Your True Customer: It's Absolutely Not Who You Think

While I am normally passionate about the need for industry change, at times, I think I might one one fo the few who have the same passion for the sense of urgency for this need for such change.

That is until I read the attached article on Inman this morning.  Here's an excerpt that might give you a hint as to why I am sending this to you today:

"Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen defines the innovator’s dilemma as: “Precisely because firms [your franchises; your brokerages] listened to their customers [you — agents], invested aggressively in new technologies that would provide their customers [agents] more and better products of the sort they wanted, and because they carefully studied market trends and systematically allocated investment capital to innovations that promised the best returns, they lost their position of leadership [in the real estate industry] — doing the right thing is the wrong thing.”

These exact steps taken within every industry as each face disruptive technologies, always lead to the same outcome: The incumbents fail to embrace change quickly enough and are displaced."

I read this and sat back in my chair and said out loud, wow.  

You my friends are the incumbents in this industry and you are in my opinion, the primary target of this messaging.

"The technologies you are building right now will not solve your problems because they are the wrong technologies being built for the wrong customers and for the wrong reasons."

That’s right the wrong technologies for the wrong customers.  We are busy building things like new CRM solutions for the agents when others are fixated on building the right technologies for the true user of our services, the consumer.  Why?  Because we as an industry have a destiny that is totally dependent upon the agent to take what we build and use it with the consumer.  Really?  Can we be that ignorant to still believe this is somehow still going to happen?

We as an entire industry are spending the majority of our time automating and causing greater efficiencies the wrong customer!  Our customer is NOT our agent.  At least not is we somehow expect to survive what is evolving very quickly today.

Fact.  It is the inaction of the incumbents that provides the fuel for others to truly disprupt those incumbents. In other words, as we scramble about the industry trying to attract more agents with better tools, others are going direct to the consumer and offering them the improved tools and services to gain their business and thereby take control the industry we think we will control forever with our "agent customers.”  Where I disagree with the author is that I think his definition of an “incumbent” includes the franchises, the brokers and the agents.

The agents are not the answer to the dilemma the industry finds itself in today, they are the very core of the dilemma

And as a result, I feel the brokers have the opportunity now to take a different direction and to begin creating a consumer-first relationship with the consumer by offering choice.  Brokers that realize these dynamics and take action that indicates that the consumer is their customer have a chance to make it today.  I have believed for years, and written about it, that "the broker needs to build a hedge on real estate brokerage as we know it today.”  Consumers want choice so here’s the choice I believe the brokers need to provide.  One of the random real estate as delivered by an independent agent and one of a formatted real estate services model as delivered by the broker through agents that are willing to play by the broker’s rules.  

Why this choice?  Because the future is vested in the latter offer not in the former offer.  That offer is dying a slow, but assured, death.  

So here's the best news yet.  Instead of reciting the entire article here, I suggest you read it at least twice.  This is a critically important article to review and to fully digest.

Share ideas with your people, debate the topic, open up your mind, plan to take big risks, try new things, make new offers and do all of this for one very good and certain reason.  As you do what you are doing today, furthering “your status quo", know ell that others are doing all of these things with the sole objective of one day working directly with the true customer, the consumer, to one day replace you.

Have a great day!