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Commentary by Scott Einbinder

RISMEDIA, July 31, 2008-We have the honor of working in a business where there is no shortage of opinions and those who seem to always “predict” where things are going. We have published predictions from industry leaders who have been and continue to be 100% wrong. We also have predictions from well-paid industry economists who have restated for the fifth time their well thought out time frame of market correction. An old friend told me that the highest paid and best economists and analysts never try to predict the future. Their job is to properly assess what has truly happened in the past.

What lives at the root of our industry’s current dazed and confused look is the direction leadership is taking you. Leadership needs the courage to stand up, take control and lead in a direction that truly serves the need of the consumer in a true, valuable and authentic way. The pursuit of “agent centric” satisfaction and “hype” continues to eat away at motivation.

The direction of our industry is focused on searching, mapping, blogging and branding. Our industry is actually trying to convince itself that the better our searching the greater our value. The better our search the more likely the prospect will “stick.” The better our mapping and blogging will help create relationships that will turn into more income. And my favorite-“brand creation.” Agents invest in self branding with the hope the public will see them as they do Nike, Kraft and Hershey. These attributes are great but they do not reveal or measure any value to the consumer.

The courage of leadership must stand up and recognize that if the associates’ fundamental foundation of work ethic, responsibility and knowledge is flawed, no matter what you put on top if it, the results will be the same. If the foundation is weak so is your associate, and so is your firm.

There are few real estate firms left where on their home page you cannot perform a property search. In fact almost all the home pages look and act pretty much the same way. Is your value in search? I think not. Most sites allow one to map and obtain school and town information. Is your value in information and directions? I think not. Is your brand both on a company and agent level so unique that the public can answer what your brand means to them? I challenge you to take a video camera and go to the streets of your town. Interview each person as they go down the street and ask this question? What does “My Brand” mean to you? Publish your answers.

Leadership is constantly looking for answers to feed the appetite of the associates. So many of these applications are the equivalent to taking a diet pill to lose wait and stay healthy when we all know the only way is through work and discipline. The great head fake we are placing on on our associates is to make them believe something other than hard work and discipline will work and serve the needs of clients and customers.

Leaders who accept associates who “do a few deals a year” where it is clear they lack the proper attributes for real success continue to not see how much that agent “loses” them as well as their other loyal agents.

New applications! New models! New solutions! My question to leadership is how can you invest all this time and money in new applications when the majority of associates out there are scared to have a realistic price conversation with a seller? An overpriced listing sitting on the market has but only one party to blame, the agent and or company that accepts it. I have yet to meet a seller who points a gun at the head of an agent and says “List it or else.” With all these new and improved applications I find one agent in 10,000 who actually deploys a “pricing strategy.” With all these new and improved applications I find one agent in 10,000 who knows how to assess and evaluate mortgage portability and provides a LP/DU analysis for their client. With all these new and improved applications I find one agent in 10,000 who maintains a Client Risk Mitigation Protocol. These are just three of the most valuable, most consumer centric and most authentic practices in the real estate industry.

Video, high resolution photos, 360-degree tours, drip e-mail campaigns, lead generation applications, all are the solutions we throw on bad foundations. There has never been a more ample supply of sellers who need help and buyers looking for a great deal. What leadership needs is to teach agents how to convert the endless supply of prospects into real customers. How many brokers have spent tens of thousands of dollars on technology, marketing, branding etc… yet still have 95% of their associates do not answer the phone in a professional and sales focused manner when a customer or client calls in. Most agents burn through prospects over the phone faster than an Internet cable connection. This should be unacceptable given the time and expense to get that phone to ring.

As a trainer I see the look on the face of your associates. They are terrified or in major denial. There are too many lost souls with no direction that have a complete lack of understanding and belief system in what the valuable role of the agent is in today’s marketplace.

“Foundation building” has never been more important today. There are a host of vendors and consultants who will take your money for the next great idea. Ask, what are you building on? Is the foundation of your associates strong or are you just throwing on a new coat of paint? We are in real estate and the one thing we know that anything built on a bad foundation won’t pass inspection.

Have the courage to build the strongest foundation of smart fundamental practices that are cased in integrity and authenticity. Have the courage to demand a full time commitment from your associates and decide that if they reject that, you will invest your resources in those who do. Do your future clients and yourself a service; ask those non-committed agents to leave!

Courage carries a cost if you invoke it. The lack of courage costs even more. Your associates need leadership now more than ever. Your clients need leadership now more than ever. The brokerages with the strongest foundations sway much less in the storm of a challenged market! Is your company swaying?

Scott Einbinder is a real estate speaker and motivational strategist who has provided over 1,000 presentations around the United States. He can be reached at scott@scotteinbinder.com.

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