Progress – You choose.

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I have spent the better part of the past week at the Inman Connect Conference, a real estate technology event or, as some prefer to call it, a trade show. While there are many detractors out there, I found the experience to be much more than a vendor feeding frenzy and even more than a frivolous party, but that’s just me.

I kept a mini-travel journal beginning here which spoke to my impending departure, continuing to here, where I summarized the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks that is airline travel, and even landing here, where I submitted a field report on a little industry “stuff”. Of course, I couldn’t help amusing myself with a parody of the Perfect Blog and Blogger. Call that last one my “me” time.

Although one of the things I learned at the conference was that the Bell Hops at the Palace in San Francisco do indeed accept Visa and American Express, it was worth the price of admission (my daughters’ college educations). And so much of what I heard was yesterday’s newspaper yet was a swift-kick-in-the-hind-quarters reminder to tackle some items on last week’s To Do list.

As expected, I added 478 new ways to promote our client’s properties for sale online (this to our already stout list). I finally was inspired to the point of adding electronic signatures to our arsenal. This came in particularly handy today as I was chasing contract signatures from a client who lives in Japan, and it will come in equally handy next week when I won’t have to schlep across town chasing an overlooked initial (or have my client schlep to my office). I finally tackled the challenge of combining market trend data with mapping technology, which turned out to be not much of a challenge at all.

My biggest “take aways” were conceptual and will take some time to sort through before they morph into actual commentary. Many industry heavyweights were in attendance ranging from the carpetbaggers and opportunists, to the visionaries, to the old guard (NAR) trying desperately to hold fast to their model which is under threat of becoming outmoded, to the field soldiers (the agents) sincerely trying to improve their business and their value to their clients.

At the unspoken overlapping center of this Venn Diagram was the consumer. The consumer was directly or indirectly referred to as a “hit”, a “unique visitor”, “future business”, a “lead” and a “lead conversion”. 

How about we return to thinking of the consumer as the “Customer”? This will be the cornerstone of my reworked business plan, not the client as customer concept (that has always been our philosophy), but the notion that we should worry less about winning the customer’s business and more about perfecting our business to the point where we will have left no doubt as to our qualifications for the job.

One thing the customers all have in common is that they are different. Some are primarily concerned with an agent’s fees, some will never believe that they need an agent at all and will opt to use (our) online resources to do it themselves or ultimately do it with a faceless limited services model. Still others will select the agent that they see at church or at the weekly Bunko game every time. And then many more will find value in the things we perceive value in – deep and rich marketing, comprehensive and current market knowledge, a slate of technological tools and business systems to streamline the transaction process, and experience. If our values aren’t aligned, in fact, we shouldn’t be working together.

Not everyone will choose to work with us, and, as agents, we should all be a little less concerned with winning you over – as a hit or visitor or lead. We should be a lot more concerned with improving ourselves as service providers, consultants, and professionals, and effectively communicating what we stand for. Then the choice will be yours. As our tag line says, “It’s Your Move!”

Now, that’s progress.

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