How perfect. While on my way to Real Estate Connect New York, using Uber to get to the airport in Miami, I found out that the driver is a real estate agent! He drives for Uber early in the morning and in the evening for some extra cash.
So on my way to the pre-eminent real estate technology event in the industry, I was reminded, once again, about how we need to look at other companies (like Uber) that have disrupted industries — both with technology and by understanding consumers.
Tony was my driver’s name, and we talked about the real estate industry during the whole ride. We discussed how inefficient it was and how someone could potentially “Uber-ize” real estate.
Let’s look at two comparisons of Uber’s operations and the real estate industry and examine how we could address consumer expectations:
1. The ease of scheduling pickup. I go to the Uber app and request a car. I know who is nearby; I know what their rating is; I can get an estimate of how much my ride is going to cost; and I can communicate with the driver by text or phone if there is any question. How much easier can it get?
I would like to think that one day we will be able to find an agent quickly and efficiently. Most consumers find this process rather arduous and frustrating. When I moved from Atlanta to Miami last year, I had a hard time finding an agent to list my house. It was even more difficult to find an agent in Miami because they lost interest upon discovering that I was a year or more from moving.
Engage me and understand my particular needs rather than just adding me to some auto-drip campaign where I get notifications for all kinds of properties that don’t interest me. Make the experience pleasurable.
2. My account contains everything I need. Uber has my credit card information and my profile. I don’t have to deal with money, and I frequently get rewards when I refer Uber to friends and family that keep me coming back over and over again.
I often talk about the fact that our industry does a horrendous job of staying in touch with the consumer after the closing. What if someone bought a house from your firm and you created an account profile for that consumer? You know their preferences, tastes and birthdays. Wouldn’t it be great if you sent them suggestions for those home improvements they said they wanted to make or helped them find the cool restaurants in their neighborhood? What if you sent them coupons for purchases related to their house and gave them reward points they could use in the future? Do you think they might use you again and give you referrals?
We are not talking about rocket science, here. This is all doable; the technology is available, and you know what consumers expect. What’s keeping our industry from making this happen in a big way?
- Agents’ straight-commission mentality.
- Brokers’ fear of the independent contractor.
- Industry resistance to change.
I firmly believe that with leadership, metrics and accountability, even the smallest company can compete in a big way by addressing the needs of the consumer. If you can add these concepts to the hyperlocal knowledge that makes you the expert (and not a portal), you can create the experience that will set you apart from your local and national competition.
Jose Perez is the founder of PCMS Consulting.