The following is a chapter ("Living The Good Life")* from the book REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate. The author of this chapter is Krisstina Wise, CEO of GoodLife Realty. @krisstinawise
*Minor modifications have been made to adapt the chapter into a blog post.
When considering what I would tell a new agent, or even my own child, about embarking on a life-long career in real estate, I realized I needed to give my answer in two parts.
I’d like to start by talking about what I think an agent’s big-picture philosophy should always be, because I think everything flows out of the top-level philosophy of any entity, whether it’s a brand, a brokerage, a team or even an individual agent. Then I want to move on and talk more specifically about how this aligns with a huge passion of mine: customer experience.
A Real Estate Agent's Top-Level Philosophy
Regarding the first point, top-level philosophy, here are my thoughts:
Speak and act with authenticity and integrity. Be real, say what you mean and mean what you say. Authenticity is really, truly important.
Take personal responsibility for your actions, which includes being accountable for your failures and giving credit where credit is due. Not everyone will necessarily agree with this, but I believe that we cannot succeed alone and that only powerful teams can produce greatness, no matter the size. The job has become too complicated for any one person to do on their own. The days of the “Lone Ranger” agent are over.
Accept that every action produces a consequence. This means you need to be aware of the potential consequences your actions will produce, and you must act to produce the intended outcomes you seek. Things don’t happen by accident. Make the right things happen via your specific intentions and actions.
While being service-oriented is supremely important—and in fact that’s the focus of the second part of what I’m going to share here—you need to also focus on the profitability of your business. The hard reality is that you can’t live a good life without the financial resources to pay for it.
I believe in living a good life. I further believe that you achieve a good life by “producing” it. A good life to me is about a successful career, meaningful relationships with family and friends, and living a healthy and happy life. This doesn’t happen passively. We produce it via the quality of our character, the quality of our work, and the quality of the people we surround ourselves with. We live a good life by helping others live their good lives, too.
Drive and embrace change, creative thinking and innovation. Focus on what is best for your customers and make whatever changes are necessary to benefit them. Do not get stuck in any process that has lost its value.
Enjoy the journey and incorporate fun into what you do. It’s so easy to get sucked into the vortex of workaholism and focusing on nothing but the money. If you’re not enjoying your career, you’re probably doing the wrong thing (or maybe working in the wrong place). When we have a closing in our office, we do something we call “ring the rooster.” It’s a celebration of success and happiness. And it’s just fun.
Always be becoming a better version of yourself. This means you should seek out new and specialized knowledge enabling you to become expert in certain areas. As real estate becomes more and more complex, you should seek to master a few things, rather than be average at everything (that’s why the team concept is so important).
Hold moods of passion, optimism and curiosity. Moods are contagious, and we spread our moods to others, whether we realize it or not. Do not contaminate your environment with bad moods. Always seek to live in moods of ambition, humility, seriousness, rigor, curiosity, wonder, and enthusiasm, and have a passion for life, career, and business.
A healthy body equals a healthy mind. Here’s an interesting fact about life: we can’t go anywhere or do anything without our bodies. This means our physical, emotional and spiritual health are important for our success and accomplishment. You ultimately take care of others by taking care of yourself first. With those big picture thoughts out of the way, I’m now going to move on to customer experience, which is my ultimate passion in this industry.
The Importance of Customer Experience
As we grew up, most of us heard about the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Or maybe your lesson was about karma. The belief is in cause and effect, that what we put out into the universe comes back to us, whether it’s positive or negative. So how might these life lessons with which most of us are familiar translate into something we can consciously apply to the real estate industry and our business?
I can share how I did it my business. When I started GoodLife Team in 2008, I incorporated specific beliefs—which we call our core values—into the concept. And one of our six core values states that we always provide a “five-star” customer experience for our clients. And we do this because making sure our clients live their good life in turn helps us achieve our good life (which we call “GoodLife” inside our culture; obviously, we believe in this so much it’s what we named the company).
But let me back up a little bit, and tell you how I came to the realization that this was something I wanted to include in my business and build into the very DNA of our organization.
First, it’s important to note that I was a high-producing real estate agent for many years before I started my own company. In fact, I ran one of the highest-producing teams for a major brand in Austin, Texas, and we performed at the pinnacle of our market for a number of years. And after a few years of enjoying that level of success, I realized that what drove me, what ultimately allowed me to achieve that level of success and what really set me apart from other agents was one primary thing: the customer experience that I provided to my clients.
Once I decided to break away from that big-box brokerage and start my own real estate company, I knew that I wanted this new company to be known for providing each and every client a legitimate five-star customer experience. That was job one, priority one, and my ultimate ambition. Five. Star. Experience. Period.
To help you better understand what a great customer experience entails, let’s consider my five favorite brands. These were the brands I analyzed back when I was putting the finishing touches on our company concept:
- Four Seasons
At first, my impression of these companies was that Starbucks sold coffee, Zappos sold shoes, Apple sold kick-ass products, JetBlue sold seats, and Four Seasons sold a night’s stay. But then I had my “big aha” moment, which was this: what these companies are all selling is not really a product or service so much as a great experience for their customers.
You might have noticed that I didn’t say that these companies claim to be “customer service companies.” They claim to be “customer experience companies.” And that begs this question: is that just a superficial difference in semantics, or is there a real difference between “customer service” and “customer experience?”
What I have come to realize is that we are now in an experience economy. Most people living in America have all of their basic needs met: food, shelter, transportation, etc. What many now prefer to spend their money on is an experience.
They buy Apple products not just because they are reputable, innovative instruments of technology, but because Apple has brilliantly created something more than just a “computer store.” It’s a combination of style, design, atmosphere, a “Genius Bar” staffed by people who are amazingly knowledgeable and so much more. Apple has created a culture that really appeals to a lot of people (it’s the brand of computer we use at my company). You can walk into almost any mall in America, at any time of day or night, and one store will be full or nearly full and buzzing with activity: the Apple store.
And Zappos has become famous for “delivering happiness.” The founder—Tony Hsieh—has written a best-selling book about his building that company, and people flock to take guided tours of their facility in Las Vegas. Talk about an “experience!”
And people pay very high prices and frequently wait in very long lines for Starbucks coffee. Because it’s more than coffee. It’s a meeting place, a co-working space, and a place with a unique vibe that is all its own. Again, it’s a palpable experience, not just a pricey cup of java.
And so on. You get the gist. All of these companies I studied had this similar “extra wow” factor that allowed them to perform better than their competition. Each of the brands declares themselves to be a “customer experience company.” And I believe that they are (and I have a basis for that opinion, as I am a customer of every one of these brands for that very reason). They claim that what makes their products/services amazing is their commitment to and standards for providing the FULL customer experience.
And is a commitment to a great customer experience that different from a person’s commitment to go out every day and make a difference in someone’s life? To treat someone as they would want be treated? To put a positive experience out in the universe so it comes back to them somewhere down the road?
I think they are one and the same, don’t you?
Bringing this back to what we’ve done at GoodLife Team, here’s the core value that exists in our annual strategic plan:
“Deliver ‘Wow’ through service. We exist to take care of our clients. Our choices revolve around what is in their best interest. By surpassing the industry benchmark for service we strive to produce a “wow” experience for every client. A wow experience means that the client receives an “uncommon” experience from the first phone call through the successful completion of the real estate transaction. We are structured as a team for this reason: to take care of every part of their transaction with the greatest of care and competency.”
All that said, I’ll leave you with this: the single most valuable thing you can have in a real estate career—other than integrity and a great reputation, of course—is the ability to consistently deliver a “fivestar” experience to every client.
Ask yourself this one question: What did I do TODAY to deliver that five-star experience to my clients? If you keep asking yourself that question, day after day after day, and you seek to honestly fulfill on all that that implies, you’ll have more success than you need. Of that, I am very confident.
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: 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!