EPMEPM: First Person

Call the Professional: Fiona Blayney

We all cherish secret ambitions, says Fiona Blayney – and so do our clients. Time to ensure the value we provide is relevant and meaningful, to avoid being edged out by the part-timers.

I think everyone has an inner wannabe. I’m not talking about the social wannabe, the one you’d associate with a schoolyard name-calling, but the adult wannabe that exists in us all.

There are two types of adult wannabe status. One that invariably rears its head is when we’ve got the time and inclination to dabble in that profession we fancy as a career in another life; the other is thinking we can get the job done cheaper by doing it ourselves – think Dad in the 80s and a leaking sink… oh, how Mum wished he’d called the professional.

I definitely class myself as a wannabe. My wannabe status takes me into many careers; in preparing for a Tribunal case I feel like my inner Law & Order comes out and I become a wannabe lawyer. Wannabe builder is another title I’ll own; when renovating our home in 2016 I’d be on site, at times donning a tool belt at the first opportunity. I’d be helping the boys – not sure they saw it that way, but the restored fireplace is my pride and joy.

Most recently, when it came to the design and creation of our ‘outdoor living space’ (as we professionals call it), I became the wannabe draftsman. I figured the $2,000 I’d been quoted for the plans were better spent elsewhere. Researching Houzz, reading Home Beautiful and searching through the myriad of other resources for style features, I decided on a design. I spent hours measuring, designing and drafting plans. I learnt the lingo, sourced the materials, and had my design created in 3D for $30 through Fiverr.com, ready to brief the landscaper, carpenter and kitchen company. I was in wannabe draftsman heaven.

Preparing for a Tribunal case, my inner Law & Order comes out and I become a wannabe lawyer.

On the other hand, as my friend Rach and I sat on the new deck, she shared her story of the design and construction of her outdoor space. Rach outsourced everything design, and after being quoted double the price we had for construction (her space was a quarter of ours), she and her husband put on their wannabe landscaper hats and did the majority of the work themselves.

As I listened to Rach, I was intrigued as to the difference in our perceived value for our respective projects.
We definitely allocated it differently – Rach to the design and I to the construct. I’ve thought about this a lot and, like anything that is front of mind, I started seeing value decisions everywhere.

With the birth of our third daughter we needed a new car. Another friend was raving about the Mercedes, but I couldn’t see the value and opted for the Mazda CX9. Yet when I am buying my milk I head straight for Dairy Farmers, while my husband will collect the generic brand. I love ‘ugly fruit’ yet verge on being snobby when it comes to pizza. How is that we formulate our value positions?

As society evolves, so too does the value position of the consumer in every buying decision. As a consumer
we look at the social profile of businesses, their commitments to production location, environmental concerns – we even look at what it would take to do it ourselves – and weigh up the time, knowledge, desire and risk against cost profile.

Every business owner, not just in our space, faces the challenge of remaining relevant to their consumer, giving them what they want and need at a price they are willing to pay, providing relevant value for service. Perhaps it’s time that you held up a mirror and checked in to see if you are still relevant?

If you want to minimise the financial impact of business evolution, make it harder for clients to become a wannabe agent and provide relevant value.

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit realplusonline.com.au.