Last week, my Sentinel rep told me I was a winner in the paper’s annual Readers Choice Awards, I was pleased at the expression of fan loyalty even if I felt a little conflicted about the word BEST being used in conjunction with any services a Realtor provides his/her clients. It wasn’t always that way of course….
I was excited about my first real estate award 25 years ago. The Association of Realtors gave me a plaque that said Champion Producers Circle. (Still sounds like an award given to a milk cow outstanding in its field!) Throughout the 90s, I received a string of sales awards that were always labelled BEST or MOST or HIGHEST. On some level, it satisfied the competitive juices I had put on hold when I hung-up my basketball shoes back in the 70s.
The Association stopped giving those production awards after 1997, recognizing that things were getting too competitive and unscrupulous Agents might start spinning the truth just so they could use the accolades of BEST/MOST/HIGHEST in future ads. That’s when the local weeklies stepped in with their own BEST OF publications. Special editions that always drummed-up extra engagement with readership and lots of extra ad revenue.
The 2000s were the “Me Decade” for real estate accolades. Brokerages ramped up recognition of their own top sales people by handing out annual awards for their BEST/MOST/HIGHEST producers. It became difficult to tell who the real BEST/MOST/ HIGHEST agents really were. It seemed like everyone was getting an award.
These days, the BEST/MOST/HIGHEST awards are typically bestowed on brokerages by themselves as a form of self-congratulation. By carefully parsing company sales metrics in clever ways, an exaggerated impression can be created with words that are vaguely, technically correct. An extreme example is Silicon Valley super-agent Ken Deleon who reportedly sells more than $500 million each year….I can assure you that the top of Ken’s head would have exploded long ago if he were really doing that much business on his own.
The point of all this is… perhaps it’s time to phase out production awards forever! Maybe companies can give themselves a pat on the back by recognizing different standards of excellence based on something other than sales volume. Here are a few suggestions: Best Agent Fiduciary or Most Repeat Clients or Highest Number of Hours Put in for a Charitable Cause or Fewest Lawsuits Per Transaction.