“It’s a sign of the times,” she said. “The market’s picked up and our agents seem to be too busy to read emails, come to office meetings or use any of the tools we offer them.”
What’s a broker to do?
I’m sympathetic. Every day, agents question their broker’s value proposition, and brokers dig deep to satisfy their expectations. They ramp up training programs few agents leverage. License technologies wholesale that few agents bother integrating. Host meetings too few agents attend.
“But what can I do?” she asked. “For the last five years, I’ve starved. Finally, I’m not only making money, I’m running circles trying to keep up.”
Distraction is not a long-term value proposition.
What’s an agent to do?
I’m sympathetic. After years of dealing with unreasonable clients – many of whom sucked up your time for months then decided not to pull the trigger – things are changing.
Recent news indicates what you already know: The market is coming back. You’re working again. Emails, calls, leads, sales. Heck, I know one agent whose recent Facebook status declared her celebrating three closings in one day alone!
You’re in demand. Taking orders. Distracted by multiple offers. Making money.
You’re in the moment. Dealing with the immediate needs of your customer. You’re already starting to forget the little things that kept you in business during the down times. You’ve starved for far too long.
You have emerged from the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But are you headed to the Promised Land?
Old habits die hard. A foreboding cliché. But it’s on my mind lately. I want to see my broker and agent friends get it right this time. To have a vision that extends beyond the next closing, the next quarter.
During the last real estate feast, agents ran from sale to sale, blowing past things to which they should have paid heed. Massive shifts in consumer behavior. New marketing tactics. New technologies.
Websites fell into disarray; “marketing” sensibilities remained rooted in a time when newspapers ruled and people stayed up late to watch Dynasty.
Agents were so busy dealing with the here and now that very little was invested in down the road.
Brokers ostriched too. Grew too big. Invested too much in dying technology. Recruited anyone with a cousin who might buy a home.
When the market soured, you seized up. And spent those next few years fighting to survive. Wondering whether you’d weather the storm.
There was a day when it hit you just how far behind you were. The cloud. Local/social/mobile marketing. Tablets. Paperless real estate. User experience. Engagement. Social networks.
These things – these “buzzwords” – existed, but you were “too busy” to deal with them. Then one day they were no longer buzzwords. They were realities.
Take a moment to recall the way you felt then. Make sure this is the very last time you feel that way.
Warning: Old habits kill. It’s a fact.
If you’re back in the 24/7 grind, and believe you’ve got only enough bandwidth to deal with incoming business inquiries, you are already locking in a future identical to your recent past.
Manifest a new destiny. Stat.
The means are all around you.
New workflow services, such as Cartavi or Doorsteps. New marketing platforms like StreetAdvisor and BlockAve. Stunning breakthroughs in responsive design like we’ve baked into 1000watt. The ever-changing discipline of SEO, which companies like Hawaii Life and M Realty continue to leverage to great advantage.
We’re only seeing the beginning of an innovation explosion. Ever heard of HouseHappy? They’re working on a new paradigm for real estate search just a few blocks from where I sit now. They launch in a month.
There are dozens of HouseHappy’s out there right now.
Imagine what you can do to make sure you’re far ahead the next time the market goes to shit:
- Devote quality time today to incubating and building new business in 2014. Yes, 2014.
- When communicating with your database of contacts, send them only sensible, important, interesting and relevant information. Your recipient is very selective. You need to earn your importance.
- If you’re a broker, get control of your data. It is the DNA of your business and can enable you to crack the code of your customers’ needs, wants and next steps.
- Read emails. Respond in a timely manner. Consider this a brand initiative.
- Test a new tool or app every day. You’ll learn something or gain inspiration even from those things you try and trash.
- Take every opportunity to rid your operation of paper and hardware. If you think they’re an encumbrance now, you haven’t seen anything yet. From rack servers and file cabinets housing data that should be stored in the cloud, to leases on traditional phone systems, copy machines and desktop computers, it’s all weighing you down. Much of this can be replaced by services like Phonebooth, Docusign, Dropbox and hundreds of others others. Invest the space and money you’ll save into a video production suite.
- Pay a coach to hold you accountable – someone who holds you to the fire.
- Evaluate IT and marketing staff. Replace good with great. Good people keep you where you are. Locked into the same things year after year. Their things. Great people are forever discovering new ideas and implementing them, regardless of whether those ideas are theirs or someone else’s.
- Delegate all tasks below your pay grade so you can focus on all the things that are and that matter most to your vision.
Last week, while participating in a strategic planning session for the Houston Association of Realtors, I marveled at the things their CTO Taqi Rivzi and his team built. But it was what his boss, HAR CEO Bob Hale, said right before the close of the two-day session that hit the high note:
“Right now, we’re at the top of our game. But the day we rest on that success is the first day of our destruction. No matter how many sing our praises, we must continue in our pursuit of perfection and our commitment to ourselves and our constituents. Because at any given time, we can be disrupted by something we never saw coming. We must recommit ourselves every day to making sure that never happens.”