The Concierge Realtor
(7 Steps to Elevate Your Brand)
Last year Tracy and I were notified by our general practitioner that she was going into “Concierge Medicine.” This change meant that if we wanted to remain under her care, we would have to pay a steep annual fee of $5,000 per couple.
My wife, Tracy, and I discussed this recent development. As much as we loved this doctor’s personal touch and short notice availability, we felt that at this stage of life it was an unnecessary expense. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
As soon as we transferred to a more affordable doctor, our patient care became a cluster of frustration. This included the following: a misread on an important test, long waiting periods for scheduling, multiple wrong diagnoses, zero follow-up on test clarifications, and a consistent bedside manner that was literally on a timer.
It took only ten months of patient-care neglect when we finally abandoned our “money-saving mission,” paid the Concierge fee and, like the Prodigal Son, returned to the flock where we were reminded exactly what caring and service is all about.
Please note that the intent of this article is not to discredit our interim doctor. In defense of him, he and his staff were very kind; however, both he and his staff lacked the one thing we need when dealing with things personal to us—the people skill of being present.
If you are wondering how my Concierge Medicine story relates to the world of real estate, it is this: our industry is in a transition where discount agencies are investing a great deal of money to convince our clients to jump ship in exchange for a reduced commission. All the while, we agents are on deck with shaky sea legs, wondering just how many clients will abandon the deck to save money. But, luxury agent, it is not our time to worry. I say that because if you are not familiar with the business model of discount real estate, allow me to explain how it works so you can find your “emotional legs” during this somewhat confusing transition in our industry.
Discount agencies such as Purple Bricks fish for new clients by trying to “hook” potential home sellers with a reduced and set commission in exchange for their services. That formula might be doable for the low end of the housing market. But clearly, it does not work for the luxury market or, for that matter, any listings over $500,000. Here is why: Purple Bricks advertises a $3,500 listing commission to its selling clients. If you use the average Newport Beach, CA, luxury home price of $4,000,000, a sale that nets a $100,000, 2.5% average commission to the listing agent, you can see that the $3,500 “commission deal” is an impossible number to properly service a listing in all its required aspects. If you question that statement, just take a look at your latest 4 to 16-page marketing brochure, your video montage invoice, or your luxury online digital campaign placement fee, and you will see that the numbers don’t make sense.
The question then becomes, where or how does Purple Brick or other discount firms make their money? The answer is that they also represent the buyer, which makes up the deficit of the “discount fee” via the additional 2.5% (i.e., $100,000 commission). As we all know, this means double, ending the deal, and becoming a dual agent. This is nothing short of a slippery slope because, suffice to say, you cannot represent both clients’ best interests. Obviously, you cannot represent the seller who is paying you to obtain the highest and best price for his/her home and the buyer who is also expecting you to obtain the lowest and best price for him/her.
In this article I don’t have time to discuss the slippery slope or the many other compromising factors the discount brokerage business module encompasses (see my next article, “The Black Side of Purple….”). I can, however, assure you that even when our clients “drink the discount Kool-
Aid” and jump ship for only $3,500, as long as there are houses to sell, there will still be clients in the market who want the personal service and presence that only we can offer; that is, if you make the switch to being a “Concierge Realtor.”
I know that you must have never heard the term “Concierge Realtor.” But that is what those of us who care, who are available, and who are present, are and have always been: an all-hands-on-deck realtor who, just like a Concierge doctor, is available to his/her clients, and won’t have to see hundreds to make a profit. Instead, he/she can focus on a few and make sure their needs are met in every way.
As someone on the receiving end of making the mistake of “drinking the discount Kool-Aid,” as well as learning the valuable lesson of “you get what you pay for,” I will never again question or begrudge my concierge doctor for placing a value on his or her time. Likewise, we authentic real estate professionals do not need to apologize for the value we also bring to the real estate deal to best service our client.
If you are curious how to step into the role of becoming a Concierge Agent, below are my 7 steps to success.
Seven Steps on Becoming a Concierge Agent:
- Be Available. The first step on becoming a Concierge Agent is to make yourself available. That means taking phone calls, even at inopportune times, and returning emails promptly. That also means remaining in constant communication with your client so he/she feels your presence and knows he/she is important to you.
- Be Present. This means to stay aware of the needs, fears, apprehensions, and desires of your client every step along the path of the house-purchasing or selling journey.
- Stay Focused on Your Service (not the commission). Purplebricks, Help-U-Sell and other discount brokerages focus on the commission associated with selling a property. They make up loss in compensation by striving to be a dual agent. As a Concierge Agent, your job is to focus on the service and caring aspect of the transaction.
- Be Well-Equipped. This means you must have your storage tank of knowledge full and contemporary. You should know your market inside and out, be current on all of the latest marketing tools available to you. Furthermore, make sure you have great relationships with other local realtors who will want to work with you and strive for the same goal—sell your clients’ properties.
- Be Patient. This means remembering that clients can be finicky; therefore, never put them on a purchase time clock.
- Operate your Business with an all-hands-on-deck Mentality. This means to put your maximum effort into your business as the industry continues to shift and change into something new to all of us.
- Know Your Value. The reality of real estate today is that we used to have to set ourselves apart from other realtors. Now, we have to set ourselves apart from “disruptors” or the discount brokerages who want to change how we do business. But just like a Concierge doctor believes his/her value was in service, time, and knowledge, so should you approach your clients with this emotional posture.
As the market place continues to move into a whole new world now more than ever before, it is important to believe in who you are, believe in what you are, and believe in why you do what you do. As a true professional, you deserve to be paid for what you do, and your clients deserve the best from you when they write that well-earned compensation check.
First-rate service and up-to-date information=top-rate client compensation.