Your client just returned from a few days at Disney in Orlando. As they arrive at the airport an Uber SUV comes around the corner at the tap of an app. A friendly driver greets them at a designated meeting spot and opens the door. Cartoons are already playing for their restless kids. A cooler in the back is stocked with cold drinks, and of course, the car seats already pre-installed in the rear seat.
As their Uber navigates through rush hour traffic, they remember that their fridge is empty, so they order their groceries on their iPhone from Amazon, who will deliver them to their doorstep the next morning. If Amazon shows up with the wrong brand of milk or they have another issue with their order, they can easily talk to a real person 24/7 who will go above and beyond to make it right.
There’s no doubt that the bar on customer experience has risen significantly in the last few years. We’re rapidly moving towards a society where a great experience is valued far more than a product or service. Research shows that the majority of clients are even willing to pay more for an exceptional experience.
Everywhere you look, brands like Apple, Starbucks and Four Seasons that focus on delivering a remarkable experience, are growing exponentially and enjoy meme-like status in their respective markets, while others are unsuccessfully competing on price.
Real Estate is no different. Being remarkable at delivering a client experience is the new bar. Like any other industry, a handful of agents and brokers are pioneering the way, while the others are still focused on doing “transactions”. Those who are able to look far beyond the transaction and deliver a remarkable experience that is built on intimate knowledge of their clients stand to dominate the market. Those who choose to be “very good” or “good enough” or rely on their legacy brands, are likely already seeing commoditization either from discount brokers or the hyper-competitive market that sees new agents enter the market on a daily basis. Those agents are either finding it hard to sustain commission rates or win business at the rates that they used to.
Smart agents and brokers recognize consumers’ memories of buying and selling go beyond rates, inspections, comps, contracts, offers, and open houses. They don’t see their job as merely marketing and selling a home. They understand their clients’ way beyond what type of house they may be seeking and they work hard to remove any friction not only from the home buying process, but well before and after the actual process begins and ends.
In a recent podcast, Melanie Piche, who leads the Toronto-based BREL team shared how she and her team deliver a remarkable client experience. The team has identified all the pain points that come with selling and buying and has created an experience that aims to take any friction out of the process so that they’re clients don’t have to worry about a thing. Tedious tasks like cleaning, staging and even having someone waiting for the cable guy to arrive are taken care of by the team’s client concierge.
After the purchase or sale, a unique program called “friends with benefits” continues to deliver piece-of-mind and unexpected surprises for clients and keeps the BREL team growing their relationships with clients. The program includes things such as handyman hours to help homeowners with anything they need done around the house.
“We look for opportunities where we’re doing something that’s so unexpected that they’ll have something unique to tell their friends. That’s how we’re defining our success” says Piche. The goal in every transaction is to do something that’s worth telling somebody about. Not in a way to get to a referral, but in a way that keeps the BREL team on top of mind with their clients and has them sharing these great stories with their friends.
Spring Realty’s Broker/Owner Ara Mamourian’s slogan says it all. “Life’s too short for a boring real estate agent”. This isn’t just marketing fluff or one of those lines you see on a $10k a month billboard. It’s an entire mantra that Mamourian and his team live up to each day. He’s curated an environment where you can work with an agent who is both a knowledgeable professional, but also, someone you wouldn’t mind hanging out and having a beer with. Whereas many agents follow traditional ‘textbook’ practices such as advising clients to depersonalize their homes (take down all personal photos, for example), Spring Realty’s agents focus on marketing a lifestyle and a story in a way that’s authentic. In a business that’s based on building life-long client relationships, perhaps life is indeed too short to hire a boring agent. Mamourian and his team live up to that promise in everything they do.
Remarkable experiences stretch beyond just interacting with clients at their homes. Just take a look at the mind-blowing space that RE/MAX Ultimate has recently unveiled at their St. Clair West office. It is a masterfully designed space where you want to bring clients to as part of their home buying experience. Broker/Owner Tim Syrianos didn’t overlook any details when it came to new space. He wanted a space that instantly connects with clients, as well as an environment that creates an attractive work environment for his agents (who Syrianos refers to as his business partners).
SAGE real estate recently opened their new Yonge & Davisville headquarters, where every detail, from the incredible spaces for collaboration between agents and clients, which are centered around a stunning bar, down to tiniest details that make the office a place that agents actually look forward to coming to, have been meticulously thought out. Along with the new office space, SAGE also gave their iconic brand a facelift, featuring clean and modern branding that is nothing like the traditional agent-centric “in your face” branding that we see plastered on signage all over city streets.
So how do you compare? Are you still trying to impress clients with the smell of apple pie at an open house? or will they be moved by something different?
The bar has risen significantly. How are you raising yours?