In the early days of the economic downturn, many broker owners took a “wait and see” position, hopeful that the market would turn around quickly. As the bad news continued, survival mode kicked in and brokers found themselves playing catch up and making tough decisions they never thought they would have to make such as closing offices, downsizing staff, merging with competitors. The focus was primarily on doing the things in the present that would help guarantee a place in the future. Times such as these do not allow most of us the luxury of thinking ahead and planning for what the future will look like in this industry.
The thing is, this business will look and feel much different five years from now than it does today. There are several drivers that will facilitate this change. The emerging demographic of new consumers is one. The increasing sophistication of technology is another. The horse has left the gate, as they say, and there is no turning back. We really mean it this time.
The first tiny signs of an upturn in the real estate market are being reported across the country. Things like small percentage increases in new business month over month. The odd bidding war on a well priced property. Larger than normal turnouts at Sunday open houses. While some skeptics are claiming it can’t possibly be so, brokers across the country are channeling these signs into positive thinking and have begun to think what their companies need to look like in the future.
We have been thinking a lot about this as well, and plan to share our thoughts and more importantly some solutions with you in the months to come. Here are some preliminary observations:
- Both big and small companies will thrive in the future. One size or one model will not be the norm. In fact broker owners may transition their businesses by operating more than one model.
- Mobile has taken over. No more waiting for that to happen. One of the most challenging exercises will be the divesting of existing office space and configuring what an office needs to look like now.
- Lead generation and lead management need be managed by professionals. Sending postcards to zip codes is over.
- We have only scratched the surface on social media as a business tool. So let’s stop making fun of it and start taking it seriously.
The road back to sustained growth and profitability isn’t going to be an easy one. It will be a lot more involved than closing an office or two. Personally, I can’t think of a time that presents more exciting and challenging opportunities than right now.