Would you like fries with that?

Indulge me in this scenario if you will:

You, your vegan sister and your bottomless-pit-of-a-stomach brother walk into a McDonald’s.

Your sister orders the garden salad, no dressing, with a bottle of water.

You order a Big Mac with cheese and a medium Coke, no fries.

Your now-ravenous brother orders the complete right-hand side of the menu and a Triple Quarter Pounder, extra-large fries, a bucket of Coke, a chocolate sundae and an express sausage Egg McMuffin just to take the edge of his appetite while he’s waiting for the rest.  Maccas

You’re all going dutch, so you ask your cashier to total it up per person.

Your friendly McDonald’s cashier taps a few buttons, and instead of saying, “Would you like more fries with that?” says, “That’ll be $9.99 per person.”

How do you all feel?

I’d guess your sister is feeling pretty ripped. 9.99 for a green salad?

You might be thinking, “Mine’s a little high, but it’s an OK price and I’m hungry.”

And your starving brother has a foot-wide smile that says all his Christmas Days have come at once.

Your sister asks, “How can that be? How can they all be the same?”

The McDonald’s cashier answers, same smile pasted on her face, “That’s always been the McDonald’s way, and the McDonald’s price. One size fits all…” and continues on with her mantra, “Would you like fries with that?”

Of course we know that would never happen at Maccas, so what’s my point?

For an industry where people are paid to be creative, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything more boring, unimaginative and vanilla, generally speaking, as the bulk of the real estate industry’s efforts on creativity around their pricing model.

Now, I know that simple statement will bristle some. But let me state my case before you launch a SCUD missile in my direction!

For more years than Colonel Sanders has been frying chicken, most real estate agents in Queensland, Australia were quoting a ‘one size fits all’ model for their commission – 5% of the first $18,000 and 2.5% of the balance. (In fairness, up until Dec 2014, that was the maximum fee that could be charged in a residential real estate transaction.

The limitations of that statutory maximum fee chargeable changed on December 1, 2014.   After years of discussion, lobbying and industry consultation, the QLD Government finally deregulated residential real estate agents fees, allowing them the opportunity to essentially charge whatever they could negotiate with a Seller. No more set maximum!

More of what happened as a result of that market deregulation another day, but suffice to say, the reinvention of fee models and creativity that’s occurred by other than a handful of high-performing Agents since deregulation has been about as exciting as watching paint dry with an interlude of watching grass grow.

Now, I know I’m trampling all over potentially sacred ground by even raising the topic of real estate agent commissions. It’s a topic that brings out the best and worst in people in our business. But alas, I’m putting it on the table again to raise some additional awareness and to maybe shape some more creative thinking in our industry.

It’s not just a touchy subject here in Oz, but also in the USA. Even raising the topic of why USA Agents charge 6% and the slightly remote possibility that someone new might introduce a fee model offering something different to the widely-charged 6% will see mature-age Women Realtors throwing their handbags at you in disgust and cause mature-age Men with walking sticks threatening to break into fisticuffs with the offer to, ‘Take this outside and whip your ass, Sonny Jim!’

Thank goodness they have sensible gun laws to protect each other in the USA…   <<sarcasm>>

In the USA, Agents will try and tell you there is absolutely no collusion on commissions, and they’ll even go to the lengths of protesting that the very whisper of 2 Agents discussing a commission or fee breaches their ‘Anti-Trust’ law. Really? It seems funny to me that over 90% of Agents in the USA all charge the same 6%. What an amazing coincidence that 1.1 Million of them charge exactly the same fee! *cough cough*

Look, I get it. Money is a topic that many people get passionate about.   But we’re damn boring when it comes to fee models.   Why does the bulk of our business only offer a one-siz-fits-all fee of 1%, 2%, 3% or the USA 6%?

So, here’s my thing. Where’s the same passion that brings people to the point of threatening to draw pistols at dawn about protecting their fee being transposed to actually being creative and inventive when it comes to their fees for service?

Does one size really fit all? Should one size really fit all?

I recently asked one Agent why he charged his 2% fee, and his answer was mind-numbingly inventive, “It makes it easy to calculate on the back of my card” was the reply.

Now, let me be absolutely crystal clear on this. In NO way am I advocating for lower fees! Not one bit! This business is a hard gig sometimes. Bloody hard! In fact, I actually think we deserve more for our service in some cases. So don’t quickly package me up as the guy who is trying to drive fees down. Nada.

What I am advocating for is some creativity and originality to come from an industry that’s retained by its Clients to be great marketers, skilled and creative negotiators, and out-of-the-box, deal-making thinkers!

Sadly, though, that’s not the reality I see or experience in real life as a client of many real estate agents in many places.

So, I’m passing the porcupine back to you, Thought Leaders. What does our industry need to do to reshape its fee model? Because I believe it’s outdated, inequitable, archaic and under an increasing scrutiny by today’s wiser Consumer.

Is there an opportunity to build a fee model based around a Client retained hourly rate?

Eg:

$800 an hour while you’re negotiating?

$120.00 an hour while you’re running Open Homes? $55.00 an hour for Admin work? Maybe like a Barrister, Lawyer, Valuer or Accountant does?

I know plenty of Agents who would love to implement this model based on the amount of ‘free advice’ they give each day now. Could that work?

What about a ‘fee for success’ model?

In my dark old days as a relatively successful Agent, I quite often charged top-end properties a fee based on a minimum of 2% to a max of what was effectively 2.75% if the Client was absolutely delighted in my service and result. That fee gave me security around my base, gave the client surety around cost, and gave both of us a mutually beneficial incentive and reward for me over-delivering service.

Does anyone run these incentivized commission programs with any success these days? Could you? What would stop you?

Would a ‘menu of services’ that Sellers could tick and flick based on their needs be attractive to some Sellers? (Not unlike the Maccas “Build Your Own Burger” experience being rolled out very successfully in Australia…) Maccas self

Does every seller want a face-to-face meeting and written progress report twice per week? Does every Seller want your fancy-pants marketing program? Would some Sellers be deliriously happy to only hear your voice when you have a written offer as long as you SMS’d them a quick 3-line note, or 30-second video after every Open Home?

You might be thinking that I’m putting it out there to ruffle your feathers but…Maybe I am?… But is it an option?

Let me share a story of a ‘friend’ who wants to remain nameless.

In their recent research to decide on an Agent to sell their 1.5 Million dollar home, they asked 3 Agents to nominate their selling fee. To begin with, only 2 actually responded…

They were quoted 2.5% (about 30k) plus $6,500 marketing. My friend dutifully and fairly asked what they would get for 30K. Both Agents’ response was, ‘ For 30K, you’ll get my absolute best attention and focus on achieving you the best result I can using my best knowledge and skills to sell your 1.5 million dollar home.’

So, for almost $40,000 (30k +gst +$6,500 marketing) my ‘friend’ was going to get the promised, expected service rhetoric from either Agent who, by the way, had ‘no suitable buyers’ on their books and no historical database of any suitable prospects.

Inquisitively, my friend then asked the same Agents what, hypothetically, the selling fee might be if their property was a $300,000 home instead of a classy $1.5m property.

The Agents again quoted “2.5%” (about 7.5k) plus $3,500 marketing. Again, my friend dutifully and fairly asked what they would get for 7.5k. The Agents’ response, ‘For 30K, you’ll get my absolute best attention and focus on achieving you the best result I can using my best knowledge and skills to sell your $300,000 dollar home.’

So, this time for around $11,750 dollars (7.5k +gst +$3,500 marketing), my ‘friend’ was again going to get an Agent who had ‘no buyers’ on their books and no database of prospects.

In other words, exactly the same service for a whopping $28,000 less!

My ‘friend’ cheekily proposed to both Agents that given the service promise was exactly the same, but $28,000 cheaper in the second scenario, the Agents just pretend that theirs was a $300K home…

What would you do based on the same scenario as a Seller?

What would your response have been as the Agent?

Today’s consumer is getting wiser and much more inquisitive around the fees our industry charges. They’re starting to ask you to justify your fees more than ever. And, it’s not going to go away.

Today’s consumer is also becoming much more cynical about your service delivery, with a report suggesting that 41% of email enquiry to the industry is going un-responded to.

I experience cynicism-laced feedback from Consumers almost weekly about our industry from meetings and surveys our business conducts.

Here’s a challenge…

Go and ask the average man in the street how they feel about our industry’s fees, and stay tuned for a potentially sobering response. That dangerous old mantra of, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it around here’ that too many businesses rely on won’t cut it in the future.

What’s working for you?

What’s working for your Clients?

What would you like to try in a fee model?

What prevents you from going above the industry average?

I’d like fries with mine…

You?

President Peter Brewer has a nice ring to it.

I’m part-way through the long and arduous, but totally worthwhile, process of updating my Client contact records. It’s an  important thing for every business to do regularly. But, after reviewing about 20-30 Real Estate Agent business cards today, I’ve had to pause the process for a good chuckle and a sanity check.

Now I accept that most of us need to have a ‘Title’ accurately describing the role we play in our own business or in that of our employers.  For our Clients, a good Title usually makes it easy for them to understand who we are, what we actually do, and lets them know they’re communicating with the right person. Title

But it seems to me we sometimes seriously lose the plot these days with some of our self-adorned Titles.

Now, from the outset, I’ll confess that from time to time, I’ve strayed down the path of boasting a mildly exaggerated business Title myself.  In fact, as a young child, I was in awe of Thurston Howell, III.  (Though some people say it’s scary to imagine ONE Peter Brewer, let alone 3 generations of them!)

In fact, my awe of those magical Roman numerals in Thurston Howell III’s moniker, and the potential power associated with that illuminatingly impressive Title, recently seduced me to chance my luck when booking a room at the New York City Marriott.  With mild trepidation and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek mirth, I took the opportunity to glamorise my Marriott online registration to read…wait for it… Dr. Peter Brewer, III. (It seemed a fitting title, given that I’d recently successfully diagnosed my own in-grown toenail with the help of WebMD.com.)

Sadly, the New York Marriott were less-than-impressed with my diagnostic skills and my self-appointed Title, and apparently even less so with my third-generation heritage.

So much for that futile exercise.

The end result of my mildly-exaggerated Title saw me bunkered in a standard room with no minibar, overlooking the carpark.  But damn, the feeling of self-importance as I completed the rego form and breasted the Hotel Checkin counter was off the Richter.  (Fortunately, at no stage during my stay at the Marriott, was there a call of, ‘Is there a Doctor in the house?’!)

But I digress…

What is it about Titles that seduces so many?

Is it the desire for power that comes from being a Colonel, a Major or a General?

Is it the lust for recognition that some crave by adding credentials of Prime Minister, Councillor or Lord Mayor to their lot in life?

Could it be failed academia that drives so many to want to add  ‘Professor’ or a ‘MBA’ to their birth names?

And why is this epidemic so prevalent in Real Estate? Sometimes we let our crazy egos or industry jargon consume what was originally a way to help people understand what we actually do and how we can help them.

From first-hand experience, I absolutely know how deeply some people’s primal needs are to boast superiority over their colleagues by being anointed as the ‘Senior’ Salesperson, or ‘Senior’ Property Manager, simply adding the word ‘Senior’ to their business cards. It’s an amazing ‘status’ to many.

It’s time to put yourself in the shoes of your clients.

Is a ‘Senior’ Property Manager a person of respected authority, or a really old Property Manager who hasn’t yet crumbled under the intense pressure of a really tough job?

Does your Mum or Dad client really know what a ‘Lead Agent’ is or does?  Do they trade in Lead?  Do they appreciate being called Lead?

Would your Dad or Daughter know what duties a ‘Co-Agent’ carries out?  Does the ‘Co-Agent’ own the company, or just help out on really busy weekends?

And what is it with the designations that are so big in the USA?  Do any normal people honestly know what it means when a Realtor has a string of ‘GRI, ABR, CRS, MRP, ALC, CIPS, SRS, SERS, AHWD, C-RETS, PSA’ and even ‘RSPS’ letters after their name on a business card? Do they know what they mean or even care? I wonder if, in fact, some clients want to treat those things we claim to have with an ointment!

What’s my point?

It’s pretty simple.

Does your business Title really serve to impress you and your Mates, or does it actually honestly serve to assist your Clients by explaining your role and ability to help them?

In 1990, I heard someone referred to as the “Director of First Impressions’ for the first time.  And, 26 years later, I’m still OK with that as an inward-facing title. It provides a laser focus for that employee about the core function of their role. But I reckon what’s happened across the rest of our industry in that time probably needs to be put under the spotlight for a relevance and reality check.

Now, I realise that there’s a marketing component to our titles.

I get it.

Some feel a need to impress, and I know it can be super-competitive in some markets. I understand that. But maybe we need to take a deep breath and ask our Clients what they really think, and, in fact, if they really actually care about our fancy titles.

What would happen if Real Estate Agents worked in different professions? Could you imagine their cards then?

  • Transparency Enhancement Coordinator (Window washer)
  • Sanitation Engineer  (Garbage man/woman)
  • Talent Delivery Specialist  (Recruiter…or Pimp)
  • Colour Distribution Technician (House painter)

So, lets get back to some reality with our titles so they actually say what we do and help our Clients out. 

My recipe? 99% that’s a description of what we do, and 1% dedicated to strokes for our often-brittle egos. 

Gman

Gahlord President Janitor

For example, I’m a massive fan of Gahlord Dewald’s.  I first met the ‘G-Man’ in 2009, and for as long as I can recall, he’s held the apt descriptor of President/Janitor. I can’t think of a better way to keep yourself grounded and to let your Clients know who you are.

 

Self-confession Time 

These Peter Brewer - Cool Stuff Doerdays I often use a title of  ‘Cool Stuff Doer’ as my stage intro.

Is it self adulating? I don’t think so. (OK, yeah it is!)

Does it start conversations? Yes, often.

Does it describe what I do? Kinda.

But I’d argue it’s a damn sight better than the ‘Social Media Guru’ mantle claimed by many of my contemporaries.

(Hey, I should use President Peter Brewer instead! I hear there’s a looming vacancy that almost any dummy can try out for at the moment…)

What is your title?  Does it tell your story? Does it communicate a real value to your Clients or does it just give you a ‘warm feeling when you’re sitting in a cold pool’?

What about other titles in business?  What other titles have you seen that hit the spot well?

Let me know in the comments below…

Filed Under: Brilliant things I Learned at the Car Wash

This morning, I was fascinated watching the depth of part of an induction program for new workers at Hoppy’s Car Wash Cafe in Brisbane.

Now you’d think the process of washing a car would be pretty simple, wouldn’t you?   It shouldn’t need too much training, should it?

You’d think it’d certainly be a bucket-load simpler to wash a car than something more complex like, building a car, or maybe even something like, I dunno…selling a house…?  Hoppys One Best Way

While I was at Hoppy’s sipping my cappuccino, I noticed three young girls were being taught the process of cleaning the interior of a car’s windscreen. I was kinda confused at the highly granular detail that went into something you’d think is as simple as wiping a clean cloth across some glass.

I watched inquisitively as the one of Hoppy’s Team Members instructed and then supervised and critiqued each of the three young ladies as they took turns on their ‘training car,’ paying attention to details such as: the type of cloth, the direction of the cloth (top to bottom, middle to outside) and triple-checking for cleanliness or streaks before handing the car over to the next team members in Hoppy’s production line-like process of washing a car.

Many in business would scratch their head at this level of detail.

Now I guess there are dozens of different ways to clean the inside of a car’s windscreen. But at Hoppy’s, they want things done their way.  Clearly, for Hoppy’s, there is only ‘One Best Way’ of doing things – the Hoppy’s Way.

That simple little process of watching Hoppy’s induction process today got me pondering just how many in the real estate industry induct new people into their individual business’ processes.

Does your business have a ‘One Best Way’?

Historically, many in our industry have enrolled their new staff members into what I call ‘The Magic 3′ induction program.

The Magic 3’s key components are:

1. A desk,

2. A phone, and 

3. A month.

Simplified, new staff members are given a desk to sit at, a phone and a copy of the White Pages, and a month to make a sale, get a listing, or potentially face the lonely one-way walk to the car park, never to return (like the dozens who preceded them). And then, after that being the extent of the induction provided to new people, those same business owners complain and wonder why people often fail in real estate.

Many in our industry need to do better. A whole lot better! 

A better way

A much better way

Merely adopting ‘The Magic 3 induction program’ as the induction program to any business is simply a recipe for disaster.

I reckon the Hoppy’s induction program should be an inspiration to many in our industry…

How well does your business induct your new people into your ‘One Best Way’?  Does your business even have a ‘One Best Way’?  

I’d love to read your thoughts below in the comments.

Peter Brewer is a veteran of the real estate industry and helps real estate businesses across Australia, New Zealand and the USA to maximise their people and technology.  If you’d like to explore how Peter can assist your business you’ll find him here and you’ll find what other clients have said about Peter here. 

‘Peter Brewer is one of the few specialists that can think outside of  his generation’. – Andrew Knight

The Real Estate Sessions with Bill Risser and Peter Brewer (Audio)

 

In my life I get to meet some wonderful people. Bill Risser from Chicago Title in Phoenix, Arizona sits pretty high on the list of the most wonderful people I’ve met.  Bill and I caught up recently to have a fun chat about all sorts of ‘stuff”.  I hope you enjoy listening in to 2 blokes sharing their passion for all things real estate technology, and beer.

 

The most dangerous words you’ll hear in any business

In my business, I get the honour of being invited into businesses of many sizes right across Australia, New Zealand and the Unites States, and there’s one common series of words I hear that I consider are the most dangerous you’ll ever hear in any business.

In the video snippet below, I share my thoughts, including problems I see with the typical real estate transaction today. And I share the words I guarantee will cripple any business that constantly utters them.

Video courtesy of Professionals Real Estate Group

This video snippet is from a 3 hour workshop conducted by Peter where he challenges the real estate salespeople and business owners to change many of its lazy behaviours before its too late.

If you’d like Peter to speak at your office meeting, training workshop, or company conference you’ll find his range of fees, services, and booking information here. 

Are Boys Better Than Girls?

If you ever want to fire up the keyboards in social media world, all you need to do is publish a subjective list nominating the Top 100 most influential people in real estate,  or run a major conference event where the balance of male vs female speakers is anything but 50/50. God forbid if you do both!

This week I posed the following question in the Real Estate Community on Facebook.

Well didn’t that light the switchboard up!

Now, maybe with International Women’s Day having been celebrated the previous day, this may have been even more sensitive a topic than normal. The question no matter when asked is very valid, and it was legitimately raised with me by a very good friend of mine, Valerie Garcia.  Valerie raised it in response to seeing yet another conference with almost all-male speakers in the line-up

The gender balance question is one that is continually raised by attendees of the USA Conference scene as well as here in OZ.

Now I best declare a vested interest at this point. My partner is an accomplished female speaker and formerly a very successful real estate agent who speaks in Australia, New Zealand and the USA on similar subjects to me.

I’ve had recent second-hand dealings through experiences and roadblocks she’s encountered, so I have a much more clear understanding of the challenges many Women have in getting the opportunity to get on-stage to share the very important stories that Women in Real Estate have to share with both genders.)

But do all Women want to be on a stage?  Maybe that’s worthy of consideration.  Tegan DeClark raised a discussion point in the post that achieved 22 ‘Likes’, challenging that Alpha-type males may have a higher desire to publicly “teach and lead” than those Women who just get in, do the work and don’t feel the need to get up on stage.

Peter Brewer Women in Real Estate

I agreed with Tegan. I reckoned she was onto something, but I can always rely on Catherine O’Keefe supported by Britt Natolo to share a cold sobering fact. Peter Brewer Real Estate and Women in Real Estate  Down Under

Diane Stevens got my ‘LOL’ with a comment that we blokes won’t be able to argue with.  Humour is a great ice breaker, and I reckon Diane was on the money with her follow-up quip.

Women in Real Estate in australia

Industry Veteran Rhonda Carter made a great point that maybe the lives that Women have in real estate are different to Men.  Rhonda always gives great perspective.  I reckon she’s onto something.  There are very different dynamics for many Women in Real Estate in Australia. Down Under Real Estate Peter Brewer Women in Real Estate

Just to add some fuel to the debate I reckon Madeline Hicks did a great job of taunting the ‘peacocks’.  It gave me a wide grin.  Was Madeline on the money?…  I’m surprised her comment didn’t get more ‘Likes’  I loved it!

Real Estate Women in Oz.

Now, In Australia, New Zealand and the USA there are few more respected and professional real estate people than Julie Ryan.  I’m a fan of Julie’s and she’s certainly one Woman who commands great respect.  Julie challenged that maybe the 19-2 Male to Female ratio at this years AREC was just a marketing oversight..  I’m not so sure that its a marketing oversight again Julie..  I kinda recall their choice of a certain ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ at last years AREC..  2 in a row?…

Margaret Fogarty supported Julie’s note that there are plenty of awesome Women in Real Estate with a reference to the ‘Girls Only Facebook Group’ that i’d love to be a fly on the wall in! And to top that exchange off, Real Estate Community Founder Zac McHardy again supported the motion that we ‘Blokes’ might be a bit partial to a bit of ego stroking from time to time…  🙂

Julie Ryan Women in Real Estate

Overall the Post generated around 85 comments.  It raised some very good points, but most of all I love that it elevated the topic again and even more loudly this time.  That level of positive respectful engagement can only be a good thing.

Zac McHardy. Women in Real EstateWonderful Women like Sarah Bell are already sharing some outstanding stories of success on wider stages and being promoted by respected trainers like Lee Woodward.   The work Sarah is doing is worthy of a much much wider audience again.  Lets hope that happens even more in 2015/16 and beyond. Sarah has lots to offer.

Sarah Bell Real Estate Women Down Under

 

I’m not sure where the argument will go from here.  I think it still has lots of legs. Another supporting post by Zac McHardy in The Real Estate Community on Facebook asked who the community would like to hear speak and why..

Jasmin McEwan gave REIQ Multi Award Winner Amber Werchon a big thumbs up while Zac McHardy invited a broader list of suitable names for some innovative events I know he’s working on in 2015..

Women in Real Estate in Australia Speakers

Always up to a challenge and always a positive contributor Hayley Curtis opened the floodgates to a very special cast of class and knowledge.  It seems the 17 ‘Likes’ Hayley achieved via her list showed she knows a great talent pool when she identifies it.

Who did Hayley miss here?..   I reckon She’s done a great job and unearthed a real topic worth hearing from the high achievers on. Who’s missing?

Hayley Curtis women in Real Estate in Australia

Rhonda Carter added some other well respected names to give Australian Real Estate Event Organisers a pretty special list of talent that are more than worthy of being considered for any main stage.

Rhonda Carter Women in Real Estate

I’ll leave the last word to Alex Glen-Holmes who raised the most relevant point for me..   Well done Alex!Alex Glen-Holmes Women in Real Estate.Alex took gender off the table and made it about what the Female audience that participated in the debate finds more relevant to their own real life situations.   And if that doesn’t give the conference organisers of Australia, New Zealand and the USA some food for thought I don’t know what does.  Great stuff!

Now, armed with this valuable and freely delivered market research lets see what the conference organisers do in forthcoming events over the next year.  I guess their actions determines how seriously they value the Female audiences clear feedback. I do know that the REIQ are very mindful of this topic and being sure that the presenters at their forthcoming conference in October are absolutely relevant and on topic.  Well done REIQ!

I’ll take this final 20 seconds to give kudos to the Ideas Exchange Team for their work in trying to balance the gender scales with their upcoming sessions in Sydney and Melbourne.  They also have some great talent of both gender on display at their May events in Sydney and Melbourne.

Which conference organiser is next?

(Peter Brewer is a business coach working with real estate agents in Australia, New Zealand and North America. He specialises in assisting real estate agents and agencies to combine the very best of old world real estate with the tools and consumer behaviours of the new world.  He loves working with companies who want to identify and create good values.  Some even say he’s in touch with his feminine side. But most agree he’d look crook in a frock)  

Alpha Mail Book Launch Carl Quested

 

I was delighted to assist Guy Leech and Tom Panos at the launch of Carl Quested’s latest book, Alpha Mail. Here are my slides from the event.  I hope they make sense.  Please contact me if you’d like clarity on the slides or if you’d like to discuss my March/April special ‘In Office sales meeting/workshop rate’ to speak to your team, business owner or franchise group.

Which real estate brand really brings in the most business?..

I’ve previously written about the purported value and drawing power of various franchise and independent brands. I’ve also refereed my fair share of arguments about which brand gives ‘the right advice’, ‘who does it better’, which brand is ‘bigger, bolder faster’,and who the ‘real people in real estate’ really are.  I’ve heard grown men seriously squabble in marketing meetings about whether the colour in a particular logo is really ‘Baby Poo Yellow or Vomit Green’.  I’ve even called ‘time out’ in one meeting over a very heated argument between 2 ‘mature’ CEO’s on whether the font size on the back of a brochure should be 12 0r 14 point.  Heck, I even devoted 2 years of my life in the early 2000’s to the total re-branding of one of Australia and NZ’s largest real estate brands of the time.

I reckon I’ve earned my stripes to talk on this subject.

And I’ll kick it off controversially by saying a majority of the brand enthusiasts I meet and hear from are talking crap.  Unadulterated crap.

Now.. before you run off to the keyboard to type abuse at me or to your phone to yell at me about how your companies logo is the absolute best in the world just let me say this..

All of your logos are really pretty..(‘ish).. and just like your National flag some of you have assembled army’s who would fight to protect it to the bitter end.

(By the way. if you’ve got people like that in your brand, bottle whatever it is that they’re drinking and lace your offices water bubbler with it so the rest of your team get a taste of it too. They have passion. I love passion) Kool Aid

Hang on..  I haven’t finished yet..

I believe many of you are asking your customers to buy into a brand that not even your staff haven’t bought into..

OK. Where is this rant going?..

My Mate and social media Mentor Jeff Turner is famous for his words and belief that your values are your true brand.  He’s written about it and spoken about it across the world in brilliant posts that I can only dream at having the skill to author.

Let me share my perspective in ‘Pete Speak’..

You see, I reckon I can put the best logo from the most successful and attractive company from any business field in the world above my door and I’ll guarantee I’ll have people talk about their dealings with that brand as being absolute crap. Be honest, It happens in almost every brand, every day.

The inconsistency of brand experience across the country, and even across the same office seems rampant..  Why is that so?.. ..

Maybe my own ‘re-brand’ experiences can shed some light ?..

Back in the early 2000’s along with an impressive design and marketing team I worked tirelessly to create, road test and launch a new logo, a new style guide, a new website, an exciting new colour scheme and a fancy pants new bi-line and a brand direction to revolutionise a major real estate marketing brand.  Over that 2 years I worked with focus groups, stylists, designers on two continents, marketing experts, print media specialists, online media specialists, every conceivable stakeholder you can think had some input as well as the Boards of Directors of the subject company, from 2 different countries.

Finally after 2 incredibly stressful years we had the project nailed… Except for one ‘small’ final task…

We had to align the culture and values of the people currently representing that massively overhauled brand in over 400 stores across two countries, as well as those who were soon to join the company based on its optimistic future recruitment plan. We needed a strategy, communication and training plan to help our people in the trenches to clearly understand what we were about, what our values and vision were, what we envisaged the end consumer experience to be, beyond the logo, when face to face with our soldiers in the field.

Were we successful?..  Absolutely Yes and Absolutely No.

What were the Yes’s.?..

Across the brand in Australia and NZ we had some stores who absolutely embraced the new and restated values of the brand. We had training and development launches. We had internal training and marketing videos created. TV and radio ads commenced running Nationally. We rolled out hundreds of shop front changes across OZ and NZ over 2 massive weekends. We left no stone unturned and an air of optimism flowed through the veins of the brand.  Life was good.

A majority of those 400 businesses and teams grew stronger market share and presence on launch. They grew stronger internal cultures. Many took the opportunity totally refresh the brand experience and the way they ran their businesses.  It was a rebirth for those businesses.

What were the No’s ?…

We saw some disengaged business owners who simply treated the hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands of man hours, and new colour scheme as just putting lipstick on a their existing pigs. They opted to not ‘sign up’ for the new vision and values. They sheltered their teams from the journey, they made no effort to adjust their old broken business model and they gained nothing from the revitalised branding experience other than a pretty new colour scheme on their shopfront.

Jeff Turner was right in his observations..  ‘Your Values are your true brand’..

So, for some in that brand it was all sorts of awesome and for others they’d have had more fun and value if they’d stapled their neck ties to a fast moving train.  Their values were their true brand.

And so it begs the questions of every business owner today.. brand values

  • Are you engaged and aligned with the values of your brand?
  • Are your people engaged and aligned with the values of your brand?

As my colleague John Knight says, ‘Is everyone on the bus facing the front in your business?’

Are they part of your TEAM or are they just putting lipstick on their own pig?

Jeff Turner and his Mentor Bill Leider share this definition of brand in their book Brand Delusions. “Your brand is a commonly held set of beliefs about who you are and what you deliver.”

is there a commonly held set of beliefs in your business about who you are and what you deliver?..  

I was invited to do some training for a big name real estate brand last year.  The Principal told me that he’d made it compulsory for everyone to attend my session which he described as critical to the values and direction of his business into and beyond 2015.

Exciting stuff I thought..  I prepared notes and handouts for his 165 staff.  Imagine my fascination when 30 people turned up..

30. Thirty. THREE ZERO.    Of 165, Only 30 turned up…

Now I’m an old fashioned kinda guy..    So I quizzed the Principal a bit further..

‘Wasn’t this a compulsory session for everyone to attend?…    I mean I’d accept that maybe 5% of them might have been stricken last minute with the flu, or by a dodgy vindaloo, or even Capital city traffic..  but 135 absentees!

I was fascinated in the Principals response..  ‘Well Peter, they’re mostly Contractors here.  They really do what they want.  They’re just hanging their licences on my wall’….. I don’t really have any control over what they do’…   ‘I can’t make them come..’

WOW.. What message is that business owner sending to the 30 who did turn up ?..

I was gobsmacked..  It made me think a little more..

  • How many of us believe we have no control (or responsibility) over what our ‘teams’ do?.. Oranges
  • What are your true values?.. Your own personal values?..
  • What is acceptable behaviour from the people representing your brand? ..
  • How much of a doormat are you prepared to be as the business owner?..
  • Are you in control of the marketing message and quality of content that comes from your business?..
  • Do you have total control over the communication and relationship building messages to consumers from everyone in your business?..

You see, I see salespeople come and go from businesses like its a revolving door..  But the single constant I see in most businesses is You..

Your business. Your values. Your brand..  Your balls on the line… But who’s really in charge?..

Without a team that eats sleeps and breaths your businesses core values I reckon you’re not running a values based and driven real estate business brand, you’re just running a serviced office suite…  And that’s perfectly ok!..   But I don’t believe you can successfully run both together..

So, who gives The Right Advice?  Is anyone really doing it better? Is there really a Faster, Bolder Smarter Agent?, Which brand is Above the Crowd?  and who really are the Real People in Real Estate?

I’d love to hear from you…

(Peter Brewer is a real estate coach working with real estate agents in Australia, New Zealand and North America. He specialises in assisting real estate agents and agencies to combine the very best of old world real estate with the tools and consumer behaviours of the new world.  He loves working with companies who want to identify and create good values)  He can be contacted using the form below.

Are we in the era of Tinder in Real Estate?

Is the romance in real estate all over?

I’ve been thinking of building a new app or website called Tinder for real estate. I reckon it’d be a massive hit in the real estate community. Not so much for ‘hook ups’ inside the industry, (although that’s a massive market all on its own), but for the casual ‘wham bam, thank you Ma’am’ romps that seem to go on every day with too many real estate agents and their clients/customers.

I’m being sarcastic of course, but I hope you’ll soon get my point.  Tinder

What is it with people in our industry these days? It seems that almost everyone wants to move straight to the ‘horizontal fox trot’ instead of being prepared to steady waltz a little first. It’s all about the ‘swipe right romp’ rather than taking our time, with sensual seduction and choccies and roses.

I think we all truly know which actions get the longer term rewards…

Seemingly, though, no one is prepared to take the slow dance and enjoy those rewards that follow.

Is no one willing to invest in relationships that will bring you a lifetime supply of willing dance partners, and even trusted friends, eager to commit to forever?

What has happened to the old business ethos, ‘Make a friend today-do a deal later?’, courting before, during AND after the first, second and fiftieth dates?

Look, I reckon we all have had that Mate that boasts he uses all the smooth pickup lines at bars at midnight.

You know ‘that’ guy.

The one with wordsmith-crafted gems like, ‘Wanna Root?’, or the even more persuasive, ‘Nice cans, Wanna Root?’

Now, our old friend Romeo above often claims a pretty impressive strike rate with those smooth lines, and he may well have had more feeds than famines, but I’ll bet he’s chewed his own arm off a few times or got some less than impressive reviews on Yelp at times too, if you get my drift. And I seriously doubt he’s got past Sunday breakfast with most of those ‘wins’ and I’d even hazard a guess that less than 5% came again for seconds. (No pun intended.) 

Where am I going with this?

I’ve written previously about the atrocious stat that was floating around our industry a couple of years back: ‘41% of emails to Agents via a major real estate portal go unanswered.’

That’s a whopping FORTY-ONE out of every incoming 100 enquiries that were paid for by those companies were never responded to.

I gasp every time I type those words. Is business THAT good and THAT easy? Having been on the cheque-signing end of buying advertising to make the phone ring in all sorts of advertising mediums for over 30 years, I go cold and clammy when I think of the money and business credibility we may have burned if the 41% stat is even remotely true.

Here’s another stat that should leave you cold and clammy too:

‘90% of sellers when asked at settlement if they’d use the same real estate agent again said ‘Yes’… But 90% ultimately didn’t.’

Feeling a little ill yet?

What the hell is going on in business (and life) these days? Are we all so desperate for the instantly gratifying ‘right swipe’ that we’ve forgotten (or given up on) all the basics that give a good relationship its substance?

I was chatting to a very close friend recently.

Let’s call him ‘Nigel.’

Nigel has been the source of around $60,000 in real estate commissions as a seller and $60,000 as a buyer in the last 3 years. Not a bad guy to know if you were a real estate agent, I suspect! Nigel is pretty influential in his field. People know him. He knows people. He talks a lot. People ask him his opinion a lot and he’s willing to give it.

Nigel recently shared with me that in the last three years in the 3 sales that he’s been involved in as a seller and a buyer that the total sum of communication he’d received from the 2 real estate people he’s done business with equated to 6 settlement letters, 4 text messages, 4 phone calls, 4 emails, and 2 bottles of wine.

That’s the sum of it.

Total communication: 18 ‘touch’ points and two bottles of booze.

Let’s analyse them a bit deeper.

The 6 settlement letters were legally required, so they don’t count as relationship-building activities.

The 4 text messages were ‘feedback texts’ that came midweek after the Saturday Open Homes on Nigel’s houses. *Note: They came midweek. Not immediately after. Another irritant..

The 4 emails were actually Buyer offers being submitted, and the 4 phone calls were actually made by Nigel calling to find out what was happening on his sale!  Comm skills

C’Mon! Is that it? Is that the best we can do in this industry?

I mean seriously. I reckon that the Agent/s in Nigel’s case are almost no different to smooth-talking ‘Romeo’ in the bar I mentioned above.

I reckon they’re running the Real Estate equivalent of ‘Wanna Root?’ or swiping right on Tinder and hoping they ‘get lucky.’

Where is the relationship building in those 3 transactions? Where is the follow-up? Where is the appreciation?

Now, before I get totally slammed by the good real estate agents out there, I want to acknowledge that we do have some amazing Agents and Agencies who still recognize the relevance of ‘romance.’

They’re combining current technology with good business sense to develop great relationships with their Clients and Customers.

They’re the ones building content libraries and relevant campaigns that mix snail mail, electronic mail, phone calls, drop-bys, and a range of other relevant communication methods that are of value to the Client/Consumer, rather than just adding them as ‘leads’ in a database.

Seriously. What BS words to use to make human beings feel appreciated. ‘Leads in a database.’

What BS terms to use for the people who pay us very handsomely for our work. ‘Hey baby, I’ve added you to my database. You’re now record number ‘AQ2467blz’ in my mail-out of irrelevant crap.

Soon, you’ll be sending them the same crap you send everyone else, regardless of who they are, what they want or how you met. You’ll have forgotten the romance and they’ll just be another number.

If that’s the best you’ve got then you may as well just be swiping right. Swipe right

How romantic!

I’m sensing a pretty significant changing of the guard in our industry. I’m seeing new salespeople embracing technology and using it effectively in conjunction with quality relationship-building activities.

I’m now seeing long-term Agents who haven’t dedicated any proper time to building good relationships with Clients/Customers over their careers starting to lose opportunities they would normally have fallen into.

I’m seeing agents spend too much time playing Real Estate Tinder, swiping right furiously, instead of spending time focused on creating relationships that last.

So, which are you? Are you a Tinder agent or are you building relationships that last? 

(Peter Brewer is a real estate coach working with real estate agents in Australia, New Zealand and North America. He specialises in assisting real estate agents and agencies to combine the very best of old world real estate with the tools and consumer behaviours of the new world.  You won’t find him on Tinder)  But he can be contacted using the form below.

90% of home owners won’t use you again

I’ve just come back from hosting an Industry study tour to the Inman Connect Real Estate Conference in NYC where amongst many things I heard a fascinating statistic that:

“90% of home owners on settlement say they’d use the same Real Estate Agent again. But ultimately 90% of Home owners don’t” Problem

Do you think our industry has a problem? It sure seems so based on that statistic!

A few quick questions for you..

  • Are you or your business entering 2015 with a crystal clear focus on exactly where your digital marketing efforts needs to be?
  • Have you developed your content strategy and married it to your content calendar for your social media channels?
  • Is your CRM finely tuned to ensure you have an effective communications program in place to have your previously delighted customers singing your praises to friends and family and to have them knocking back on your door when they’re ready to transact real estate again?
  • Do you have a range of highly cost effective online lead generation activities in place to maintain a constant flow of appraisal and listing opportunities for you and your team?
  • Is your office and or team totally supporting your efforts to develop a truly effective digital strategy?

Now, depending how you answered those questions will determine whether you need a hand putting an online plan in place for you or your business in 2015.

Its becoming very clear that the divide between those salespeople and businesses who are truly focussed on implementing a layered digital strategy in place in 2015 and beyond, and those who are content to just ‘wing it’ and ‘hope’ their phone continues to ring is getting increasingly wider.

” ‘Hope’, is not an effective strategy”

For many real estate businesses keeping pace with the rate of change in consumer behaviours and the constant shift in industry technologies has proven to be daunting.  Remaining relevant and investing marketing resources (time, people and money) in the right channels has never been tougher, but never more important.

What are you or your business doing to ensure that those 90% of people who said they’d do business with you again actually do so and become raving fans of you or your business along the way? Strategy

Working with real estate businesses to develop and implement simple digital strategies that work  is exactly what I do. If you’d like to have chat please drop me a line below, or give me a call on +61 417 630 962. I’d be delighted to help where i can!

Here’s what others said:

Hi Peter,
Thanks for your note today. We did enjoy having you in our office last week,your presentation style was great,relaxed and inclusive, the information easily understood and your help in putting together a plan for the way forward was clear and achievable.
I’m sure we will be keeping in contact. 
 Many thanks
Gibson Barron – LJH

Hi Peter,

A big thanks to you for an amazing session that you provided for the Austar team. There has been so much positive comment from the session and you have inspired several people to be so much more aware of the fantastic opportunity that lies within the social media world.

We definitely would be keen to have a follow session sometime in the future.

Warm Regards

Len Day – Austar Realty


 

Peter,  Once again thank you for being so generous with your time yesterday.

The information and insights you provided were/are invaluable and that combined with your training program on Social Media through REIQ have been invaluable in us gaining further insight into how to make our business more meaningful and relevant through the various social media networks and the internet in general.

We have no hesitation in recommending you and your services to anybody looking to find better ways to use such mediums to enhance their business profile and to take away the “jargon” and explain in easy to understand common language.

Phillip Neilson- Ray White


 

That Peter Brewer

Peter is one of the few specialists who can think outside his generation