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As we start to feel a little optimistic about things in 2012, we have some very serious issues to address in order to deliver the improved experience our agents and consumers expect:

• Driving traffic to our websites
• Developing truly engaging websites
• Solving the Internet lead response dilemma
• Seriously addressing post-close marketing
• Streamlining operations so we can deliver the best consumer experience
• Modernizing offices to meet the expectations of today’s agents and consumers
• Recruiting the agent of the future—now

Ten years ago, most brokerages didn’t take the potential impact of these issues seriously. Here we are in 2012, and I am still hearing excuses like:

• “We are still struggling financially.”
• “The market is getting better and we need to jump on it. We don’t have time to address this.”
• “We don’t want to rock the boat with our agents, so we aren’t going to do anything now.”

Meanwhile, consumer expectations continue to rise and we are still following the same old model: Agents are afraid of the consumer, managers are afraid of the agents, and the owner is afraid of the managers, so he/she doesn’t take the strong stance they need to lead and innovate.

If brokerages don’t reinvent their operations as the market improves, they may start making more money, but their fundamental dysfunction will still be lying right beneath that seemingly happy surface.

What do you think Trulia, Zillow and other forward-thinking companies are going to be doing as their profits increase over the next few years? They will surely be innovating, acquiring and figuring out how to further connect with consumers on a personal level—most likely at the expense of those brokerages that choose to ignore the structural deficiencies in their own operations.

Most brokerages will likely be figuring how to be successful in the “now” instead of five or ten years from now. This reactive thinking is what got us into trouble in the first place. Too many brokers and managers are focusing on what they do rather than on why (or how) they do it.

The lack of proactive planning is what will ultimately cause many businesses to fail. If you refuse to think strategically and realistically about your brokerage operations, you will either end up selling out or resolving yourself to long-term mediocrity. The market might improve over the next few years, but that doesn’t mean that the forces that almost drove us to ruin have mysteriously disappeared.

Focus on strategic planning and follow it through your business operations. This will allow you to join those leading companies and offer the experience your agents and consumers demand (and your competition can’t deliver).

Jose Perez is the founder and chief visionary of PCMS Consulting. PCMS provides innovative solutions leading brokerages require to enhance their market position and profitability.

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