It seems every few months there’s a shiny new tech tool promising to revolutionize the way real estate agents and brokers conduct business, and we spend time and money chasing after those tools without hesitation.
It’s human nature to take the easy path. Get-rich-quick schemes and multilevel marketing pyramids have enticed people for decades, and investing in the latest new toys in an effort to give your business a quick and easy boost can end up hurting rather than helping you.
Rather than looking to tech to solve your problems, to act as your “silver bullet” in real estate, start looking in the mirror. It’s you — your unique, authentic, real self — that’s the real silver bullet.
The makings of a ‘silver bullet’
Whether you practice part-time, as a team or as a broker, three things make up your silver bullet: vision, core values and culture. Your vision is why you do what you do, and your core values and culture are how you build your business around your vision.
Your vision should be the core reason why you work and what gives your work meaning. If your vision is money-related, you haven’t spent enough time discovering what really drives you. My vision, for example, is to help people during their life transitions.
When people buy or sell a house, they do it because something in their life has changed; maybe it’s a happy change — like a birth or marriage — or sad, like a job loss or death. My passion is helping people get through those times by making the homebuying and selling experience smooth for them.
2. Core values
Your core values are an expression of your vision. You will know when your core values are real when you are willing to hire and fire based on them.
For example, if respect is one of your core values, you’ll have no issue firing a disrespectful client. If unity is a core value, you’d likely let go of a team member who isn’t a team player.
You know your core values are authentic if they are the same at work and in your personal life. Core values exist in your heart and are evidenced by your actions, not simply displayed on a motivational poster at the office.
Living out your core values can be seen in the culture that surrounds your business. Culture is more than a cool office with bean bag chairs and a coffee bar. Having a healthy culture means relationships are deeper and people are willing to collaborate to help others reach success.
A great culture means team members and leaders have each other’s back. Culture must be authentic, and when it’s real, people will follow you. A healthy culture attracts us because we all have an inherent desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
When you practice what you preach, you’ll notice a difference within your business, in the clients you attract and in your customer satisfaction. And when you have a happy workforce (including yourself) and happy clients, it’ll show through success of your business.
Discovering your vision, values and culture
Figuring out your vision, values and culture is an intentional process. It includes much more than choosing a marketing slogan and a cool logo. Your vision and values are already driving you to work hard every day to deliver amazing experiences for your clients.
It’s inside of you, ready to be put into words and symbols.
Whether you are creating a new brand or rebranding an existing one, branding requires a methodical process. I used the book Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler to develop a business model canvas, which is an analysis of your business from the ground up. That process helps you discover and fine tune your vision and values, plus your core purpose, competitive advantage and value proposition.
Rebranding to realize your vision
Going through an intensive rebranding process transformed my business. I re-branded my team while at the pinnacle of success as the no. 1 team in the U.S. for a national franchise. People in the industry asked, “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?” My team name, my brand, was the “Becky Babcock Team,” and despite my team’s success, the name was causing problems.
For example, every client wanted to work with me exclusively because it was my name on the sign; but I had a team of true experts, and I wanted our clients to be excited to work with any team member, not only me.
My goal in rebranding was for the new brand to have a fresh name that represented our collaborative team effort. I didn’t want my name to be our brand because the business was never all about me. So I rebranded from the Becky Babcock Team to the Path & Post Team.
Making your rebrand meaningful
The rebranding process took 90 days of soul searching, brainstorming and diving deep into what truly mattered in my business. I spent 10 or more hours a week devoted solely to the task of rebranding.
It involved sessions of writing hundreds of words describing the team on a whiteboard, then cutting that number in half and then in half again, until it came down to three simple and meaningful core values: respect, unity and the golden rule. I was thrilled that the acronym is “RUG.” A rug is the foundation of a room, and our RUG values form the foundation of our business model.
Another part of the rebranding process involved me writing stories about the clients that meant the most to me over the years and why my experiences as their agent changed me as a human being. It included asking clients what made their time working with us the best they ever experienced in real estate.
The end result was a brand that meant something. Not just to me and my team, but to our clients and our community.
A successful brand consistently delivers a quality experience, with a collaborative team effort backing it up. Part of going through the rebranding process was learning to take down the walls I had built up, and learning that it’s OK to be vulnerable. Best of all was sharing the stories about what makes me love what I do — it was a wonderful feeling and a great way to share my brand and what it means.
Becky Babcock is CEO and owner of Georgia-based Path & Post Real Estate, and author of How to Sell Houses without Selling Your Soul. Follow Becky on Facebook and Twitter.