Generational Differences CAN Mean Success in Commercial Real Estate

Do you remember when Elvis Presley joined the army? How about when Kurt Cobain died? Or when Justin Bieber cut his hair? The answer indicates whether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen X’er or Millennial–and also determines how you should interact with your potential client.

Paying attention to generational differences pays off – generations function differently in the way they conduct business, communicate, and utilize technology.  I came to realize I needed to learn more about generational differences to ensure that I was connecting in the best way with my clients.  It’s made a real difference, and the knowledge has given me a significant advantage.

I spoke on this topic last month at the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington D.C.   For many at the NAR Commercial Leadership Forum, it seemed it was the first time many were considering how understanding generational differences could help their careers.  I was excited to experience how receptive they were to this information – in the end, it’s really about “you”!

The first thing I encouraged the audience to do was to figure out what generation group they were part of and how it differed from the average buyer.   Here’s the cheat sheet:

  • Millennials (or Gen-Ys): 15 to 29 years old
  • Gen Xers:  30 to 46 years old
  • Baby Boomers:  47 to 65 years old

An understanding of which group you belong to helps you better understand yourself and what you have to do to connect with the other groups.  Trust me, understanding the differences IS the difference between average customer service and being a top producer.

Here are some key characteristics of the groups as identified by the PEW Research Institute:

Millennials (or Gen-Ys)

  • Technology and path driven
  • Want to move up the ladder quickly; will do what it takes to make this happen.
  • Want to know what the next ring on the ladder is and how fast they can get there!
  • Quickest to incorporate new technology into their everyday life.

Gen Xers

  • Identifies technology, work ethic and a good balance between work/home life.
  • Likely to be more entrepreneurial and creative.
  • More likely to involve friends in their decision making process.

Baby Boomers

  • Identify work ethic, respect, values and morals as defining characteristics of their generation.
  • Thrives on individual reward, hard work and a strong career focus.
  • Sometimes tend toward being workaholics.

I led the discussion to how understanding the differences can build your business.  With a Baby Boomer – who values hard work and respects loyalty, you’ll focus on your experience, your time with your current company and your knowledge of the real estate market and how you have been successful in your career.

The new wave however will be the Millennials.   You’ll find that their respect must be earned on the specifics of your dealing – not your experience and long term in the industry.  A Millennial will look for pros who embrace technology and show how they utilize it to communicate and conduct business.  They’ll be looking for the quickest and best way to find their new investment and don’t want to waste time.  They multi-task and will expect you to do the same.

Don’t expect to reinvent yourself, but understand who you’re dealing with and what might help you best connect.  The Millennials have embraced technology, social media, and the smart phone. They utilize text messaging and they don’t want a phone call.   Your deal may just depend on your sending a text or follow up on Facebook!

NAR Commercial Guest Blogger:  Mike Vachani, MBA, CIPS, ABR, President, Provenio Group, Inc. – Monrovia, CA – Arcadia Association of REALTORS® Member (CA)

To contact Mike, you can reach him at [email protected]

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One Comments

  • Kenya Ferrand

    December 12, 2012

    don’t forget that Baby Boomers very rarely know how to text, email, or how to turn a computer on to get on the ‘interweb’. Or they think you ‘tweeter’ on twitter. Don’t push it on them and always ask how they want you to give them information. DON”T BE AFRAED TO PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL. They like the personal touch.


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