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Op/Ed

The new way to win in this era of intense competition

(EDITORIAL) As competition in the real estate world heats up and practitioners seek new ways to be competitive, the answer is simpler (yet more complex) than you may realize.

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How to define “better”

It’s not easy to be better… And saying so doesn’t make it so! What is better anyway?

For world-class athletes it’s faster, higher, stronger. Olympic events are carefully defined and competitors are measured in hundredths and thousandths of a second or an inch.

Service has become a world-class event. Two-thirds of the global economy (80% of the U.S.) has migrated from a manufacturing base to service. That makes service serious business – in essence a world-class event.

Athletes competing at the highest levels train vigorously.  They meticulously track performance, exercise great discipline, utilize technology and employ specialized resources to improve performance.  World-class athletes recognize the value of performance feedback and understand the importance of common standards of performance measurement.

Is there something to be learned from this?

There certainly is!  In business, the consumer is the Olympic committee.  Consumers define the events and judge the results.  Most industries, especially manufacturing and technology, have long embraced faster, higher, stronger concepts and the metrics that go with them.  Common standards have become pretty common.

In the service sector and especially in real estate services, it’s more common for the service provider or each organization to define the event, decide what to measure and to develop its own measurement standards – it’s convenient that way.

But the service provider doesn’t make the rules in today’s economy – the consumer does!  World-class competitors in business today are totally focused on consumer-defined events and are passionate about measuring their performance results with common standards and common metrics.  And the evidence is clear that progress follows process.

As the level of competition intensifies in athletics or in commerce, some other changes emerge: teamwork, specialization, technology, systems, better fitness, performance feedback, improvement and ever tougher competitors.

Applying this to your real estate practice

So what is faster, higher, stronger in real estate service and who really excels?  The measurement standards in real estate services have always been production based…  without the balance of how good or how well.  The belief is that “doing a lot is doing well.”

Do these traditional standards and metrics of “production performance” fit as well today?  Do production standards and measurements without qualitative standards and measurements reflect a consumer centered business environment?  But of course real estate is different.

Real estate service is more like other businesses with the passing of each week.  When brokers and practitioners completely controlled the information, they made the rules and controlled the game.  That’s over, the consumer is in charge.  In the information age “control” of information is at the very least undergoing redefinition.  “Control” comes from responding to the changing needs and interests of consumers by delivering a better, more valuable and satisfying total service experience.  Control comes from attracting customers and retaining them by delivering a superior service experience.  In the professional services arena, that means offering consistency, reliability, accountability, responsiveness and taking responsibility – fixing things when they go wrong.

Real estate sales professionals are like competitive athletes.  They play to win and enjoy winning.  But the rules need to change.  If winning is selling more without truly serving better, that’s losing.  Serving better means delivering more value and greater service satisfaction, measurably greater satisfaction.

Will the independent contractor/agent accept change and respond positively?  They will with enthusiasm…winners always do!  But a meaningful quality service focus that meets the needs of the consumer must also benefit the professional.  Awards, recognition and rewards for professionals must go beyond the single dimension of production.  Production standards should be balanced with quality standards so that everyone’s interests are aligned and everyone benefits.

To make that certain, requires providing systems, support, technology, performance feedback, awards and recognition and unbiased results validation just as it does for any world-class performance.

5 Steps to world-class performance

  • Understanding consumer needs
  • Defining and implementing a real service process
  • Measuring performance and results
  • Learning, improving and raising the bar
  • Recognizing and rewarding superior service delivery
  • Utilizing independent validation of service results

Accepting the reality that today the consumer defines the game and determines the rules, then playing to win… means winning a new way.  The most intense era of competition to serve and retain customers in real estate services is just beginning.  Providing quality service is serious business.  Only those who are serious about service can win.

#SeriousService

Kevin is a Co-Founder, President & COO of Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC) and earned an MBA from The University of California – Irvine. With over 20 years of Real Estate experience, his primary focus is on consumer research, developing better service management systems, and sharing the importance of consumer-centric service standards, transparency and accountability to create measurable and meaningful differentiation and long term advantage for those professionals that put customer needs first.

Op/Ed

Is there a difference between being a leader or being a manager?

(OP/ED) Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, but there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

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leader vs manager

Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things.

They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge. They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership, on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups; so, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group.”

For psychologists, the manager was a profession, not a key role in a group. When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer is no, the two terms are not the same; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

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Op/Ed

Sexism is never cured by reverse-sexism

(EDITORIAL) Sexism is still around in 2021; it seems some want to try reverse-sexism, but that just isn’t the way equality works. Just try respect.

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sexism reverse-sexism

Sexism is and has virtually forever been, a glaring issue in all areas of the work environment – from recruiting and hiring all the way through invariable work interactions. While the proper “cure” for sexism may elude some employers, we know what absolutely DOESN’T work: reverse sexism.

Let’s get a bit of a disclaimer out of the way: The term “reverse sexism” is often used to insinuate the notion that men are victims of gender-based discrimination on the same level as women – as if the current social and political environments could ever support such a thing.

The idea of a male facing even a fraction of the societal limitations and microaggressions with which the average woman has to contend is cry-yourself-to-sleep laughable, so to apply any notion of the same level of discrimination in reverse has no merit whatsoever.

However.

The entire point of rebelling against sexism is not – and should never be – that current sexist practices should be applied to men in addition to women; perhaps surprisingly, the opposite holds true: that women should be treated with the inherent respect and financial support that most men in the workplace enjoy.

See, practicing any kind of discrimination – however small in scale – against any group of people only helps to perpetuate discrimination in general. Refusing to hire men because you’re trying to avoid sexism toward women may seem like a good idea on paper, but it’s really just enforcing the notion that sexism is okay in certain contexts when that just isn’t the case.

Are you with me so far? Good, because it seems that virtually innumerable companies are missing the mark: Google’s solution for the wage gap is to underpay men, and Bumble implements a women-only hiring environment (though this has since been expanded to utilize more inclusive filters). Again, the idea behind this may have initially come from a good place, but the driving principles cause the execution to fall flat when held up against ACTUAL sexism-free practices.

Here’s a thought: Instead of treating your male employees with less respect in order to match your behavior to all genders across the board, or refusing to hire a gender outright, try treating all of your employees (regardless of gender) the same. It’s a little-known tactic known as common decency, and guess what? Doing so is not the least bit sexist.

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Op/Ed

Open letter to Realtors: Let your freak flag fly and quit judging each other

(OP/ED) Tattoos are becoming more acceptable in many fields and industries, but there still seems to be a gap in careers like law and real estate.

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tattoos real estate

When most people think of Realtors, it’s easy to think of the boring headshot that seems to accompany them. You know the type: Boring suit, smarmy grin, some tagline about how they’re going to find you a house. Some Realtors, however, have set out to break that mold. One example is Justin Mercer who sports a full body (and face) of tattoos.

Hailing from Arizona, Mercer goes by the title “The Tattooed Realtor.” It’s a name he’s definitely earned – Mercer sports tattoos everywhere from his hands to his face. And he looks awesome. Honestly, it’s about time more people start letting themselves live authentically, instead of trying to look like what society says they “should” look like.

Sure, Mercer has gotten plenty of strange looks, but he owns his appearance. In fact, he hands out fake tattoo stickers to kids and has a pen-shaped “tattoo” machine for clients and visitors to use. The approach is interesting, but it helps break down the stigma surrounding face tattoos in fun ways.

His tattoos have also provided unique opportunities. For instance, Mercer has begun to land several acting roles! According to Mercer, he’s been in films, television, and even music videos. It’s a pretty neat perk to come from being visible and open.

That’s not to say it’s always easy for Mercer; he’s gotten a lot of pushback for his appearance. Even from within the industry:

Really, this says more about his detractors than Mercer himself. Why should tattoos stop someone from being a good real estate agent? In fact, why should tattoos stop someone from being a good anything?

Frankly, we’ve gone way too long subscribing to the idea that looking professional must mean trying to fit in. Who’s to say someone with pink hair, numerous piercings, or, in Mercer’s case, facial tattoos, isn’t fit to do their job? In fact, one of the great things about standing out is the ability to make like-minded customers feel at ease. There’s less fear of judgment when your Realtor looks like you.

Sure, no industry is going to change overnight – Mercer’s pushback is proof of that. But things are changing for the better. It’ll be an exciting day when everyone, no matter if they’re a doctor, lawyer, or real estate agent, feels comfortable enough to live authentically. And an even more exciting day when fellow Realtors don’t take to Facebook to trash a fellow professional for their appearance (isn’t there a saying about glass houses)?

In the meantime, congratulations to Mercer and those like him – for pushing ahead in this relatively new frontier.

Mercer with tattoos with his children.

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