Have you ever noticed that when some paradigm shifting event happens people lash out against it. Their instinct is to resist it. They have gotten comfy in their little world and kick and scream against anything that threatens it: Our biggest enemy is the status quo..

Here is a classic example of defense of the status quo.

Our home is up for sale, and frankly the market sucks. So I am speaking with my Realtor as we were signing the papers for the listing, and I mentioned zillow.com as another avenue to gain exposure for our listing. The energy in the room changed faster than fast. Her face went pale and she about fainted. We conversed a bit about it and this is the jist of it.

She played the ‘It is not the MLS’ and a ‘website cannot give you the service I can’ cards. What she meant was “I am scared of it, because it threatens my job, and I have not or am not willing to figure out how it will help me”

My response was something like: “The more eyeballs the better right”, and “I paying you to find a buyer, and therefore should you not use every angle to find a buyer?”

In the face of her disgust, I dug at her a little bit saying something along the lines of “The web is the future of real estate, it is already happening, and if you don’t jump on an embrace it, you will be left behind”… her feathers were a bit ruffled, but maybe she let a little bit of it in. I added it to zillow myself.

So then a few days later I start noticing the television ads ran by the National Assoc. of Realtors harping the same point: “A website cannot replace our personal service” or some line of shit.

So check this out.. my industry “THE WEB” is being outsourced like nobodies business. Keep this thought for later in the post, I’ll tie it in.

So back to the Realtor’s that are doing everything they can to ‘protect’ their business model. The thought of some old farmer in 1908 with his horse and carriage bumpin down a dirt road and mutttering “Fools, That thing will never replace my horse” when a Ford Model T passes by springs to mind. Do you see where I am going?

I would venture to say that the SMART Realtor, the one that has any prayer of being a Realtor 10 years from now better pack up and jump on board the Real Estate internet bandwagon, fast.. To dig your heels in and fight the oncoming wave is foolish.

So lets broaden the scope here a little bit. Look at the American auto industry, Why is it in so much trouble? Because while the Imports were getting better, cheaper, and more economical, Detroit was kicking and screaming, lobbying Congress to not make them change. They “froze time” for a few decades and now look where they are, getting soundly beaten at the auto game THEY invented.

Here is the bottom line, technology is changing the way we do things, and changing it faster than people would like. Resist all you want, it is not going to stop the wave of innovation. The pace at which ‘it’ is changing is accelerating. Take 3 points of time. 1900, 1980, 2007. If you could measure the gross amount of “change” between them, I bet the 1980-2007 portion would be 10:1 greater than 1900-1980. And it is only moving faster.

What’s the moral of this long winded post: Adaptation.

The outsourcing of Tech jobs overseas is a topic on at least 1/3 of the news shows everyday. There is severe downward pressure on the price I fetch for our services, I probably “lose” hundreds of web design contracts to low cost off-shoring or offshore firms a year. Rather than raging against India or trying to unionize (I did read an article once about web designers getting organized): We adapted, we changed our business model, we went up market, we shifted focus to internal product development rather than a service model, we hand pick our clientele, hell we raised our prices.. alomosr triple, we did everything BUT try to resist the wave. And we are prospering.

Had GM spent those hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D over the last 30 years rather than Washington lobbying firms, They would still be the #1 car maker in the world.. (If you did not know it, Toyota is #1 now).

How many MORE clients could my Realtor serve, how much BETTER quality of service could she deliver, and how much MORE exposure could she gain for her own business if she adapted to the changing marketplace rather than deciding to build a wall of sticks to hold back the flood?

Protectionism is stupid. Adaptation and Innovation is smart.

4 thoughts on “Protectionism is stupid.”

  1. Great rant Josh. I guess a good way to start a successful web business is to create a product that puts an industry out of business. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. You don’t see many travel agencies around anymore. It looks like realtors are next on the chopping block.

    As for your house, stay positive. We sold our place with no realtor and only posting on Craigslist and Zillow, even in this market.

  2. bingo.. travel agents. Perfect example Jon. I wonder how many out of work travel agents still bitch about expedia and travelocity taking thier job..

  3. Pingback: Shanti’s Dispatches - Yelp to the Rescue

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