More than ever, real estate has become about delivering an irreplaceable service to achieve the needs of your clients – whether that’s a fast sale, a big sale or proactive property management. Technology is helping power this business model by empowering agents to offer premium services, reducing costs to create efficient businesses and helping introduce new clip-the-ticket revenue opportunities by connecting clients with valued services to make their property experience easier.
But with so much hype about disruption and disintermediation and so many technologies now in the market, how do you make sense of it all? Which do you pick?
Here are six lessons to help you thrive in a digitally disrupted world.
1. Don’t panic
Being adaptive to new technology doesn’t mean embracing every new thing that comes along. It means having a durable plan that recognises the strengths and weaknesses of the new digital environment and seeks out the tools that allow your strengths to shine, while helping to compensate for your weaknesses.
Change may be the new normal, but merit and performance rule in this new world. Assess every technical opportunity according to the yardstick: ‘Will this help me improve my performance by creating a better experience for customers?’ And realise that you can never rest on your laurels.
2. Technology is not a magic wand
Too many people who embrace new technology only learn a small proportion of its functionality, then feel disappointed when it doesn’t do everything expected of it.
When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. This metaphor works digitally, too. Sadly, you can’t wave technology at a problem and have it magically transform your environment. You have to make sure you’ve got the right tool, then learn how to use it and practice to get the most out of it.
3. Focus on people and relationships
Too often, introducing new technology to businesses focuses on, well, the technology. But if we agree that technology is just a tool, the focus can move away from the bells and whistles and back to where it’s really important – the people.
The assessment of any technical innovation should focus on two issues:
- Does this help you improve your customer experience? That would mean making it easier for customers to do business with you or improving the services you can affordably offer them.
- Does this help you improve your employee experience? That would mean making it easier for employees to do their jobs by reducing time spent on low-value tasks and increasing time spent on high-value service.
Focusing on what people need and the pain points they want resolved, rather than what cool tech you can introduce, will help improve take-up levels and reduce the dreaded ‘user errors’.
4. Apply the service yardstick
Technical innovations broadly fall into two categories (or should!). The first is the tech that is externally focused – that is, designed to help you reach out to customers and potential customers.
The questions to ask yourself about externally focused tech is:
- Will this help me increase my connection with customers and potential customers?
- Will it do this by allowing me to reach a larger number of people than I thought possible?
- And/or will it allow me to have a deeper engagement with those people?
Ideally, you want the answer to be yes to all three of these questions.
5. Apply the efficiency yardstick
Internally focused innovations – those designed to help you run your business better – can be assessed by three straightforward categories.
- Does it help you reduce costs?
- Does it help you reduce friction in your business?
- Does it help you reduce risk to existing revenue in your business?
Too often, we focus on the first category. If a piece of tech can reduce costs in our business, just do it, right? But it’s only part of the picture. Reduce friction in your business – those pain points your staff work around every day with gritted teeth – by addressing areas of inefficiency. Shoring up existing revenue can ensure you don’t ‘lead at the front and bleed at the back’.
6. Rinse and repeat
With a calm head, you’ve introduced the right technical tools to power up your people and customer relationships, and you’re now engaging more broadly and deeply and reducing costs and inefficiencies across your business.
You deserve a moment to catch your breath, right?
Change is the new normal in the digitally disrupted world and the improvements to the technology never stop – in fact, they’re happening faster. The decisions you made a year ago, even six months ago, need to be revised – constantly – even if it is simply to check you are still on course.
Measure. Learn. Grow. Repeat.