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A little over a year ago, HomeSmart put a unicorn on the cover of Real Estate magazine and asked people to stop chasing them. Why? Because the industry’s infatuation with disruption has become a distraction for agents and brokers who should be focused on the things that matter to their growth.

While many real estate professionals have been busy chasing shiny objects they hope will be the lightning strike for their business, true innovation has come into the industry from a variety of companies who are focused on solving the issue of customer and user experience. Zillow, OpenDoor, Offerpad and others have opted to make consumer experience the core focus of their business— and for good reason. Improved experiences that create simplicity and convenience for consumers have proven to be a valuable differentiator for companies in seemingly every other industry segment.

While real estate models and products offering a renewed consumer experience have made the most headlines this past year, there’s an unmet need in real estate that’s guaranteed to reshape the brokerage landscape in the future: the agent experience, and the interactions agents have with every aspect of a brokerage. Outside of real estate, it’s been claimed that customer experience is the last major point of differentiation for brands. Among real estate brokerages, agent experience offers firms the same opportunity to separate themselves and emerge from a sea of options content with claims of better sameness.

Whether good or bad, it’s a fact that an agent has an experience with your brokerage. Before you can set your sights on innovating the agent experience, you need to first understand their current experience. That includes each phase of their agent lifecycle, meaning the entire time period they spend licensed with your brokerage. At HomeSmart, we break that experience down into macro-level milestones that include onboarding, implementation, activation, adoption and expansion.

A year ago, our relentless focus on providing amazing service to agents led us to conduct a day-long workshop where we mapped out the agent journey along that lifecycle. The results were eye-opening. We uncovered unexpected pain points and areas of friction that we could see were getting in the way of our agents having the best possible experience for their business.

That insight was then turned into opportunity, and we started to systematically innovate how agents experience our brokerages. Over the last year, much energy and effort has gone into solving how to best apply HomeSmart’s technology, people and processes in order to recast that experience from start to finish. Out of that effort has emerged better coordination among departments during onboarding, an improved cadence of communication to keep agents focused on achieving the value they’re looking for from the brokerage, and a commitment to continuously improve how we better anticipate agents’ needs throughout their journey.

Simplicity and convenience shouldn’t be outcomes reserved only for consumers. There’s no doubt the ease of which a consumer can search, find, buy or sell real estate has shifted dynamics within the industry. Still, agents will forever have a place of value to help their clients navigate a market where the invisible hand of capitalism naturally forces ebbs and flows of constant change. To that end, agents will increasingly look for a brokerage experience that delivers less pain and provides a streamlined path to grow.

Matt Hensler is the chief marketing and innovation officer at HomeSmart International. HomeSmart is built around technology that provides franchisees and agents with cutting-edge tools, which enable them to spend more time focusing on clients and the profitability of their businesses. Breakthrough experiences await at