Goodbye Snake Oil Salesman, Hello Facilitator of Dreams

The real estate industry of the 80s and 90s needed a real shake up. There are many great souls that have really moved and shaken it up into the industry you know today. 

While there is definite room for further improvement, we’re no longer the shysters – not even close to the least trusted professionals.

The 2019 Ipsos Global Trust in Professions Survey, completed online by adults aged 16-74 in 22 countries, showed that in Australia, the occupations most likely to be considered untrustworthy were politicians (64%), Government ministers (55%), advertising executives (55%), bankers (52%) and Clergy/Priests (42%).

While we’re not ranking at the top of the least trusted professionals, there’s still work to be done. It’s critical that we keep focusing on a few key things – the integrity of our operations, customer care and innovation.

Integrity and honesty are so important in the real estate game – people are nervous about home ownership, so real estate agents have an important responsibility to make certain they’re providing sound advice. Agents that are only concerned with making a sale and pocketing their commission are doing themselves an utter disservice.

But fostering integrity isn’t always easy when there’s the pressure of sales targets. Sometimes sticking to moral and ethical standards might be seen as reducing the range of ones options and, consequently, performance.

A recent study that looked into integrity as a performance-increasing factor within the real estate industry found fostering integrity has an embedded challenge: integrity is invisible.

Conducted by Daniel Piazolo and Gerhard Forster, the journal article from this study states:

“Most capabilities and skills can be learnt through observation and imitation. However, what you cannot see, you cannot imitate. Consequently, education is central to address this issue and to increase awareness and understanding. Professional bodies have to support life-long education to ensure its members’ integrity.”

And I’d like to add to that, integrity needs to flow from the top. A good example needs to be set and the old ways of wheeling and dealing belong firmly back in the 80s.

Customer care is something every industry is embracing, and the real estate industry isn’t any different. The shift towards a customer experience in the real estate industry reflects the changing needs and expectations of consumers worldwide. There’s a universal need for speed and efficiency, knowledge and quite simply, help, when customers need it.

Customer experience means a lot to people. According to the 2018 study by PWC ‘Experience is everything: here’s how to get it right’, consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a better customer experience. And the flipside? Bad experiences quickly drives customers away. Many people report they’d stop doing business with a company due to unfriendly service (60%), lack of trust (50%) and unknowledgeable employees (46%).

So we have to get it right. If we don’t it’s at our own peril. The people are keeping us honest.

To provide a superior experience, agents must change with the times. Maybe this might mean adopting new technology, personalising customer touchpoints, checking in on satisfaction levels and streamlining processes. If you can increase your speed and efficiency, it’ll free up time to upskill and build on your own knowledge, proactively engage in prospects and ultimately fuel the long-term growth of your business.

Customer experience/care and innovation really go hand-in-hand. There’s a range of tech that can streamline your processes and free up time. Smart agents are looking at automation and AI. They’re using chatbots, which can be programmed to trigger messages based on certain keywords to provide assistance and qualify leads at all hours of the day. It helps reduce the number of support enquiries and provides a better overall customer experience.

So this is what we need to do to keep pleasing our customers. But what are people thinking about agents today? Well, there’s still a lot of misconceptions in play really, which may hark back to the 80s and 90s.

Some people still think it’s a dog-eat-dog industry – that competing agents despise each other. While there’s definitely some healthy competition, the industry is probably friendlier than most people expect. It’s not uncommon for me to meet up with buyers agents from other agencies and discuss business strategies, marketing ideas or just debrief after a tough week.

There are also some truly fantastic sales agents out there that are true gems. They operate with transparency and heart. They’re in it with the best intentions.

Sadly, many people think that real estate agents don’t tell the truth. It’s not uncommon for agents to be told they’re not telling the truth if they mention there are other people interested in a property. And then when the same people call later, they get frustrated when they hear it’s under offer. Then again, some agents don’t tell the truth. The plot thickens….

On the same token, some clients think buyers agents don’t truly care and that we’re unhelpful. This couldn’t be further from the truth –  we understand the anxiety clients feel and do everything we can to ease their fears. Fostering healthy relationships is critical to our success too.

There’s also a perception that it’s a really easy job being a real estate agent, or buyers agent, and that anyone could do it and make truckloads of cash. Just because you see industry peeps driving nice cars that doesn’t mean they’re all making a lot of money. The reality is only the top 15% are doing really well. And to do it well takes focus, commitment and constant learning.

Personally speaking, honesty, integrity, customer care and innovation are all critical to how I operate. Without any of the above my business would not be as strong as it is today. And I’m damn proud of it! It’s something I’m pleased to see amongst my industry peers, but of course, there is always room for improvement. I’m happy to say I’ve never had any interest in snake oil, because this sure is my dream job folks.