An overview of the state of affairs in the industry
Agents are more connected than
ever, and their systems have
never been better.
[/pl_blockquote]So Chris Smith, formerly at Move, Inc. hits Inman, and does some amazing rainmaking for the brand, and is now at DotLoop. DotLoop’s CEO is much deserving the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine (and yeah, his teeth really are that amazing). It wouldn’t be an article if I didn’t mention Zillow, now Trulia going public (congrats to both), or Move’s recent acquisition of TigerLeads. Keller Williams makes some bold new international moves, and the Good Life Team in Austin has joined the trade show business. Who would have thunk that Marc and the 1000Watt team would rock the real estate industry with Nudge, a great new product essentially putting their money where their mouth has been for years to Joel Beasley launching Merge to unforseen popularity – I mean it’s a really, really crazy popular product.
So many changes, and so many tiny moves in a small space that the industry seems busy busy as we trend into a sellers market. Agents look sharper today with their iPads, and if you haven’t seen Ben Kinney’s application of presentations mixed with scripts that sell on a stage yet, you’re really missing something. Agents are more connected than ever, and their systems have never been better, and for those who have not yet, they soon will, because the rest of the industry has gotten the word that mediocrity isn’t a winning system.
An ear to the ground
…the industry is leaning very
heavily toward modernizing the
agent and the agent’s experience,
but not so much the experience
of the home buyer or seller.
[/pl_blockquote]In our AgentGenius Group on Facebook, I watch daily agents discussing cold calling, mailers, email marketing, and things once thought irrelevant. Agents are talking about tough problems, mentoring others to give old systems a second thought, or even finding tweaks to old ways of doing things. It’s truly amazing to see others openly helping each other, and discussing the news of the day or week, or just giving each other a hard time – it’s a lot of fun.
I know I’ve missed some much deserving accolades here, but I need to get around to the meat. I’ve simply thrown out what’s top of mind for the moment, so please don’t be offended. What I’m pointing out here are good things – the industry from my perspective has never looked more modern or more professional. Sure there’s a long way to go in regards to innovation, but it seems to me that the industry is leaning very heavily toward modernizing the agent and the agent’s experience, but not so much the experience of the home buyer or seller. That’s not getting much press at all, and why? Because it’s not happening.
Why is this the focus?
Agents would rather spend an hour
on a session on how to capture
more leads than how to build
consumer loyalty and keep it.
[/pl_blockquote]The conversations I’ve heard over the past week are sales related, and they’re agent-centric, not consumer-centric. They are completely numbers driven, not people driven. Agent consumers will sit through an hour long presentation on how to boost up their Facebook by Stacey Harmon (which I hear is actually useful and not to miss) rather than spend 15 minutes talking to the guys at Better Voicemail about how to better control the consumer experience on the phone.
Agents would rather spend an hour on a session on how to capture more leads than how to build consumer loyalty and keep it. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m saying they go hand-in-hand and are not one in the same. Noted columnist Jeff Brown is as old school as it gets, but having worked with Jeff and his clients, even he’ll admit that it’s a red carpet situation from start to finish with very little technology, but the technology he is using is much much better than 40 years ago (the length of his career).
Shifting the focus to consumers
This is the conversation we need
to get back to. You’ve got your
iPad, so now what?
[/pl_blockquote]I guess right now Keller Williams is winning in the consumer experience race with two JD Power and Associates awards, but what is their difference? Culture? This is the conversation we need to get back to. You’ve got your iPad, so now what? What is your brand failing at and how can you make it better? Or are you just going to repeat the past and ride the seller wave until the wave is no more?
The National Association of Realtors has done an amazing job of preparing to handle Capitol Hill, and are even getting consumers involved in housing matters. Their ad campaigns make more sense to a new generation, and bring a message of hope and prosperity through homeownership, and we applaude them – we’ve been their loudest critic, but have always been fair. But there’s more work today for the big NAR. It’s time to tear down the walls and allow competition in the marketplace when it comes to new technology that better helps consumers. There needs to be more agent choice in the products NAR backs, for example, why not DotLoop? Why ZipForms? Hell, why not both? There is a lot more Second Century Ventures could do to incentivize outside influence in technology to really prepare the industry for a Second Century. There are so many budding startups NAR should be partnered with that the industry really is missing a large opportinity.
The bottom line
There are so many more issues in real estate still to be dealt with, but I fear politics of the residential industry get in the way. But I wonder, if it really is about the overall consumer experience that agents are tweeting and conferencing about, if true progression and greater changes could be felt thoughout the industry and across the consumer beltway?
Unify your remote team with these important conversations
(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.
Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.
According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.
Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.
Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.
With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.
The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.
Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.
This story was first published in November 2020.
How to apply to be on a Board of Directors
(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.
We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.
Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:
1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.
As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.”
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).
The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.
Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess
(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.
A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.
Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.
Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.
Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.
What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?
It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.
There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.
As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.
Provide accommodations or not?
According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”
Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.
Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.
Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.
Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.
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