Book review: Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters

Every so often, I like to read a business book on industry strategy. It’s even more interesting when the book is about an industry that I have a lot of contacts in and spend a lot of time working around – real estate. It made reading Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters by Joe Rand an easy choice. For one, it was an excellent opportunity to gain valuable insight into the real estate industry and where it’s headed. Second, I know Joe personally and have on-going projects with him. I figured his book would provide a better, deeper understanding of the goals behind the projects we’re working on together.

What makes the book especially valuable for anyone working in and around real estate is that it is an insider’s view of the industry. More often than not, industry strategy books are written by outsiders who forecast or critique based on observation. Joe is writing his critiques while in the trenches. He has the foresight to see that disruption of the real estate industry is on the horizon. In fact, it’s inevitable. He’s raising the warning flag and suggesting that the disruption happen from within. Otherwise, those with little or no industry knowledge will force it on them from the outside .

Why is disruption coming? Joe starts by providing an industry history lesson. He shows how real estate has evolved from a localized, community-driven business where solitary brokers had control to one where powerful agents and agent teams are the central focus of the business. Because of this agent focus, the end user of real estate services, the buying and selling client, is being ignored., the end user of real estate services, the buying and selling client, is being ignored. The real estate sales process is being enhanced and optimized to service the agent, not the client. It’s this misdirected focus which, according to Joe, makes the industry ripe for disruption.

Joe doesn’t downplay the coming disruption to a client focused business model. He embraces it. He argues that the industry needs to to adopt a customer-focused mindset, or what he calls CORE – Client Oriented Real Estate, as soon as possible. For the industry to make the shift, Joe proposes a team effort among all involved in the industry. It includes the real estate franchises, the brokerages and managing brokers, agents, vendors, and technology companies.

Joe’s proposals go beyond generalized observations. He details the steps that the industry needs to take to save itself. Best of all, he does it in a way that is direct and to the point. What I liked as much, or maybe more, than the direct nature of the book is Joe’s conversational writing style. It feels like you’re discussing the state of the industry with him over lunch or an after work cocktail. It makes the book a fast and easy read.

Bottom line, if you work in, support, service, or provide tools and technology to the real estate industry, Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters is one book that you absolutely must read.