There’s always something to howl about

We’re all Vendors, Every one

It should come as no surprise that the average “good customer,” doesn’t spend a lot of time (or wish to learn) anything about the Real Estate Industry.  Even when it serves them–even if they should know.   The average “good customer,” would prefer that their real estate was “handled,” for them, that they could swallow a house selling pill and the house would get itself sold, with maximum convenience and minimum hassle.

They don’t (generally speaking) want to know anything about how you get paid, why a Divorced Real Estate Commission is better, or how many homes that you’ve sold.  They don’t give a rat’s rear about who owns what shortcodes, about your social media marketing, or anything else save the HUD-1 at the end of the month(s) it takes to sell.  Because of the time spent (and also because the NAR seems to benefit from marketing the anxiety inherent in the real estate transactions) Realtors delude themselves to think that their clients want new friends.  Realtors have made a world where “who you know” and “rapport” are more important than “what you know” and “fiduciary obedience.”

Realtors (and we vendors) delude when we think client-o-mers want new BFFs. Clients like congeniality, they need fiduciary obedience.  But they have families, lifelong friends and unless it’s happenstance, we ain’t amongst them.  Sure, our businesses require have frequent interactions when we are engaged, but we’re not friends with people because they needed a website (or a mortgage, or a house).  We are their servants, dutybound (and moneybound) to do the work that we say we are to do.

The charlatan or confidence man becomes a friend as a way to again divorce accountability from the results–either consciously or unconsciously.  If we become friends, then we get the “friendly” treatment should the webiste not rank or the home not sell for the price we promised.

If our customers could simply eat a pill and have everything “get handled” they would.  And many of them did, from 2000-2006, with the maniacal mortgage funding process.    When you leave your financial decisions to those folks that benefit from churn, well, then, you get what you got.  Churned finances. There are more vacuous, personal branding oriented Power Agents than there are fiduciaries.

There are more people centered on themselves than centered on excellence.

What winds up happening is that because the customers don’t hold us accountable (because they don’t want to be bothered with the burden of accountability), the currency that we have to use to fuel our business isn’t business excellence.  It’s contacts.  People don’t want to cross the street to get better coffee, so Starbucks put one on each side of the street. The need for the feeling of convenience and the desire to eat a pill and make the real estate issues/website issues/whatever issues go away lets mediocrity in the room.

We then realize that we don’t have to be any good–that just we need people, so we adopt a congenial flacid face that Winston Smith would be proud of– we save our ire for bitching about At&t and Dell’s customer support.

What then happens–if we don’t fight it–is that we disingenuously ingratiate ourselves to others and we become supplicants of the horde.   We realize that a large amount of contacts can insulate us from coming to grips with our own mediocrity, so we become congenial, tame, toothless and mildly amusing.  It’s an easier path than thinking, than enduring the anxious tension and fear that you must create to create something awesome.

We find ourselves rejoicing and spreading mediocrity.

What becomes clear is this: people are worth more than excellence, and any new idea–even in the bright space of new ideas–will be subject to shunning.  IF the new idea came from an egoist like Pearson or Swann then it’ll be as dead as a vook.  No consideration because we’re not in a meritocracy, we’re in an ad hominem world where stuff is only as good as it’s creator is congenial.  Mediocrities insist on congeniality because that puts them in the kingmaker role that they covet.

We are all vendors, now.  What we do about it is our choice.  We don’t need to seek approbation if we’re doing a great job, in fact too much of it may mean that we’re not a threat to the status quo.

Our 2.0 world requires less and less: you have to be excellent.  You sit through reBarf camps and unconferences to make connections.  You go to AmSpirit networking meetings (or BNI) groups in the hopes of leveraging the contacts of your contacts.  So we’re all friendly, albeit disengenously.  We get smothered and covered in mediocre and then you get confused so the currency that you start trading on is “if people like me,” not “what problems am I solving.”

Some measure success in terms of followers, Alexa rank and page views.  I measure success in terms of bank account, waistline and nookie.  This year has improved on all counts.


5 Comments so far

  1. Ken Brand August 24th, 2010 12:33 pm

    A reminder about importance of solving problems, absolutely.

    And I’d like both, I’d like people to like me, and respect me for what I do, and how I do it. Bottom line for me personally, self-respect is most valuable.

    Also, while I agree the majority of people may not need, or want ,their agent to be their friend, I may be wrong, but I DO believe the majority of people want to believe that their agent wants to be their friend. IMO, the mediocre majority, they want to be liked, and will do odd things to make it so. Weird, but most human behavior is, which is what adds some zing to the routine. And entertainment too.

  2. Elli D. August 24th, 2010 12:50 pm

    You certainly have a point. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be friendly, though you shouldn’t step over the line of your professionality. It’s important for the clients to feel they can trust their agent.

    However, I think the meaning of the word “friendship” – or perhaps friendship itself – has changed in this “2.0 world”. Just look at all the social networks – you have friends on facebook, friends on myspace, friends on, etc. but how many of them are people that you actually know, or you’re in an actual relationship with? Are those real friends, or simply your network of contacts?

    Friendship used to be about quality. Now, sadly, it sometimes tends to be about quantity.

  3. Greg Swann August 24th, 2010 10:13 pm

    I had to put this off this morning, because I knew I wanted to savor it. Very glad I waited and took my time. This is very good, Chris, very deep insights. Scary — to me, at least — but completely plausible.

  4. Mimi August 25th, 2010 3:32 am

    I took a class not too long ago from a guy (Bruce Gardner) who tries to focus you on what your job really is. One of the biggest ‘aha’ moments of the class came when he pointed out that people don’t care about you – they care about getting their house sold; or they care about finding the house that suits their needs in their time frame with a loan that will get to the closing table. That people aren’t looking for a new BFF, they are just looking for someone to get the job done for which they were hired. ‘Friendly’ goes a long way to making a smooth transaction, but in the end, it is our competence that really matters.

    Statistics that I have seen say that a Realtor has to placate 71 people (from start to finish) in the average transaction. Unfriendly and uninvolved doesn’t get that job done, but BFF can certainly bog it down. In the end, experience and fiduciary responsibility are a lot more important to the client, and they will probably never know it, than whether or not you will be friends six months past closing.

  5. Brad Coy August 26th, 2010 12:30 am

    I was really digging this until “reBarf camps”. Awesome.