Agent

4 surprising companies that teach you a lot about real estate

What we can learn from Apple, Louis Vuitton, Zappos and Blockbuster
  • Studying the competition won't improve your business.
  • Instead, you should study top businesses in other industries.
  • The world's best often know 10-times more than the No. 2 company.

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We love to worry about the competition.

When I first started as a real estate agent, I constantly studied my competitors.

I wanted to know why they were top agents. I read Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Agent eight different times. I carried that thing around like it was my bible.

I would implement ideas that I took from reverse engineering my competitors and my real estate gospel, but none of it really moved the needle.

Chances are that the ideas you’re getting from your competitors or other agents aren’t doing much for your business, either.

That’s because every agent is taking and implementing the same ideas. When you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doomed.

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My biggest breakthroughs have come from systematically studying companies outside the real estate industry. These four lessons could also help you hit your goals.

Louis Vuitton

How can a company charge hundreds of dollars for an item that could be found for $20 — and still have customers?

Louis Vuitton charges 10 to 20 times more for the average bag. Is it because their bags are 10 to 20 times better? Not really.

They have been able to build one of the most powerful brands because of their ability to create an exceptional experience.

Think about what it’s like to buy a bag from a department store. It’s very transactional. You buy the bag and the department store sells you the bag. You’re lucky if anyone even talks to you.

When you walk into a Louis Vuitton store, it’s different. You’re greeted, offered assistance, given a free glass of champagne while you shop, gifts are usually thrown in with your purchase, and if you’re a frequent customer, you’re likely to be remembered by name.

Louis Vuitton can charge such a high price because they sell more than a bag. You’re paying for more value.

Lesson from Louis Vuitton: The more value that I create, the more I can charge — and the less price is a concern.

Apple

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, the first thing he did was cut 70 percent of Apple’s products. He made it his goal to only sell four items — one desktop and portable device each for professionals and consumers.

It worked. Apple went from being near insolvent to producing a $309 million profit the following year. Under Steve Jobs, Apple focused on creating fewer products with a much higher quality.

As an agent, especially if you’re hungry for work, it’s easy to raise your hand and try to help everyone.

But doing so spreads your resources too thin. Your success in real estate will depend on your ability to focus on a specific market and service.

Don’t be a specialist in REO, relocation, buyers, luxury, investor, and on and on. Pick a market and dominate it.

Lesson from Apple: Don’t be everything to everyone. Select your market and become the go-to solution.

Zappos

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, had an unrelenting focus on going to the extremes for his customers.

Sure, he wanted to make a profit, but he never lost focus on his customers. In his book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, he talks about how it was his emphasis on making consumers happy and delivering value that lead to the success of Zappos.

Real estate agent advice tells you to set your goals starting with your income and then work backward.

There isn’t anything wrong with this, but it causes too many agents to focus on their goals first and their customers second.

Instead of asking, “How can we sell 60 homes this year?” at my company, we ask, “How can we provide more value than I did yesterday to my prospects, customers and past clients?” This drives me to continually improve my services.

Lesson from Zappos: Make your customer’s well-being and satisfaction your first priority. The results will inevitably follow.

Blockbuster

We can learn a lot from successful companies, but we can learn even more from companies that failed, like Blockbuster.

A lot of people think that BlockBuster failed because of Netflix. That’s only half true. The real reason it failed is much deeper than that.

In the early 2000s, Blockbuster had plenty of opportunities to buy Netflix. Instead, it decided to add more physical stores and try to expand its offerings — toy merchandise, videos and more.

Blockbuster ignored the future. It buried its head in the sand and didn’t think the industry would ever change.

Some agents out there are still selling like it’s the ’80s. They ignore companies like Zillow, they despise the internet and they do a lot of cold calling. Buying and selling isn’t the same anymore. It will change and it will continue to change.

The failure to innovate and look into the future will make it difficult for your business to succeed in the future.

Lesson from Blockbuster: Don’t ignore change. Find ways to innovate and grow as the market demands something new and different.

To create a remarkable business and become a top agent, you have to implement ideas from business outside of real estate. So, let’s turn it to you.

What is one lesson you learned from a company outside of the real estate industry?

Alexis Craig is the founder of Mocha Homes in Lansing, Michigan. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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