Who is the Client?

I have a simple question for my brothers and sisters in the real estate industry who, like me, own or manage a brokerage:

Who is your client?

Is it the person buying or selling a home through one of your agents?

Or is it the agent who works in your office?

You Must Choose

Here’s the reality: whether you realize it or not, you have to pick one or the other.

And, whether you realize it or not, if you are running a brokerage, you’ve already made that decision.

Policies Answer the Question

It’s inherent in your office practices and policies…

…on things like websites…

…and search engine optimization…

…and Social Media behavior…

…and advertising…

…and dual agency…

…and the extent to which you are involved in the day-to-day operations of your brokerage…

Serving Two Masters?

And while you might not THINK there is any conflict inherent in this question, there absolutely is.

The best example I can give you is this: What is your branding message, and to whom is it directed?

If your branding message is aimed at your agents, then you shouldn’t be surprised when the public ends up baffled by the conflicting messages it’s getting from those agents, all of whom will end up doing their own thing and creating their own, unique marketing and imaging strategies.

And if your branding message is aimed at the public, then you certainly need some fairly specific guidelines regarding what your agents are saying and how they are saying it.

Apple vs Big Real Estate

To illustrate, consider Apple Computer. You know within less than a second that you watching an Apple commercial, even if you’ve never seen it before. They have crafted a brand messaging strategy that is super consistent and incredibly tight.

As a result, Apple enjoys one of the strongest brands in the world.

Now, look at what any two agents at any traditional real estate company do to advertise themselves or their homes. On that level, any consistency – beyond the logo – is purely coincidental nine times out of 10.

As a result, the Big 5 real estate companies have brand images that are perceived quite differently.

And if there IS inconsistency in terms of how agents within the same company represent their clients, that means that there is inconsistency in terms of the QUALITY of that representation.

Consistency is Crucial

To think that one method is not superior to another is not realistic. Consider what would happen if Apple let each of its local stores advertise individually. Or if it hired literally anyone to work at their Genius Bar. Their brand image would be diminished very quickly.

See the difference?

What do YOU think?

Who is real estate’s ultimate client?

The agent?

Or the client?

We think that the answer to this question impacts the ultimate quality of a brand perhaps more than any other…

PS – I know many people will answer this question by saying “agents are independent contractors, so I as the broker/owner have little control over what my agents do.” My response to that: just because your agents are independent contractors does not mean that you cannot establish and enforce firm company policies to protect the veracity of your brand…

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