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Innovating Your Real Estate BusinessBy Darren Shirlaw & Jacob Aldridge

In 2014, innovation is the new business imperative.

We have clearly moved beyond talking (complaining?) about the GFC. Yet the remnants of those years are still lingering, even as property values grow and agencies start to ramp up their agent numbers.

So what’s it been like for businesses emerging from the recession over the last couple of years?

Budgets pared to the bone

Most businesses have pared back their budgets and stripped out as much cost as possible. Offices start to feel tired. Marketing collateral looks dated. And this lack of spending is also reflected in your team’s ability to stand out.

Low staff morale

Paring back budgets saves money, but this is not its only effect. Staff morale is currently low because employees haven’t had money for even minor purchases. New equipment has also been put on hold along with most refurbishments. In addition, expected pay rises have reduced to almost – if not actual – zero and even training programmes have been hit. Compared with boom times, employees have had things pretty tough.

Clients feel unloved

Client relationships have become stretched over the lengthy ‘recession’ too. Businesses have seen low growth, some have slipped backwards and many agencies were not able to survive the last five years. Dropping values and low transaction numbers meant many agencies have struggled to put client service and marketing programmes together and customer loyalty has dwindled.

Stale products and services

As I’ve written about elsewhere, it’s important to think about Sales in real estate as less about selling houses and more about selling yourself – acquiring Listings for sales and management. This means selling your business, your team, and your processes.

In that context, most sales people have been selling the same thing for many years now. As a result, your staff have become stale, your services have becoming dull, and your clients and prospects are bored with the same offers and the same message. Meanwhile, staff have switched off their creativity while thinking to themselves, ‘What’s the point?’

How will innovation help?

The constructive effect of innovation is far greater than the obvious outcome of new products and services. One important effect is to release energy inside the business. This in turn stimulates fresh thinking in many areas, which ultimately has a positive impact on clients.

Would you say this is the right time to release the energy stored inside your business?

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