Today you have before you a dizzying, dazzling, daunting array of new platforms, tools and techniques for changing the way you do business.
Conferences all over the country, blogs from every corner of the world are filled with the voices of revolutionary thinkers telling you how to blow up your company, start over with a clean sheet of paper and build the dream organization of tomorrow.
I don’t hear the visionaries talking about what you should do with the organization you already have; the one you spent years building; the one in which you have a significant investment; the one that you rely on for your financial and emotional sustenance.
We also have a body of experts telling you how to defend and sustain the status quo: how your message about your value proposition can be repositioned so that doing what you’ve always done for the prices you’ve traditionally charged will suddenly seem appealing to the public. A slick new web site, a new ad campaign and life is good. Comfort food for the delusional.
I don’t hear any meaningful talk about transition; that fear filled journey from current reality into the unknown and out the other side to a more successful future.
Let’s consider just three basic elements of your present reality:
Your current fixed costs:
You have leases or mortgage payments on your premises. You cannot wish them away because you went to a workshop and imagined the brokerage of the future. So assuming you want to redesign your traditional brick and mortar presence into something better attuned to emerging consumer wants and needs, then time – transition time – must become a part of your thinking and planning.
While you are waiting (and perhaps negotiating yourself out of some current leases) the question arises, what do you do during this fixed cost transition period? How do you blend your message and image and structure of the future with the physical and financial realities of the present? Surely, not everything you’re doing is bad, obsolete or unprofitable, as some of the pundits would have you believe. The world as you know it is not going to crash and burn in the next few months.
Your current culture:
You have people: Realtors/agents; administrative staff; marketing people; technology people. In all probability your Realtors are diverse in their views and their business methods. Some embrace the Internet, some cringe at having to turn on their computers. Some of the cringers may be your highest producers. Some of those skilled in the new technologies may lack the interpersonal skills to achieve great financial results. They all pay desk fees. They all carry business cards with your name on them. They all define who you are.
Over time you have created, both consciously and unconsciously, an organizational culture/dynamic, an established way of doing and being and interacting and getting things done and communicating and helping one another. You cannot take that cultural dynamic for granted and assume that it will sort itself out through a period of profound change.
Your current market(s) and customers:
The demographics and behaviors of your markets and customers will weigh significantly on how and at what pace you transform your business model. Not everyone wants to radically change. Not everyone will decide to do or not do business with you based on whether or not your company embodies the form and practices of the company of the future. Certainly some will. But how many? How quickly? What is the speed of the trend toward change? When do you reach the “tipping point?”
At the end of the day, the real value you deliver lies in helping people buy homes that meet their lifestyle and financial needs and sell homes at optimum prices in acceptable time frames. Everything else should support that value proposition.
You must protect and enhance your Brand. You must grow. You must optimize your bottom line. Your agents must do the same, for themselves and for the organization.
What does all this mean?
Change for change’s sake has never made good business sense. Self proclaimed “visionaries” who tell you to destroy what you have built because fashion dictates it have probably never run a successful company over a long period of time.
Still, you cannot ignore the winds of change. You cannot deny that technology is altering lives and life styles and the ways in which people engage, connect, form relationships and transact business. You cannot ignore shifting demographics and the resultant changes in the behaviors of the people who are spending their money to buy what you offer.
All of it demands that you, as a leader, use a well-reasoned sense of balance. You achieve that balance by choosing and investing in the right elements of the “new wave” of thought, of technology, of behavior – elements that will not destroy you in the process of transforming you.
One of those leading edge elements that can help you reshape your business is Social Media. Social Media offers an array of new engagement tools, creative behavioral approaches and cultural change mechanisms that can have a profound, positive impact on creativity and results without trampling on what is tried, true and effective. Social Media requires only a small financial investment and, executed correctly, a modest investment of time.
Most importantly, Social Media is not a fad.
Social Media is here to stay. And Social Media can become a hands-on, experiential metaphor for a variety of new behaviors that will define the organization of tomorrow, both inside and outside the Social Media world. In upcoming articles, we will discuss why all that is so and how to use Social Media effectively.