From my perspective, turning business as usual into the “next big thing” is ultimately about creating the unexpected. During my time with ERA Real Estate, we have been able to strike out into new territory in a number of ways, thanks in large part to a team that has been willing to go where no real estate company has gone before. Here are a few examples.
1. Invert the strategy development process. Executives often begin the process of strategy development by meeting with their leadership team. We flipped that model and solicited feedback from the people on the front lines, the ones who are affected by business goals on a daily basis. This helped to connect strategy with execution. Think first of what the customer needs—whether your customers are franchisees, the sales team, or consumers—then focus on how to meet those needs. We saw great success with this approach during our global activation of our new logo and brand standards: just six months after launching our new look, more than 90% of our system has converted.
2. Continually tap into the next generation. As new people join ERA, I like to foster the “business not as usual” mindset from the get-go. But an even better way to help foster a forward-thinking environment is to tap into the next generation. Many of our brokers have developed strong ties with local colleges and universities as potential clients and as potential recruits. College is often the time in life when people are most comfortable thinking innovatively, because of the tremendous exposure to new ideas and concepts that college provides. Capitalize on that mentality and drive by fostering a college internship program.
We’ve seen success with this all across the country—when brokers invest the time to train students and instill useful knowledge, they create a steady stream of agents who strengthen their companies by infusing new ideas that keep them relevant in the marketplace.
3. Consider how you could change your approach. It can be nerve-wracking to think about altering the fundamental model upon which your business is built. But the ROI from understanding the changes occurring in your industry and updating your business accordingly can outweigh the risks—especially in today’s ever-evolving technological landscape. I can attest to this personally based on my experience expanding ERA’s traditional franchise structure to include ERA Powered®, a unique business solution in the real estate space which allows qualified brokerages to retain their regional branding while leveraging ERA’s national platforms and global network.
This innovative approach fueled significant growth for ERA by adding new companies in new markets and expanding systemwide referral business for all franchisees. Had we not foreseen the need for this update, we would have found ourselves behind the proverbial eight ball—at which point a transformation can be rushed and isn’t always as successful.
As leaders, we must always be asking “What’s next?” From new products, new processes and new paradigms, part of fulfilling our leadership promise is understanding that the answer to that question lies squarely in our hands.