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'But we've always done it that way': The most expensive words in business

By Suze Forster
02 September 2015 | 13 minute read
Suze Forster

The evolution of the real estate landscape is changing, and progress is the lifeblood of longevity.

So what makes this statement costly for business owners? It is indicative of a change-resistant mentality. Let’s face it – none of us like change. Most of us are thrust into it kicking and screaming. But while we remain inert and static, the landscape around us is in constant flux.



There’s barely an individual between who doesn't have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The myriad of websites, apps and RSS-fed portals of information is so profuse and (more importantly with every passing day) user-friendly that the expectation of the consumer is ‘if I can’t access it immediately – I’ll move on’. Out-dated websites with old information and complex navigations to get to where you’re going lose as much business as poor customer service. And an agent’s inability or unwillingness to tap into new technologies to support their current and future clients’ needs (many of whom are time-poor upwardly mobile Gen Y tech-heads themselves) will become the clients your more forward-thinking tech-savvy competitors didn’t even have to work for.


The 'we have always done it that way' mindset is most prevalent in businesses where training is sidelined or put on the back-burner because everyone is 'just so busy'. But the chasm between ‘busy’ and ‘productive’ (often the two are seen as one and the same) often lies in training. The time and expense spent on upskilling and regular training is always negated by the results. Agents who work smarter instead of harder bring in more business and pay for themselves. These skills and techniques can’t be organically absorbed from the industry landscape, market environment or workplace culture. They are specific strategies targeting growth, improvement, refinement, productivity and efficiency. A failure to engage in training almost always results in baffled reactions, shaking heads and comments of ‘I can’t believe I lost the business to THAT guy'. ‘That’ guy probably had the training to more skillfully negotiate, inform, and assist your lost client.

Digital disruption

You might have heard the term ‘digital disruption’ becoming more widely used in the industry of late. Digital disruption is best defined by Kai Reimer and Robert B Johnson as "changes enabled by digital technologies that occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and, more generally, our thinking”. (For the full article, click here). Further to this, digital disruption is predicted to displace individuals from employment in as little as the next three to five years as their skills and expertise are subsumed by an ever-progressing digital interface. Failure to progress and adapt in an ever-evolving landscape leads to obsolescence and redundancy – catapulting the resolute stalwart right into the ‘critically endangered’ list.

Customer service

So what does this mean for customer services? Consumers question the integrity of services when they haven’t changed in 20 years, especially when they see everything else developing and improving around them. Don’t be that business that wonders why your coffers are empty, all the while watching the up-and-comers of your industry surging forward, breaking ground, pioneering new territories and engaging cutting-edge technologies. Business are either like the tide or the shoreline – the tide ebbs, flows, shapes the environment, surges, swells and continuously crashes against the barriers before it; the shoreline is immovable, inflexible, fixed and inert and is slowly worn away by the tide. The agent that puts as much effort and time into their client relationships obtain, maintains and retains the business, not as a once-off, but often many times over. And the lifeblood of real estate is repeat business and referral business. Those not seeking new ways to service and inform their clients lose them to the ones that do.

'But we've always done it that way' has no business in any business that wishes to succeed, grow and remain relevant and profitable. 'We’re no longer doing it that way' leads to receptivity to new possibilities and opportunities for success!


Suze Forster

Suze Forster

Suze is currently a business development manager and senior property manager with LJ Hooker Queanbeyan. With 17 years' experience in real estate in the fields of marketing, finance, office management, property management, social media management and new business generation, Suze draws on the medley of her knowledge in these fields for the content of her articles. She credits the diversity of her experience for equipping her to establish client relationships grounded in honesty, transparency, accountability and integrity.

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