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What the Real Estate Industry Could Learn from JFK and Domino’s Pizza

transparencyNot to get political, but the 2016 Presidential campaign has reinforced something we all know: people expect you to be the same person in public that you are in private.

Regardless of whether the camera is rolling.

Regardless of what audience you’re speaking to.

That expectation has another word: transparency.

And the expectation of transparency is growing.

Technology has changed every single sector of the economy. One of those changes is the fact that transparency is now a requirement. If you are a politician or a public figure, every word you speak is captured on someone’s cell phone, and then circulated thousands or even millions of times around the Internet. You can no longer say one thing to an audience in Iowa, and then deliver a different message two days later in California.

But it isn’t just politicians who are learning to navigate a world of increased transparency.

If a restaurant provides bad service, customers will leave a negative review on Yelp. Twenty years ago you had to rely on your friends to tell you that unless you want to spend the next three days sleeping on the floor of your bathroom, you should avoid Bob’s Chicken N’ Such.

Now you can learn from a complete stranger that eating at Bob’s Chicken N’ Such is a bad idea, rather than having to learn the hard way.

And that’s a good thing.

Transparency forces honesty.

Transparency cuts through the marketing language and advertising noise and tells us what we are really buying.

Transparency helps keep us from getting food poisoning from bad chicken.

Transparency helps us know who we are really voting for.

And for businesses and industries, transparency can be a way to differentiate yourself from competitors. Being transparent about your processes, owning up to your mistakes, and being honest with your audience can be very powerful.

Here are two examples:

After the failed CIA-backed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro known as the Bay of Pigs, John F. Kennedy took responsibility by saying, “Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan. I am the responsible officer of the government.”

Even Kennedy’s opponents admired his transparency and willingness to take responsibility, and his popularity soared.

More recently, in 2010 Domino’s Pizza conducted an ad campaign that focused on how their pizza received low marks in taste tests and in customer reviews, with customers saying the pizza sauce was awful, and the crust tasted like “cardboard.” Domino’s owned up to their failure and made their efforts to improve their product the centerpiece of an aggressive marketing campaign.

The result?

Customer satisfaction improved by 20%, and three years later Domino’s was the fastest- growing chain of restaurants in the world.

The lesson, from both John F. Kennedy and Domino’s Pizza?

Be transparent. Admit when you make mistakes. Show your customers and stakeholders that you are trying to do a better job.

It’s a lesson the real estate industry could learn from, because our industry isn’t exactly beloved.

In fact, a 2015 Gallup poll on the public’s perception of honesty and ethics among professionals, real estate agents scored 20 out of 100.

That’s worse than lawyers.

That’s worse than bankers.

Think about that. People have a worse perception of the real estate profession than they do of lawyers and bankers, who, professionally speaking, are two of history’s greatest villains.

What does that say about real estate?

It says we need to do better.

As an industry and as individual firms, we need to own up to our mistakes, like JFK did, and show our customers how we are improving our product, like Domino’s also did.

It says we need to be transparent.

And transparency is one of our core values at Worth Clark Realty.

We don’t focus on commission splits and what those splits can do for agents. We focus on customer needs — and the biggest need we see right now is shedding more light on the process and transaction.

Technology will drive transparency, and as a firm we leverage technology to keep our customers more informed. However, we want to go further and lead our industry on a journey toward complete transparency.

And whether you are a customer, agent, or competitor, we hope you’ll take that journey with us.

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Bryan Bowles
President & Broker
Worth Clark Realty