By Maria Patterson
A 20-plus year veteran of the residential real estate industry, Mike Miedler has spent virtually his entire career with the iconic real estate brand CENTURY 21. Then this past January, when Nick Bailey left the firm, Miedler stepped into the leadership position as president and CEO, charged with carrying forward the bold rebranding Bailey had rolled out during his watch. At RISMedia's recent Real Estate CEO Exchange at the New York Marriott Marquis, RISMedia President and CEO John Featherston sat down with Miedler to find out more about the brand's current focus on today's experience economy, and why Miedler believes it's never been more about the consumer.
John Featherston: CENTURY 21's rebrand addressed pain points in the real estate transaction. How is your "consumer-first" focus helping to overcome those?
Mike Miedler: We're going to be 50 years old next year, and our shops from all over the country have given us fantastic brand awareness, but the rebrand was needed. There are different consumer bases starting the real estate search in different places, such as their mobile device, so we made a shift in our mission and vision. We spent a long time looking at what the consumer of tomorrow will want. We're more focused on the consumer experience. You can't rely on what you did yesterday to be successful tomorrow.
JF: One of your goals is to shift how consumers choose their REALTOR®—no longer based only on competency, but on their commitment and dedication. Can you tell us about that?
MM: I've heard a lot at this conference about disruption, and blocking and tackling. To do well in this business, those common elements remain the same. But among those who really succeed, there's one constant I always see: They care more about the client experience and customer service than anything else in the process. When I handle my customer well, everything else falls in line.
JF: The brand's mission is to "deliver extraordinary experiences." Why is this critical in today's market and how does this empower your agents?
MM: Our CENTURY 21 motto is to "defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences." We're living in the experience economy. There are numerous examples of brands people are loyal to because of the experience they provide. I'm in front of brokers and agents across the country and around the globe, and if you look at top agents, they're selling homes the same way. At the end of the day, the core of the business hasn't changed. But the consumer has changed. The new consumer consumes things differently. They want an experience more than a process. We've done a lot of consumer analysis. Seventy-nine percent of consumers value the experience more than they value price. [People remember how you make them] feel at a point of distress. That makes them loyal to a brand. Positive experiences for people in the consumption process can make the difference and separate you from everyone in the pack.
JF: How do you explain the new CENTURY 21 to those joining the firm, and to those who have been a part of it for years?
MM: You need to start with culture from the top down and beat that drum every single day, with every single one of your sales professionals, every time you run a global or small regional event, or every time you hand out a business card. We have an opportunity to work together as a company to bring better platforms, better training and a better mindset to the network. After someone makes an offer on a home, there's 180 steps they have to take before they walk through the front door—an agent has to do a lot of sandpapering, sometimes be a marriage therapist or a contractor. No matter how much you hear about disruption, more people are using a real estate professional today than in the '80s and '90s. The average broker commission rate ran north of 5 percent because people see the value in a real estate professional. Price is only needed in the absence of value.
JF: What are the real opportunities moving forward?
MM: We are adopting a consumer focus. Think about Domino's: It's not the best pizza, but because you can track your pizza once you order it, people buy Domino's. If we can truly bring to our agents the things that will provide a better consumer experience, that's what will matter.
For further coverage of RISMedia's 2019 CEO Exchange, please visit RISMedia.com.