Digital disruption has changed the way real estate agents do business. Being an agent is no longer about simply finding buyers for homes you have for sale – the internet can do that faster and more easily 24/7 from the comfort of the couch.
Rather, more than ever, real estate has become about delivering a cannot-be-replaced service to achieve the needs of your clients – whether that’s a fast sale, a big sale, or proactive property management. Technology is helping power this business model by empowering agents to offer premium services, reducing costs to create efficient businesses, and helping introduce new clip-the-ticket revenue opportunities by connecting clients with valued services to make their property experience easier.
But with so much hype around about disruption and disintermediation, and so many technologies now in the market how do you make sense of it all? Which do you pick?
Here’s six lessons to help you thrive in a digitally disrupted world.
- Don’t Panic
Being adaptive to new technology doesn’t mean embracing every new thing that comes along. It means having a durable plan that recognises the strengths and weaknesses of the new digital environment and seeks out the tools that allow your strengths to shine, while compensating for your weaknesses.
Change may be the new normal, but merit and performance rule in this new world. So assess every technical opportunity according to the yardstick: “Will this help me improve my performance by creating a better experience for customers?” And realise that you can never rest on your laurels.
- Technology is a tool – not a magic wand
Too many people embrace new technology, only learn how to use just a small proportion of its functionality, and then feel disappointed that it didn’t do everything expected of it.
When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. This metaphor works digitally too. Sadly, you can’t wave technology at a problem and have it magically transform your environment, or nail every problem. You have to make sure you’ve got the right tool, then learn how to use it, and practice to get the most out of it.
- Focus on what’s really important – the people and the relationships
Too often, the focus in introducing new technology to businesses focuses on, well, the technology. But if we agree that technology is just a tool, the focus can move away from the bells and whistles and back to where it’s really important – on the people.
The assessment of any technical innovation should focus on two key issues:
- “Does this help me improve my customer experience?” by making it easier for customers to do business with you, or improving the services you can affordably offer them?
- “Does this help me improve my employee experience?” by making it easier for employees to do their jobs by reducing time spent on low value tasks and increase their time spent on high value service?
Focusing on what people need and the pain points they want solved, and the services they aspire to use or offer, rather than what cool tech you can introduce, will help improve take up levels and reduce the dreaded “user errors”.
- Apply the Service Yardstick
Technical innovations broadly fall into two categories (or they should!). The first category is the tech that is externally focused – ie: designed to help you reach out to customers and potential customers.
The yardstick to apply and questions to ask yourself about externally focused tech is:
- Will this help me increase my connection with customers and potential customers?
- Will it do this by allowing me to reach a larger number of people than I thought possible before?
- And/or will it allow me to have a deeper engagement with those people?
Ideally with external facing tech, you want the answer to be yes to all three of these questions.
- Apply the Efficiency Yardstick
Internally focused innovations – those designed to help you run your business better – can be assessed by three straight forward categories.
- Does it help you reduce costs?
- Does it help you reduce friction in your business?
- Does it help you reduce risk to existing revenue in your business?
Too often, we focus on the first category. If a piece of tech can reduce costs in our business, just do it, right? But it’s only part of the picture. Reducing friction in your business – those pain points that your staff work around every day with gritted teeth – are areas of inefficiency. Shoring up existing revenue can ensure you don’t “lead at the front and bleed at the back”.
- Rinse and repeat
With a calm head, you’ve introduced the right technical tools to power up your people and customer relationships, and know how you’re now engaging more broadly and deeply, and reducing costs and inefficiencies across your business.
You deserve a moment to catch your breath, right?
Change is the new normal in the digitally disrupted world and the improvements to the technology never stop – in fact they’re happening faster. The decisions you made a year ago, even six months ago, need to be revised – constantly – even if it is to simply check you are still on course.
Measure. Learn. Grow. Repeat.