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2010-04-13 21:27:27

Rising ‘Dual Careerists’ and Plummeting Customer Satisfaction

 

If you’re a real estate professional, you’ve noticed that more and more agents in your office have gotten another job. But, at the same time, you may not be aware that consumers are growing less and less fond of the level of service agents provide. In this article, we’ll examine why this combination could be deadly to the real estate industry.
 
Why You Should Be Interested in the Trends
 
You may say that the trend toward more agents getting second jobs doesn’t affect you. But, it certainly does. If you’re selling real estate, your reputation depends not only on your level of service, but on the consumer’s perception of our industry. As consumer satisfaction levels go down, it gets more and more difficult for you to prove your value to the consumer.  
 
Dual Careerists: A Growing Trend
 
In Stefan Swanepoel’s publication, Trends Report 2010, he calls the real estate licensee with another job the ‘dual career’ agent. That’s what we used to call the ‘part-timer’. Although ‘dual career’ sounds much more important than ‘part-time’, the result is the same: Less time to devote to the consumer. Less time to educate yourself about all aspects of real estate. Less energy and interest in going that 110% that the consumer demands today. The conflict that an agent feels when he has another job is causing the consumer to rate our service lower than ever before.
 
More and more real estate agents are getting second jobs to make ends meet. In fact, the 2009 National Association of Realtors’ Member Profile says that 26% of Realtors stated that real estate was not their only occupation. (I’m sure that many more licensees that aren’t Realtors have other major sources of income). In addition, less than half of all Realtors surveyed reported that real estate was their primary source of household income.
 
Is the Dual Careerist Doing the Industry More Harm than Good?
 
Having been an agent, manager and owner a long time, I know how difficult it is at times for an agent to ‘hang in there’, put their heads down, and keep working through tough times. It’s a great temptation, and a relief for many to take that other job just to ‘tide them over’. From the broker’s perspective, too, keeping the agent at least licensed with the brokerage to get that one transaction seems to be better than losing that one transaction.
 
Several problems accrue, when the agent gets another job:
 
1.    The agent’s mind, energy, and dollars drift away from the needs of the consumer because the agent must focus on another job
2.    The agent can’t keep up on the technical, legal, and business developments
3.    The consumer demands just can’t be met when the agent is unavailable for large blocks of time
4.    The broker must carry a much bigger responsibility for the agent’s transactions
 
Consumers’ Trend: The Level of Satisfaction with Agent Services Keeps Declining
 
The recent survey by the California Association of Realtors shows some stunning and alarming trends. In 2005, Internet consumers rated their overall satisfaction with their agent at almost 90%, while about traditional buyers rated their overall satisfaction at 37%. However, in the ensuing years, the ratings have plummeted. In 2009, both Internet and traditional buyers only rated their overall satisfaction with their agent at 4%! (The ratings of Internet and traditional buyers now are equal). In other words, consumer expectations of what an agent will do for them are just not being met. In fact, value received for what the consumer paid the real estate agent was at only 4% for all buyers.
   
Trends Collide: Consumer Expectations Rise While Agents’ Abilities to Meet Those Expectations Shrink
 
I know. You’re going to tell me that you met a part-timer once that did a great job. Of course. But, as you and I know, that’s the exception, not the rule. And, let’s not think ‘inside-out’. The consumer’s satisfaction here is the only one that counts. They pay our commissions. And, commission rates are falling because they don’t feel they’re receiving value from what they are paying.
 
Time for Industry Leaders to Set some Standards
 
What’s your standard for work completed by agents in your office? Are you okay with “just turn in a couple of sales this year”? Or, are you concerned with the consumer experience? If we don’t start thinking about that, we will be replaced by something consumers can count on—those darned computers! (I hope not!). However, if the consumer is paying us, we must decide what he is paying us for (and it isn’t because we use technology……). Here’s my list of valued services. What’s yours?
 
1.    Dedicated service throughout the transaction
2.    Prioritized knowledge not available just on the Internet
3.    Immediate communication and continued first-level service
4.    Exceptional negotiating skills
5.    Loyalty, putting the customer first, rather than another job first
 
The Internet and Agent Knowledge: Almost Neck in Neck on Consumers’ Minds
 
By the way, in the CAR survey, 54% of the consumers surveyed thought the information they got on the Internet was less useful than what they got from their agent. Does that sound good to you? To me, it sounds very bad. Almost half of the consumers think the Internet is just as good as the information provided by the live agent!
 
Upping the Trust: The Opportunity to Provide a Safe Haven for Consumers
 
If you’re a dedicated full-time agent, take the opportunity to let your prospective clients know. Let them also know the difference between you and that ‘dual career’ agent. Use testimonials to provide that trust you need. Remember: It’s our job right now to counter-act that plummeting consumer trust and do the things needed to prove you’re the exception, not the rule.
 
Note: For a free report and evaluator on how to create high trust, email info@carlacross.com and request trust report.
 
 Brokers: Let’s get to cracking and get our agents performing past the standards we set. Why? Because the consumers have already set the standards—and they’re higher than what we’re allowing. Let’s put the industry back on track toward pride in excellent service. Let’s knock the consumer’s socks off with prioritized knowledge, attention to the transaction, and exceptional service. We can do it, and brokers must lead. Now. 
 
Carla Cross, CRB, MA is a real estate business management specialist. Her company produces resources, coaching, and training for real estate professionals. She helps real estate agents run their careers like businesses, real estate managers and owners get resources and coaching to increase their profits through people, and productivity training to leverage productivity. A National Realtor Educator of the Year, Carla was recently named one of the fifty most influential women in real estate.
 
 Want to test your trust level and receive 10 tips to dramatically increase your trust? (Managers—you’ll love this for an office meeting). FREE….Receive Creating Platinum Trust in a Tarnished Trust World by emailing . For more information, contact Carla at 425-392-6914 or .  

www.carlacross.cominfo@carlacross.com
 

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