Why Commercial Property Firms Should Learn From Resi Peers

And benefit from the mistakes and successes of others.

As we enter the early stages of digital transformation across the property industry, those businesses who have grasped the nettle and taken proactive steps will start to see their strategies succeed and, in some cases, fail.

Recently we published some observations on Countrywide. To recap, the firm launched a technology-driven value proposition to customers in the face of the threat from – and incredible market reaction to – Purplebricks. Our analysis concluded that the strategy of offering a competing product under existing brands was almost certainly doomed to fail.

However, we also congratulated Countrywide on doing something where so many of their peers have been caught in the headlights and done nothing. They still have time to get their strategy right.

Key Takeaways

This is hugely important for commercial property businesses to bear in mind for two reasons.

Firstly, the sector is not under the same emergent threat as residential is – yet. It will come and, when it does, commercial property businesses will be forced to react. There is a window of opportunity open now where whose who react in the right way, and prepare for this eventuality in the meantime, will be best placed to flourish.

Secondly, there is so much to learn from the mistakes that residential businesses will inevitably make. The beauty of this for commercial property businesses is that digital transformation issues cross the chasm between residential and commercial property businesses – indeed, they cross the chasms between every industry. They are almost entirely sector agnostic and are primarily about how one thinks about businesses, rather than what one does. Countrywide’s strategy mis-step is likely a symptom of wrong-headed thinking about the wider digital transformation landscape.

An inevitable mistake?

Perhaps it was inevitable that Countrywide, given their management background in retail, would look at their asset base and land on the property portfolio as the key asset to leverage. Would they have, in fact, been better to leverage the enormous wealth of expertise across the business in the form of their people instead?

These are questions that commercial property firms should be asking themselves as they work to identify which of their core assets are the ones that will give them competitive advantage during and after a digital transformation.

These are questions that commercial property firms should be asking themselves as they work to identify which of their core assetsClick To Tweet

Pulling up the drawbridge and adopting a sniffy attitude to the residential sector, as so often has happened in the past, will only be to the detriment of those who do so.

The commercial property industry should not pull up the drawbridge and adopt a sniffy attitude Click To Tweet

If commercial firms are simply dismissing the steps that residential businesses are taking today then that is a mistake that doesn’t need to be made. Look at what they are doing, understand the thought processes (or lack of them) that have led to those decisions and figure out how to apply those lessons to your own business. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Only a fool learns from his mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Be wise.

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