People Buy Products From Packages. They Buy Services From People.
There is a worrying trend in real estate right now. Agents are focused on their surface brand – in terms of the sign on the door or the photo on their signboard and they have forgotten about what a brand really is.
As a provider of professional services, your ‘brand’ is the impression your customers have of you – an impression that is distilled over time through a history of service: via a relationship.
For too long, agents have used technology as a means of outsourcing their customer relationships.
Author John Le Carre once said, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world,” and this is particularly true if you are a real estate agent. The marketplace is a tangible, living, and breathing beast that sits on footpaths and at the end of driveways.
The great paradox of real estate is that the anthropological processes that drive people into the real estate market tend to be idiosyncratic and unpredictable. You need to foster a relationship, over time so that when those life events trigger a move into the real estate zone, you have the relationship and are positioned for the business.
Without The Relationship, You Are Competing For The Business.
The biggest threat to the real estate industry is that everyone SAYS that they do the same things. Salespeople all say highest price, quickest sale, best conditions, great experience. Property Managers say ‘best practice, best communication, best tenants, highest rent, best terms’.
Agents and agencies have access to the same tools and resources for marketing their businesses and property listings, and so customer service – relationships – are the only differentiating force when it comes to the supply of professional services.
And here is why that is dangerous:
Commoditisation occurs in a market (for a good or service) when we lose differentiation across the supply base. If real estate agents sound the same and do the same thing – real estate becomes a commodity and we can only compete on price.
The Symptoms Of Commoditisation In Real Estate Are Already There.
The broad, beige brush of commoditisation is the biggest issue facing the real estate industry and is what underlies every next-uber-of-real-estate attempt to undermine or outsource the professional services that real estate agents offer.
We see good, quality agents lose listing opportunities to amateurs based on price comparisons. We see good agents, professional agents, drop their commissions to 2%, 1.5% to compete with amateur agents. We lose property management opportunities to operators at 5%, even 2% fee models because, (the ‘art of the pitch’ aside,) commoditised services – that appear to be the same – CAN only compete on price.
People Do Business With People They Know, And Trust. Trust Is Earned Through A History Of Service, Over Time.
So, the ‘what’ is resolved – stop spamming people with bulk email and talk to them, regularly, be helpful and interesting and relevant. Agents know this….they might not like it…but they know it.
So, The Question Isn’t Really ‘What’….It’s How?
One of the primary underutilised data assets that nearly every real estate business has is their customer relationship management (CRM) system. In Australian and New Zealand alone, Aire estimates that the real estate industry has over 350 million contact records stored but not used properly or at all.
The sheer volume of data available to the industry is both an opportunity and an obstacle.
Traditional software made promises about productivity and scale and the migration from index cards to CRMs was intended to help us manage relationships with customers. Adoption levels of the software are low, right across the industry – and we posit that one reason for this is that the sheer volume of the data asset makes the simple devising of ‘who to call and what to say’ is cumbersome and overwhelming.
The issue with sophisticated programs, like CRM is that you need great clarity around your data policies, great discipline in adhering to them and great diligence in executing a data-driven prospecting strategy.
All of those requirements come before an agent grapples with the issue of capacity – meaning whether or not they have the TIME to apply their diligence and discipline, beyond the urgent transactional aspects of listing and selling real estate.
Most Agents Don’t Have Time To Play The Long Game
It is not a popular view, and complex views never are popular, but the issue of capacity for agents is not an excuse – it is the issue. Humans, no matter how hard working or motivated, have a fixed supply of their services – there are only so many hours in the day. Demand from the marketplace, however, is not fixed – it fluctuates – radically – due to external factors beyond the control of an agent.
Ai Can Help
Based on an understanding of how agents interact (or don’t,) with their data, Ai has the potential to deliver on those promises of productivity. The last thing agents need is more technology. Ai, like Rita, is an assistant that can do all of the pre-admin and post-admin work to relationship management.
In terms of a strategy to assist agents with their relationship management, robots, like Rita, use supreme skills in analysis and prediction to give agents a list of who to call and what to say, each day.
The contacts on these lists are prioritised based on who are the highest value contacts, or in simple terms who Rita thinks you should speak to that day. Simple.
What Rita Is Seeking To Achieve
When it comes to relationship management, the needle that we are seeking to shift is engagement. We measure the relationship management touchpoints between the contact owner and the contact.
The overwhelming majority of databases that we analyse tell a very sad story about the level of personal relationship management between agents and their contacts. What is encouraging is that once we implement Rita, we see the segments of engagement widening – which means that Rita is truly changing behaviour and helping agents do more, with less.
The Role Of Technology
We believe that technology should be behind you, not in front of you. If you would like to discover how Ai has the potential to supercharge your capacity to be customer facing, you can meet Rita at https://www.getaire.com.au/meet-rita/