OF­FICE OF THE FU­TURE

The next five years will con­tinue to trans­form the land­scape of the hum­ble real es­tate of­fice that sells and leases prop­erty. Nick Boyd pre­dicts that the need to keep up with tech­nol­ogy and cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions will re­sult in ever-larger agen­cies.

Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - NICK BOYD

Nick Boyd

OUR IN­DUS­TRY HAS SEEN a re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tion al­ready: new emerg­ing brands, new prop­erty por­tals of­fer­ing re­fer­ral fee leads and new cus­tomer ser­vice plat­forms in­tro­duc­ing AI tech­nol­ogy, just to name a few. Many of these ad­vances and changes stem from ex­ter­nal re­sources try­ing to ei­ther cre­ate pos­i­tive steps in our in­dus­try or take a slice of the pie.

All these changes come at a cost in terms of time and, most im­por­tantly, in money to im­ple­ment. What we need to con­sider is what we as agents are do­ing to change, in­no­vate and adapt.

With ev­ery new piece of tech­nol­ogy comes a new pres­sure on an agent’s fee, dra­mat­i­cally af­fect­ing the prof­itabil­ity of busi­ness. Ul­ti­mately the big change in the fu­ture, there­fore, will be the size of of­fices.

The small, lean busi­ness model which sounds good in the­ory will, I be­lieve, come un­der greater pres­sure in the fu­ture as it seeks to keep up with the new ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy that our cus­tomers and clients ex­pect.

I be­lieve the av­er­age real es­tate of­fice in the fu­ture will hold a min­i­mum of 1,000 man­age­ments in or­der to sur­vive, grow and be con­sid­ered a player. They will be able to of­fer not just real es­tate ser­vices to buy, sell or rent; they will be a busi­ness of multi-di­men­sional arms. As such they may of­fer buyer ad­vo­cacy, ac­coun­tancy, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and home im­prove­ment ser­vices, all un­der the one roof.

All these of­fer­ings will be there to solve the big­gest prob­lem that any ser­vice in­dus­try faces – value for ser­vice. The big­gest is­sue we as an in­dus­try need to ask is: what can we do bet­ter to serve the cus­tomer? Our cus­tomer is be­com­ing less pa­tient and more knowl­edge­able, and it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity as an in­dus­try to of­fer qual­ity ser­vice, in a timely man­ner and at a fair price, that will meet their needs.

The busi­nesses and teams that can of­fer this will re­quire qual­ity peo­ple to do so. There­fore, an of­fice run on per­for­mance teams (EBUs) be­ing able to run a ‘Com­plete so­lu­tion of­fer­ing’ will grow and flour­ish, where those that see them­selves solely as real es­tate agen­cies will find it tough to keep up.

WITH EV­ERY NEW PIECE OF TECH­NOL­OGY COMES A NEW PRES­SURE ON AN AGENT’S FEE, DRA­MAT­I­CALLY AF­FECT­ING PROF­ITABIL­ITY.

The cus­tomer is be­ing mor­phed into a new type of be­hav­iour and we need to pay at­ten­tion to this. From gro­cery shop­ping on­line where you can ‘click and col­lect’ (or have it de­liv­ered) to chang­ing mort­gage loans or med­i­cal in­sur­ance at the click of a but­ton, we need to ap­pre­ci­ate that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween ser­vice provider and cus­tomer is un­der threat.

We are quickly be­com­ing a ‘Tin­der’ so­ci­ety, as Si­mon Sinek would say, where if we are not sat­is­fied we sim­ply swipe left. Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is be­ing in­flu­enced daily, and I be­lieve as agents there is a need to au­dit our cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion ex­pe­ri­ences more of­ten than just ev­ery other year.

Con­sider for a mo­ment what oc­curs with a pur­chaser once they buy from you. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, we give them a set­tle­ment gift, hand over keys, make a call two weeks af­ter set­tle­ment to check they are set­tled in, and then give a pe­ri­odic call and an­niver­sary card each year. Now, this is a generic sys­tem in place that prob­a­bly hasn’t changed much in the last decade.

Is this ex­pe­ri­ence enough to earn the right to do busi­ness again in the fu­ture with that client? Or is it what the client wants? It’s the on­go­ing one per cent im­prove­ments that can af­fect the over­all per­for­mance of an agent and their busi­ness.

I rec­om­mend that you au­dit your cus­tomers and clients more of­ten to en­sure the ex­pe­ri­ence you of­fer matches their fast­paced ex­pec­ta­tions.

The fu­ture real es­tate of­fice may re­sem­ble some­thing closer to the BBC of­fices in Lon­don, where ‘hot desks’ are en­cour­aged and a more flex­i­ble, col­lab­o­ra­tive work en­vi­ron­ment is cre­ated – an en­vi­ron­ment where sell­ing agents work pre­dom­i­nantly from their mo­bile phones and con­nect to any avail­able mon­i­tor util­is­ing ser­vices like Mi­crosoft Of­fice 365. This can give less value to desk space but im­prove the scal­a­bil­ity of staffing ca­pac­ity, which re­duces over­heads for the busi­ness.

Such a trans­for­ma­tion will, no doubt, come with its own chal­lenges. How­ever, be­ing on the front foot to adopt, im­ple­ment and change will po­ten­tially pro­vide the largest re­wards.

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