Innovate and Evolve > It is All About Understanding the Power of Choice

In life, and in business, the foundation of every critical decision is based in being able to make a choice. To have options to consider and to then make a decision based upon a person’s needs and desires.

Sadly, with the exception of the residential real estate brokerage industry.

For decades the only choice we provide the consumer is that of which company or agent to use to do essentially the same thing. Company to company, brand to brand, agent to agent we do very little that is different and we offer literally no choices. The brokerage industry has been stagnated and basically messages to the consumer that it is our way or it’s the highway. You know what I am talking about. The consumer invites several agents to make a listing presentation and all of the agents market the property using the same basic process. So what happens? The choice comes down to which agent to use based on not the choice of the value of the offering but on the agent’s experience, personality or some other intangible measurement.

Really? Do consumers make the decision to purchase a Mercedes Benz based on the fact that the car salesperson is really nice and has sold a lot of cars? No they do not. It is the quality of the product and the offer of a wide variety of choices of models that ultimately causes a consumer to buy a Mercedes Benz. And do you know why Mercedes Benz has so many choice of models? It’s because they needed to do so to simply remain competitive.

Today, “having it our way” is becoming less and less appealing to the consumer. The consumer has evolved and their wants and demands now require choice. Unfortunately for us, the consumer took Burger King’s marketing promise to heart, and now they want "it their way."

So why is this?

Because others are evolving and adapting and are making choice a key component of their ultimate success. That’s right, those that are providing choices now are betting on the fact that historically we have resisted change; we have not provided choices and we have really never evolved our traditional processes to meet the ever-changing demands of the consumer.

Those in the market today are not disrupting the industry - because that’s too much of a carpet bombing attack - they are surgically disrupting the “same old” things we continue. Yes, they are betting on the fact that we will not change and that we will not provide the consumer with choice.

Enter what Redfin and Opendoor just announced this past week. Lots and lots and lots of choices are being created here for the consumer. And that is the key.

Note the headline of this article. You know what is missing here? Your name in the place of Redfin. The real question is why isn't your company’s name there? No excuses folks, it needs to be.

If you read the article carefully, and you are able to at least temporarily resist simply denigrating what these companies are doing now, you should be able to discover the intention here. This is NOT simply about Opendoor trying to out pace Zillow Offers. Nope. This is all about Redfin and Opendoor teaming up for the sole purpose of outpacing you and your agents. You are clearly the target. These companies fully intend for you to show up at the “point of listing?” and at the “point of sale” looking like a “one trick pony” because today - our industry is a one trick pony. And what about them? They will now show up to compete with many options, some really creative choices and based on the historical appeal of such choices, they will most assuredly walk away with more business by doing so.

Consumers are more progressive today than ever. They are attracted to and they prefer having choices. Henry Ford learned that lesson the hard way when GM offered automobiles in lots of colors other than just black. Fast forward and today and while the taxi cabs still hang-on to their offer of a dirty, cramped yellow sedan, Uber offers you the choice of an Uber XL, Uber X, Uber Comfort and on and on. And, by the way in oder to effectively compete, so does Lyft.

So it is with confidence that I share with your future chances of your ultimate “thrival” are slim to none without an offer of choice.

Finally consider this fact I have discovered over the past 38 years in this business. The only way to be ultimately be successful and to be in a position to make the changes necessary to thrive is to either ultimately own the direct relationship with the consumer or the true asset in our business, the property. Without question, Redfin owns the consumer relationship and Opendoor owns the assets. Do you get it? Is this starting to make some sense enow?

As I head to Vegas in a week or so to Inman Connect I have shared with many people that one day I hope to see you and your company on the agenda. While that is unfortunately not the case today, and the only mention of you will likely be as traditional brokers that facie ultimate extinction, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Call the smartest of your people together, discuss the options you have to provide choice and above all share with your very independent agents. Because rather than “loving to hate” all those things tell your agents that you are going to be “still for a moment" and that you fully intend to listen and learn from those same forces that we have traditionally feared and hated. That is a big ask, but that is an ask that is no longer optional.

And the reward of such behavior? By doing so, I have all the confidence in the world that one day you, your agents and your company will “be the ones in the headline”, recognized as the most progressive company in the market, with tremendous consumer presence and making an amazing offer of valued choices for the consumer.

And what a simply grand day that will be.