Change. It's a concept that doesn't come easily to most people, Realtors being no exception. Change is inevitable; it comes whether you like it or not.
The recent collapse of the Borders bookstore empire provides us with many examples of what NOT to do. Let's look at the three biggest lessons and how they apply to Realtors today.
Lesson 1: Don't adapt. It's easy to see that with the advent of e-books and iPads, paper book sales would slow. To think of the advent of technology such as the tablet or e-reader as a "passing fad" was a fatal mistake for Borders. It wasn't until last year that Borders tried to launch its own e-reader and by then it was competing with the Kindle, the Nook and the iPad. Too little too late.
Lesson 2: Don't give your customers what they want. Borders added CDs and DVDs to its selection in stores only after online sales of these items surpassed in-store purchases by the thousands. As record stores nationwide closed, Borders completely misread the preferences of their customer base and positioned themselves where no one was buying.
Lesson 3 : Let someone else deal with the customer. Instead of developing a website that catered to online shoppers and built loyalty to their brand, Borders made what might have been the biggest mistake of all - they partnered with online sales giant Amazon. Customers shopping on Amazon have access to thousands of different products, not just books. Potential customers got distracted by other suggested items, and by the time Borders pulled the plug on the partnership, it was too late.
Wondering when we get to how this all affects the Realtors (and their companies) today? Let's look closer at the lessons above:
Lesson 1 - Adapt. It's 2011. The first place homebuyers find the home they buy is through their agent. The second place is the Internet. Numbers 3 and 4 are yard signs and open houses. Notice what isn't on this list? Print advertising. No homes magazines or newspaper ads. 93% of all homebuyers start their search online. 40% of those searches come from mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. Yet thousands of agents still advertise there. Why?
Lesson 2 - Not giving customers what they want. The Internet is not replacing the Realtor: it is changing what consumers want from you. Sellers need online marketing and open houses, because they work. Buyers are there. They want to see houses online, they want lots of pictures and they then want to go see the houses in person, when it's convenient for them. Then those buyers want to actually talk to you. If you only return phone calls from 11-12 and 4-5 it might work for your schedule, but it certainly doesn't make customers happy. Don't text? Your customers do. Don't have email on the go via Smartphone? Do what's best for your customer. You'll not only have happier customers, you'll do more business because of it.
Lesson 3 - Letting someone else deal with your customer. People buy people before they buy what they are selling. When a seller hires you, they didn't pick your assistant. They picked you. When a buyer wrote that contract with you, they didn't write it with a transaction manager, they picked you. If you have a team, that's OK. There is nothing wrong, if you're busy enough, with having an assistant or a transaction manager. But you're making a serious mistake handing the customer interaction to someone else the minute the sale is made. Be certain whomever is dealing with your customers is doing it to your standard, because the most important statistic of all is that 4 out of 5 unhappy people never complain, they just quietly go somewhere else the next time they need to buy or sell. Again, stop for second and think. If you aren't involved in the customers purchase every step of the way, then why did they hire you in the first place?
Change. It's a scary concept for some, for Borders the writing was on the wall and they missed it because they were too wrapped up in the past to see what was happening in the present.
One thing is certain, you can never go back. Tomorrow will never be like yesterday was. The market we have today, the market we will have tomorrow, isn't going to be the same as it was five, 10 or 20 years ago. If you are waiting for it to "get better", consider the fate of Borders.
But if you're ready to change, to embrace the ever shifting market and help your buyers and sellers find success in today's market, then the best time to start is now.
Where you work matters. As a Realtor, it's not just the brand, it's how the brand supports you and your customer.
That's why here at Weichert, Realtors - Engle & Hambright we have a web presence that services millions of consumers each year, making our website the 3rd most visited broker site on the web.
It's why we lead the way with Open Houses not just Sundays, but Wednesday evenings too, and we promote them online and offline where the buyers are. Our Open Houses consistently produce buyers for our listings (not to mention lots of sales for our agents).
It's also why we focus on the customer. We put your customer first, we help our agents by giving them the tools, training and support they need to by provide industry leading customer service and our customers consistently rank our Realtors among the best in the industry, in survey after survey.
If you're ready to make a change, contact me. We'll help you become a better agent too.