I read a great story the other day about how when male lions get old, lose their teeth and can’t hunt, they’re positioned to roar at the prey to scare them into the jaws of the younger lions. Instead of the prey running away from the roar, they should run to it. But their instinct is to run from what appears to be the threat.
We’ve experienced so many threats recently, including a pandemic. Some felt initially paralyzed or ran from them, while others ran toward the roar. There is a situation of some magnitude occurring on a regular basis that might disrupt our ability to continue business and life. Do you have a crisis or disaster plan at your brokerage? What about a plan to deal with competitive issues?
No one ever expects a Black Swan event, natural disaster or pandemic, but building a plan for such event is vital for your real estate brokerage.
A crisis is any time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. Natural disasters and civil unrest might impede our ability to carry on for a period of time. But financial, economic, staffing or competitive challenges also pose real threats that can affect how we choose to maneuver in our business. We can stick our heads in the sand and point fingers or figure out how to move forward in the most productive and helpful way.
Are disruptors that bad?
As the term ‘disruptors’ entered the real estate industry, brokers reacted in one of two ways. They either criticized them, or they looked at their business model to see if they might learn something from them. They ran toward the roar to figure out if it was a threat or an opportunity.
What became clear is that the curtain on the real estate transaction has been pulled back. We could no longer hide behind the premise of ‘that’s just the way it is’ or ‘we can’t make the process easier or better.’
Business leaders must be prepared for the worst at times. It sounds grim, but your people will look to you for strength and guidance no matter what the challenge is. It is a lot of weight to carry on your shoulders, but being prepared can mean you kick into execution mode instead of panic mode — no matter what the threat.
What an earthquake taught me
After living through the massive earthquake in Los Angeles in 1993, I created a Disaster Recovery Business Continuation Plan for the departments that I ran. I had to experience a horrible event to realize that we needed to be prepared for the worst. We had very limited technology at the time, so it created additional challenges. The first line of my plan read, “This plan is to take effect in the event of a pandemic or a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, etc.” I wrote that in 1994. Today, that plan would look very different.
While it’s not a fun exercise, your leadership should spend a day going through every type of disaster plan, natural or fabricated, to create a strategy. It may be dealing with a new competitor that is recruiting your top agents or a natural disaster such as a wild fire or hurricane.
It may involve phone trees or assigning specific tasks to people who would check on clients and staff. It should involve cross training staff to ensure there are people to keep business moving. Also, you want to ensure your means of communication and data protection are sound. It should also include scripts and talking points, establishing community outreach programs and teams of volunteers.
Being prepared doesn’t make the problem go away, but by facing it early on brokers can often minimize the damage to their business and reveal true leaders in the company and the community.
“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.” ~Howard Ruff, financial advisor and author