I love real estate. A passion for property has driven my success in the business - so it's not often that I speak negatively of an industry I know and love.
Yet recently a concerning trend involving external disruptors has begun to place a tangible threat to our current way of working and the lucrative industry that we work hard to build and maintain.
These disruptors come in the form of "middleman" agent referrers, offering to help consumers choose the "best" in the marketplace for free.
Currently, 1 in 25 sales come from these referral companies - already claiming a significant portion of our commission. At the moment they launch at the rate of around one per six months, but this is surely set to rise as their popularity increases.
As I considered the situation we face more in more depth, several clear ways to combat it became clear to me. I believe that the threat to our future can be alleviated through prioritising customer experience, raising credibility and focusing on transparency.
This issue affects us all - so it's up to each and every one of us to change the current landscape, through a recognition of what brought us into this industry in the first place. Passion!
The responsibility to bring about change rests with us.
Whilst it's a little controversial to say so, I believe that this is a problem we've created ourselves. A gap in the market has opened up - a niche that clearly reflects the needs of consumers.
Convenience. Clarity. Transparency. Quickness. Ease. Clearly, these are needs that weren't currently being met sufficiently by us. If consumers felt that they could obtain what referral companies offer directly from real estate agents, surely they would?
If you're a true professional, passionate real estate agent who hasn't yet identified an issue within your own corporation and believe that this doesn't impact you - think again. We all have some soul-searching to do.
Each and every agent and agency has to look within and ask, "Am I contributing to this culture?" Some are actively accelerating our potential demise, in a number of ways - focusing purely on profit, spending time chasing awards simply by ticking off criteria, and ruthlessly chasing commission and striking down competitors that get in the way. - not through doing an excellent job.
Those who do operate in this fashion are opening a window of opportunity to a myriad of 'disruptors' and 'find the best agent' referrers - all pushing to eliminate the agent from the equation. Those who don't, but stand by and watch, stand to lose just as much.
It's no wonder we get a poor reputation in our communities. It's no wonder disrupters are banging on our door to do it better than we can.
So how can we prevent bad practice and poor reputation from damaging and ultimately destroying our industry?
The answer lies in awareness, accountability and assertiveness. It's up to all of us to recognise and call out damaging and unsavoury behaviour - to self-regulate the industry we rely on. Those of us who are passionate, proud and professional has a duty to protect our reputation as a whole.
I am extremely proud to be in this amazing industry. It affords us incomparable opportunities to earn a very generous professional income and live an extraordinary life. We get to connect with amazing individuals both within the industry and beyond. We can expand, evolve and have a critical influence on the lifestyle, economy and international recognition Australia is world-famous for.
If we wish to continue to enjoy this industry (and profit from it), it is up to all of us to protect it. So ask yourself - are you contributing to our prosperity or our downfall?
It's more important than ever before to focus on building relationships with customers.
Whilst the answer is complex and involves a lot of work on our part to repackage the current image consumers hold when it comes to real estate agencies, I think the principle course of action lies within our relationships. Our relationships with each other and with our customers. When we concentrate on building relationships, we focus on one of the most important aspects of any business - real estate in particular - customers feel valued and understood.
Their overall experience is enhanced, they recommend and review. Meanwhile, your morale soars. You remember why you do what you do.
It's easy to get caught up in commission. In chasing awards, feeling as though professional recognition must come in the form of financial gain or industry acclaim. But in actual fact, success in real estate lies in customer satisfaction.
Strong, positive relationships are integral to this.
Today, I ask you to take a step back and strip it all away - to return to that one thing that got you here in the first place.
A passion for real estate.
Find more professional guidance and industry commentary here on the blog - or get in touch to discover how you can create a business worth having with Australia's first multi-branded real estate group.
"The 60 Second Entrepreneur"
"The 60 Second Entrepreneur" is an important book for any person who dreams of creating a successful business. Many of Manos's examples are taken from his Real Estate experience, but also draws upon over 30 years of being self employed and the lessons he teaches are fundamental business truths which anyone can profit from.