One of the best things about conferences is having great conversations with really smart innovative people. Garron Seliken of M Realty is one such smart, innovative person, and he and I (along with a bunch of other folks like Marie Still, Jay Thompson, Chris Drayer, and Daniel Rothamel) had lunch today at NAR Mid Year.
Which then led to a thoughtseed — nothing fully fleshed out, but an idea I’ll be exploring more in the days ahead.
Basically, the idea is that we are experiencing the transition from the Industrial Age to a New Artisan Age. The Industrial Age is marked by large organizations leveraging the efficiencies of things like the assembly line, division of labor, vertical and horizontal integration, etc. to create mass-market products. Levi’s can go from a one-man tailor shop to a global corporation on the basis of the Industrial Age.
The New Artisan Age, however, is marked by at least an homage to craftsmanship, the idea of a more personal, more customized, more intimate product created by a single artisan for a particular customer. Maybe some designer might offer a custom-made bespoke pair of jeans, at $500 for a particular customer to fit her body and her preferences.
It seems to me that the general consumer behavior is heading in that direction. Think about the explosion of microbreweries, artisanal farming, and so on. People are willing to pay a premium for products they believe are more than just the bare product and its functions.
In my conversation with Garron, it seems to me that his brokerage M Realty, is practicing a form of artisanal real estate brokerage. He spent a lot of time talking about how he works with each and every agent on an individual basis, creating strategies, offering advice, and offering technology that are custom-tailored to that particular agent’s strengths and weaknesses. The best example is an agent who wanted an IDX website; Garron found that this agent got most of his production from five people in his sphere of influence. The advice, then, is to forget about the IDX website, and spend more time with those five people, and maybe make that eight people in the sphere.
Customizing activities to the particular idiosyncracies of the particular agent… isn’t that sort of artisanal real estate (brokerage)?
Krisstina Wise of GoodLife Team also does this, in a different way by building a brokerage around the principle of coaching.
If you will, Keller Williams — a company whose mission statement says that it is a training organization that happens to run a real estate brokerage — is a product of the Industrial Age. M Realty — a company that turns out to be a coaching organization that happens to run a real estate brokerage — is a product of the New Artisan Age.
Something to think about. When I have more time.
One question is whether this difference between Industrial and Artisanal extends to the relationship between the agent and the consumer. (Or better yet, a question might be whether the real estate transaction was ever Industrial to begin with….)