Realmark might already be a hugely successful and highly-awarded agency, but Managing Director John Percudani is set to pull apart his business model then reassemble it piece by piece in a bid to improve the customer experience.
When Realmark Managing Director John Percudani talks of ‘agile business’ and the ‘customer journey’, he’s not just paying lip service to two of the most commonly-used phrases in the modern real estate world.
John and his team have embarked on a two-year journey to pull apart his highly successful agency in order to reassemble it “bolt by bolt” in a bid to embrace agility.
In doing so, John’s hoping to better accommodate the modern customer journey and arm his team with new skills and insight in a new era of consumer expectation.
“Traditionally the real estate industry has not been a particularly agile profession,” he notes.
“We’ve used the same practices and mindset for generations. As a result, the customer journey currently delivered in real estate is clearly outdated and full of barbs.
“People often use the terms ‘agile business’ and the ‘customer journey’ quite flippantly.
“To be agile you must be driven by the real world, and this comes from your customer. It involves being very aware of market trends, consumer sentiment and economic context.
“It’s about understanding the customer need in that moment and creating a response that is bespoke and appropriate to that need.”
Same destination different journey
John’s deep dive into agility started by identifying Realmark’s customer personas and considering the journey each will have with the brand.
He says too often the real estate industry lumps potential clients into the same box, which results in a one-size-fits-all customer service approach that doesn’t cater to specific needs.
“The reality is there are first home buyers, investors, downsizers, second home buyers, and vacation home purchasers,” he says.
“We identified each customer persona, giving them an image, a name and detailed information. Then we began asking what are the elements we need to satisfy when speaking with them, factoring in their level of experience and knowledge.
“The end destination of the customer journey is often the same but the pathways and stops along the way are different for each customer persona. By knowing this we can connect more deeply with our clients.”
The results so far
Personas and customer journeys are only the start of a process John believes will take at least 18 months, but already he says there are changes within the organisation.
As a result of their increased customer knowledge, Realmark recently refreshed their branding and embraced an entirely new way of advertising.
“We are now in an environment of the six-second flick, where people engage for a short time span before moving onto the next product or property,” he says.
“So, we’ve designed narrative signs rather than traditional sales signs to accommodate this trend.”
Instead of a logo, three images, a write-up and the agent’s contact details, the signs are kept deliberately simple with a single image, an emotive short phrase, and contact information.
A 1960s renovator, for example, might just have a picture of its retro interior, with the slogan “the Beatles weren’t the only good thing about the ’60s”.
John describes the approach as focusing on “what to love, what to know, who to talk to”.
“We’ve been using it in the marketplace for two months and it’s had enormous consumer response,” he says.
“It’s helped our sales team distill essential property information and it’s a great example of agility in the marketplace.”
Likelihood is, of course, the changes won’t end there.
John notes they will extend to the systems and procedures within the business, the technology they employ and perhaps even the services they offer.
“It’s about challenging every element of the business – every email, every letter, the methods, and even the way the brand talks about technology.”
But ultimately, he believes it will be worthwhile for his customers, his business and his team.
“It’s a mammoth task,” he concedes.
“But that’s what we’re looking for – long-term benefits for customers and the business itself.”
It starts with a growth mindset
John readily acknowledges the task his business is currently undertaking isn’t for the faint-hearted. It involves challenging traditional thinking and reassessing every level of operation.
But he says agility starts with a growth mindset that allows a business operator to think outside the box.
“It involves looking at how others do business, not just in real estate. Then it’s about amalgamating that information and being lateral in your approach.”
It also involves bringing his staff along for the ride.
“People can be extremely reluctant to change,” he notes. “As a leader, you need to communicate understanding and reassurance about why you need to evolve.
“Sit down with people at different levels and take them on a journey by inviting them to co-create. If your staff have an understanding of what you’re trying to do, they’re greater advocates and communicators on your behalf.”
John Percudani is among the key speakers at the Business of Real Estate conference 2019, where he’ll be offering further insight into ‘Agility & Adaptability – the Key to an Enduring Business’.
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