July 2019 Inman Conference Recap

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 Interruption, disruption, and fear. Those are the things that come to mind. Those are the words that were thrown around a lot on stage here in Vegas at the Inman conference. Once again, Inman put on a great show. I enjoy it, I think it’s good stuff. There’s nowhere else you can go twice a year and be in the room with the CEOs of almost all the biggest companies.

CEO of Connect the other day had president of Zillow, Greg Schwartz. Good guy, said hello to him, caught up with him. He rede me a little bit for doing less business with them, but very impressive company. He got up on stage. They don’t lack high aspirations, and they don’t lack money, and they don’t lack intelligence. Richard Parton was on stage with Brad yesterday doing an interview. Most of you know, Rich Parton took over Zillow. Of all the people on stage, of all the speakers, of everything I heard– I mean, Glenn Coleman was onstage, CEO of Redfin, just a whole bunch of different people interviewed.

I got to say, Zillow is definitely the most forward-thinking. I don’t say this to kiss ass, I’ve no reason to do that, but I have to admit. I sit there and listen, and I listened to the debates, and I listened to Brad ask the tough questions. I sit there and say to myself, “We got to watch this company. They have a lot of valid points.” They talked about the consumer experience, they talked about what the consumer wants, and the real estate industry being a little bit old and set in its ways and not focusing enough on the consumer.

Many of you, at least my Massachusetts viewers here, know that we launched our own version of an I Buyer program. I don’t like calling us I Buyers because, frankly, I don’t think we are, we don’t make offers online, we don’t make offers in 24 hours. We simply have a program where we say, “If you want to sell your home, but you don’t want to list, give us a call. We’ll buy your home cash and close when you want to,” and that’s all true. We do it. We’re up to four or five homes a month now and it’s increasing.

They talked about that, and they talked about how many consumers are clicking and asking for an offer on their home. It’s interesting, and maybe I shouldn’t talk about this too much because my competitors watch this and I could motivate them to get in the game. I’ve made a commitment to be frank with all of you and to share with all of you. I got to tell you, the amount of people that would rather not list their home is amazing to me. That was talked about a lot.

Technology. This technology word, it might be the most said word in the conference. A lot of companies have impressive technology. I will tell you, there are competitors in my game that claim to have the best tech and claim to have it dialed in. I wish I could say that we do. I mean, we have our own CRM that we custom build, but these major players, they’re ahead. I mean, they’re ahead, and they have to be respected for that, and we’ve got to pay attention.

When I say major players, again, I’m talking about Zillow and Redfin. I don’t know that I have an exact message for you guys, other than– I still see too many real estate geeks like me all over Facebook, angry, mad, “This disrupter, that disrupter. They’re going to take over. They’re going to do this, they’re going to do that. Watch out.” Guys, you’ve got to pay attention to what the consumer wants.

For the locals in Massachusetts, and heck, even national people see articles that Inman and Wall Street Journal’s done on us. We do that, that’s a part of our business. As much as we are focused on providing the best for our agents, we always do things with an ear for the consumer. I’d say that’s my overarching message for you guys here today. I’ll be honest. I got a little bit of a reminder of it, a little bit of– I don’t want to say a wake up because we do it every day, but it definitely got me thinking more, “What does the consumer want?”

Guys, at the end of the day, the consumer drives everything we do, and the consumer is the one that if we don’t keep happy, we’re out of business, and if we as broker-owners don’t train agents, and lead agents, and help our agents understand that they’ve got to keep the consumer happy and go where the consumer is going. One quote that was said on stage was how companies like Apple and Microsoft, they have built things before the customer even made it obvious that they wanted them. They actually thought ahead of what the customer wanted.

That sure got me thinking. I’m sitting there saying, “Well, we’ve been bold and we’ve done some big things, but what is the next thing the consumer wants?” It was interesting. I’ll tell you, I think that companies buying homes and then relisting them, I think that business is going to grow substantially. Do I think it’s going to be 50% of home sales? Absolutely not. I don’t see it. Do I think it could be as much as 10%? Yes, nationally. Do I think it’ll be as big in Massachusetts? Probably not. Our housing stock is too old and too different.

Again, back to my overarching message. I don’t care if you’ve been in the business 1 year, 5 years, 20 years, 30 years, you’ve got to think what does the consumer want now. When you work with consumers– Part of our training goes over this, how to train the customer to be a good customer and to follow your lead. Well, you can do that to an extent, but you can’t totally change their wants, needs, behaviors, you just can’t. It’s amazing. The world has changed, and the world has changed more in the last 15 years than it did in the prior 50.

I’m actually reading a new book, my latest book that I’m reading. I don’t know if I can pull it out here, but it’s called Harvesting Intangible Assets. There’s a quote in there somewhere from Bill Gates. I don’t know when he said it, but it was something like, “At no point in our time has there been more opportunity, more available methods and things like that could be tackled.” You know what? I want to find this for you guys. Hang on, I got my darn briefcase here.

Now I’m insistent on reading this to you because it fits into– Probably should have been a little more prepared. It fits into what I’m talking about here with the overall message. Of course, now I can’t find it. Hold on. Stay with me. Here it is right here, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in such a short period of time.” Yes, that’s slot machines here at the airport.

Think about that comment, “Never before in our history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in such a short period of time.” That’s straight from Bill Gates from my book. Here’s the book right there. Read that. It’s funny because I was in Florida over the weekend with my family, and I read that there, and it was banging around in my head that one comment.

Then, I get out here and I spend time in a room with– Whether you like these companies or not, they’re major players. I reserve my opinions. They’re major players. I’m sitting there, listening to them. Guys, we got to give these companies respect, we got to pay attention to them. They’re doing big things. You got to think about what I think about not to say I’m right, but what can I implement in my business that I’m learning from them? What can I do to get ahead? What does the consumer want down the line?

That’s about it. All right, guys, that’s enough of a rant. I got to jump on emails for a little bit, and then get on a five-hour flight home. All right, guys. Have a good day. Hope you’re all doing well. Hope you’re all enjoying the summer. Appreciate your following and appreciate you all. This guy’s just crushing it over here. He’s not crushing it in a real estate, he’s crushing on the slot machine. All right.  See you guys.