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The Indispensable Agent“A dose of strategy, a dash of inspo, & a few tall tales.”

What is a “Disruptor”?

We spend a lot of time in our industry talking about “disruptors” but we don’t stop to consider who these people are and more importantly what they are doing that makes them “disruptive” in the first place. The dictionary would define a disruptor as, “a company or form of technology that causes radical change in an existing industry or market by means of innovation.” Let’s break that down and see if we can provide you with a spark for your own business. 

Radical Change & Innovation 

When I see that part of being a disruptor is to cause “radical change” what I think about is people who are not afraid to be different. They are not afraid to look at the same problems from different angles and try to come up with different solutions. The square pegs in the round holes. They are frequently misunderstood, often criticized, and get it wrong a lot. Yet, every so often, someone pushes hard enough and long enough to have a breakthrough. I encourage people to give it a try if they think something could be done differently or better. At the very least, you will quickly learn why it is done the way that it is! I have had many, many things in my journey as the Founder and CEO of Amherst Madison where I felt things could be done much better and I wondered why people continued to do them the same way. In some instances I broke through and created value. Other times, those ideas flamed out spectacularly!   

  • I invented brand new steel sign posts using a custom manufacturing process… only to find out that these posts really didn’t make much of a difference in our brand penetration or customer experience and they were largely a waste of money/time compared to using a more traditional painted 4X4 wood post. So we don’t make them anymore. I spent a lot of money and even more time learning this lesson! 
  • Myself and my VP Jaime Patocka introduced a 100% digital treasury/payment system where we received our commission from the title company via wire transfer and we flat out refused to accept paper checks that were and still are the industry standard. We then turned those around to our agents in 1 business day via ACH transfer to their checking account. We were the first brokerage in Idaho to do this. It was a huge struggle but a huge win and remains a competitive advantage to this day.
  • When I started AM I thought I would be really clever and devised a hybrid commission plan/structure that was part transaction fee and part split. It seemed like there was a “better way” to incentivize both the agents and the brokerage. The plans on the market were almost all one or the other but not both. It bombed. Big time. Why? Because nobody understood it. It was too complicated. If you cannot sell/explain something to someone in about 30 seconds and have them understand exactly what you do and how they benefit, you just lost. Important lesson learned.  

Investing In Their Business 

One of the things that disruptors all have in common: they invest in their business. They are not afraid to put money up into a business that isn’t making any money yet. They’re not afraid to invest hundreds of thousands, or in the case of some larger companies, millions or even tens of millions of dollars into something; into their idea, their company, their concept. That’s pretty sobering to think about because the reality is that a lot of us don’t do that and there’s a very pervasive cheap/bootstrap mentality in real estate that is destructive and limiting. That’s one of the things that I see that competitors and disruptors do very well, that sometimes established players won’t do: they are willing to invest in their business. Why wouldn’t they? Why don’t you? 

If you look at the restaurant industry, or the retail industry, or the fashion industry or just about any other industry outside of being a real estate agent; it is understood that you’re going to be in the red (losing money) for a long time. But for some reason, as agents in real estate, we all think that we should be able to put zero in and just make hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is not the way life or business works. Yes, you might close a couple of deals and make a few sales here and there, but you will never make this a career much less a scalable business without significant investments of both time and capital. 

The Wrap 

The characteristics and behavior that we identify with “disruptors” are often in our best interest and are the hallmark of successful entrepreneurs. Put simply, they are things you can and should be doing in your own business whether it is established or brand new. You should be innovating and trying new things. You should be open to learning the inevitable lessons that come along the way. You should be investing in your business and investing in yourself again and again and again. That’s not “disruption”, it is good business. 

Lead Generation – Create Raving Fans

Want to generate leads and raving fans for life? You need to absolutely crush the closing and moving experiences for your people. Buy the moving trucks, deliver balloons and cakes, have pizza delivered on moving day, order a food service to deliver dinner for them every night for a week after they move in (because who has time to cook when they are unpacking), and I could go on. This stuff is only limited by your capacity to give. Also, for the love of all things real estate, do not EVER let your client go to closing without you and do not EVER let someone else hand them their keys. That is the culmination of the entire process! The whole point! YOU want to be attached to that memory.  


A Quote to Ponder

“Those who disrupt their industries change consumer behavior, alter economics, and transform lives.” – Heather Simmons