• Today’s fad is tomorrow’s antique, and what’s around the corner should drive your business.
  • If consumers aren't emotionally stimulated, your firm is viewed as plain vanilla.
  • "What if" is about more than what could be; it's about the rapid pace that your customers generalize newness in their lives.

The House that Jack Built” was an antique British poem I heard countless times growing up. The point of the poem was less about home construction and more about connectedness. “This is the woman who milked the cow with the crumpled horn, that tossed the dog, that worried the cat, that killed the rat, that ate the cheese, that lay in the house that Jack built.”

Real estate is about far more than the house that Jack built. Smart agents and brokers recognize consumers’ memories of buying and selling are filled with experiences that go way beyond rates, inspections, comps, contracts, offers and open houses.

It’s the whole interconnected package on a backdrop of rapid change. And success goes to those who recognize that Uber, QR codes, chat bots and holograms are reshaping the expectations of their customers.

Today’s fad is tomorrow’s antique, and what’s around the corner should be the driver of your business, rather than the way we’ve always done it.

Customers do not evaluate their real estate experiences with only the memory of their real estate history. The lion’s share of their sensing and judging come from all recent experiences that elevate their standards for great service.

Consumers must be emotionally stimulated

A large brokerage firm decided to have fun with its phone tree — the one where you punch 3 if you want this and 4 if you want that. It added, punch 8 if you want to hear a duck quack.

Over a million people called it every week — just to hear the duck. Customers are quickly bored, and if they are not constantly emotionally stimulated, your firm is viewed as plain vanilla.

So, let’s try examining the kind of connectedness that surrounds the house that Jack built.

Maybe you just aren’t all that impressive

Your real estate client just returned from a Cirque du Soleil performance or a few days with Mickey in Orlando. Are they likely to be impressed with the smell of apple pie at an open house, or will they be moved by something different? Something much more stimulating and memorable?

That same customer logged on Zappos yesterday and bought a few items after getting home late from work. Voila! The items were on their doorstep this morning.

So, when you tell consumers it (fill in the blank with anything) will take a couple of days, how impressed are they likely to be? And, while we are on this subject, they are gazing at your website through their Zappos.com eyes?

Should they have a question about what they see online on Zappos, they can easily talk to a real person 24/7. How well do you compare?

Their trip to Ace Hardware to find a way to repair their sluggish sink drain netted them a plumbing lesson, the exact tools needed and a “how-to” YouTube video to watch should they forget a step in their in-store lesson.

Now, they look at homes on your website and see a collection of still photos when they were hoping for a clever (perhaps funny) narrated movie — plus there are no real estate tools to calculate whatever quickly. They can aim their smartphone QR code reader everywhere for valuable links, and they look for QR codes in your enterprise path.

How do consumers process newness?

“We learned quickly,” said friends of mine recently about their house-hunting experience, “If you want a smart house, you need to start with a smart Realtor. And a Realtor’s user-friendly website, active presence on social media, the speed with which they respond to a text and conversation that signals expertise on retrofitting wires to wireless or grid to solar all telegraph their fit as a suitable pro.”

If Sheraton guests can not only check-in remotely but also completely bypass the front desk to open their guest room door with their smartphone app, what might be the future of the bulky lockboxes you use on the seller’s front door?

If the Manchester (UK) airport is using life-sized holograms (think Princess Leia in “Star Wars“) armed with artificial intelligence for simple directions and information, where might that technology fit in the real estate world?

Here’s the punch line: “what if” is less about what might be and more about the rapid pace that your customers generalize newness in their lives to everything around them.

Today’s conventional wisdom is tomorrow’s historical footnote

The president of Henry Ford’s lawyer’s bank advised him not to invest in the Ford Motor Company. “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a fad,” the banker is reported to have told Ford’s lawyer.

Jack Welch, while GE Chairman, told The Wall Street Journal: “You can’t proceed in a calm, rational manner. You have to be out there on the lunatic fringe.”

Today’s lunacy is tomorrow’s conventional wisdom; today’s conventional wisdom is tomorrow’s historical footnote. Are you focusing on Jack’s house or your customer’s world?

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter

Email Chip R. Bell.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top