Earlier this week I was in NYC for Inman Connect and one thing was clear: the real estate industry is in a full-on tectonic shift. Brad Inman equated it to a supernova. The old way of doing real estate is dead, yet the pieces that are left behind will shape how real estate is done today and for years to come. Every agent, every brokerage, every ancillary real estate service is constantly thinking about change or their next opportunity.
And there are a lot of opportunities right now. So many that it can become overwhelming and maybe even paralyzing. Change is the name of the game. Some are fully embracing it and figuring it out as they go. Others are staying put and taking the path of least resistance. They know they don’t love where they are, but it is easier (and often less painful) to ride it out, then it is to make a move. The path of least resistance is how people get trapped in mediocrity. You know I don’t play that game.
When an industry is in flux the way the real estate industry is right now, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors. Competition dramatically increases. Real estate agents and real estate business owners are facing more competition than ever, whether that’s a new brokerage model or new technology. Brokerages are buying agents, agents are leaving the business for more stability, agents are joining or leaving teams, and companies are changing Executives like socks. Every day there is a new option to consider. However, regardless of the options, first and foremost we must be there for our customers and focus on building those long-term relationships. Our databases of clients, customers, vendors, community members, friends, and family is our business and providing the level of service that Amazon does is no longer an exception, it’s the rule.
I believe that these tectonic plates will continue to move until mid-2020, with some settling happening in late 2019. So, how do we stay in our lane and keep building our business (and legacy) while also taking advantage of the innovation that is available to us all? I believe the answer lies in focusing on agent productivity. This is great for the agent, personally, and great for the business’s bottom line. Productivity mitigates most challenges in a business. How do you make that happen? If you get aggressive on the following three pillars of your business then you will emerge from this industry shift stronger than ever:
- COACHING & TRAINING – The most successful agents are the ones who are plugged into on-going coaching and training, whether they have been in the business 1 week or 30 years. Developing the habit of lifelong learning is critical to keep up with the rapidly changing industry we are in. Coaching on having fierce conversations and time management training is just as important as tactical training on contract negotiations and sales scripts. Make it a priority to incorporate training into your weekly schedule or start working with a coach. Knowledge is power and practice makes progress. You have to stay one step ahead in today’s market. Purposeful and strategic education is how you’ll do it. Impactful coaching and training will increase agent productivity.
Take Action: Review your business’s coaching and training offerings. What do you need to add to increase your agent’s productivity? What do you need to stop teaching?
- SYSTEMS & OPERATIONS – Consumers are savvy and impatient. They expect fast and competent customer service, attention-grabbing marketing, and a seamless online experience. Are you able to deliver? If you are a brokerage or team building these systems, are you on the level of Amazon? Sounds like a tall order, but that is the experience today’s consumers expect. Agents, are you plugging into and learning all of the aspects of your team or brokerage’s platform? If not, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your clients. The systems and operations behind the agent (much of which include tech) are there to enhance the agent/client relationship and create a better overall experience. Leverage is a beautiful thing if it’s well planned and well executed. Strong systems and streamlined operations will increase agent productivity.
Take Action: Do an inventory of your customer service, your listing management system, your technology, your contract to close process, your marketing, your financial systems, etc. What can you scale back on or cut completely? What needs to be refined? What is working that you need to double-down on?
- WARM LEAD GENERATION – This goes far beyond marketing, online lead platforms, and coaching on cold-calling sales scripts. To keep your business thriving in this changing market, you need to control the lead generation and increase the number of potential buyers, sellers, investors, or renters who are raising their hand to engage in a real estate related activity. You, the mega agent or business owner, need to create a lead generation machine that is being fed constantly. This can look like a farming campaign, targeted home buyer seminars in your community, digital advertising, strategic SOI engagement, etc. This does not mean your agents no longer lead generate! That is a fundamental part of being a real estate professional. It simply means that you have to create a system that provides even more opportunities for your agents. And while you’re doing that, your agents will be focused on being fiduciary agents. Transactional agents are out because technology (with your help) will handle that part for them. Warm lead generation will increase agent productivity.
Take Action: What lead generation source is currently producing the best ROI for your agents and business? What lead generation activities do you need to stop? What are three lead generation levers that you will commit to streamlining and/or implementing for your business?
This doesn’t happen overnight and I would caution you against making massive changes to all three pillars at once. Too much pressure on one could topple your entire business. Over the past 12 months, my team has been focused on rebuilding our systems and operations, then turned our attention to leveling up our coaching and training. Only once those were stabilized, did we turn our attention to increased lead generation opportunities.
Remember, you have to fall in love with the long-term vision of your organization, but it’s okay to just casually date your model. Change is inevitable and it is the leaders who focus on the fundamentals (coaching and training, systems and operations, and leads), while being open to pivoting, and testing, and refining along the way, who will come out on top.
What is the first area you are going to focus on in your business?