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2009-02-05 17:16:01

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to 2009

 

 

While we were all focusing on the tanking economy, exploding technology and much-needed housing market recovery, a change occurred over in left field that many business owners missed:
Consumers got more demanding. 
No! Say it ain’t so! Weren’t they already demanding enough? Hasn’t the pressure to lower real estate commissions been pervasive for quite a while? Haven’t we all had it pounded into our heads that consumers want tech-savvy agents? Haven’t we coddled to consumer demands to the point where our bottom line is continually affected already?
Well, yes. But don’t fret because the huge consumer change in demand is not about commissions. Instead, it’s about convenience. Whereas most brokers and agents used to count “reputation” and “likeability” as the most important yardsticks in the business, consumers now measure – nay, demand – agent “availability.”
In fact, the NAR says that 64% of buyers and 68% of sellers now contract with the first agent with whom they speak. Read that again: the first with whom they speak. In other words, the callback dance just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Let me be very clear on this – If a consumer makes a decision to buy or sell a house, he wants to talk to an agent now – not after three calls, not after a callback, not on someone else’s timeframe. He wants attended to now. If the first call doesn’t produce a live voice, it’s way too easy to move onto the next number; and he will.
So the question is – Is your brokerage ready to accommodate that call right now? Will it go to a live agent? At 9 p.m.? On Sunday morning? Agents – Can you take that call when your cell phone is charging? When you’re in an area with low cell reception?
If a consumer says “Let me fax this document and you tell me what it means.” Is she going to get attended to immediately, or do you have to go searching for a fax machine?
As a broker in 2009, you’re probably going to be up at night worrying about the “big stuff” –market penetration, commission policies, Web presence, generating listings. All worthy concerns.
But what good is worrying about the big stuff when the little stuff building your foundation isn’t working anymore? What good is a great commission policy if you don’t have customers?
Bottom line: On your long list of concerns, it’s time to elevate availability. Your customers certainly have. Want to find out how? Call us.
(Debra Traverso is the author of hundreds of articles and five books, published in eight languages, a speaker, marketing consultant for Fortune 50 companies, regular lecturer at Harvard University, and vice president of OneCall. She can be reached at http://OneCall.RealTown.com.)
 

 

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