I had a buddy who was part of a networking group I was in many years ago. At the time, 1997, I remember him whining about how hard it was because information was becoming so accessible over the internet. In fact, he said he was not sure if the travel agent would survive. I mean, if people could go for free online and get the same service they used to pay him good money for-how could he compete?
It is hard to believe that the internet was just beginning to explode back in 1997(or that 1997 was 19 years ago!). But my friend was right. My bookkeeper books all my flights and I never use a travel agent to book my business flights. My friend was right-that market no longer exists. Yet travel agents are still around. And while many travel agents did change careers, still many others developed specialties and niches of expertise. This came through education and the development of an enhanced service. For example, when you look for travel agents today, you might find specialists offering company sales trips, "all inclusive" family trips or African safaris. They won’t book you a flight to LA, they will tell you to go to Delta.com but they will get paid a premium to handle that exclusive family vacation. The ones who increased their knowledge or focused on niches now command far more pay then travel agents did years ago. And they deserve it!
Well, it took awhile but Realtors are now facing the same issues. People can go online to get the information that they used to only be able to get from agents like what other homes have sold for. You can even list your home on the MLS for a marginal fee through services like Owners.com. The agent who just sells the fact that he/she has MLS access is selling a product that people no longer value. The agent who shines in the future will do like the travel agents that have succeeded, they will hone their craft, find niches to market, improve their methods of helping the customer, and improve their follow up. They will add value. And they will communicate that value and they will create FAR MORE INCOME then they have created to date.
The opportunity is still fantastic for agents but the game has changed. You need to target niches like Commercial or Beach front or Relos, etc. You have to solve problems for people. You have to work on continued education and better follow up solutions. Do these things, and the future looks bright. But you are not selling MLS anymore, those days are gone. Embrace it, welcome it, and lead the charge into a bright future that YOU control. I don’t know which way that friend went, I have long since lost touch. Did he leave the business or did he specialize, improve his knowledge and the value he brings and thrive. The question is, 5 years from now, which one will you be?