By Stephen Phillips
As the first-ever post in REthink Report, let’s begin where it all starts for us at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices—the brand.
In an increasingly competitive business world, we are all searching for a sustainable competitive advantage, but it’s very difficult to find, especially the “sustainable” part. A competitive advantage might be identified, but how long can it be sustained, and at what cost?
The great promise of competitive advantage in the real estate industry over the past 15 years has been technology. The theory: Create a new, online capability and the buyers and sellers of the world will beat a path to your door. But what happens when your toughest competitor adopts very similar technology almost as soon as you do? The once-promising advantage becomes anything but sustainable. And the barriers to technology development, which have never been high, are lowering all the time. In a nutshell, technology is an arms race; it’s a battle that must be fought, but can’t be won.
So where do we look for the elusive sustainable competitive advantage? At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the answer to that question is easy: We look to our brand. The brand is our network’s shared identity and shared image in the marketplace. It is the foremost component of our value proposition. Like all brands, ours is a promise … a promise of strength, integrity and trust in the buying and selling of real estate. And unlike technology or patented processes, our brand can’t be copied and doesn’t expire; it’s ours and it goes on indefinitely.
The essence of any brand is consistency, or meeting the promise day after day. It’s the same with a lot of things in life. A breakfast cereal must be the same each time a buyer tastes it; a pair of jeans must fit the same way every time someone tries it on. The experience customers have with us and our affiliates must be absolutely dependable. Their experience must always be consistent with the brand promise.
We feel honored and privileged to have the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand. Our brand means something very positive and powerful to consumers across the country, and with each yard sign placed or each business card handed out, it becomes better recognized and more highly respected every day. So when you think about how you are going to be competitive in the real estate industry of the future, lean on our brand. It’s the perfect sustainable competitive advantage.
STEPHEN PHILLIPS is COO for HSF Affiliates LLC, responsible for the daily operations of the company. He also serves as president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Find him on Twitter @SPhillipsBHHS.