April 17, 2020
Every industry is being driven into tech-adoption en masse at rapid speed to balance social-distancing and quarantine with continued business. Real estate is no exception — as an agents’ essentialness remains debated in every state. However, while you may hear some companies claim their ‘virtual-ness’ and absence of a brick-and-mortar location as a competitive advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality is that every single real estate brokerage has the ability to pivot and continue business virtually. Every brokerage is a virtual brokerage.
I had the pleasure of wrapping up the LeadingRE Annual Conference in Las Vegas last month with a presentation on why every real estate brokerage is a tech-enabled brokerage — a statement that some companies are trying to use as differentiation to compete for talent. But you, as a human, are tech-enabled and therefore so is your business. If you’re a tech-enabled brokerage, you’re also a virtual brokerage. Perhaps you won’t want to operate as a virtual brokerage forever, but you are capable of pivoting temporarily to best serve your agents and their clients.
LIVE: “Don’t fear the technology, make it work for you.” – York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks pic.twitter.com/HCAUrGYmPn
— MoxiWorks (@MoxiWorks) March 12, 2020
Going Virtual Brings Us Together
In critical situations, it’s impossible for a leader to over-communicate with their team. Honesty, transparency, authenticity — no one has all the answers, but openly talking through our shared experience is cathartic and productive for everyone.
Encourage your staff and agents to communicate using video. All smartphones these days offer front facing cameras and most laptops have a built-in camera, too. We can absorb both verbal and non-verbal cues in conversation and have more productive and fulfilling chats. We can hold each other accountable to the conversation when we’re visible, rather than a phone call where we can get distracted just listening.
It’s Time to Gear Up – Virtually
So, here’s what you do. Brokers, managers, office admins — take a second to think about all the traditional tasks you do during the day that ‘require’ face-to-face interactions or on-site access. Now, brainstorm a new, virtual way to achieve that goal. Is it a group video chat? Perhaps it’s e-signatures on forms instead of wet ink.
The MoxiWorks suite of products and services has always been here to help future-proof the way you work and our cloud, along with over 50 integrated partners, will help our clients thrive during this unique time. We’re right there with you — Seattle being one of the first and hardest hit hot-spots of the crisis, our staff have all been rising to the challenge of working from home and continuing to provide stellar service. We even continue to have our regular releases of feature updates right on schedule. I personally was excited about 2020 being the year MoxiWorks moved into a new office downtown, but 2020 is now the year that MoxiWorks transcended physical location to keep doing what we do: getting shit done.
Competition, fresh players, technology — every disruptor you’ve faced before has trained you for this whether you knew it or not. The pandemic is another kind of disruptor. Your response will drive your future success. Business has always been about inertia: an object in motion stays in motion. Now is the time to stay in motion.
Let’s do this together,
Real estate leaders, what do we do now?
It’s a wave we have to ride out, but we don’t have to do it alone. Every industry is being driven into mass-tech-adoption at a rapid speed due to social distancing and isolation. Real estate is no exception, but the key difference is we’re already able to handle this.
I had the pleasure of wrapping up the LeadingRE Annual Conference in Las Vegas last week with a presentation on why every real estate brokerage is a tech-enabled brokerage — a claim that some companies are trying to use as differentiation and value-position to compete for talent. But honestly, do you have a cell phone, perhaps you’re even reading this article on your phone right now? You, as a human, are tech-enabled and therefore so is your business.
And if you’re tech-enabled, you’re also a virtual brokerage. Perhaps you won’t want to operate as a virtual brokerage forever, but you are capable of pivoting temporarily to best serve your agents and their clients. Fear in the face of disruption can cause us to fall back into old habits, ruts of non-productivity, or drive us to seek control in the minutia around us.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
– Marie Curie
A strong woman with wise words, Marie Curie’s quote can remind us that by focusing on the truth we will get through this and recover. As I always say, data tells the truth and data sets you free. In this article, I want to focus on a quick look at our industry’s economic history, what industry leaders need to be doing right now, and my 3 B’s for the time-being: Be Optimistic, Be Supportive, Be Productive.
Going Virtual Brings Us Together
On a ship over rough water, a captain can’t stay silent. At no point during this situation is it possible for brokers to over-communicate with their agents. No one has all the answers but talking it through always helps build confidence and trust.
Everyone is leaning into video communication. We still get to see each other’s smiling faces while preserving our goal of safety. Brokers, leaders, reach out to your sphere with one-on-one video calls. It’s 2020, we’re all capable of having a video chat, and it bridges one more gap that a standard phone call can’t provide. We’re telling agents to keep in contact with their clients, their sphere, their community. Practice what you preach, right? Call your agents, call your staff, call your partners.
Remote work employees have been facing the hurdle of building camaraderie without physical closeness in the workplace for years. At MoxiWorks, we have moxians and partners across the country bridging the gap. Now, we all have gotten a taste of that world — sitting in your house trying to have a meeting as the dog howls at a bird or your children forget their inside voices. The silver lining is this gives us all an opportunity to be sympathetic and supportive of each other.
We’re living this at MoxiWorks for several weeks now, with the entire company working remotely without any service interruption. We have the obvious advantage of being a technology company which helps, but we face the same cultural challenges that you. That’s why I’m saying that over-communication is so important. It’s human nature to fill in a void with the worst possible scenario and without communication, that’s exactly what your stakeholders will do. Don’t let there be a communication void – fill it with honest, transparent, supportive but optimistic communication. It’s not about having all the answers because none of us have them right now, it’s about being present as a leader.
Real Estate’s Response in Bear Markets
While the United States hasn’t entered a bear market due to viral outbreak before, it can be comforting to look at how we’ve bounced back from drops in the past. The good news? Event-driven drops (like our current situation around COVID-19) in the market are typically acute and recover much faster than structural drops (think 2007 Great Recession).
Goldman Sachs sent out a report on looking at severe declines, length in a down market, and time to recover/stabilize.
Make no mistake, this is an unprecedented time in history for everyone, but this is a storm we can weather in the real estate industry. MoxiWorks is proud to work with the strongest partners and clients, companies that survived through the housing bubble bursting and are going to pivot, survive and thrive again.
Real Estate Leaders, here’s what we do.
With that said, this isn’t a time to sit still. This is the time to link arms and lift each other up. In our MoxiWorks Town Hall we held virtually this week, I told all of our moxians: Be Optimistic, Be Supportive, and Be Productive. I’ll give you that very same advice.
- Be optimistic that local markets will bounce back, that your pipeline clients will still be ready when bans and restrictions lift. Be optimistic that your agents are solvent and with time, will help your business flourish again.
- Be supportive of each other, we are all humans in this together. Everyone needs time to reflect, to understand, to acclimate — but the speed we are moving at is going to be fast, so we need to help each other. This is a great time for fostering collaboration.
- Be productive no matter what. Give yourself a few seconds to catch your breath, then get back to work. Work on your sphere, evaluate your data, clean up your business and keep moving forward. We’ve got this. We’ve got moxie.
Competition, new players, technology — every disruptor you’ve faced before has trained you for this whether you knew it or not. Don’t let fear bring you to a crushing halt. Business has always been about inertia: an object in motion stays in motion. Like Marie Curie said, now is the time to learn more so we can fear less.
Let’s do this together,
P.S. On that note, at Moxi we’re going to go above-and-beyond to bring continued content for our clients and the industry. We’re kicking this content release off with a guide on how to host an ‘open house’ virtually using our MoxiPresent / M Present product. Check it out.
By York Baur | March 9, 2020
Mike DelPrete put it best at ICNY 2020: “The industry is moving very slow, but it’s never moved this fast.”
Franchisors are building their own technology at record rates. New proptech companies are popping up everywhere. Acquisitions and consolidations are becoming more common. There’s an electricity in our industry that’s been simmering for the last few years.
And, it’s exciting.
But it’s also been a time of uncertainty and, quite frankly, fear. Especially for the brokerages and agents all of this surrounds. I know there has been frustration, agents shuffling, lots of money changing hands, among other concerns. But, the best piece of advice I have during this age of transformative innovation and perceived disruption is simple:
Stop using the disruptors as a benchmark for your success.
Sure, they’re flashy. Sure, they’re mainstays in the news and claiming data that may or may not be true. But comparing your brokerage to their definition of success isn’t the way to measure your success.
Every brokerage is a tech-enabled brokerage
It’s true. Every brokerage is a tech-enabled brokerage, whether you build your own technology or not. And brokerages, both traditional and new, who are leveraging data and embracing the fact that they’re tech-enabled are seeing the benefits. We took a deeper dive into our data by looking at 10 of our largest client brokerages representing over 50,000 agents. We found that, on average, agents with a high usage of MoxiEngage CRM increased their transactions by 85.3% from 2018 to 2019. Even agents with a lower usage of MoxiEngage still increased their transaction count by 41.2% during the same time period. And while we believe our products are best in class, the reality is using whatever tools you have will make you better whether they’re from MoxiWorks or not.
Everything you need to be a “tech-enabled brokerage” already exists in the marketplace and agents at any brokerage with leading technology will see an impact on their business, even if your brokerage isn’t one of the “disruptors.”
A case for the mistaken market share
Market share is of course another way to reflect on your brokerages’ success, but make sure the data you are comparing it to is apples to apples and not apples to grapefruits.
For example, it’s easy to claim impressive market share to scare the competition when the sample size of that share is disproportionate. Compass made claims at the end of 2019 towards their 20/20 by 2020 vision that a number of their markets are close to 20%. But, 21.3% market share of Malibu, CA is certainly not the same as only 6.6% of LA county. And 33% in the concentrated D.C. market is not the same as only 7.3% in the DC metro area, just like 17.8% in Downtown Dallas is not the same as only 2.9% in the Dallas metro area.
While a lofty goal, there is still more than enough market share being held by other brokerages and to that we say keep it going. Instead of letting the disruptors distract you, focus on things that truly reflect success in your business. Focus on your team and your success.
The pomp and flash won’t last. Just remember, the data doesn’t lie. Big signing bonuses and other carrots being dangled in front of agents are sometimes tough to combat, but you should really be more concerned with yours and their retention rates, instead of recruitment rates.
Why? Because agents who left Compass in 2019 were only there for an average of 295 days, so less than one year. In the 2019 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile report, they found that the median tenure for REALTORS® with their current firm was four years.
So focus on what you’re doing to recruit and retain your agents. If the industry average is indeed four years of tenure at a company, take a look at your data and see how long your agents are sticking around to determine whether you might need to make some adjustments to continue to have your agents remain at your brokerage. And remember that using technology to increase agent productivity can solve your recruiting and retention problems: productive agents are happy agents who stay at your brokerage and recruit others to it.
The road ahead
The quote written above my office from Marshall Goldsmith is a reminder to us every day and it should also be a reminder to you:
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
While I believe you have everything you need at your fingertips, I also believe you need to be proactive and provide an environment of ‘Training + Systems + Coaching’ to retain your agents and help them continue to succeed through the age of disruption.
And look, we have to give Compass credit. They set a lofty goal, and good on them for doing that. Every company should. Creating that mission, that rallying cry is a great way to not only motivate their teams but gives them something to measure.
So, instead of letting them distract you from your goals, take it to heart instead. What are your goals?
Their goal doesn’t say anything about anyone else, so think deeply about your brokerages’ goals for the company and for your agents and use that goal to measure your success.
And don’t stop there. Announce it to the team, bring it up in meetings with your team and with your stakeholders. Develop leading indicators of your progress and measure them routinely with a scorecard. Hold yourself accountable for the goals you set and what you are trying to achieve. We do this at MoxiWorks and I promise you that you will see better results by doing so as well.
There will always be disruptors. Don’t let them derail your focus. Instead, stay lasered in on your success metrics and your goals and continue to help your agents thrive with your brokerage as their home.