Throughout the year, I speak with many broker/owners, marketing VPs, office managers and the occasional IT director.
These discussions are the first steps in peeling back the layers of a brokerage to reveal what’s special. What we find, we mold. We bake it into their identity. Their websites. Their voice. Their marketing. Their strategy.
Often, during these early discussions, I’ll mention products, apps and names of vendors who supply specific solutions to the pressing issues within. Things they can attack immediately.
There are times when none of the things I mention ring any bells.
CEO. President. VP. Managing Broker. Office Manager. IT. Marketing Director. HR. Sales Manager. Director of Relocation, Director of Education and Training. These are titles found on most brokerage org charts. Critical positions that maintain the status quo.
But status quo begets complacency. It’s a bad place to be during times bursting with innovation. When economies and markets are rebounding. When there’s fierce competition for eyeballs, dollars and market share.
We live in a new economic environment. A time of rapid change. A time when one differentiating idea, one reach outside the status quo, could significantly expand a brand’s competitive edge. A time when rising above the hurdle that pits innovation against tradition is paramount. A time when you can’t stand still for an instant.
In these times, you need to add someone new to the mix. Someone special.
Your next hire should be new – plucked from the streets of raw talent. Just like on the X Factor.
You need a…
Think record labels’ A&R. The guys and gals who combed the club scene hoping to discover the next big thing.
This new hire would have a cool title: Director of Innovation. VP of Discovery.
She’d have one ear constantly to the ground. A sharp sense for trends and the ability to know when they’re in their prime and about to hit mass adoption versus when they are about to jump the shark.
She’s awake. Certain. Brave. She tries things. Apps. Tools. Software. She compares.
She reads deeply, beyond the industry trades. Networks with colleagues at other companies both inside and outside real estate.
She is the point of contact for vendors looking for their one shot to pitch a product that may indeed solve the problem you’re most concerned with right now.
This person has no idea what her Klout score is. Has never been the Mayor of anything. Doesn’t friend anyone online she doesn’t respect offline. Her job – watch the broker’s back and help push the company forward.
A serious mofo. A lot like some of you.
No single scenario sums up every brokerage matrix. Yet commonalities exist. Specifically, the way you’ve hired and structured your teams. All based on how things used to be. Before the recession. Before the cloud. Before iPhones and iPads. Before whatever comes next.
Imagine you start over today. Build your firm from scratch. Think about the skills and talent you’d need to pull it off. Technologies you’d need to acquire or build. And the brand assets you’d have to create and manage along with the content you’d need across all forms of media.
You’d probably look a lot more like Redfin than you’d care to imagine. Or even Zillow, Trulia, Sawbuck or M Squared Real Estate.
These companies, along with the many new brokerages and growing volume of older companies that have restructured and become seriously progressive, are setting new standards for what a brokerage should look like.
Mobile and digital strategies intact.
Culture slowly brewing.
Alive and kicking
This past week, during the first leg of a three-week road trip visiting brokers, clients and friends around the country, a client described the twenty-something college grad with an MBA just hired to join the brokerage. The right move.
This brokerage has market share. They have a culture. But more important they have a hip chief of technology who wants to redo everything. An equally forward-thinking director of marketing who isn’t tweeting all day. A dedicated CEO. A spirited VP. Managers who gather and whiteboard ideas.
Their gaze is forward. Not crowded by a dusty server room or closed off in cubes of mediocrity. Not constrained by an org chart that was created when both computers and hair were really big.
This is the stuff that makes this 100-year-old firm spry. Alive. Kicking. And explains why their nearest competitor has 1/10 of the market share they have locked in.
This is the stuff that restores my faith in the future of the brokerage business.
Find that serious mofo. Or empower someone internally to become one. Or become one yourself. And then let loose.
That’s how the brokerage of 2013 needs to roll.