Although the benefits of education have been established again and again, there are those who actually attempt to justify their lack of knowledge and professionalism.
The first time I heard this attitude, I was taken completely by surprise. At the time, I was talking with a real estate agent at a national convention, explaining the educational and professional benefits to be enjoyed through completion of our RCC and CNHS certification courses.
After my brief overview he looked at me straight-faced and said, “The last thing I would want is for people to think I really knew all that stuff. Certifications and the knowledge that come with them just create too much risk.”
I smiled and laughed. He didn’t. I thought he was joking. His stern reaction quickly made it clear he was stone serious.
“If my customers think I’m an expert on things like this,” he continued, “they’ll try to make me responsible if something goes wrong. If I end up in a court of law, I want to be able to say I don’t pretend to have the training or the knowledge to be responsible for anything. The last thing I want to be is an expert.”
Just before turning to leave, he finished, “With more than 30 years of experience, I think I’ll be just fine without any more training.”
Could anyone who calls himself a real estate professional seriously think this way? What’s more unfortunate is that I’ve not only heard this view expressed by sales agents, but also office managers and amazingly, even a few brokers. And some of these same people wonder why our beloved real estate business has confronted some of its recent challenges?
Can you imagine an attorney who purposely avoided learning more about current law so his clients wouldn’t blame him if they lost their cases? Or a doctor who never added to her professional expertise after medical school with the intention of minimizing malpractice risks? The idea that anyone would choose to do business with a real estate “professional” who purposely avoids real estate knowledge and expertise simply doesn’t compute for me.
If this really does make sense on some level, where do we draw the line? What amount of knowledge is enough? … or too much? Following this logic along its slippery slope would bring us to a point where the real estate practitioner with absolutely no real estate training or expertise at all would be perfectly risk free. And these same agents, of course, will be in high demand, charging full-service commissions to provide almost nothing of value to their customers? Not on this planet!
While this unfortunate attitude exists here and there, most wouldn’t seriously take things to this extreme. However, at the same time, the real world commitment to maintaining and improving professionalism is too often given more rhetoric than reality. As we face a multitude of challenges from new business models, commission structures, technology based solutions and more, are we forgetting the undeniable power of real knowledge and competence? While so many worry about the lack of control we have over information these days, have we forgotten the competitive edge that comes from professional excellence?
I’m sure most of us haven’t forgotten. In fact, we sell it every day. The question is … can we truly deliver? I think what sometimes is forgotten is that when it comes to our professionalism, it’s a journey that’s never done. The difference between certified and certifiable is all the difference in the world!
As this agent with the “expertise avoidance” issues touted the significance of his 30 years of experience, another thought ran through my head that day. There’s a big difference between many years of experience, and one-year of experience many times over again – and ongoing education is one of the most important differentiators between the two. I can’t say where this agent stands, but I hope the rest of us know where we are on the road of professionalism, and even more important, where we’re going.