Elite AgentOPINION

Spot the Disrupter: Mark McLeod

It’s only when we understand and acknowledge where the pain points really are for our customers that will we have any opportunity to meet disrupters head on, says Mark McLeod.

There is an image I saw recently of Fifth Avenue, New York, in 1900. The photo shows a busy street, full of horses and carts. The caption reads, “Spot the automobile”. Next to this photo is another image of Fifth Avenue. It’s the exact same shot, taken on the exact same day 13 years later. Now the caption reads, “Spot the horse”.

In just 13 years the landscape of New York traffic changed dramatically.

In recent times I have watched on social media as many agents wax lyrical about how disruption in our industry hasn’t occurred, and more than likely won’t ever happen. As late as yesterday, I followed a thread of agents mocking disruption.

At a recent conference, I heard Dominic Thurbon speak. He made a comment that has never been truer: it is not the disruption itself that causes the problem. What causes the problem is people who don’t think tomorrow will be any different.


Now when you cast your mind back to the New York photo, you can just imagine those businesses that built and sold the carts the horses were pulling saying, ‘This isn’t happening’ as automobiles started to appear on the streets.

You see, the word ‘disruption’ only applies to the last gasps of change, when invariably change was happening around us for years. In fact, Uber started in San Francisco long before anyone in Australia had heard of it.

Our industry has already been disrupted; it was disrupted by ourselves – by those of us who refused to accept that our industry, and more importantly our customers, have changed.

We are receiving more digital inquiries than ever before, but our research shows that as an industry we still have little to no understanding of how to service these customers. Our findings from as late as last week show that 20 per cent of digital inquiries are given no response.

Already we have seen big banks investing in the lead generation houses; if you follow the logic of that, the big banks have changed their positioning on where they sit. In a traditional turn of events, the banks would be positioned at sale day. Now many are positioning themselves as early as the lead stage.

The opportunity exists for us as an industry to understand and acknowledge where the pain points are for our customers. It’s only in that recognition that we will have any opportunity to meet disrupters head on. People go to the lead generation houses because they haven’t had a relationship with any agent. They go to other sources because their digital experience is poor. They feel cynical about us as an industry because, when they sold a house three years ago, we took their money and haven’t spoken to them since.

Particularly in the east coast major city markets, we’ve seen a huge number of inquiries and huge numbers at open homes. Our inability to service these people at any length continues to invite disrupters into our world.

For those of you who don’t think that disrupters are a problem, in a strange and weird way you are correct – because in actual fact we are the problem.

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Mark McLeod

Mark McLeod is the Ray White Group's Chief Strategy Officer for Real Estate. He works alongside agents and businesses across Australia, helping them reach their ultimate potential to achieve success.