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RISMEDIA, November 30, 2010—There are plenty of historical references to warriors burning their boats before they went into battle in enemy lands. The goal was to make sure everyone was committed and eliminate any thought of retreat. Do you get the sense that anyone is doing this in the real estate industry as we face our enemy…a drastically challenged and changing industry?

Sure, lots of brokerages are addressing the need to reinvent themselves, but how many are clinging—or letting their teams cling—to some of the old vestiges that are clearly dragging us down as an industry…large offices, lack of integrated Internet marketing strategies, and the lack of a true consumer focus, among others?

Burn the boats!

Cut your physical plant today!

Burn the boats!

Accept the fact that driving Internet traffic, engaging that traffic and responding to it are all interrelated and must be strategized as one.

Burn the boats!

Accept the fact that consumers are in charge and you need to figure out how to give them what they want before you can think about recruiting the “agent of the future” and closing more business.

I can hear the consternation now:

“How will I recruit agents to a smaller office?”

“I have a great website already.”

“But I have been here for 30 years; consumers know us.”

Had you “burned the boat” you might be figuring out answers to those questions rather than using them as excuses to not make the changes that have to be made.

Krisstina Wise, founder of the Good Life Team in Austin, Texas, likens today’s environment to the difference between playing checkers and chess.

“You are using the same board; however, you are playing two drastically different games,” she says. “Many in the industry are still playing checkers, albeit in a much more focused manner, but they are not strategizing as though they are playing chess. Those brokers will eventually lose to their competitors who have decided to play chess.”

Insights like these, as well as creating a company around this kind of thinking, are helping Wise garner national attention in spite of starting her business just two years ago. It’s this sort of observation and attitude that will drive tomorrow’s company to success compared to those who let the old paradigms seep into their current decision making.

Hard? Yes. Necessary? Definitely.

The Strata Group, a four-year holding company that owns a real estate brokerage, a law firm, a title company and mortgage company in Baltimore, Maryland, has come out of nowhere to make a significant impact on that market. “We have faced challenges inside and outside our company as we threw out the old and brought in the new,” states Billy Yerman, the company’s CEO. “It hasn’t been easy, but had we started our company using the old paradigms, I seriously doubt we would still be here today.”

As I have stated in previous columns, it begins with leadership and accountability. Owners and their management teams must plot out their strategy free of any impediments from “old thinking” and subsequently have the focus, discipline, and, yes, bravery, to achieve their goals without looking back.

Burn the boats!

Jose Perez is the president of PCMS Consulting, a full service consulting, sales and management organization that specializes in real estate industry issues. For more information, please visit or e-mail