This article was originally published in RE Magazine:
The speed with which our world is changing seems to be quickening. Whether technological, political, or economic, the forces that surround the way we live our lives and run our businesses are shifting swiftly.
This environment can be exciting and frightening when trying to run a stable business with a predictable income stream. As real estate professionals, we know there is no such thing as a “normal” year or a “steady” revenue model. But building in some insurance can reduce uncertainty.
What can we focus on to secure the core of our businesses when new tools and models seem to attack our value proposition from all sides?
The answer is often clouded by the frenetic activity in industry media. Bots with artificial intelligence are answering buyer inquiries. Tech startups are buying properties sight unseen with automated valuations. Investment capital is funding companies who list properties with new and unheard of commission models.
They all miss the REALTOR’s most defensible and foundational asset: personal relationships.
The answer is obvious with a bit of reflection. There is no technology that will steal away your neighbor whom you helped replace her mailbox. There’s no texting service that will have a draw stronger than your monthly happy hour connections. A personal call and conversation with a friend-of-a-friend about his son’s recent graduation will always trump an automated purchase offer from the new “I buy ugly houses” guy.
There’s a reason we have coaches, classes, and conferences to remind us of these things. If every REALTOR heard it one time and focused on growing a sphere for the rest of his/her career, we’d all be building the strongest businesses possible. We are human, though—we get distracted. That’s easier to do today than ever.
Every chance we get to remind ourselves is a good time to re-focus our efforts on building human relationships.
So here’s just another reminder if you’re feeling unsettled about the future of your business: connect.
Call, email, get toe-to-toe. Schedule it. Without a system, it won’t work. If it’s not repeatable, it’s not a plan. If you don’t have a plan, you don’t have a business.
It’s not flashy, but there’s also very little barrier to entry. Identify your system for connecting with more real people, and put it on your calendar. Find your wheelhouse. Whether it’s networking, chit-chatting, volunteering, cold-calling, praying, or happy-houring, put the value into your sphere that they give back to you.
For the REALTOR who is concerned with what politicians, technologists, disruptors, and the economic winds of change have in store for the real estate market, this is the path to some peace of mind. You can’t control which billionaire takes a stab at your livelihood next, but you can be sure you’re building up your interpersonal defenses. That’s concrete, it’s straightforward, and it provides some certainty in an uncertain occupation.
Your defensible business advantage is your people. Support them and they’ll do the same for you.
Sam DeBord is Managing Broker for Seattle Homes Group, President of Seattle King County REALTORS, VP of Strategic Growth for Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2018 VP-Elect of Government Affairs for Washington REALTORS. His team sells houses and condos in Seattle and Bellevue.