One of the most well known and well respected business and thought leaders of our time is the late Steve Jobs. His creations have been adopted by tens of millions of people, literally transforming the lives of an entire planet. I often sit back and think of what my life would be like without the ability to use my collection of Apple products. It is truly a phenomenon in the history of our country and world, where the vision and persistence of one man could impact the lives of so many. So to give you some insight into why I would be compelled to write this post, let me give you some quick background to my experience with this great company.
I’ve always considered myself somewhat of an early adopter, and no company has ever reinforced that habit like Apple. Recalling my first true purchase with a Mac product seems like just yesterday. It was an experience that would go on to change my life when I went into Best Buy in early 2002 to buy this new device called an iPOD. It was a 30GB 2nd Generation for $499. The faded back lit blue light design reminded me of my 8 bit color phone at the time. I had a little bit of interaction with one from a friend of mine who had received one that Christmas of 2001, and from the very first minute I played with it, I was hooked. I ended up soon there after traveling to Europe for a year study abroad program, and that iPOD was my best friend. It never left my side, and every other student was completely jealous of my mini music collection in comparison to their 72 case CD purse. It was at that moment, when everyone and their dog was enamored by my new best friend, that I realized this wasn’t just a little box that allowed me to listen to music, it was an experience and a completely new way of life.
As I was watching one of my favorite shows 60 minutes this past week, I was thrilled to see one of the segments was on the life of Steve Jobs. It included recordings of conversations and testimonials from his chosen author of his now successful biography. It was an interesting piece just hearing a bit more about the man that none of us really knew much about, but one segment hit me quite hard. It was a segment about his always talked about feud and relationship with Microsoft giant Bill Gates. Take a listen to this quick blurp from the interview:
The line that was a wake up call to me was the very last one mentioned. Steve said back to his friend, in reference to Bill Gate’s way of conducting business, saying that, “sure Gate’s model of selling licenses to 3rd party groups was a successful way of doing business, if you were ok with making a crappy product.” When I first heard the line, I paused it and immediately rewound, and rewound, and rewound again. I thought about it for a while, and of course started drawing parallels between Apple and my day to day world and passion of real estate.
Steve Jobs’ vision is that of total care and total service. He wasn’t willing to license out his product, sell it off in little pieces, or allow anyone to do with it what they wanted. He wanted to make sure that anyone and everyone that came in contact with the Apple brand was guaranteed the vision. Guaranteed the quality he designed for the end consumer.
Lets come full circle and see how we’re able to relate this to the world of real estate. I find that most typical real estate brokerages have a lot in common with the Microsoft Bill Gates model. The goal of Microsoft is to develop new products and license them off to whoever will buy them, all with the intent on becoming the biggest technology company around. Similarly, you have traditional real estate companies who hire and recruit as their main strategy to increase their size and marketshare to also be the biggest company around. Both of these business models have a couple key points. One, they’re both fairly self serving, and two, neither of them really have a plan or strategy for how the end consumer will end up receiving or interacting with that product. Microsoft has become known for developing and creating products that have a lot of baggage. Crashing systems, spam, viruses, ext. Likewise, this classic real estate model has led to a similar demise of the consumer’s overall dissatisfaction with our profession, often being compared with other non-trusted brands and professions with low overall approval ratings.
So what is exactly going on here? Where is the disconnect? I think that Microsoft’s overall problem is that, where they might have started out with a good idea or decent overall product, there was no way for them to be able to maintain that when they gave up all of the quality control to the companies they sold the licenses to. Real estate is the exact same way. These brokerages might have overall good intentions and ideals, but inevitably, when your model is based on growth and size, your 60, 200, or 500 agents will all adapt the products differently. They’ll all implement their own business models and strategies that they pass down to their consumers. One agent might specialize in print advertising, one in pictures, one in personal service, but none really able to specialize in the entire package. Similarly, HP might go for more of a hip music image where Lenovo focuses on business and durability. In both instances, consumers end up receiving a product that may have started as something great, but inevitably leads to what they’re now known for.
Lets take a second to point out that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with these models. They’re both very successful and profitable, hence they’ve been done this way for generations. But, times change. Apple was a failing company in 1998 when Steve Jobs took back over, and with that take over came a new ideal of business. A new ideal for a new kind of consumer. A consumer that has an increased expectation of quality and service. The ways of the 80s and 90s was no longer enough for today’s consumers, and from 1999-2012, the company grew by 300% because consumers were ready for a change.
As Steve Jobs said, yes the Microsoft model is a profitable strategy, but at what cost? Just as Steve Jobs found Microsoft’s model to be flawed, we at Green Acre feel the exact same way about the typical brokerage model. The 1999 worldwide tech transformation for real estate has arrived. We think consumers have gotten to a point where they demand more. They demand a product that sees its service and quality all the way through. So we have developed our company on an Apple like mentality, where we feel like the only way to provide a truly uncompromised product, is to see it all the way through to the consumer.
Apples’ tech innovation and our vision of real estate innovation are synonymous. They both build themselves upon the ideals of YOU. How you care about the sleek design. How you care about the lightweight user friendly interface. How you care about advanced features. How you care about custom home searches. How you care about seller communication systems. How you care about premiere advertising and marketing services. How you care about reliability and service, from beginning to end, no matter what the product.
And most of all, how you care that we care.
To this day my first iPOD is still a staple in my line up of Apple devices, which I reluctantly admit has almost reached double digets. But for what it represents, I’ll keep it forever.