As I have stated before in these blogs, we can learn a great deal from others even though those used as examples have nothing to do with the residential real estate brokerage business.
So then, it should come as no surprise, that the subject of this blog is once again an immensely successful business called Amazon.
I’m almost certain that if you are not already, you might soon be an Amazon Prime customer. As you may recall, Amazon decided just over a year ago to offer a special category of service to its customer base. It was called Amazon Prime. Prime was the company’s premium service offering - for an increased fee.
What was “free" was enhanced to then become “fee."
Upon examination by the consumer, it was also the place where without question, the company offered something unique and different to its customer base. In fact what they offered was such a good deal, it had such great value, that in the first weekend the offer was made to its entire customer base, it has been said that more than 75,000,000 customers considered the offering a great value and signed up to become a Prime member.
And then the real fun began for Amazon.
Since that time the company has constantly improved the value of the original Prime offer. And since that time it has been said that more than 120,000,000 Amazon customers are now Prime members. What began with 2 day delivery promise soon was improved to a same day delivery promise, and now, the offer is for the delivery of certain goods in just TWO HOURS. The lesson here is that Amazon has not for a minute rested on its laurels since announcing the original offer of Prime service. As a company it has strived to improve what it has offered with only a single increase in the price for the Prime services rendered.
And already outrageously successful company - with an unquestionable lead in the market over all of its nearest and most vibrant competitors - simply would not leave well enough alone.
So my question to you today is, what have you done with your offer of real estate services to the consumer that reflects your level of commitment to improving what you do now for your customers? What is your company’s Prime offer?
Here’s why that question is an especially critical one today. While the service fees in our industry have always been negotiable, what has our industry done to enhance the offer we make to the customer? Think about that for a minute. Does your company have a Prime offering for your customers? An improved level of service that provides the customer with something of greater value for a premium fee?
So I can hear it now. "But Ken. We are just trying to hold on to what we have over here!"
OK, I get it, but then there’s this. Each year as the NAR releases its research on the overall rates of commissions, brokers cringe as they fear the worst - a report of the reduction in the rate of brokerage service fees. And each year we as an industry have paid more attention to the “discounters” and “disruptors” than we do to increasing the value of our offering as a means to justify the value of an increase - not a decrease - in our service fees. We see our business model as being threatened by those who discount what we offer based upon some type of industry norm in services. With the possible exception of the brand making the offer, the things we do ARE very similar and that is not a good thing. What our industry lacks most now is a delivery of services that screams greater value so that we might finally have a viable way to enhance the “normal” offer of services for an increase in our service fees.
And to me, that is the obvious opportunity. Doing more for more. Not doing the same for less. That is the key to creating an constantly enhanced offer. And that should be the motivation to transition - or keep - your company in a sustained leadership position in the eyes of the consumer.
We all know that being on the constant defense is not a good place to be in any business. And fearing that others will take what we have does not create an environment for growth and prosperity. And lacking the ability to make proactive changes that surprise and delight the customer will not end well for your company or for that matter, for our industry.
Progressive change is the best cure for disruption.
So is it time for you to consider what your company can do to cause your brokerage services offering to be valued higher because it actually delivers more value? I think so.
Amazon has built its success on constantly knowing what the consumer wants before the consumer asks for it. And so can you. Maybe it is time for you to convene a meeting of the brightest people in your company to do the same thing in your company. After all, you are the leader of your company, and when you turn around, all those people you see following you now depend on your progressive leadership to assure that what they do remains viable with the consumer and that it will cause them to be successful beyond their wildest hopes and dreams.
So for their sake, even with all the pressures and challenges you face each and every day, now is the time to really get out there and lead!
Have a great day!