/Five Lessons From Jeff Bezos For Real Estate Leaders

Five Lessons From Jeff Bezos For Real Estate Leaders

As the head of an independent real estate brokerage, I know that it’s all too easy to get swept up in the headlines about which firm is doing what and which technology is coming online to simplify this and that. And regardless of how far the real estate industry has come, and for all the bells and whistles we tout, at the end of the day real estate is a service industry: The primary focus needs to be on the customer, not the competition.

Don’t believe me? Ask Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has said the secret sauce to success is an “obsessive compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

I have to believe that if a principle as elementary as customer satisfaction drove Bezos and Amazon to the trillion-dollar position they’re in today, many of these same lessons can apply to my business in this very tricky time.

1. Missionary Vs. Mercenary

Bezos urges all entrepreneurs to be missionaries. “The missionary is building the product and building the service because they love the customer, because they love the product, because they love the service,” he said in 2015. “The mercenary is building the product or service so that they can flip the company and make money.”

To be sure, the real estate industry is chock-full of new startups buying up market share left and right, offering outrageous signing bonuses and commission splits — but to what end? If a brokerage’s end goal is to show growth and answer to shareholders, in what way does that benefit the end customer?

Yes, to some degree, the agents who work at my firm are my clients and I absolutely take into account their needs and their criticisms. But together, we have the shared goal of making the real estate process easier for our customers, whether that’s through advertising and marketing, technology platforms or good old-fashioned word of mouth networking.

2. Fail Smartly

Failure and invention are inseparable twins.” Success often comes about through a ton of trial and error but without failure, you rarely hit the bullseye. It’s what you learn from your missteps that often makes you and your business better. I have stumbled plenty in my own career, and I’ve grown as a result. I am also in a better position to offer advice when I know something hasn’t worked for me in the past. Experience is the best teacher.

3. Think Big

In order to stay focused, I’ve had to think bigger than ever. It sounds counterintuitive, but as long as you have a vision you can aim to achieve it — even if the smaller details might change along the way. Because my firm is independently and family-owned, I have the flexibility to switch course relatively quickly in order to find the right balance, whether it’s launching new video content or beefing up our listings feed capacity.

4. Frugality

One of Amazon’s 14 guiding principles rests on tightening the purse strings. “We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense,” offered Bezos.

I am very budget-conscious as the president of a growing company, even though I know firsthand some of my competitors are raising major capital and spending it just as fast. This is a business model that may not hold up when the market goes soft. Sustainability breeds loyalty and longevity.

5. Results Matter

We live in a media-obsessed world, where hype often supersedes merit. Leaders in real estate need to learn that instead of letting the headlines deter you from my goals, refocus on what you could be doing to better your brand. How do we help agents get their sales figures up? How do we bring buyers, sellers and renters together in the most seamless way possible, and how does the brand support these initiatives? Doubling down on efforts in your own backyard will yield earned results.

Brokerages big and small can learn a lot from Bezos and Amazon, whether they’re local mom-and-pop shops or large international franchises. Of the utmost importance is staying true to your vision and staying the course, even if you must pivot along the way.

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As the head of an independent real estate brokerage, I know that it’s all too easy to get swept up in the headlines about which firm is doing what and which technology is coming online to simplify this and that. And regardless of how far the real estate industry has come, and for all the bells and whistles we tout, at the end of the day real estate is a service industry: The primary focus needs to be on the customer, not the competition.

Don’t believe me? Ask Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has said the secret sauce to success is an “obsessive compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

I have to believe that if a principle as elementary as customer satisfaction drove Bezos and Amazon to the trillion-dollar position they’re in today, many of these same lessons can apply to my business in this very tricky time.

1. Missionary Vs. Mercenary

Bezos urges all entrepreneurs to be missionaries. “The missionary is building the product and building the service because they love the customer, because they love the product, because they love the service,” he said in 2015. “The mercenary is building the product or service so that they can flip the company and make money.”

To be sure, the real estate industry is chock-full of new startups buying up market share left and right, offering outrageous signing bonuses and commission splits — but to what end? If a brokerage’s end goal is to show growth and answer to shareholders, in what way does that benefit the end customer?

Yes, to some degree, the agents who work at my firm are my clients and I absolutely take into account their needs and their criticisms. But together, we have the shared goal of making the real estate process easier for our customers, whether that’s through advertising and marketing, technology platforms or good old-fashioned word of mouth networking.

2. Fail Smartly

Failure and invention are inseparable twins.” Success often comes about through a ton of trial and error but without failure, you rarely hit the bullseye. It’s what you learn from your missteps that often makes you and your business better. I have stumbled plenty in my own career, and I’ve grown as a result. I am also in a better position to offer advice when I know something hasn’t worked for me in the past. Experience is the best teacher.

3. Think Big

In order to stay focused, I’ve had to think bigger than ever. It sounds counterintuitive, but as long as you have a vision you can aim to achieve it — even if the smaller details might change along the way. Because my firm is independently and family-owned, I have the flexibility to switch course relatively quickly in order to find the right balance, whether it’s launching new video content or beefing up our listings feed capacity.

4. Frugality

One of Amazon’s 14 guiding principles rests on tightening the purse strings. “We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense,” offered Bezos.

I am very budget-conscious as the president of a growing company, even though I know firsthand some of my competitors are raising major capital and spending it just as fast. This is a business model that may not hold up when the market goes soft. Sustainability breeds loyalty and longevity.

5. Results Matter

We live in a media-obsessed world, where hype often supersedes merit. Leaders in real estate need to learn that instead of letting the headlines deter you from my goals, refocus on what you could be doing to better your brand. How do we help agents get their sales figures up? How do we bring buyers, sellers and renters together in the most seamless way possible, and how does the brand support these initiatives? Doubling down on efforts in your own backyard will yield earned results.

Brokerages big and small can learn a lot from Bezos and Amazon, whether they’re local mom-and-pop shops or large international franchises. Of the utmost importance is staying true to your vision and staying the course, even if you must pivot along the way.