Throughout my career I have always prided myself in acknowledging the competition. After all, this is an industry where we coexist in a very unique way.

Through years spent recruiting agents and building teams I’ve found that agents are motivated and inspired by positive attributes, such as the strength of a company, its market share, the tools and training they will be exposed to, and most importantly the overall culture. I have never witnessed an agent lean toward an opportunity based solely on negative recruitment tactics that include exaggerating a competitor’s weaknesses or criticizing their products or services.

Editor’s note: This industry commentary, originally published at Clean Slate, the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate corporate blog, is republished here with permission by the author, company CEO Sherry Chris.

By SHERRY CHRIS

Throughout my career I have always prided myself in acknowledging the competition. After all, this is an industry where we coexist in a very unique way.

Through years spent recruiting agents and building teams I’ve found that agents are motivated and inspired by positive attributes, such as the strength of a company, its market share, the tools and training they will be exposed to, and most importantly the overall culture. I have never witnessed an agent lean toward an opportunity based solely on negative recruitment tactics that include exaggerating a competitor’s weaknesses or criticizing their products or services.

Sadly, right now, we are seeing what I would call epic levels of "competition-bashing" taking place within our industry — verbally, in written communications, and through the Internet, where it is equally as despicable if not altogether cowardly.

I bring this up now for many reasons but foremost is the sadness I feel given the times. After all, every single one of us faces challenges. In fact, I don’t know of a single firm that has escaped the economic vice grip and the pain that it creates.

Disheartening as it may be, the competition-bashing taking place right now is so real that in the process of reorganizing their companies, managing layoffs and reconciling costs, broker-owners and firms must now make it a point to include in communications to their agents a plea not to succumb to the rumors, the letters, the e-mails and the callous jokes that are being circulated by competitors.

This is real. It’s happening everyday. And I personally find it reprehensible.

Receiving an e-mail with a photo of a fellow broker’s office rendered to include a foreclosure sign pasted across it is not funny. It’s sad. This stuff is coming from agents, from broker-owners — and shockingly, from corporate executives who should know better. We should all know better.

What a dual message we’re sending: On one hand we appear as warm, caring servants to the consumer, but behind the scenes we expose ourselves as backstabbers, gossipers or conspirators who apparently take glee in the demise of our peers.

These actions clearly indicate more than poor judgment. They highlight a complete absence of core values that begin at the top and extend out and across the ranks. Without values, behavior never has to answer to the single-most important question any member of any organization should be asking themselves: How does this action support the brand we stand for and help me serve the consumer and our industry?

Our industry is faced with unprecedented challenges that will lead to unprecedented change. But there are those inside our industry who seem intent on making us all look as bad as we possibly can.

Come on, folks, wake up.

Sherry Chris is CEO for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, a real estate franchise network that is a part of Realogy Corp.

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