Many start-ups like Leadhome exist today because consumers started to ask all the right questions.
By Marcél du Toit, CEO of Leadhome.
Why the huge commissions for estate agents when selling your property? That was the question the market began to ask after decades of the property industry dictating to consumers that 7%- 8% commissions on the sale of a home were “the norm”.
“That’s just how it is,” the traditional market would tell consumers. And the high commissions would pay for things like offices, branded cars, and big advertising campaigns in all the Sunday papers. While we were not the first company to disrupt the traditional estate-agency model, we are certainly among the innovative start-ups in this country to say: There is another way that works.
Finding Another Way
I said it in previous articles and interviews and I will keep on saying it: If you are in a business in which you tell your customers how they should think and what they should accept “just because that’s the way it works”, you are probably going to be out of business quite soon.
All the major disruptors in business – be it Uber, Airbnb, or Tesla –identified gaps in relevant markets with the aim of transforming the marketplace, and have never looked back. Being disruptive is about changing the game completely. It’s really about looking at existing consumer needs and asking if your company can do a better job of meeting those needs. So many old school brands (and I can name a good few in the property industry) are so entrenched that they find it very difficult to embrace any new concept or transformation of the industry as they know it.
The fact is that the consumer is now more than ever driven not only by the fact that he or she has the right to query the status quo or what has been thrown at them for too long, but that there are technology and data to back up new ways of doing business. Added to the mix is the incredible tool of the internet, where we can research just about anything and you have a consumer who is much more in control and has more choice.
A Different Consciousness
Has the consumer become more conscious, more discerning, more powerful? Definitely, consumers have found their voice and there’s no way you are going to put them back into the box and make them play safe. Why? Because having a choice means a better quality of life for them and their families.
I think there is also something very personal about making choices about where our hard-earned cash should go. Why should our money go elsewhere when it can be used to cover school fees, pay for groceries, or pay debts? I really do think that getting good value for money has become something quite personal and businesses need to understand that the modern consumer is a different animal altogether.
When we started Leadhome a bit over three years ago, we knew the first thing we needed to look at was agent commissions in the region of 7.5%. For us, this figure just made no sense. So we changed things. We charge one flat fee of R39,995 plus VAT to sell a property. Our business model is underpinned by technology, which means our consumers are part of the journey and can track every step of the way on their custom online dashboards. We also did away with show days so that our customers have the privilege of showing off their own homes. Who better to talk about the attributes of a home and an area than the people living there? Leadhome has certainly created waves in the marketplace – and if you look at our testimonials – you’ll see that our customers are more than satisfied with our way of doing things.
The Power of Why
The consumer has a voice, and the power to say “Why?”.
There was a recent case with a life insurance company – I won’t mention any names – where the power of social media ensured that justice was won, and we revel in the fact that the ordinary man or woman on the street has very real power to say no, that’s not fair, and can obtain the support of a social media community to ensure that policy is changed so that others in the future may benefit.
Let’s continue to ask all the right questions, to query everything that is thrown at us – because it’s one thing to disrupt an industry – but it’s quite another to change lives, and add to someone’s quality of life, and to offer an authentic service to customers who aren’t afraid to ask for real answers.
I have to say that I love this brave new world we live in, and it makes me immensely proud that Leadhome is a people-centred business that continues to create shade in the local property industry.