Why a Little Brokerage Matters


My real estate Coach tossed out a challenge today to a group of us who run real estate teams and small brokerages. He said traditional brokerages “… do a terrible job of creating culture and hiring productive people” and he wanted us to answer a basic question- why do you exist? What makes you better than the big guys? Why do you think you can succeed where they suck?

It is a question I have been working on for two years, defining and refining the answer to a basic question, “Why DIGGS?”

I believe the pursuit of money is not enough to bond people to a common culture. But, it is money (profit) that is at the foundation of most large brokerages. They are founded on “Whats” that bring more sales, profits and producing agents to their brand. ‘What do we do that is different, better or more prestigious? What is our USP or our luxury marketing? What is our commission structure or our service guarantee?

Simon Sineck said, “No one buys What you do. They buy Why you do it.” This includes the clients as well as the agents and employees.

“Whats” can be copied, duplicated, repeated and paid for. They are not unique, they do not, of themselves, make up a culture.

In fact, what the heck do we mean by culture? It is the buzz word d’jour in business musings, these days. It is so pervasive that a major survey of employee attitudes cites “culture” as near the top of priorities in valuing their place of employment.  “The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic,or age group:” is the most relevant definition of culture from

A culture is defined by shared behaviors and beliefs.  That sounds a lot like “Why”.

Let us, then, consider the second part of Simon Sineck’s statement, “They buy WHY you do it”. He contrasted Dell Computer to Apple. Dell had a great What. Powerful computer at a great price with the convenience of online ordering and door to door delivery. Apple had a great Why. “We aim to challenge the status quo”.

Dell imploded under pricing pressures and a changing market place. Apple just had one of it’s most profitable quarters, ever, and is poised to explode with the introduction of the Apple Watch. We all have a sense of the Apple Culture. Can you even imagine what Dells’ culture might be?

How do we apply this to our industry, to what I am accomplishing with DIGGS? Or, more to my coach’s point- why do I think I can do things better?

Because I know why I am doing this. I want to change the real estate industry. I want to create an entire brand that is formed on a single idea- make things better for the customer. This “Why” is a basis to form a collection of people who believe as I do and who behave in a way to make these beliefs manifest. There is a shared Why instead of a shared What.  A shared Why that creates the money.

Contrast this to your basic brokerage. The shared belief is they have a better way to make money. These better ways are tied up in Whats. Lower commission, global name recognition, fancier offices, powerful RELO companies, internet lead generation or more advertising. These are great sounding Whats, but they are a poor glue to bind a group to a culture. That is why the traditional brokerage is subject to the whims of disgruntled agents demanding higher commissions and more services. Anyone can offer a whole lot more Whats.

Why do I think I can do a better job than the big guys on culture? Because I offer a Why, and they offer Whats. I am crystal on how I intend to create culture based on this Why and what that culture will do for my business.

The second item is more problematic. “Hiring more productive people”. I am shooting in the dark on that one. I am unwilling, at my very core, to engaging in the hiring train that the traditional broker accepts as foundation. At the same time, I am sure that “great people just show up, sing Kumbaya around the fire and are wildly productive day one” is a fantasy. While I suppose it can happen it is not predictable and certainly not duplicatable.

My theory, being tested as we speak, is that my Why will attract people who will work harder toward a Why then they would a paycheck. I believe the urge to truly help people is a powerful motivator. And, if the entire culture and actions of DIGGS is designed to bring true value to people, to help them, I believe my people will be more productive.

To understand this, think about door knocking with the intent of “getting”. It is hard to do, most people don’t like it, and most will soon stop doing it. Contrast this to door knocking with an item of true value like a fixer priced below market. It becomes easy and enjoyable and many people would knock all the time if they could feel that way every day.

The ability to offer true value makes people more productive.  This is either true or wildly idealistic.  I guess we will find out together.

About Kendyl Young

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