How to master strategic thinking in real estate: Scott Bateman

Scott Bateman says if you're not winning, it could be because you're playing the game the same as the other team.

For more than 20 years I’ve been involved in sales across various industries and there’s a question I’ve asked every team I’ve worked with during this time which is (almost) always guaranteed to result in stunned silence – “what do you do that your competitors would admit they can’t or don’t?” 

It sounds like a simple question, but I want you to think on it.

If you’re in sales, you likely tell prospective vendors about how you live in or love the area, your expertise in your market and how many listings you have, your enormous database or your industry-leading marketing strategies.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the person pitching for the listing before or after you said the same thing and reads the same scripts.  

If you’re in property management, you’re probably promoting your expertise and care, knowledge of legislation, how long you’ve been in the industry or customer satisfaction results.

As with sales, this is the same pitch used by every agency trying to win the management. 

I want to introduce you to a strategic choice for your business which sounds simple, but can be equally challenging and rewarding once you make it – “Do we want to be different, or better?”  

So, which to choose and why does it matter? 

If you’re in a large market, the choice to be different can be advantageous.

Choosing to be different means understanding that you are giving up some of the total potential market to be ultra-appealing to a niche you’re pursuing, but now more likely to win.

Essentially, you’re deliberately unappealing on a couple of things your competitors do to create a clear choice between you and them.

This takes courage because some people really need to dislike what you’re doing for you to know you’re getting it right (which won’t feel natural).  

If we look at a business like IKEA we can see a great example of this.

Nobody ever wanted to self-assemble furniture from flat packs, but the decision to change this fundamental step in the process of how furniture gets made and sold has made them the most successful furniture company in the world.

There are people who will never buy from them because of this, but many who love the value they can provide because they do.

Is there a ‘self-assemble’ type of change you could make to what you do to separate you from the rest? 

If you’re in a smaller market being too different could be dangerous and choosing to be ‘better’ might make more sense.

This is because being too different could alienate too many people and leave you with a niche that is too small to be viable.

Here’s the catch though – being ‘better’ is really, really hard.  

Being better is about breaking down every single aspect of your business and fine tuning it as ruthlessly as possible.

In doing so, you’re going to find series of things you can now claim you do that others don’t or can’t, and your reputation will grow as you do.

Perhaps it’s who or how you recruit, the way you train, manage or incentive your team that can unlock a new level of success?

Perhaps it’s the methods you use for collecting and acting on feedback when things go wrong or new technology which will give you an edge.

There’s an endless list of what’s possible once you start interrogating every angle of your business.  

Here’s the catch – being better is made harder by needing to balance adding new costs into your business.

That new training program you just realised will help is likely going to cost a lot of money.

Importantly, deciding on a strategy of being better is not just about adding more stuff, it’s about making clear choices when and where to not spend money and still achieve the desired outcome. 

My example here is groups like McDonalds. McDonald’s aren’t successful because the burger they make is all that great.

They’re successful because they manage every step of the way a burger restaurant works in such a way that the end product is the same across thousands of locations, all over the world.

The convenience and predictability of the end product is why they sell billions of burgers every year, and this is incredibly hard to accomplish when they’re also so cheap. 

If you’re curious to know more about how to do this and get it right, join me at Elite Retreat in Bali in July.

I’ll be diving deeper in to how to innovate, compete and win on a lowered cost base learning from the world’s best businesses.

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Scott Bateman

Scott Bateman is the CEO of Kolmeo. For more information visit Kolmeo.com.