Learn the process of innovation

Speaking at REB’s REinnovate conference in early April, The New Inventors’ James O’Loghlin emphasised that innovation is not always the result of a stroke of genius; it is a process that everyone can engage with to improve their business.

Mr O’Loghlin told a room packed full of real estate agents that in light of the rapid development of technology, it is foreseeable that in the not too distant future vendors may be able to sell homes without agents.

“Rather than assuming, 'they're always going to need me', when they actually don't need me how am I going to make them want me anyway?” he asked.

“How am I going to demonstrate that I’m still valuable even when they have another option?”

This is where innovation comes in.

“Being innovative isn’t a skill you’re born with, it’s a set of steps you can go through,” Mr O’Loghlin said.

Set time aside to think

Despite the increasing digitisation of the real estate industry, Mr O’Loghlin emphasised that “innovation doesn’t begin with the computer; it begins with someone having an idea”.

The first step in the innovation process is to set time aside to think of ways to take advantage of opportunities or to solve problems.

It’s important to integrate this thinking time into your work day, he said.

“If you spend 100 per cent of your time doing today's work and none of it thinking about how you can be ready for 2020, you might be over-prioritising today at the expense of tomorrow,” he said.

Opportunities for innovation can be found by identifying things that can be improved.

“Every time an interaction doesn't go perfectly, it's an opportunity for you to step back and think, what did I do wrong there and how can I do better next time?'.

“As you go through your normal day, make a list of everything you identify as not being perfect – a list of opportunities for innovation.

“Then take some time each day – just five or 10 minutes – pick one, and think about how to do it better,” he said.

Break out of habitual thinking

Mr O’Loghlin warned that habitual thinking is “the enemy” of innovation and encouraged agents to implement strategies that allow them to step back and find opportunities to make their businesses better.

One strategy is to question everything in the business: what assumptions are you making, and are some of them outdated?

“Try and identify them all, go through them and think whether some could do with a bit of tweaking,” he suggested.

Reframe the question

At times, you may find it difficult to find a solution to a problem in your business.

If so, Mr O’Loghlin recommended taking a step back to ask: what’s the next best thing?

He gave attempting to generate more leads through your website as an example.

“Maybe the next best thing is just to get more people on your website and encourage them to hang around for a bit longer," he said. "Now that’s a lot easier.

“You can put interesting content in there, content that’s relevant for buyers and sellers of houses. Get good content that will get people to spend a bit more time on your website. And the longer they spend, the more likely it might be that eventually they get in touch.

“Look for ways where you start to pull the question down to something less ambitious,” he said.

Think like a customer

Part of identifying and taking advantage of opportunities for innovation involves thinking like a customer – and you should do it regularly.

“Make sure you really go through the process of being a customer, interacting with your website, with your own business as a customer and find out what things aren’t great and where the little pinch points that you can improve on are," Mr O’Loghlin said.

Thinking like a customer will help to identify opportunities to improve their experience.

Click below to hear more about how to put yourself in your customers’ shoes in a real estate transaction.


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