Winning Through Expertise and Science Beyond Customer ExperienceApr 12, 2022
Real estate’s next wave is clearly swelling into how to grow in the consumer-first real estate world. I’m Jeff Sibbach and run a team in Phoenix/Scottsdale and iBuying has been here for 4 years and has found a comfortable place in our ecosphere at under 7% of the marketplace, it’s clear Rob Hahn is going to pay for a bunch of fancy dinners as iBuying’s roar has a larger impact than its bite, so let’s look at how to win for the other 93% of the consumers moving beyond the Digitization of the Industry. Let us first examine the focus most real estate people, who refer to the key to winning more clients in real estate is providing the best Customer Experience (CE) or best Customer Service (CS) and then present the new focus within CE and CS not yet emphasized, then we can talk about what will characterize the next wave. Using an analogy to clarify, we are going to compare selling real estate to attending a sporting event, both trying to attract clients through a great experience. I want to evaluate the CE at the time-honored event of attending a baseball game, as these stadium experiences are far past the other major sporting events.
Attending a baseball game at the professional level, there is significantly more to serve the consumer than just the quality of the players executing, similar to the transaction & escrow, but also there is a lot of non-players involved time due to the pace of the game so there are lots of opportunities to improve the CE just like in real estate. Let’s take a look at Petco Park in San Diego, which is considered to be the “best ballpark in baseball” (according to Fox5 in SD), and having visited last year that is hard to argue.
The CE at Petco Park is defined by the quality of the food choices offered by the vendors. The quality & quantity of craft beers and soft drinks, but once in your seat, you have entertainment of the players warming up in between innings for enthusiasts, but beyond the actual game, for every else, the CE includes the fireworks, Swinging Friar mascot on the jumboTron, the mustard, ketchup, and relish race between innings, 50/50 raffle, the spotlights of fans on the jumbotron, America’s finest whizzing by in near billion-dollar aircraft and the national anthem being belted out by a local star to highlight the extent they go to provide a top-level customer experience.
So as a real estate agent, what does our comparative CE look like, maybe we wash our fancy Porsche Cayenne or rent a limo, we show up 10 minutes early to turn on the lights, we even serve delights and champagne at the high end to attract the agents and we hand show the house as the seller representation to explain every detail and our listings is a must-have. When clients come to the office, we have a dedicated parking spot for them, we send them cupcakes on their birthday, we go to all lengths throughout the deal to outshine our competition, even bring toys to entertain kids at closing, while have already vetted the closing docs before their arrival and we should if we want more referrals, the levels of the best CE has been written on Inman for years, but today we define what is next wave to winning in real estate, and that is expertise and discipline, the knowledge of what is best for the client & beyond!
Expertise and discipline in baseball for the offensive side is a professional batter hitting over .400, a feat last passed by Ted Williams in 1941. He defined hitting excellence, his on-base % was almost .500, and very rarely would he swing at balls outside the strike zone, for the delight of those watching. For defense, Pitchers, it's defined by ERA(earned run avg) the elite give up under 1.7 runs/9 innings most recently done by the likes of Zach Greinke, Nolan Ryan, Doc Gooden, and Jason Degrom. Expertise & discipline in real estate is harder to define but Customer Satisfaction surveys performed by Zillow are a step in the right direction to tell us if the client is happy with our service. My point is this if Nolan Ryan & Doc Gooden were going to face Ted Williams and Babe Ruth along with the other elite sluggers. They wouldn’t need to serve beer or have races in between innings to fill the stadium. Now it’s time for real estate evolution to put an emphasis on Expertise and Discipline.
Homesnap was squeezed by the industry when they posted home selling stats years ago leading them to remove them, if they wanted real estate clients but doesn’t the consumer deserve to see how many homes we sell and what we sell them for, our true expertise? Or the percentage we listed vs sold in the past 12 months? How about brokers sending reviews to everyone we sold houses to in the past 12 months, and using them to help the agents provide a better client experience. It’s coming because the consumer always wins!
The next huge wave, I believe will be the evolution of Real Estate expertise & discipline at every phase of real estate. I am not talking about expertise in knocking on doors, cold calling as those are REALTOR® benefits, I am referring to becoming expert home finders, being able to identify who in a neighborhood wants to move but is not listed to match up for a potential buyer who wants that neighborhood, a task that is only being accomplished by the few. REALTORS® will evolve to fixup experts in understanding return on investment and have contractors to perform. Yes, this is time-consuming and will challenge the part-time aspect of our heritage but let’s be honest with ourselves, REALTORS® have been selling houses for 100 years, why are we not House Experts, our product? After 500 inspections, we can see they wrapped the room with designer furniture and now it feels too small impacting value, or the AC on its last leg but the real expertise is knowing if it is more profitable for a seller to replace before listing or provide a credit during the inspection in an HGTV world? This requires constant visitation to understand the impact between prices ranges and neighborhood and builders is why, but we are afraid to advise obviously as the average agent sells 5 houses a year, simply too much risk when you have 1000’s of them in your brokerage. Why can we not articulate that we understand prices better than the Zestimate, for goodness sake, we actually visit the homes, don’t we. That the Zestimate is an average and we as professionals understand the functional obsolescence (FO) that keeps the house from reaching that valuation or sometimes lack of FO in which it then sells for more. Let’s stop using PPSF to define what houses are worth because that points out that the consumer knows as much if not more than us, assuming our potential seller has been in some of the neighborhood open houses. Expertise developed through repetition is the major advantage we have as the consumer still needs us to let them in.
It’s hard because the industry has been built on a model that encourages equality and opportunity for all, proven as the agent count continues to explode in relation to # of national home sales. Unfortunately, equality is lowering the bar to the point of putting our existence at risk, it’s time to join the wave that is rising to excellence!
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