Once upon a time, you “walked in” for real estate services. A pleasant face greeted you. You had questions; helpful people had answers.
It was a simple.
You called, someone answered. You were handled. Not routed through some invisible air traffic system waiting for a faceless controller to pick you up a day later with a response.
The Realtor was once a servant. Performing the heavy lifting and attending to the smallest details. Making sense of things.
The client was afforded the luxury of being serviced. They were unencumbered by the minutia of the process.
When I was young we spent time huddled around the kitchen table. Eating. Talking. Dreaming.
Back then, the only box we all stared into was the Ebinger’s cake box. Pale green with brown crosshatching. We craved its contents – sweet and addictive.
In these happy golden days of yore, the customer was king — even though they weren’t “empowered”.
If you think consumers are truly empowered today, you are clinging to fantasy
You enter the local yogurt shop. Pick your Styrofoam cup. Pour your own yogurt. Choose and apply your own toppings. The only visible and meaningful exchange between you and the service person is experienced at the cash register.
Fast food. Self service.
Today you enter real estate the same way. Pick your Styrofoam website. Pour your own flavor of search. Apply your own data, sign-up, log-in, drag, drop, join, calculate and map out your real estate treat. The only visible and meaningful exchange between you and the service person is experienced at the real estate cash register.
Fast food real estate. Self service.
All this technology. Amazing feats of invention. But if you think leaving it in the hands of the consumer is empowering, you are clinging to fantasy.
The power I see
Technology can be empowering. But what happens when those who license and present it to the consumer are incapable of adding to it the nuance of expertise, the touch of service?
What happens when they have no aptitude for integrating it into a cohesive experience?
What happens when the professional skims the surface of technology, takes the cheap route and makes technology an Achilles Heel when it should be a strength?
I’ll tell you what happens. You lose control of your business. You end up with a wary consumer that doesn’t know what to do or who to trust. You end up having your entire value proposition eviscerated by outsiders, your carcass picked apart by squawking crows on the trash strewn shoulder of your industry.
How empowering is that?
Technology is amazing. If used right. But if not, if misguided, you end up selling your brand down a dry river bed littered with crappy websites, crappy search and a workforce of spoiled agents that don’t want to work — or even know what work to do.
Empowerment is not conning oneself itself into believing the consumer wants to do everything themselves. Empowerment sunk when real estate began believing the consumer would have no issue paying top dollar for the privilege of serving themselves.
Where’s mom when you need her?
Today, we all gather round the same dining table. We still dream, eat, talk and wonder about our next home. The box we all stare into is equally alluring as the old Ebinger’s. Its contents just as sweet and addictive. Filled with empowerment and promise.
What would be incredibly empowering is if real estate started leveraging its contents better. Serve it up like mom used to. She knew exactly when and how. And was always there when you needed her.
That’s what real estate needs now more than ever.