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AgentCentric? ConsumerCentric? The truth – it’s mostly egocentric

A history of raising the bar

At 16 and the janitor for Dad’s real estate company, I was often able to listen into discussions he had with the few brokerage owners who were his friends. They talked about various skill sets, how agents used different methods to list/sell homes, and how they all wished there was a magic spell which would produce great general managers and office managers. My job was to finish cleanin’ up, sit down, then be seen and not heard. Since most of ’em were genuinely scary old farts, that seldom proved problematic.

Know what they never talked about? Raisin’ the bar.

That was 1967.

A couple of years later I was a licensee myself. Here’s how high the bar was — and still is. Took the test about 10-15 days after my 18th birthday. Passed it the first time out. Was notified of same, with the beginning date on my first license being 10/15/69. The ‘bar’ was my ability to read and write, comprehend how to take the test via ‘license school’, be 18, not be a felon, and pass the incredibly silly test. After 42 years I’ve STILL not used 80% of what I was forced by the state to regurgitate on that first test. Somehow, the mating habits of the termites indigenous to California hasn’t come up yet. Go figure.

Raise your own damn bar.

I’ve been hearin’ this mantra since Nixon was in office. If the rank and file wanted it raised, it’d be raised. Does anyone having more than a couple brain cells bumpin’ into each other dispute that? Stop worrying about other agents and other brokerages. Start takin’ your own game up. Surely you have room for improvement somewhere, right? The more of us who become the best we can possibly be, the faster the GumpStumps out there will go back to, well, whatever it is they can figure out to do. Almost surely it will involve close supervision, and very little decision making responsibility.

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The truth about being “ConsumerCentric”

Being ‘ConsumerCentric’ is a huge and purposeful misdirection.

“We keep you updated on ‘the process’ every 8½ minutes.” 

“We hold open houses ’til we drop.” (They hardly ever work, but they look good to you and the neighbors, so we keep doin’ ’em.)

“We’re so ‘transparent’, picture windows are envious.” 

“Blah, blah, blahdy blah.”

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Want the consumer to seek you out? Want ’em to sing your praises? Wanna be known as the most ConsumerCentricest agent in the free world?

You’re embarrassing the rest of us

Try producing the results for which you were freakin’ hired. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Otherwise, please, shut your piehole. You’re embarrassing the rest of us who are. Become the higher bar. Be the example others see. Inspire these agents one at a time. Make it viral. But do it with your actions and results, not your constant wailing.

Oh, you are producing big time results and you’re still whinin’ about the bar being too low? I’ve run into you guys since my teenage years, and you haven’t changed a whit. You already have a pretty large slice of the market pie, at least relative to your ‘inferior’ competition out there, who aren’t up to your impressive professional standards. Yet you want them out sooner, rather than later. They’ll either get better and earn more by producing more results, or they’ll be gone. Mind your own bee’s wax.

What consumers want – results

Consumers love honesty, integrity, and all the rest. But what they respect most of all is results they were promised.

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Let the market weed out those agents not measuring up to your lofty standards in its own time. In fact, one can make the case, and I often do, that they make super cool, professional agents like you look even better than you already are. Consumers get ripped off at every turn. They buy products that don’t work as advertised, then don’t get justice. It happens at the $10 price range up to the five figure level.

But in real estate they don’t pay you ’til you produce the result for which you were hired. Over the years I’ve spoken to hundreds of homeowners and real estate investors about this. They think you’re ‘ConsumerCentric’ when you’ve treated them honestly and with integrity, while demonstrating massive expertise and knowledge — AND PRODUCING THEIR DESIRED RESULT.

The rest of what they see put out by our industry’s practitioners?

Lipstick on a pig.

Raise your own bar. Become better every day in every way. Stop worrying about the other guy. The rest takes care of itself.

I know. Been watchin’ it happen over four decades. Agents ‘n brokers come and go. But the ones leaving their mark are those who work hard, with integrity, while producing consistently superior results.

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Nothing’s changed.

Produce results honestly, with integrity, through hard work, and your clients will praise you as being incredibly — here’s that concept again — ConsumerCentric. Their opinion of those agents constantly harping on how the industry hasn’t raised the bar up to the level the agent thinks best? Most consumers have told me, since I had hair, that they think those agents are merely egocentric.

ConsumerCentic is marketing. Consumers want results.

Written By

Jeff Brown specializes in real estate investment for retirement, has practiced real estate for over 40 years and is a veteran of over 200 tax deferred exchanges, many multi-state. Brown is a second generation broker and works daily with the third generation. With CCIM training and decades of hands on experience, Brown's expertise is highly sought after, some of which he shares on his real estate investing blog.



  1. Ken Brand

    November 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Nice one Jeff. It's so true. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jeff Brown

    November 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Much appreciated, Ken.

  3. Benn Rosales

    November 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Raise the bar is a recruiting tool, if your bar was actually raised you'd be to busy to give a rats rear end ‘where’ the other guys bar is… give me a break. Raising the bar is merely a vendors tool to market product adopted by Realtors to invent a new way to call themselves experts.

  4. mayareguru

    November 13, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Jeff,
    Great and valid points. I don't disagree, but I think then if we are talking about things like agent rating sites, it is important to have some standards. Consumers are asking, consumers want it, I want to participate. Why? Because I work hard to get my clients results, and sometimes those results are helping them decide it is not the right time to buy or sell. Irregardless, I would rather see a ratings system, or something of that type, at least set up by someone within the industry, who has been licensed. Not a site that wants to attract consumers to search there, or ask questions. I think things are far too jumbled up already. I think there is value in specialization.

    I am so absolutely tired of people pandering to our industry, and those that tell agents how to sell houses who never have before. I say "Ask for the credentials", if someone says "I sell a bizillion houses because of my blog" then I want to SEE those numbers, show me the site stats and your unique visitors too.

    The problem is that the online spaces allow people to create a perception that many will believe is reality. I think it's time for people to shut-up or put up. This isn't unique to real estate, but to many industries where people claim to be qualified experts but no one asks for the proof.

    I was originally involved in the RTB Blog Talk Radio show with Mike McClure and Todd Waller, I believed in many of the concepts, and also disagreed with a few but that was ok, everyone is allowed to have an opinon.

    I am glad you shared, and I think the professionalism issue is constantly raised in the industry, but I would be worried if it was not. I raise my own bar every day, and ask my clients to hold me to it. I am proud of what my team offers in customer service and that we are always improving.

    Thanks Jeff! You do rock!

  5. Cindy Jones

    November 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    We can debate all we want and point fingers at the other guy but in truth is we can only control ourselves and how we behave. I agree with Maya that social media has created "experts" who are on stage at conferences touting their success. Yet as far as I can tell no one has vetted their sales numbers (if they are a Realtor®) to see if what they say is even close to accurate.

  6. Jeff Brown

    November 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Pretty much, Benn, pretty much.

  7. Jeff Brown

    November 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Hey Maya — We disagree on the proposed rating sites. It's for the same reason I've refused to ever belong to the BBB. You're either perfect or you lose, relatively speaking. It's a slippery slope, especially in our industry. One disgruntled client, an agent with an agenda, and a solid, professional agent is trashed.

    Sorry, but I'll let my results and references do the talking for me. This whole 'lose or tie' game the ratings sites wanna play is a lose/lose from the start.

  8. Jeff Brown

    November 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Hey Cindy — We've all listened to those 'experts' haven't we? They're basically three chapters ahead of most of their audience.

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