Why Some Agents Are Like Starving Actors

What do modern real estate agents and actors have in common? As it turns out, there are quite a few ways in which they are alike. First, the worker is the brand. Without the worker, there is no brand. Second, the better they are at their craft, the more their work is compensated. And, perhaps most strikingly of all, both are looking to land the next gig; without lining up gigs, they starve (or wait tables at a dive, which might be the equivalent of emotional starvation for some).

But do you think of yourself as an artist trying to land your next big gig?

With innovation disrupting every corner of the real estate industry, it may help to think of your role as an agent in the context of a gig environment. Here’s why: unless you are creating opportunities for your business to land the next gig, your business is being disrupted.

Artists who work to land a gig know that unless they continue to hone their skills, come up with new jokes, have a unique look, a new idea, and generally some unique value that profoundly connects to their audience, they will be just another starving artist. How many starving real estate agents do you know?

And then there are other artists who have more high-paying gigs available to them than they can possibly say “yes” to. These are the ones who get paid millions just to show up to put on display their unique value. These are the ones whom we remember years after we see them on stage – that’s how memorable they are.

The others? Forgettable. The unemployment rate for actors typically hovers around 24%. Did some of these actors land a gig that year for a soap commercial or at a local dinner theater? How many agents do two or fewer deals per year? How long do you get to say you are an actor when you are not surviving as a result of your craft as an actor?

The mindset of looking at our real estate craft who are obsessing about landing a gig is not only helpful but might just be essential to our survival.

For those who have been hiding under a rock since 2004, here’s the landscape: one of two things is defining the modern agent. Either the agent is more and more of a commodity: someone who does discrete tasks to make a transaction moderately more convenient and whose services could be summed up in an à la carte brochure. Or an agent is an indispensable fiduciary whose involvement in any transaction is worth tens of thousands of dollars to their client.

It’s not hard to see that the public now, more than ever, perceives the value of an agent as a commodity. In many ways we’ve had it coming to us as an industry for quite some time. We placed our value in the information we had access to, or our overly complicated, constantly changing legal forms, and our fancy systems for using lockboxes. All of these can be done more cheaply, more efficiently, and more quickly by technology or low-paid labor. The public is wise to the ruse!

But if we see ourselves as actors whose value is the constant innovation of our craft and who finds solutions to our client’s needs through creative genius, not only are we not a commodity, but the demand for such services will take your business as big as you can dream.

You might say that there’s a big barrier to entry in scoring a gig like this. And you would be absolutely right. The old adage that “just showing up is 90% of the battle” doesn’t cut it anymore. How we work and how we spend the hours of our days will radically define our value to our clients.

What kind of value will you need to provide to ensure you have more client gigs next month? How can you show up to your appointments to ensure your close rate on listing gigs is higher each and every month? How can you be so good at the art of your craft that other “artists” want to train under you as you build a team or a brokerage? What would it look like to be worth 10 or 15 percent to each and every client?

Answering these questions is what it will take to survive and thrive as an indispensable actor as the rest of the market races to the bottom of the commodity trap.

Want to be worth more than the rest of the market? Try thinking like an actor who adds so much value to their audience that gigs find them. Without this mindset, you might just find yourself in a race to the bottom of the commodities marketplace, hoping to land your next soap commercial.

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Cover photo courtesy of Ken Howard/ Courtesy Metropolitan Opera

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