ZOOCASA AND COMPETITION IN THE CANADIAN REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE SYSTEM
I have been involved in every facet of the real estate brokerage business for 33 years. Over those 33 years I have experienced a lot of change in our profession. Each time there is change there is also a huge fear and concern over that change. Naturally this is a purely human and natural way that we all react to change.
The concern of change is directly tied to the amount of control we have in determining the change and how we perceive the negative effect on our lives the change will bring.
Yes everyone is reading and experiencing how the latest technological tools will bring huge financial benefit to the consumer. When we turn on a radio or TV or read an online advertisement, everything is being commoditized. Newer, cheaper, over and over again, we hear that price point is the differentiating point by the buyer. In a hard consumable commodity such as toothpaste or breakfast cereal or a television or a computer, that may well be the case. Yet even within hard commodities there are premium brands that don’t compete on price point, they compete on value and benefit.
When it comes to service industries such as real estate brokerage, commoditization is much more difficult, but can be achieved if allowed to be. Our goal as REALTORS® should be to ensure consumers truly understand the benefits they receive when dealing with a full service brokerage. We are fortunate that a well articulated value proposition will be successful in earning business.
But the key is to be well prepared and rehearsed before going in and sitting around the kitchen table with the potential client. This means that you have to take full responsibility to know what you and the RE/MAX organization brings to the table. Over the years, many agents have simply used the “gate keeper of the data” concept as their only service advantage. Today that no longer exists. Consumers are more empowered than ever in selling and buying their home. They have the hard data; they require interpretation of that data. They require the counselling services the REALTOR® provides. They need the all encompassing marketing plan to maximize their home’s value to allow them to make the move they want. They need a full service agent now more than ever, given the ever increasing complexity of the home transaction.
Ultimately, each agent has to take the time to be fully versed on every tool or service that is provided. Each sales associate has to fully understand how to implement these services and to know about the various affinity relationships that can be provided to the consumer for their financial benefit.
In the last few days I have received a number of calls and emails asking us, what are we going to do to fight the Zoocasa marketing plan and the consumer benefits they are providing? Further, this kind of competition will force us as sales associates to reduce our commission rates to compete.
As I have already mentioned, there is no need to panic over this. We do provide a number of consumer direct benefits. For example, the Tranquilli-T program is such a service. Yet it is completely underutilized as a true customer benefit that no one else can provide. Another is our TD Canada Trust affiliation as a tremendous tool that can be leveraged as well; we have mortgage calculators on our web site and mobile apps. We have the Fit To Sell and Fit to Buy programs that have proven to be very popular. Our web site features “walkability scores”. Our mobile app is the only app in the entire industry that has “Live View” (being enhanced with the ability to take photos and listing information to store in the “My Listing” feature). Our web site has a space planner tool. You can easily build a virtual tour and personalized promotional items for each listing using the Design Centre. You can create a QR code for each listing that will point potential buyers to listing information. We have the only multi-lingual web site, global.remax.com for home listings to be featured on. There is so much that we as a Brand offer consumers that are part of your full service brokerage proposition.
It is no longer sufficient to simply walk into a home, complement the owner on what a wonderful job they have done on decorating the home to get that business. You MUST be able to fully explain and articulate absolutely every advantage they will gain by working with you as opposed to a discount commission company or a Zoocasa representative.
You have to be accountable for your service. All too often consumers have had the experience of a REALTOR® making all kinds of promises on what they will provide, only to have exactly the opposite occur in that after 2 months later the sign is falling down and they haven’t heard a thing. Advertisements are poorly written, a virtual tour hasn’t been created, a QR code hasn’t been utilized, showings are poorly managed and then when a change is required or an offer comes in, the REALTOR® ops to do it over the telephone or by email. If that is the kind of service experience home sellers receive; is it any wonder they look to alternative business models?
The RE/MAX organization has developed as the premium brand in Canadian real estate. We have done this over the years by attracting the best affiliates in the industry, with smart savvy marketing, with a value proposition that is the best in the real estate brokerage profession.
When Zoocasa and the Rogers empire starts up its PR campaign, understand they have an uphill battle to conquer. But they are a force to be reckoned with and one to be concerned about. We will prevail and succeed just as we have always done. But we can’t win if we become paralyzed by our fear. We have to rise above the 80 per cent of the licensed losers out there, by truly knowing our strengths and weaknesses.
Further to the consumer benefits, we have one other thing no one else can boast about; the customizable, full E-learning modules on My RU. Utilizing this tool will enable you to be even better prepared and educated than any other competitor out there.
The consumer is looking for a better way. And the good news is that we are that better way as we have always been. Our long history of building a positive reputation sets us apart. By being prepared, well rehearsed and articulate you will overcome any challenge that comes your way.
Really, in the end, it isn’t the change we are fearful of… what we are fearful of is how are we going to control the change and be prepared for it.
Set to work now to know what your true value is. Improve your presentation skills. Hone those basic salesmanship skills. Be prepared and rehearsed. Use and promote every service and tool we have. Walk into that appointment knowing all this, confident in your own ability to win that business.
If you do that, your personal long term success will be assured!
Elton Ash ABR CRES
Regional Executive Vice President