helpful. Also, the features for both designing your websites and optimizing them for the search engines far surpasses anything I’ve seen for real estate. You should check them out. They are still selling exclusive market areas. Oh, and did I mention you can have an unlimited number of websites for no extra cost? Check em out…. BusyAgentPro.com and you can even try the free membership first to check things out.

    Good luck,

    Stacie Robbins

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