This winter, Inman is obsessing over leadership in real estate. We’re publishing profiles, Q&As, strategy guides, and an in-depth five-part report on what the industry wants from its leaders. Then, on March 26-28, we’re going to gather those leaders in the California desert to digest all of these inputs and figure out where to go from here.
This is a collaborative process. Please fill out our surveys, engage with our posts, and send us feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are a leader who wants to join us in the desert in March, or if you want to recommend a colleague, send a note to email@example.com and tell us why.
We recently sat down with Joe Rand, Managing Partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, one of the largest family-owned real estate brokerages in the country, to get his thoughts on the current state of real estate leadership. In 2015, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty participated in over $1.8 billion in real estate transactions, becoming one of the top 100 real estate companies in the country.
As a leader, what keeps you up at night?
I wish I could quote Mad Dog Mattis and say something like, “I keep other people up at night,” but I don’t think that’s true. As a broker, I’m always worried about keeping the faith of the agents who have associated with us. We are constantly refining our value proposition for them. But it’s even more important that we continue to inspire them, and keep their confidence that we are the best partners to help them build their real estate careers.So we’re always looking for ways to keep that edge, to stay ahead of our competition.
If you could change one thing in real estate, what would it be?
I would change the focus of our industry from thinking of ourselves as a sales industry and more like a professional services industry. I just think that our mindset is all wrong, that it makes agents short-sighted and obsessed with short-term lead generation rather than developing long-term relationships.
And that mindset affects everything, from our hiring practices to training and education to where we put our innovative resources and energies. Everything is about generating leads, not improving the client experience. That’s why we’re vulnerable to disruption, because we don’t have the kind of consistent value proposition that fends off competitive models.
How have your expectations of your management team changed over the past two years?
We expect too much of our managers. They need to do everything: recruiting, coaching, managing, administration, culture maintenance, etc. I think what we’ve done differently recently is enhance our accountability for managers to ensure that they’re following our systems. We have, for example, a weekly call with each region where we review activities for the week and preview the coming week.
With 30 offices, it’s tough to stay on top of everyone, but that’s one way we’re trying. Also, we changed our compensation system to give managers an incentive to drive profitability, recruiting, and affiliate conversion — their bonus is based on an interplay of all three metrics, a change from our old system where it was simply based on office profitability. Now, they can boost that bonus by hitting goals for recruiting and affiliate conversion as well.
How do you keep your team competitive?
We are constantly training everyone and creating new systems for refining our operations. We’re big believers in trying to make systems easier for agents and managers, so we’re always looking for inefficiencies that are holding us back.
With so much disruption in real estate, what’s your best advice for managing change?
We need to embrace change, harness that energy for our own benefit.
For example, Opendoor is a potential disruptor, but the traditional real estate industry already has 1.2 million boots on the ground (actually 2.4 million boots, assuming everyone has two feet) of people who know their local markets and could source opportunities for competing Instant Buyer programs.
Rather than put our head in the sand, or shake our fists, we should be trying to turn Opendoor into MySpace. And that’s just one example. Our industry has smart leaders and a lot of ways to get financial backing — why aren’t we the ones who are harnessing technology to drive change?
Want to connect with Joe? Find him here on LinkedIn.