It seems like every week we’re hearing about a new announcement from a large brokerage or franchise telling us they are spending millions on technology and re-positioning their brand story around their technology suite.

While I LOVE to see brokers investing in technology that will help their agents be more professional, prepared and responsive, I feel like we might be missing the big picture in our industry.

At the end of the day, brokerages are SERVICE organizations.  The perception of the agent, and the brokerage they work for, is made or broken by the level of attention, information, support and service agents provide to their clients.  While technology certainly can help deliver amazing service, it is not relevant unless the agent using it has the HEART of a servant.   The BEST agents LOVE their clients!  They eat, sleep and breathe thinking about ways to delivering the guidance and support each of their clients’ needs.

I heard technology in real estate described once very aptly.  A consumer I was interviewing in a focus group once said:

“Technology in real estate is like a beautiful purse that matches a gorgeous suit”.  Technology is great, but it’s nothing without the support and service of an amazing salesperson.”

There is so much hype these days with everyone trying to outdo each other with expensive technology solutions.  Aren’t we missing something here?  Isn’t the most important thing to provide amazing service to clients?

Why aren’t we paying more attention to training agents on what amazing service looks like?   We work with the Houston Association of REALTORS® on a Consumer Research Panel with close to 10,000 consumers that we talk to regularly.  Consumers tell us what they REALLY want and then HAR does its best to educate brokers about how to deliver the types of service and support that consumers want today. HAR also examine their training programs, website and technology tools to be sure they are in sync with what consumers are looking for from their agents.

How many brokerages or franchises have their own Consumer Research Panels?   None, that I am aware of.  When I bring up the topic of paying attention to consumer needs with brokers, this is the story I usually hear…”The agent is our customer”.  Okay, if that’s the case then why do the checks that you cash come from home buyers and sellers? Of course, the agent is important, but if you are not arming your agents with the best ways to serve the consumer, are you really doing what you need to do?

Now let’s to turn to performance transparency.   For how many years have we talked about the need for agent ratings in our industry?   At least 20 years as far as I can remember. And yet, even today, few brokerages have taken the task for agent performance management very seriously.

There are a few like Mike Pappas, President and CEO at Keyes Realty that in South Florida takes the job of delivering service quality very seriously.  His firm won the coveted QE award (pronounced Q EE) in 2017. Here’s what Mike had to say about quality service:

“There is no greater honor than earning the highest ratings from our customers for the hard work of our agents touching all the bases and bringing home a fantastic service experience for every one of our clients,” “That’s why winning a QE Award from Quality Service Certification is the best award any brokerage in real estate can receive.”

Keyes Realty is arguably one of the most progressive and successful brokerages in America today.  They offer an amazing suite of technology AND focus on deliver amazing service. They get it. So why do so many others turn only to technology instead?

We all know that some agents, and sometimes even the BEST agents are reticent to wrap their arms around technology.  So why not focus more attention on training about what great service looks like. How about celebrating amazing service experiences just like we celebrate sales successes?   How about participating in a Performance Management program so you actually KNOW what type of service quality your agents are delivering.   Independent contractor or not, as the broker you can encourage, train and celebrate great service. I solidly believe that a focus on service quality will provide you with a much better ROI than anything else you can do.

Ask the companies that are serious about performance management. Their referral rates, and repeat customers are MUCH, MUCH higher than industry norms. Performance management is not a touchy feely program like some people believe. It is the single most profitable way to grow your business and truly encourage clients for life.

So next time you’re in a planning session thinking about what to do to increase your company’s referral business or ways to help your agents be MUCH more successful than they are today, don’t forget about service training.  It is one of the best investments you will ever make!