Presence is Powerful. Unless of Course, You Lose It.

As I read this blog written by Rob Hahn I thought of a declaration that was made years ago at an Inman CEO Connect meeting. And it went like this.

Presence is powerful.

How true. Working really hard to secure presence in business is the key to the success of the business and to the ability to grow the business in the future. Everything we do should be based in growing the business and assuring that those we have done business with before, return to do business again. Each and every day, it is the job of those who own the business to lead this charge and to make sure that those the “work for us” are following the leader and making a positive impact on the consumer we want to be our customer.

But then there’s the residential real estate brokerage.

Today, traditional brokers across the Nation control somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million transactions a year. That means if you company is a party to those transactions, you have some degree of presence with more than 10 million seller and buyers. So for the industry, as long as we don’t screw up we think that will be the case for whatever time we need to grow the business and then exit with a reward. It's just that easy.

Right? Wrong.

Wrong because we are so fixated on our agents - getting them, growing them, keeping them happy and just keeping them. Because of this fixation with agents, we have essentially put our powerful presence at risk for others to simply waltz into our industry and take. And the reality of this is this fact. It’s not at all hard to do for those parties. Take the iBuyers for example.

They have begun to erode our presence previously created by the traditional transactional processes by offering the consumer something we refused to offer. An organized, formatted, duplicatable transactional process. That was always an impossibility to deliver to the consumer in an industry where 1.3 million agents control the offering made to the consumer and then controlled the consumer turned customer. Who do you think control's the Opendoor, Knock, Offerpad, KW Offers, Zillow Offers, Redfin Now experiences?

Hint. It’s not the agents, it’s their employees. The agents are rightfully invited to fill in where needed.

I’m not saying this because I believe the iBuyers are doing anything wrong, I am saying this because it is an example fo how our industry will continue to lose its presence with the consumer because we resist or do not change. Not to meet the needs of our agents, but to meet the changing needs of the consumer. Truth. Left to the agents, the residential brokerage business - including yours - is doomed to fail. By design.

Yes, Rob is correct in his comments as he recounts the relationships between brokerages, franchises, tech companies and portals but what I think he underestimates is the tenacity of the brokerage industry to get its collective shit together and change. That is why I am sending these “matter of fact blogs” out and that’s who and what I am betting on. What about you? Are you able to lead the change?

Years ago, Andy Grove the former CEO of Intel analyzed his business and then completely flipped his company’s business model. He dropped making memory chips that the Japanese had mastered and began manufacturing computer processor chips. His investors thought he was crazy and his employees ran for the door. The result? Today there are few if any computers that are not powered by Intel Inside. He turned the impossible into a possible and a possible into a probable.

So what's your flip? And do you have the vision and courage to make it happen in order to keep the presence with the consumer that your company enjoys today?

What would our company look like if it was the essence of a combination of Zillow, Opendoor, Compass and Redfin? If it were truly designed to be consumer-first? If it embraced the things that as an industry, we love to hate? If we stopped, listened and learned from all those things that we fear?

I’m not sure what it would be but I am certain that if this degree of change does not happen the presence you enjoy today in your market of listings taken and listings sold will very likely be the business of someone else tomorrow.

Have a great day!