(This is Part 1 of a three-part series. Read Part 2 and Part 3.)

Are you struggling with the constant deluge of change? Do you feel like digging in your heels and saying, “Enough already”? Today’s rapidly changing environment can either give you a competitive edge or leave you struggling to stay in the business.

Today we are living in the most rapidly changing civilization in history. We are constantly bombarded with so much information that many of us suffer from information overload. Like the rest of society, the real estate industry has undergone an enormous amount of change. There has been a tremendous influx of new agents, huge changes in technology, as well as a plethora of new business models. The pressures on traditional brokers to change increase almost daily.

Undoubtedly, the way that we do business in 2006 will be substantially different from how we will do business in 2016. Many of today’s companies will disappear, including many of the alternative business models. In fact, much of tomorrow’s business may be conducted with companies that don’t even exist today.

The question for agents and brokerages alike is, “How can we navigate a rapidly changing real estate environment?” Robert Quinn, author of “Deep Change” and “Building a Bridge as You Walk on It,” outlines the strategy for surviving in a rapidly changing environment. In “Deep Change,” Quinn outlines how most people respond to change. The most common strategy is to keep doing what you have always done. There’s no real need to change because existing strategies allow you to get by. The challenge, however, is that these strategies continue to lose their effectiveness over time. A second strategy is to make what Quinn calls “incremental change.” This refers to making minor changes. A good example is the agent who pays for a Web site but never does anything to market it or to respond to the Web inquiries it generates. Quinn describes these first two scenarios as being “slow death.” Sadly, a large proportion of our industry is facing slow death. As the market slows in many places in the country, agents who have never had to market their listings are struggling with how to obtain price reductions and generate showings. In heated markets, agents could afford to ignore Web leads because the strong market generated more buyers than there was inventory. Today, that option has disappeared.

What are the signs that your business may be experiencing slow death? Determine whether each of the following statements is “true” or “false” for you.

1. I regularly attend conferences and training in search of innovations that will give me a competitive edge.

2. I have mastered the scripts and dialogues that allow me to obtain listings at the right price and to obtain price reductions where necessary.

3. I have an Internet marketing program that includes both organic and pay-per-click strategies.

4. My assistant and/or I respond to all Web and telephone inquiries as soon as possible, but always before the end of the business day.

5. I use an automated lead follow-up program that allows me to respond to Web inquiries instantaneously.

6. I either own or am considering purchasing a tablet computer so I can go paperless within the next 12 months.

7. My Web site consistently generates good leads that I convert into closed business.

8. I track market statistics and have mastered the scripts and dialogues that allow me to work effectively with both buyers and sellers.

9. I publish a regular e-mail newsletter that goes out to all of my clients as well as to my sphere of influence.

10. I use blogging to build my Web site traffic.

11. I have a business strategy for generating and converting leads for clients who do not speak English as their first language.

SCORING: The more “false” answers you have, the more likely your business will suffer from the deep changes taking place in our industry. While it’s not necessary to do all of the items outlined above, failing to do them places you at a competitive disadvantage. Using Quinn’s model, you may be experiencing the “slow death” of your business. If you want to keep this from happening to you, see next week’s article to learn more.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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