Our industry has seen a remarkable transformation already: new emerging brands, new property portals offering referral fee leads and new customer service platforms introducing AI technology, just to name a few. Many of these advances and changes stem from external resources trying to either create positive steps in our industry or take a slice of the pie.
All these changes come at a cost in terms of time and, most importantly, in money to implement. What we need to consider is what we as agents are doing to change, innovate and adapt.
With every new piece of technology comes a new pressure on an agent’s fee, dramatically affecting the profitability of business. Ultimately the big change in the future, therefore, will be the size of offices.
The small, lean business model which sounds good in theory will, I believe, come under greater pressure in the future as it seeks to keep up with the new advancements in technology that our customers and clients expect.
I believe the average real estate office in the future will hold a minimum of 1,000 managements in order to survive, grow and be considered a player. They will be able to offer not just real estate services to buy, sell or rent; they will be a business of multi-dimensional arms. As such they may offer buyer advocacy, accountancy, financial services and home improvement services, all under the one roof.
With every new piece of technology comes a new pressure on an agent’s fee, dramatically affecting profitability.
All these offerings will be there to solve the biggest problem that any service industry faces – value for service. The biggest issue we as an industry need to ask is: what can we do better to serve the customer? Our customer is becoming less patient and more knowledgeable, and it is our responsibility as an industry to offer quality service, in a timely manner and at a fair price, that will meet their needs.
The businesses and teams that can offer this will require quality people to do so. Therefore, an office run on performance teams (EBUs) being able to run a ‘Complete solution offering’ will grow and flourish, where those that see themselves solely as real estate agencies will find it tough to keep up.
The customer is being morphed into a new type of behaviour and we need to pay attention to this. From grocery shopping online where you can ‘click and collect’ (or have it delivered) to changing mortgage loans or medical insurance at the click of a button, we need to appreciate that the relationship between service provider and customer is under threat.
We are quickly becoming a ‘Tinder’ society, as Simon Sinek would say, where if we are not satisfied we simply swipe left. Customer satisfaction is being inﬂuenced daily, and I believe as agents there is a need to audit our customer satisfaction experiences more often than just every other year.
Consider for a moment what occurs with a purchaser once they buy from you. Generally speaking, we give them a settlement gift, hand over keys, make a call two weeks after settlement to check they are settled in, and then give a periodic call and anniversary card each year. Now, this is a generic system in place that probably hasn’t changed much in the last decade.
Is this experience enough to earn the right to do business again in the future with that client? Or is it what the client wants? It’s the ongoing one per cent improvements that can affect the overall performance of an agent and their business.
I recommend that you audit your customers and clients more often to ensure the experience you offer matches their fast-paced expectations.
The future real estate office may resemble something closer to the BBC offices in London, where ‘hot desks’ are encouraged and a more ﬂexible, collaborative work environment is created – an environment where selling agents work predominantly from their mobile phones and connect to any available monitor utilising services like Microsoft Office 365. This can give less value to desk space but improve the scalability of staffing capacity, which reduces overheads for the business.
Such a transformation will, no doubt, come with its own challenges. However, being on the front foot to adopt, implement and change will potentially provide the largest rewards.