One V Many

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one_v_manyJim Collins analyzed a broad range of companies when he authored a book called From Good to Great. He was searching to see what made a group of people, not just good at what they do, but great. One chapter focused on what is called a hedgehog concept. A team should ask the following:


1. What you can be the best in the world?
And as equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world. The idea revolves around a single idea that people can easily grasp.

2. What drives your economic engine?
How to effectively generate profitability. In particular, a single denominator - profit per x - that had the greatest impact on their business.

3. What you are deeply passionate about?
Focus on those activities that ignite their passion. The idea here is to discover what makes you passionate.

Applied To Real Estate Industry

As I apply these to real estate groups around the country, I see real estate companies add many services and departments to be a "one stop shop" rather than choosing one single aspect of real estate and being really good at it. I see MLS's expand their services by continuously adding many items rather than selecting the one aspect of maintaining property data and being really good at it. I see real estate agents saying they'll do anything and many areas rather than holding onto a single area that they can dominate.

This is probably happening for many reasons. Wanting a piece of every action in a down market, studies showing that's what customers want and justifying fees that they currently charge or fees that they are increasing are just some aspects that come to mind.

Whether good or bad isn't the point. The point is, this is what I see. It would be interesting to see otherwise. It would be interesting to see a group of agents who only do residential real estate in narrow price range and turn away rentals and commercial.

One Versus Many Example -Google

Let me give a large non-real estate example as to not offend everyone (geez, people can be sensitive). Google. Everyone in the civilized world has heard of them. They were clicking along just grand and then something happened. They became a public company. Overnight they went from a thoughtful company asking piercing questions into a mindless zombie in search of increasing profits.

They did what anyone of us would naturally do realizing that there's a profit cap on their main product- the search engine product. They increase their divisions. They continuous add areas and products they know nothing about. They pull away from their main mission which is "To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." (What does Google Checkout have anything to do with the world's information?) They go against their core values of keeping their home page simple and begin advertising their own products like the Nexus One phone released yesterday on January 6, 2010.

The whole time this is happening, they are devaluing their own core product. Advertising is filling up the search engine results page. The top ads are moving closer to the results beginning to skew what's real results and what's paid for. Their real-time search efforts into Facebook and Twitter are mediocre at best and sometime just incorrect.

When this dissolution of core focus occurs, time is ripe for another group to overtake the core competency. In this case, if another group created a search engine product that got rid of advertising and did a better job of real time searches, they could begin to gain search engine market share. Already I can see people nodding their heads craving a better search product.

Apply To Your Real Estate

Now apply this idea to real estate. At beginning of this new year, ask yourself these questions and apply them to your real estate activities.

1. What you can be the best in the world or real estate? Is there an untapped market that no one services? Are you trying to fight a battle that is overrun with veteran agents?

2. What drives your real estate economic engine? Buying and selling is obvious but look past that. Saying "I want to profit $100 per buying side" and sticking to it, turning away deals that don't measure up is more helpful in the long run than saying "I'll take anything that comes my way."

3. What you are deeply passionate about in real estate? If your passion is first-time homebuyers and you're helping baby boomers, you need to re-align.

Apply To Real Estate Web Sites

These questions can also be applied to Real Estate Web Sites. Does your Real Estate Web Site try to be many items for everybody? Or does it focus on one single item and service a single group? Does your Real Estate Web Site drive your economic engine? Or does it have rote information coming off the boiler plate press? Does your Real Estate Web Site show what you are deeply passionate about? Or does it just brochure your possible abilities of buying or selling?

I often say to our clients that a web site is an extension of your over all marketing plan. We can't tell you what the real estate web site should be like until you tell us what you're trying to do with your marketing. The issue we run into is that the majority of real estate agents have no idea what their marketing plan is.

At beginning of this new year, ask yourself these questions and apply them to your real estate activities.


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