My role as a trainer/consultant is centred on improving sales and lettings agents’ performance through the pursuit of exceptional business practices. The skills, techniques, systems and processes are proven to have a direct impact upon the bottom line by raising levels of performance and results. It is subsequently critical to maintain momentum by adhering to these new higher levels, and one way of doing so is to scrutinise all key areas of performance on a regular basis. One of the best ways of undertaking this, strange though it may seem initially, is to enter industry award competitions.
I have been fortunate to be deemed worthy of judging a number of awards in recent years (not the ones which our Estate Agency won – honest!) and have a clear insight as to what judges look for and are influenced by.
There is a raft of industry awards to consider going for, including specialist sales and lettings, some that are free to enter, others that require an entry fee, others still that are voted for by the public.
As part of the awards process, typically a detailed submission needs to be compiled and the objective of this is to ensure your company stands apart from the other entrants in the eyes of the judges. Guidelines regarding submissions also differ – from 400 words over 4 pages at one end of the spectrum, through to no limit at all at the other (which often leads to hernia-inducing tomes that are difficult to lift off the desk). Most judges are too long in the tooth or worldly wise to be taken in by froth and gloss, and quality is far more important than quantity. The submission needs to contain more than just bold platitudes as to how wonderful your firm is and the excellence of all you do – evidence is key and differentiation is powerful.
Third party market share reports, board counts, actual performance statistics, testimonials from customers and suppliers, photographic samples of your quality premises, brochures and marketing all play their part. Include information about training budget and schedule, staff turnover statistics, and ultimately proof of how you are different from your competitors in the way you conduct your business. USPs really do help your submission stand out.
By compiling a submission, you cannot help but review your business through an objective set of eyes and this act in itself can be very revealing as it often highlights areas of performance and business practice that need improvement. If evidence is hard to come by on a particular part of the company’s performance, it is likely to be because such evidence doesn’t exist and it needs to be an area to work on before next year’s awards come round.
In my experience, agents that win awards always treat the submissions as year-round events, with the gathering of proof and evidence an integral part of their culture. In many cases, staff are encouraged to inform a coordinator of anything above and beyond the call of duty that will be worthy of mention in the final submission.
A phone call from a judge is sometimes an element of the process – I have made many such calls over the years and it is extraordinary how unprepared some of the recipients are, despite having weeks of prior notice regarding the time and date of the call. If you are due such a call, I would respectfully recommend that you have a copy of your submission in front of you and that you are conversant with the content as well as your company’s figures and statistics. Sounding enthusiastic and cheerful is always appreciated too.
I helped a company win some awards last year by ensuring that all staff knew the key criteria that would be measured, getting them to accept my mantra that “good is no longer good enough” and finally by ensuring that they strived for “exceptional” performance on a daily basis – they achieved fantastic results. The proprietor asked his team for examples of exceptional work in every morning meeting, and evidence was then thrown in my direction so I could build it into the submission. Although the award winner was not announced until December, work to win it commenced in January, and win it they did. I am proud that my training company, TM training & development have a superb track record in that every year we have helped client firms with their submissions, they have gone on to win awards.
As a result, the winners’ subsequent marketing screams about their successes and the awards in themselves serve as a fabulous USP and instruction winner. In the meantime, “exceptional” business processes and customer service have become the norm within their firm – after all, if they are going to promote their awards victories, they have to live up to the hype!
For further information, please contact me on 07718 634235, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @agencytrainer