Austin Allison and Chris Smith’s new book, “Peoplework,” is part backstory on dotloop and advice on how to run a company, as well as some gems for agents about how to run their business in a “people first” environment.

Smith believes we have completed the process of connecting people digitally and now it is time to shift our focus back to what has always mattered most: people.

“…We now have more user names and passwords than we do customers! As a result, the same things that connected us, in many ways, disconnected us by creating physical barriers,” the authors wrote. “Sure, we are always connected, we never turn off; we also never look up to see who is standing right in front of us.”

“Peoplework” outlines a variety of ways to put people first in your business. Here are five of them:

1. Family: the best model for lifetime retention, period
To run your business more effectively in the “Peoplework” era, Allison and Smith argue that you must care about your customer as you would for family or close friends. A pivotal point is to shift from short-term to long-term thinking. How would you treat this customer if you wanted to maintain a lifelong relationship with him or her? When you care for your customers as if they are family or friends, trust grows. So does their support and passion for your business.

2. Quality first
As Steve Jobs once put it, “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” In their book, Allison and Smith suggest that the most important place to follow this advice is in the area of customer service:

“If you believe that amazing service is enough to keep people coming back and to get them to tell others about it, that is all you need to know. Put your eggs in that basket because investing in service will produce better results as a sales and marketing tool over time.”

To make this shift, avoid trying to be everything to everyone. Great customer experiences result when every aspect of the transaction meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations. It’s about quality, not quantity.

A fundamental part of this shift is looking at your database differently. Instead of thinking of it as your “sphere of influence,” focus on your “network of influence” instead.

In other words, “… you cannot just think about leads as numbers anymore, because that is not sustainable,” the book advised. “Every ‘lead’ is being sold multiple times, which means the person on the other end is bombarded constantly by companies vying for their business. The only thing that will set you apart is experience.”

Improve your clients’ customer service experience by focusing narrowly on a specific niche, as well as your customer’s needs and expectations. The business will follow.

3. The lifetime value (LTV) of a customer
Every year real estate professionals spend hundreds of millions of dollars on sales and marketing. All this money and effort is designed to generate leads, yet 50 percent of the Web leads go unanswered.

The authors argue this results from short-term thinking. Most agents focus on the immediate transaction rather than considering the lifetime value of the customer.

To illustrate this point, the authors use three different LTV models to determine how much a $300,000 buyer would be worth to your business over 30 years. Assume you earn a 3 percent sales commission, are on a 70-30 split with your broker, close your buyer leads 50 percent of the time, and your clients purchase on average once every five years.

The lifetime value of this customer using the average of three LTV models is $121,500. As the authors explained, “If you want to make $120,000 per year for the next 30 years, just get 30 of these customers.”

4. Create a real community
“People want to be part of something that matters.” Once you have customers, you have an opportunity to create a community that supports both your customers and your business. Survey them to see what matters most. Ask their advice. Invite them to share resources. These steps allow you to leverage your brand and grow your business.

Keep in mind that building a community is like investing. It takes time. It’s the consistent process of constantly taking small steps to build your community that ultimately leads to a better business for you.

5. Exist for a greater purpose, not to sell products
“Communities are built around passion and purpose, not features and functions.” Are you passionate about giving back to your community? Are you someone who focuses on helping your clients to make the best possible decisions about the home they will purchase rather than treating them like a lead with a commission attached to it? If so, you are tapping into the power of “Peoplework,” and if not, it’s a great time to make the shift.

Ultimately, your role as an agent or as a company is to implement the “Peoplework” approach by visualizing “your plan, delivering value without expecting anything in return, and providing a service that is better than merely useful. Following this model, you will not have to ask for anything in return.”

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at

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