How prepared are you to break the status quo?

Business, Journal,  Principals

When an organisation’s doing relatively well, it’s easy to slip into a comfort zone, nestling into the status quo, as business chugs along nicely. But businesses that become too comfortable, and whose employees become overly complacent, often fail to adapt to market disruptions. As a result, they find themselves treading water rather than riding the next big wave.

In a sector as volatile as real estate, adaptability is key but achieving it is much easier said than done. Michael McQueen, a trend forecaster and multi-award winning speaker presenting at this year’s REIQ Summit, says while it’s been a difficult past 12-18 months in real estate, “crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

“When times get a bit lean and challenging, that’s the time to start asking the hard questions about the structure of your business, the culture you’ve got in your office and the people you’ve got in your team,” continues McQueen. “That way, you’re geared up and ready for the next boom for when things recover.”

According to McQueen, complacency is one of the most limiting business traps to fall into. In fact, he considers it important to foster what he calls ‘healthy paranoia. “It’s that sense you’ve got a target painted on your back – your competitors are out to get you and disruption is happening all around you,” he adds. “The beauty of healthy paranoia is that it spurs you on.”

In order to always be adaptable to change, McQueen encourages business leaders to have adopt two qualities: hunger and humility. “You’ve got to be humble enough to realise that what worked in the past may not work in the future and that you always need to learn, grow and change,” he further explains. “But hunger as well – to always be asking ‘what’s the next thing, what’s the next stretch, what’s the next challenge?’ Healthy paranoia, if handled well, is a great answer to complacency and arrogance; it leads to that blend of hunger and humility which is so important.”

McQueen also acknowledges the importance of digging your well before you get thirsty. However, while adaptability is key, it doesn’t come naturally – you need to arm yourself with the necessary skills so to be progressively agile for future changes. “Don’t wait until change or opportunity hits – now’s the time for smart principals to start gearing up for some of the things that will happen in the next few years.”

In an ever-changing (and growing) property market,  a recent standout in real estate disruption is the advent of emerging property technologies – or proptech for short. From innovative CRMs to online application forms, proptech is dramatically changing the real estate landscape. This explains today’s mandate not to be left behind. But that’s not without risk either. Some principals make the mistake of ‘premature adoption.’ Apart from the risky potential of wasting big dollars for little return (should proptech take-up move in an incompatible direction to you), adopting tech too early really means you’ve got to be more savvy. “You can never, ever predict what’s going to last and what won’t,” adds McQueen. “It’s hard to discern what’s the next big thing. You’ve got to go with your gut, while asking what will enhance the human elements of what we do in real estate?”

With technology converting many traditional functions (even roles) increasingly into digital touchpoints, if every agency is using same-same proptech, what’s your competitive edge? This explains why human interaction is still a defining point of difference in every real estate transaction. In fact, the stock value of brand human customer service over efficient automation has never be higher.

“For good agents, tech will never be a true competitor because what sets them apart are the human aspects of what they offer, particularly the importance of trust, creativity, empathy, and intuition,” reveals McQueen. “Those uniquely human traits that technology cannot take over will never cease to play a decisive role in the real estate game.”

For any real estate business to benefit, the technological line in the sand needs to be drawn. On one side of the equation, proptech surely streamlines work processes, removes overheads and increases efficiencies and should be embraced. But as McQueen highlights, any technology used to replace the essential soft skills demanding by discerning public should be carefully scrutinised. Get it wrong and you could find yourself giving away your point of difference to the competition.

Michael McQueen is one of this year’s keynote speakers headlining the REIQ Summit 2020, which will be held at the Royal International Convention Centre in Bowen Hills next week (12-13 March).  Book now! 

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