When the Target is Painted on Your Back

A long time ago, I learned as a kid that if a bull’s eye is displayed anywhere it is probably not a good idea to be near it. The reasons for that are many and they are real. They include the direct involvement of being in the pathway of things like arrows, knives, bullets and the likes. And in the case of each of those things, the objective was always clear. Hit the bull’s eye.

So fresh back from attending the RISMedia CEO Exchange in New York City this week, I had these thoughts at 32,000 feet over somewhere on the East Coast.

Here's the first one. Why is is that we as an industry are fixated on always being the ones that a disintermediated, dislodged, disrupted and otherwise attacked? When I thought about it looking out over the clouds, I realized that the answer is really very simple. We as an industry, and as a result of what we routinely “don't do" make an excellent target.

Today, our industry represents a huge target with a series of "brightly painted circles focused on a single big bull’s eye” on each of our backs. And you know what the prize is for hitting the center of our target? It is the future presence and the business of the consumer.

Over the past many years, I have read countless articles about how our industry could be and each have been accompanied by endless "attempted shots" at us as the target. And the saddest fact related to this is, we are never the ones who are "making the shots we are always the ones taking the hits.”

Here is an example of what I am talking about.

Why is this article being written by the CMO of the iBuyer Offerpad? An iBuyer realizing the impending change that is impacting the industry and citing ways the consumer will benefit from that change. And the real question I have is why wasn't this an article that written by a progressive residential real estate broker or franchisor? Once again the industry is that target and the arrows are flying toward that target at record speed.

So here’s my challenge to you.

When will you wake up one day and “change out of the outfit you are wearing that has the brightly painted bull’s eye on your back" as a residential real estate broker? Isn’t it time? Or better yet, isn’t way past the time?

So here’s the other thought and observation I had up there in the sky.

If you have read any of my comments or the articles on my blog, you will know that I am less than complimentary of the Compass business model. But recently, I will admit that I might change my tune in part as it relates to that company. Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe they are an extremely challenged traditional brokerage company, but am now more impressed with what they are trying to do for the consumer within their restrictive independent contractor environment.

They get points for coming up with some great new ideas and strategies, although the jury in their world is still very much “out” in terms of agent adoption. But hey, at least they are trying and most importantly, they are now truly leading some very interesting changes in our industry. Yes, as a traditional brokerage they moving away from being the target and they are showing signs of being a very effective “arrow” shooting now at the bull’s eyes painted on the backs of every other traditional brokerage company. Not a great evolution for the traditional brokerage industry, but I have no doubt that it will be a welcomed one for the consumer.

The programs I am referencing to here are the Compass concierge services offering and their exclusive listing preview offering. So think about it. Both pointed directly at the “target” defined as their competitors traditional business processes and both boldly designed to appeal and to ultimately put the best interest of the consumer first. For once, a traditional brokerage company who is demonstrating that it can effectively compete by being the "aggressor. not the defender.”

Now by no means has "the target” been removed from Compass as a traditional brokerage company in total, but to its credit, the company is showing signs of a meaningful and fearless pursuit of the consumer’s business by working from within the traditional brokerage environment. Not in being something form outside the brokerage industry trying to destroy it.

So I can hear it now. “But Ken, so now Compass is just another entity that is hurling things at the bull’s eye painted on my traditional brokerage company and we are still the target!” And my response would be, yes that is true. And frankly that will continue to be the reality you will live in until that one day when you wake up and make the conscious decision not to be that “target.”

I have said it before and I will say it again. There is not a single residential real estate brokerage firm that I know of today that does not enjoy the incredible blessing of having significant consumer presence. To be exact, that equates to the valuable business of more than 10 million sellers and buyers last year. But as I have emphasized before, that is today and that is not something that is in anyway assured or guaranteed to be the case tomorrow.

So now it gets very interesting my friends. And real hope is that you - and not someone else - are the party that makes the future of this industry interesting for the consumer, and as a result, for your company.

The destiny of your company and of your future is in your hands as a leader. There is no question about that. So my suggestion to you today is to begin to extend your leadership focus and your "leadership speak” of new things by allocating significant time and resources to the comprehensive dissection and the discovery of new ways to do those things you do today, differently and better tomorrow.

Have a great day.