I commented recently that I really miss Andy Rooney. What a great guy. He was what I considered to be the best part of the 60 Minutes show for years. That is why I think the producers always slotted him in at the end of the show.
They wanted to save the best for last.
The good news is that the saying he created and used each week on that show lives on now beyond his life, and on well into ours. How can anyone forget Andy’s constant question? “Have you ever wondered why?”
Each time I hear that question I think of his great way of taking things that were seemingly so obvious - assumptions we make in life - and calling them out for what they really were. He constantly challenged the status quo and pointed to the things that we did that really made little sense when he surfaced them with this question. So valuable was his humor and so telling was his message. So that brings me to the topic I want to share with you today.
For the past 5 years or more, I have been alarmed and troubled at the abundance of acceptance for the core of what we do today in the residential real estate brokerage industry. And all the while, the consumer has been very vocal at their dislike for the same. Just ask them. THey’ll tell you. But only if you dare. But it does not have to be that way.
“Have you ever wondered why so much time and effort have been spent perpetuating the existence things that don’t work and are not liked by the consumer in the real estate business?” That is the real question I have for our industry and the answer to that question to date has seemingly evaded all of us. Or has it?
As I interact with brokers, in private they have little difficulty in admitting the issues in this industry but outwardly they have great difficulty causing change to happen. It reminds me of the day when corporate America stated that it needed a more controlled process in order to relocate its highly valued corporate transferees. Basically, the executives of big companies demanded a different experience than what was offered by the typical agent and they would not accept less if you as the service provider wanted their business.
So think about this.
In order to attract this lucrative, highly qualified segment of the real estate market, our industry created a whole new segment of business, called relocation. We essentially redefined the transaction, we designed new rules and we sorted through the agent population in order to find those agents that would agree to play by those rules - or else. And to this day, there are about 200,000 highly sought after transactions each year that demand this type of special consumer treatment and brokers lined up to have them referred to them.
Go figure. So smart.
So my question is now this one. “Have you ever wondered why this industry has not made a more organized, formatted, controlled buying and selling process available to all consumers?” I have. And for more than 25 years now.
For almost since the inception of the residential real estate brokerage business we have made the assumption that what we do is what the consumer wants. And I think there is the Achille’s Heal of our business. We operate our companies daily assuming that what the agents are randomly doing in serving the consumer is going to be sustainable and will survive the test of time. And I say really?
Agents will do what they do with the hope to succeed, but leaders influence those same agents to change what they do in order to assure their success.
So this is the real question we should be asking ourselves as industry leaders Why? Because the consumer has already weighed in with the dislike and frustration for what we do. Here is what I believe now is the “business critical” question.
How long will the value of a for sale sign planted in the front year, lock boxes hung on doorknobs, open houses of unvetted, random strangers, uninformed and misrepresented buyer’s broker and agents, and emotion plagued conditional sales survive the “test of the consumer?” Some say its already past the time and others show actions that suggest it is forever. But there are not many that fall in between those two measurements.
You know, me of all people get that change is hard and I also get that most of those that we have entrusted with the consumer experience are independent contractors that resist change. But that does not give anyone in a leadership role in this industry a pass on making an effort now to “break down the door of the Bridge” and to convince the “Captain” to change the course of the “Titanic we are all in this industry passengers on today.”
I have often said, “That for all those who resist change, no worries. Change will happen without you.” But I still work each day to provide "ways and means" for this industry to ward off the disruptors and to thrive in the face of the constant challenge we have to simply survive.
Whether you are a CEO, a franchisor or a broker it’s your team and you are the leader and as General Norman Schwarzkopf stated so well at a conference I once organized, “When put in command, take charge. And when in charge do the right thing.”
Isn’t it time - or even way past the time - to convene your smartest people on your team and to set the stage that encourages the new design of a ground zero build of our services offering? And then, to figure out a way to change the course of each of our companies so that by example provides the answer to this question is obvious.
“Have you ever wondered why they didn’t make these changes years ago?”
What do you say? Are you in?
Have a great day!