I recently saw the 2012 Academy award winning best picture, “The Artist”, and I couldn’t help but see many similarities between the movie and the real estate industry. It’s a great story about change and what happens to those in the world who resist it.
Consider the character George Valentin, who is in the prime of his life and his career. He is popular; he is loved by all. His movies are always big hits. Everything is going his way. Isn’t this like MLS’s several years ago before the Internet and consumer’s access to information? Realtors had exclusive access to the the best information. MLS’s were profitable and growing. They were in the prime of their business lives.
Then, something changes. In George’s case, in The Artist, technology has evolved to allow talking movies and a new, younger star, Peppy Miller, who George mentored, is stepping into his shoes. But, Valentin doesn’t want to believe that this change is anything that will last. He doesn’t see or acknowledge that consumers will be interested in this new technology. Wasn’t that the same in the real estate industry? Consumers, combined with available technology, are driving change. But some MLS’s and real estate Associations don’t want to see it or acknowledge their need to change with the times. In Valentin’s situation, he decides to go it alone and produce his own silent film, using his own money. He thinks he is unbeatable and so famous that the public will be drawn to him in spite of technology. Silent films will never lose their appeal, especially when he is the star. In the real estate industry, many MLS’s and associations decide to go it alone. They say, “we are unique, we are different and our customers will stick with us because we have the best data.” They think status quo is the best strategy.
But what happens to people, companies and industries when they don’t change with the times? Look at George Valentin in The Artist. He goes bankrupt, his wife leaves him and he has to auction all his possessions just to survive. Compare this to the real estate industry. Many boards and MLS’s are doing everything they can to hang onto their clients and reduce their costs. Some are avoiding changing with the times and giving consumers what they want. In their minds, the customers are Realtors, not consumers. But what they don’t see is the consumer will ultimately get their way. Boards and MLS’s can only cut expenses so much. George Valentin only has so many possessions to auction. Without another revenue stream, he is finished. Times are desperate for George. Similarly, times are desperate for many MLSs and associations in our industry.
When Valentin awakens from surviving a terrible fire in his apartment, he finds himself being cared for by Peppy. She’s the one who has cared for him; she’s the one who kept him alive. Aren’t some MLS’s and boards staying alive because of some new technology? It has helped prolong the life of the organizations, but is it really a cure? In George’s case, Peppy tries to offer him a part in her new movie, a talking part. But George is not a talking actor. When he later finds out that she is the one who purchased all of his possession in the auction, his ego cannot handle it and he is pushed to the edge. He is about to attempt suicide when Peppy finds him. Many MLSs and boards are at the end of their ropes. They are struggling to survive and don’t know what to do.
In the movie, the answer is collaboration. The old and the new can find a way to work together. They can find what each is uniquely qualified to do and reinvent themselves. They can give the public what it wants in a way that is better than working separately. Through collaboration, everyone wins. When Peppy and George decide to dance and sing together, they see that it combines the best of both of their talents and provides a new kind of entertainment—musicals. When MLSs,boards and brokers trust one another and work together, they can not only give their paying customers what they want, they can also give consumers what they’ve been asking for. Collaboration, not competition, will move our industry forward in current times. Times will always change, but only those who embrace change and reinvent themselves along with the change will survive.
We can see evidence of increasing collaboration in our industry. In states like Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and Washington, leaders are looking for ways to work together for the good of their customers and consumers whom they server. The roadmap to success is quite clear and the true leaders in these states know they can do more when they collaborate. Are you managing your demise? What are you doing to prepare for your future right now?
And, what about the dog, Uggie? Uggie is the one who points George in the right direction. He’s the one who saves George’s life when he gets the policeman to come to the burning apartment. He’s the one who shows George where his possessions are in Peppy’s house. He’s like one who gently guides George and stays by his side. I’m Uggie and I am on your side, hoping to guide you through the change by collaborating, where everyone wins. Let’s talk in Washington DC. next month. (248) 982-1799 or email@example.com
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