I took my daughters to London this weekend. They made complex arrangements to meet various friends, at several different locations, throughout London and Surrey over the two days. What is perhaps notable, is that all these arrangements were made without actually speaking to anyone – their entire agendas were accomplished via iMessage, text, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook Chat. No phone calls; no emails.
If you have teenagers, you won’t think this is anything unusual. After all, Snapchat for one is making headlines. What you may not have considered, is the implication of the chosen communication style of our teens, on the future of our businesses.
After all, if they don’t like actually phoning and emailing one another, what do we think is going to change between their school days, and their work life in the years to come? Because in the next decade, these teenagers will be our employees, and even our clients. Do we really think that they will become converted to our preferred communication methods over the next few years?
I don’t think so. In fact, I think the ramifications of this trend are more significant than we might think.
Communication style is something quite personal to each one of us. I have friends I prefer to speak to over the phone, whereas others I tend to text. My active Twitter friends often respond faster to a direct message than an email; yet others share a Snapchat with me from time to time to keep in touch.
So what does this mean for estate agency in the 2020s? Simply put, we are going to have to adapt. As with any advances in communication, it’s not if we embrace it, but when. If we don’t, we will inevitably be left behind, whilst young dynamic new agents rush in to take advantage of each new technological advance.
Of course, in ten years time, there will be new versions of Snapchat, Whatsapp and iMessage: ten years ago, none of these existed. The challenge for the established agents is to keep up. The twenty-somethings won’t be coerced into using the phone and email to get in touch with us; nor will you be able to persuade them into responding to your attempts to reach them in what will be (and is even now) considered to be old-fashioned methods. We need to adapt to them, not the other way round.
Don’t beat them – join them. Embrace the new communication tools. In the long run, it will ensure you longevity in an industry evolving faster than ever before. As Peter Drucker said “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
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