The following is a chapter from the book REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate. The author of this chapter is Austin Allison, CEO of dotloop. @gaustinallison
I was introduced to real estate when I bought my first house—a small fixer-upper just outside of Cincinnati—at age 17. A result of many pennies saved up over the years, the purchase was not only a big milestone, but also a turning point in my life.
I distinctly remember being shocked by all of the paper involved in the process. My father owned a small construction company and my mother was in information technology. With that background, I was naturally ecstatic to be a homeowner, yet frustrated by the stressful experience leading up to closing the deal. It was the wet signatures, the late-night faxes, the piles of paperwork and documentation, etc. There had to be a better way to do business.
So much more than a numbers game
Despite a transaction experience inconsistent with my expectations, I caught the real estate bug and decided to pursue it in college, confident that a few hours of effort each week would result in bigger commissions than I could count. How wrong I was!
I sold real estate through college and quickly began to see the realities of being a real estate agent while juggling life, education and a career. It was tiresome to say the least. Between racing from class to get to a showing, signing documents on the hood of my car and communicating through multiple means of technology, I was inspired to create dotloop. And though my role in real estate has changed quite a bit over the years, the lessons I learned as an agent (and a consumer) about the importance of relating on a human level is something we’ve incorporated into how we’ve built the company. It’s also a major reason why we’ve been so successful.
One of those lessons is that selling real estate is so much more than a numbers game. It’s hard work and involves more roles than merely that of an agent in a transaction: you’re a strategist in helping a client make their offer, a negotiator when the client gets locked in a bidding war and a counselor when a dream home goes off the market. Most importantly, you’re the catalyst in the transaction process at large.
The truly successful real estate agents, a far smaller and more elite group than you may think, understand that success stems from a delicate balance of attention, compassion, positivity — and humanness. Agents who put people at the center of the equation are the ones who win big, now and in the future.
Put people first
Success in real estate is simple: Put people first and give them an enjoyable experience that’s on their terms, not yours. This has always been the case, of course, but technology has made it easy to remove people from the process. We all are loyal to great experiences – be it personal attention sealed with a handshake or the ability to close a deal from 1,500 miles away.
Real estate is an industry that revolves around people. Buying a home is a big decision with strong emotional and financial factors involved. A cumbersome transaction process will only add to the stress of that experience. It’s your role to minimize those bad feelings and make sure it’s an enjoyable experience.
At dotloop, we call it Peoplework. It’s a belief about putting people first and giving clients the sort of experience you’d hope to receive while making a decision as big as buying a home. You would never want to be treated as just a number – and neither do your clients.
In any industry – real estate included – setting out to make the most money by working with as many clients as possible is a recipe for disaster. Instead, I’ve learned that delivering a positive experience to a smaller list of clients actually pays higher dividends. Filling the funnel the right way is the best thing you can do to build a sustainable business.
People are Loyal to Great Experiences
People are loyal to great experiences. While that’s not a new or novel concept, what is new is truly making it happen in your own business – and leveraging inspiration from companies in other industries that do this well every day.
Starbucks, for example, knows that you can buy coffee anywhere, but if they provide the consistent experience you want from a coffee shop (a barista who remembers your name and order, free WiFi, comfortable couches and no pressure to leave), you’ll come back every time your caffeine withdrawals kick in.
Or, consider Apple. They have reinvented the brick and mortar retail experience, allowing you to experiment with their technology hands-on before making a purchase. The Apple Store gives you a blank slate to create the experience you want, whether it’s the opportunity to ask hundreds questions or the ease of just handing over your credit card to pay immediately. You leave feeling satisfied, and in return, Apple can expect that you’ll come back to purchase from them again.
Real Estate Is No Different
Real estate is no different. Invest in customer service as marketing – rather than traditional marketing. Lead with processes and operational excellence before direct marketing and lead generation. Go out of your way to make every experience enjoyable and memorable. Buyers and sellers can work with any agent in your market – some are even choosing not to use an agent at all – but if you create a name for yourself as an agent who delivers the best experience in town, you’ll have customers for life.
If you create a well-executed, thoughtful experience, you’ll leave a memorable impression. And in doing so, you’ll see more business than you could ever get from direct marketing, SEO, ad-words or social media and prime real estate on consumer listing portals combined. Like Apple and Starbucks – and many other companies across all industries – have demonstrated, putting your customers’ experience front and center is what separates the successful from those that are just spinning their wheels.
About The Book
Most real estate books fall short. REAL goes beyond mere tactics and strategies to focus on the core of what really matters - You. In addition to the authors' lessons learned, this book also includes contributions from some of real estate's most influential thought leaders: Austin Allison, Marc Davison, Spencer Rascoff, Sherry Chris, Krisstina Wise, and many more.
If building a real estate business that lasts is important to you, this is a book you surely won't want to miss!