Service. Syndication. In alphabetical order, and probably in order of importance.
In October’s REM is an article by Kathy Bevan about a link between the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors and Point2 Technologies “to establish the first national real estate listing syndication program to be set up in Canada by a regional organized real estate association.” Haven’t read it? Well, read it here.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
All done? Okay, we’ll move on. The crux of the endeavour is to funnel participating MLS listings through Point2 Technologies, a Canadian developer of real estate marketing tools, to a growing list of third-party websites and search engines. You’ve heard of Google? Craig’s List? eBay? By the time you read this, the list of the receiving sites will likely have grown from the nine noted in Ms. Bevan’s article.
Take a deep breath. In addition to channeling listings to Realtor.ca – and your Aunt Martha via the séance lady in your book club – members in Saskatchewan who opt into the feature will have their listings posted AT NO CHARGE on third-party sites.
To review – when you send your client’s listing to your MLS service provider (your board or association), you actually send it to Realtor.ca where it has a shot at 7 to 10 million unique visitors per month. By adding Point2 service, the access to your listing gets a whole lot bigger. How much bigger? How about the differences between that bright evening star Venus and oh, hmmm, let’s say, the Milky Way. AT NO CHARGE.
Or is that too technical for you?
So this is important stuff and probably being considered by your industry leaders today. Threat or opportunity? If I go to my client’s head – where else? – I think it has to be an opportunity. From my point of view as a managing broker I believe it’s an opportunity for our company and our people. I’m rewriting the listing presentation as I type, “List with me and you’ll get Realtor.ca, the greatest real estate portal in Canada – but wait, like the Ginsu Knives, there’s more! Mr. and Mrs. Jones, I’m sure you’ve heard of Google, perhaps even used it in your daily lives to find a new swingers connection. Now, for a limited time only, we put your house in the centre of the digital universe.”
Perhaps I go too far.
For some troglodytes, it will always be a stretch to put the client’s interests ahead of their own. The thinking along these lines produced the sleeve listing – where I’m the only one that knows it’s for sale, I’m the only one to sell it. When they tilt their service a little in favour of the client, they create the exclusive listing, allowing access to others in the office. From there they slip into the MLS and suddenly, co-operative brokerage becomes a way of life. Then the Internet, reciprocity and Realtor.ca. Kicking and screaming we were led into this world.
But if we are one of about half of the current members of CREA and have been in the business for six years or less, then web marketing is the norm, information sharing is natural. We’re texting, on Facebook, tweeting daily – except while driving – and wondering why the old geezers in the corner of the bullpen – the ones packing a pager and flipping through a really old catalogue – talk about the good old days, regaling all within earshot with Polaroid photo tricks and the wording for a telegram of acceptance.
The new reality, the new Realtor, is all about networking and distribution. And we have turnover to thank, rather than curse, for the transition that is coming. No need to set your hair on fire about syndication or any other technological schism. Just lie back and enjoy. Maybe it is just the latest version of Beta or the 8 Track. The certainty is we’ll all get to watch or participate, to embrace or discard, to add to our tool box or scoff.
Which brings me to service.
Quality Service Certification Inc. is a third-party organization that rates mortgage brokers and real estate agents. (Google them if you must.) A more familiar consumer service to Canadians is J.D. Power & Associates. The concept being lobbed to and fro at a series of national meetings facilitated through the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is one of assessment of service; part of the process of advancing the industry to a higher level of professionalism.
The question is simple. Do we have the cojones to have a third party poll our clients after the sale to see how we did? Some individuals and brokerages now do this actively, seeking endorsements and referrals, confirming sources of business and motivation. Most are surprised when a nice email or card arrives in the office extolling their virtues. The more frequent communiqué from a client is likely one with the salutation, “Without Prejudice”.
Unfortunately, self-administered follow-up lacks credibility. Having a third party provide the service isn’t the challenge. The challenge is – what to do with the information. A broker discovers one of his sales team never follows up after the sale. Another presents agency inadequately. Sources of business are revealed accurately from the client’s point of view. Media strengths and weaknesses are confirmed. Education topics and training needs are identified.
Every survey of CREA members results in either direction or encouragement for industry leaders to increase the level of professionalism and ethics, to raise the bar we and the public set for Realtors. Fear the change – of course – but only those who confirm Warren Buffett’s observation: “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”
Time to let someone else gaze at our navels.
Posted: 2009-12-15 07:12:30
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