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Estate Agency – Play A Different Game

rubic cube Playing a different game

"I hate losing" said one respected West London estate agent last week, several times, in a social media post. To which a reasonable response might be for him to play a different game.

 gameThat's the mindset of many estate agencies these days as they chase attention and after anybody with a warm pulse. It's a competition and so long as they 'win", everything in the garden, smelling of roses. Losing brings a sense of rejection and bewilderment.

I don't have a problem with competition, in itself, just that it's not appropriate for #realtors #estateagency.

I have previously referenced Simon Sinek's book, The Infinite Game - where he describes both Finite and Infinite games. Playing a finite game in what is an infinite industry never ends well.

Watching a superb Netflix documentary over the weekend, The Speed Cubers, it wasn't so much the breathtaking ability of the two featured competitors that struck home, as their character and response to winning & losing.

Feliks Zemdegs, anyone?

What about Max Park?

I wouldn't be surprised if those two names don't ring a bell, but they are the equivalent of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in their chosen competition. Felix Zemdegs' tally is Twenty one world records; back-to-back World Championships at under 20 years of age. Quite simply, the greatest of all time.

Speed Cubing is competitive Rubik's Cube solving - on steroids.

Whilst the ordinary person might solve a puzzle in around 3 hours, these two regularly take under six seconds. The difference between winning and losing often calculated in a hundredth of a second.

Max Park is an enigma. Six years younger than Feliks, he arrived on the scene just as dramatically.

Diagnosed with moderate to severe autism, his incredible parents, Miki and Schwan, recognised that Max lacked finer motor skills - he had difficulty using his fingers and so they bought him a Rubik's Cube to enable him to improve his ability. Solving Rubik's Cube involves memorizing multiple algorithms and pattern recognition, so when Max placed first in only his second ever event, something special was happening. World records, World championships, National Championships and a blitz of competitive titles followed. Max is widely considered one of the all-time great speed cubers - some achievement given his limitations.

The stand-out for me, though, was the relationship these two gamers enjoyed. You only had to see the look of joy on the face of Feliks when Max broke his world record to witness a lifelong friendship. For Max, Feliks has always been a hero and someone to emulate - not to beat. When Max wins tournaments that Feliks hasn't entered, Feliks is first to text Miki and Schwan to offer congratulation. It's a very special relationship.

That's pure competition - driving each other to unimaginable heights. Happy for each others success - not envious.

Then there's estate agency. How best to 'win', so that the competition can't?

Easy, peasy - deliberate over-valuation. Reducing the fee to zero, not because it doesn't cost anything to provide the service, but because it kills the competition. Spreading half-truths, confusion and misinformation. That's the extent of rancorous competition in estate agency, where the result is all that matters.

The argument that agencies will go out of business if they don't compete, fails. They will go out of business, not because they aren't competent, but because they cannot articulate how they are truly different, and because competition undoubtedly kills profitability.

Estate agency, where in and around some of the finest people, there has always been a home for the hucksters and charlatans.

Who, in their right mind, wants to compete on a level playing field with an agency that will say anything to win the instruction. One that doesn't much care whether they lose this instruction because there are always more 'fish' in the sea.

And yet, we still hear stories of agents bemoaning the fact that, even though confident they had won the instruction, much to their surprise they had not. Blame it on the valuation, blame it on the fee, blame it on the vendors - just don't blame it on the agency for competing when there is no reason to compete.

The only people Feliks and Max compete with are themselves. Can they beat their best, not can they beat each other?

When the outcome of an appraisal is based on valuation, on fee, on having to state & prove your worth, and on a potential client who doesn't know a great agent from a mediocre one, you can't beat your best - only try to beat the competition. Marginal gains in k.p.i's of appraisal/instruction might indicate you're improving, but they are subject to outside influence and flawed. Running faster in the wrong direction.

Instead, consider a marketing appraisal based on character and on attracting the right clients. Clients that don't look anywhere else. Clients that trust what you tell them because they know who you are and what you value.

When you have that, you can beat your best. Increasing the number of perfect clients who will pay you what your are worth and take your advice throughout. There's no competition - let the other agents fight over the table scraps. Let those agents play the same game as all of their competitors. Let them be a part of the common.

There's an understated, but assured confidence with agents that aren't desperate to 'win'. They know their value and can better articulate how they are different from the rest.

One phrase you won't hear from them - "I hate losing."

Because they play a different game. By different rules.

Thanks for reading this far. If you subscribe to Netflix, check out the documentary, it's inspiring.

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