Franchise boss warns against tech obsession

Agents are making a potentially career-threatening mistake if they think they can win hearts and minds with technology, a senior industry figure has warned.

RE/MAX Australia managing director Michael Davoren says he is not opposed to technology, but agents cannot expect to create a unique point of difference with commonplace apps or gadgets.

“Uniqueness is the agent themselves and the truly stand-out experience the customer has through their service,” Mr Davoren said.

“Uniqueness is eroded in the frantic pursuit of devices to do a job for you, causing the customer to perceive your service as less valuable.”

Disintermediation returned to the agenda earlier this week after a major newspaper highlighted how vendors could benefit from cutting agents out of the loop.

Mr Davoren said agents need to put themselves – not technology – at the centre of real estate activity.

“If you distance yourself from the customer, you not only lose your point of difference or uniqueness, you may be discarded for a ‘tool’ the customer finds themselves,” he warned.

Mr Davoren said the onus is on agents to demonstrate value through every stage of their relationship with buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants.

“The customer will only see your worth through an overall remarkable and unique real estate experience,” he said.

“The proliferation of all the new ‘toys’ is not only confusing to the industry but to the industry’s clients. However, if a customer thinks an app or portal, for example, can satisfy them for half the price of your service, where do you think they will turn?”

When the real estate industry does employ technology, it must offer clear benefits to the customer, according to Mr Davoren.

“New apps, portals and other innovations and devices will keep coming, but we must be fixed on the customer, making them the nucleus of our business and delivering the exceptional,” he said.

“The trend we most need in 2016 is agents proving they can deliver an exceptional real estate experience and therefore deserve to exist.”

[Related: What makes us Uber-cool in real estate?]

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