Surprising Companies That Will Teach You About Real Estate

What we can learn from Apple, Louis Vuitton, Zappos and Blockbuster

What we can learn from Apple, Louis Vuitton, Zappos and Blockbuster


We love to worry about the competition and constantly study our competitors. Chances are that the ideas you’re getting from your competitors or other agents aren’t doing much for your business. That’s because every agent is taking and implementing the same ideas. When you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doomed.

Some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from systematically studying companies outside the real estate industry. These four lessons could also help you hit your goals.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton charges 10 to 20 times more for the average bag. Is it because their bags are 10 to 20 times better? Not really. They have been able to build one of the most powerful brands because of their ability to create an exceptional experience. When you walk into a Louis Vuitton store, it’s different. You’re greeted, offered assistance, given a free glass of champagne while you shop, gifts are usually thrown in with your purchase, and if you’re a frequent customer, you’re likely to be remembered by name. Louis Vuitton can charge such a high price because they sell more than a bag. You’re paying for more value.

Lesson from Louis Vuitton: The more value that I create, the more I can charge — and the less price is a concern.


When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, the first thing he did was cut 70 percent of Apple’s products. He made it his goal to only sell four items — one desktop and portable device each for professionals and consumers. It worked. Apple went from being near insolvent to producing a $309 million profit the following year. Under Steve Jobs, Apple focused on creating fewer products with a much higher quality.

As an agent, especially if you’re hungry for work, it’s easy to raise your hand and try to help everyone. But doing so spreads your resources too thin. Your success in real estate will depend on your ability to focus on a specific market and service. Don’t be a specialist in REO, relocation, buyers, luxury, investor, and on and on. Pick a market and dominate it.

Lesson from Apple: Don’t be everything to everyone. Select your market and become the go-to solution.


Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, had an unrelenting focus on going to the extremes for his customers. Sure, he wanted to make a profit, but he never lost focus on his customers. In his book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, he talks about how it was his emphasis on making consumers happy and delivering value that lead to the success of Zappos.

Instead of asking, “How can we sell 60 homes this year?” at my company, we ask, “How can we provide more value than I did yesterday to my prospects, customers and past clients?” This drives me to continually improve my services.

Lesson from Zappos: Make your customer’s well-being and satisfaction your first priority. The results will inevitably follow.


We can learn a lot from successful companies, but we can learn even more from companies that failed, like Blockbuster. A lot of people think that Blockbuster failed because of Netflix. That’s only half true. In the early 2000s, Blockbuster had plenty of opportunities to buy Netflix. Instead, it decided to add more physical stores and try to expand its offerings — toy merchandise, videos and more. Blockbuster ignored the future. It buried its head in the sand and didn’t think the industry would ever change.

Some agents out there are still selling like it’s the ’80s. They ignore companies like Zillow, they despise the internet and they do a lot of cold calling. Buying and selling isn’t the same anymore. It will change and it will continue to change. The failure to innovate and look into the future will make it difficult for your business to succeed in the future.

Lesson from Blockbuster: Don’t ignore change. Find ways to innovate and grow as the market demands something new and different.

To create a remarkable business and become a top agent, you have to implement ideas from business outside of real estate.