Keeping Dad's promise

This broker spoke of his company with pride. And kept coming back to the one idea dad broke his back and wrenched his gut for while building the firm:

People first.

His boutique firm commands an impressive slice of local market share. So it seems to work, too.

Brand, schmand

In the course of doing the brand discovery that kicks off many of our engagements, I was told that this company matches leads – people – with an agent who fits their needs. I liked that idea. It’s not new or novel. But sadly, while it may seem to be the obvious way to run a real estate company, this sort of arrangement is not something a consumer can assume.

I wanted to learn more about this company’s agent selection process. Is it automated? Manual? What is it that they actually match up?

A majority of brokerages I’ve spoken too in the past match users with new agents or those with whom they have the best commission split.

I typically question this practice. “You present a benefit to the user, one who has actively sought help and then slide them to the least experienced agent to help them transact the most important purchase in their life”, I’d say with a dollop of concern. “What sort of brand experience is that?”

“Brand, schmand,” most brokers say. This isn’t about building a brand. It’s about survival. This is how we make money.”

Sometimes I suggest, then, that they boldly and proudly alert the user to the truth. Why be secret about it? Create a call to action that reads: Need help choosing an agent? We’ll match you with one of our new agents. They get to land a deal and we profit more on their split.

Uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

Hot, sticky, humid silence.

That kind that fogs up the discussion.

So says the son

Many brokerages route leads based on splits. It’s time tested. Accepted. It’s how they survive.

He’s grappled with this ideology. And many others during our discussions. Weighing the benefits of this practice against the silent but deadly stench of pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes seems to challenge many brokers. Not this guy.

He’s interested in building something that will last. He wants to create a digital brand experience that brings to the Web the soul of his organization. Fooling people to make a buck doesn’t fit into that plan. It never did. Not for dad. It never will. So says the son.

People first

He did make one adjustment as a result of our talks: When someone fills out the form on his company’s website asking for help finding an agent, the inquiry will go directly to him. He will read each one. And attend to each request personally. He will oversee the selection process. And choose the agent that best fits the needs of the prospective client.

Even if he’s the 95/5 guy.

It’s a price he is willing to pay to keep the promise dad made. The one written in stone.

People first.