In May, international fixed-fee real estate group, Purple Bricks announced it will no longer continue to operate in Australia. Though not highly-regarded by many other groups in the industry, the company did represent a change in real estate — one that some consumers welcomed with open arms.
What consumers demand of us, as agents, is changing. And as new technology and new disrupters enter the market, we will find ourselves competing against different models and systems, and presented with opportunities to embrace change and capitalise on it.
In our first EAC director article, principal, Lois Buckett hinted at how her Lennox Heads agency is adapting to new technology and using disrupters to grow business.
In our latest EAC director article, Lois joins us again to dive deeper into what technology will mean for agents and how we can use it to enhance our service.
At the EAC, something we firmly believe is real estate is changing from a sales/transaction-based industry to a service-based industry. Part of the reason for that change, is the increasingly rapid introduction of new real estate technology.
It might seem counter-intuitive to think new technology that automates practices and digitises processes will make us more service-orientated, but it is these new platforms and systems that necessitate a change in focus.
As technology streamlines our day-to-day jobs, it will firstly enable us to spend more time with clients, building more genuine relationships; and secondly, it will become our key point of difference, a way to enhance what we do and how we do it.
This transformation of our industry has already begun, with the introduction of major disrupters like Airbnb, a company that has revolutionised the holiday-letting space, and seemingly has big plans for expansion and diversification in the future.
“If you are not on Airbnb now, you will lose holiday bookings and business,” says Lois Buckett, EAC director and principal of Lois Buckett Real Estate. “You have to work with them or get left behind.”
Lois’ agency exemplifies how adaptation can help a business survive and thrive. Alongside her team, rather than trying to fight a giant like Airbnb with a limited local marketing budget, she has seen an opportunity to build the platform into her property marketing mix.
“We load all our properties onto Airbnb and work alongside the platform. If we don’t, we will lose a substantial amount of business.”
Through the experience of rapid adaption and planning for the future, Lois has learned insights that will make the path smoother for her business as more new technology is introduced.
- What is driving new technology and disrupters?
By our nature, humans are inventors and entrepreneurial and often it’s this spirit (and possible financial reward) that drives new ideas and new technology.
But something else motivating this change, according to Lois, is consumers who are demanding more innovative solutions to both old and new problems.
“Consumers are generally demanding more across all aspects of real estate. The younger generations, who are now in their mid-to-late 30s are tech savvy and expect more, though they don’t have the experience of older generations,” says Lois. “Likewise, older generations are also increasingly drawn to technology, and together, all consumers now want easier access, more information, faster ways to undertake transactions and more genuine relationships.”
“If you can combine better technology with good service, perhaps even old-fashioned service — that really genuine approach and real investment — then you will gain market share.”
- How can you capitalise on new technology?
One of the most important aspects of adapting to technology and evolving your business, is to analyse each new opportunity on its own merit.
“We focus on expanding what we offer,” Lois explains. “There will be new competitors enter the market and there will be more choices when it comes to better technology. We are always working on new tools to add to our already comprehensive service.”
“Constantly review your systems and services every 12 months. In businesses like ours, survey your owners and guests and ask them what they want and how you can improve,” Lois suggests. “In sales-based businesses, do the same, ask buyers and sellers what they want and what would improve your service, and then look for new processes or new technology that can help you deliver.”
Like any change to business, capitalising on new technology and making it work to your advantage simply comes down to research and planning. Jumping on every new invention with no analysis and no consideration for how it can integrate with your existing service can be just as dangerous as ignoring new technology — in fact, both can permanently damage your agency.
- Should you lead or follow when it comes to new technology?
This question is an important and strategic question.
When most new technology is introduced, especially those ideas that offer significant change, often only a very small portion of a market is willing to adapt early and lead the pack.
Waiting can mean your agency not only misses out on business, but also puts itself into a position where it can never compete with early adapters, even once it has the same technology in place down the track.
“The early adapters lead the market and continue to grow and improve. Developing new and improved systems and services is what drives new business and makes you stand out from your competitors,” Lois advises.
Lois’s take home message: New technology will continue to be introduced into real estate and change the landscape of our industry, and while it’s important we adapt and adopt, the bottom line — the real way we differentiate ourselves from global giants, or enhance what technology enables us to do — is through service.
At our agency, it’s all about the personal touch; as people come into our community, we meet them face-to-face, something the likes of Airbnb can’t do, and we work to serve, support and build genuine relationships that exemplify for them how much simpler, smoother and more enjoyable we can make their real estate experience.
Agents will always be an important part of real estate — regardless of new technology — as long as we aim to deliver exceptional and personal service.
The EAC works to enable members to become early adopters of purpose-built, proven technology. Introducing member discounts for simple, yet effective technology such as 3D tours and video marketing, enables our members to lead the industry and secure their place in the future of real estate.