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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

Malls repurposed as housing could bring back discrimination

(EDITORIAL) Recycling dead malls into community colleges and libraries are smart ideas, but is there a deeper, darker implication behind the affordable housing idea?

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malls changed into housing

Clever investors want to transform defunct malls into affordable housing. This sounds like a win-win-win at first. It’s helpful, useful, practical–and doesn’t necessarily require federal funding. What a warm and fuzzy idea that can help people and make use of existing structures. Yaaaay!

We need more affordable housing. Nobody will deny that. According to Pew Trusts, the 2018 U.S. housing market was at its least affordable in ten years. Adaptive reuse is a brilliant idea on paper. However, “affordable housing” is not merely a phrase; it holds legal connotations and requirements, both on national and state levels. It’s…complex.

Then my inner skeptic popped up and whispered in my ear, “Careful. What if it’s a trap?” History tells us to be wary of separating people by socioeconomic status (often–though not always–related to race). I started thinking about the long, troubled history of the “projects” in the U.S., which served to effectively segregate low-income families from the post-New Deal era until modern days. This in turn led to less investment in the area, meaning residents had to contend with fewer schools, grocery stores, public transportation routes, and the like.

Perhaps the adaptive reuse of the malls is not so nefarious. After all, these malls are already in residential areas. Therefore, one hopes, decent schools, supermarkets, and public transportation already exist, just as in other areas of a given city. The residents of one mall, one housing development, should not significantly change the housing market and available local resources by much, right? It will be a seamless integration of a whole new group of people into a neighborhood, right? We hope that’s true.

Maybe it won’t be a case of white flight, AKA “There goes the neighborhood” all over again. After all, the ethnic diversity isn’t specified beyond “workforce, student and 55 plus housing,” future residents, as defined by Richard Rubin, CEO of Repvblic, the company leading the charge to invest in old malls and big box stores. It sounds like a positive thing that the new, “recycled” housing developments he’s investing in don’t require federal funding to get built.

Affordable housing is a challenge wherever you look. Investors in multi-million dollar, sexy and modern high rises aren’t traditionally going after the affordable housing market, because what’s in it for them? In Austin, where The American Genius is based, developers already balk at the idea of including the mandated affordable housing units required for new construction. Some developers have even paid the city millions of dollars to get around the requirement.

Adaptive reuse by recycling dead malls into affordable housing feels like a creative, beneficial idea. Yet, I encourage us to delve a bit deeper and ask the hard questions. I mean, there must be a reason there are more movies about hookers with hearts of gold than real estate investors with hearts of gold. This calls for cautious optimism, but also reading between the lines and paying close attention to the details as this type of housing develops.

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Op/Ed

Want to move past your burnout? Stop using multiple lists

(EDITORIAL) How my evolving understanding of “burnout” helped me learn an important distinction between being busy and being productive.

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too busy to burnout

When I used to hear the word “burnout” I would picture the freaks from the gone-much-too-soon series, Freaks and Geeks, as they would bum around outside, smoking in between classes. Now when I hear the word “burnout,” I think of myself a few years ago as my brain was being fried by life.

I wasn’t smoking between classes, rather running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to figure out how to manage all of my tasks at hand. I’d make a to-do list, see everything I had to do, and drown in overwhelm.

I’d spend my days fretting over how busy I was, and nights catching up with friends via phone, talking about how busy I was and how there just wasn’t enough time in the day.

Notice that nowhere in here was I actually doing anything productive. I fell into a vicious hole of being so consumed with how much I had to do, I wasn’t taking the time to do anything but stress.

At first, it made me feel interesting and somewhat important that I had so much going on. I quickly realized that no one cares and it’s not that interesting (I also quickly remembered how much I love to just relax and not have something planned every day of the week).

This is where I learned the of the most important lessons to date – being busy does not equal being productive.

It got to a point where I was running on fumes and eventually had this epiphany that how I was operating was doing nothing to help me. This was in part brought on by seeing someone close to me behave the same way, and I was able to actually look at how defeating it was.

From there, I made it a point to change my tune. Instead of wasting time writing and re-writing to do lists, I challenged myself to make one master to do list and accomplish at least one item upon completion of writing the list. This helped shake off the cobwebs and I was able to feel a bit of weight off of my shoulders.

The ideas surrounding the hustle mentality had me so consumed and all I was doing was hustling my way to nowhere. After feeling the burnout, seeing someone else operate that same way, and seeing that hustle mentality mocked, I was finally able to break free and get stuff done.

And, guess what? I have even more to do now, but feel more calm and collected than ever. I just have to repeat the mantra: being busy does not equal being productive. Being productive – especially in silence – is so much better and much more rewarding.

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Op/Ed

10 Productivity tips to get the most out of yourself and your team

(EDITORIAL) Keeping up productivity can be a hard goal to shoot for, so sometimes It helps to see what others are doing. Here’s our list of 10 ways to stay productive

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productivity in a team

Funny thing about inverse relationships, they are so counterintuitive. Like working hard. That is an example of doing what you think will be beneficial, but usually just makes the job what you expected, hard. When it comes to productivity, harder isn’t smarter, as the saying goes.

And, if you are sick of the word “hack” we hear you. But, finding ease in work will allow you to be more productive and with better results.

We offer you this list of stories to meet your productivity needs. Here’s to finding work-life balance, seeking ease in the moment and rocking out a productive day!

1. If you’re trying to be more productive, don’t focus so much on time management. Instead, consider energy management to get more out of less effort.

2. Meetings suck, wait I mean they are a time suck. Yeah, that’s it. Everyone knows some meetings are unnecessary and could easily be handled through an email. Yet, many supervisors are hesitant. But, there’s an app for that now. Here’s to meeting less and actually getting work done.

3. Kondo your desk, for God’s sake. If you say you are more productive with a messy desk, yet you have a sandwich from last week and those TPS reports you were supposed to turn in weeks ago somewhere under a pile of crap, you need to clean up your act. Nobody wants to get a report covered in coffee, chocolate and mustard.

4. Are you agile? I mean, really. Is your team as productive as it could be? Whether you are a PM or a real estate agent, if you need a tool that helps your team stay agile and nimble, this will help you and your crew kick ass and take names.

5. Cut the team some slack. Too many messages and you forget what you were originally doing. Slack thought about that and has a way to make the app work for your team so you can be more effective and keep the workflow moving.

6. Working remotely has some serious benefits, notwithstanding working in your PJ’s. Convincing your boss you will actually work and not binge on Netflix may be the challenge. And, for many folks, working from home is a much more productive option. Yet, anyone who has worked remotely also knows it can be easy to get caught up in work and miss human interactions, leading to burnout. Here’s how to make the remote transition work for you.

7. Sometimes more is less. That is the truth when it comes to work where quality beats quantity all day long. Our 9-5 workdays may be good for some, but not for all. And, putting in 80-hour weeks may seem righteous dude, but what do you really accomplish? Kick productivity in the butt and consider are you using your hours wisely.

8. Want to be a baller in the workplace? Then get focused. According to the experts, those at the top of their game aren’t necessarily working harder or smarter, they are just hyper-focused. Here are some good habits to have if you want to get ahead.

9. If it seems everyone has a podcast, you are correct! Some of those podcasts are useful, especially if you are trying to get ahead and find ways to use your productivity to the fullest. Here’s a list of podcasts that will fill your free time with useful information.

10. Creative folks love to start new projects. They can be like kids in the candy store any time they have a new idea they must explore. The problem is that whether you are an artist, writer, graphic/web/software designer or developer, you may start a lot of projects and finish few. Here’s how to finish what you start!

By now, you know what information to keep and you are ready to get your rear in gear. We wish you all the success with your future projects. We know you will be diligent and hyper-productive!

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