Some months ago, I witnessed a snapshot of the life of two estate agency firms in the same town which was all it took to identify the successful agent from the struggling one. Picture the scene if you will…
At 8.00 a.m. one Wednesday morning, I arrived to prepare to run a course for an independent agency in the training room above one of their residential sales offices. Most of the staff were already present and as always I was struck by the smart interior and energetic atmosphere even at this early hour.
Having got myself and the training room organised, I wandered downstairs to witness a team meeting in full flow, as the staff discussed yesterday’s successes and today’s challenges with enthusiasm. Everyone seemed involved and alert, and were making notes on various action points.
I then went outside to get some air and pick up a newspaper. En route to the newsagents, I happened to pass another estate agency office at around 8.30 a.m. and glanced through the window to see two members of staff in the front office. One was reading a tabloid national newspaper and the other was putting on his tie.
It will probably come as no surprise that when I took a drive around the area later that day, the initial agent were seen to hold a dominant market share within the town in question, while the latter firm appeared to be a bit part player.
For any branch manager in our fast moving industry, a well-run daily team meeting makes a massive difference to productivity. Yet many fail to hold such an event at all, while others merely go through the motions because superiors have told them to.
Managers have such huge challenges in their role, not least because they are often responsible for a large chunk of the front line sales business that needs to be achieved. Upon listing all the areas of responsibility of an effective manager on a recent course, the delegates came up with over thirty separate suggestions!
A structured daily meeting is not the answer to all ills, however it achieves a great deal in helping a manager manage successfully. Management is sometimes defined as “the art of directing physical activities and human resources in the attainment of predetermined goals” and there is no better time to undertake such “directing” as in a team meeting.
An agenda is essential to ensure all key areas are covered and must include a review of yesterday’s activities, new business opportunities in terms of valuations, instructions, applicants, viewings and sales, as well as team input into problems and challenges that they individually or collectively face.
From this agenda there is a natural flow of objectives for the day ahead, which can be discussed and issued to the appropriate staff. The manager can then record these objectives (and more importantly be seen by the staff to do so) to ensure subsequent monitoring during the day and checking at close of business. Employees benefit from a clear set of daily goals, as they will be focused on those tasks and motivated as they are gradually achieved during the day.
The staff are also more likely to ensure those objectives are met, given that they know there will be a review of success or failure at the next meeting.
Sales can be created in this environment as a valuer describes yesterday’s new instructions to salespeople who come to the meeting equipped with a list of their hot buyers. A review of new applicants for whom nothing on the available list seems suitable may prompt a valuer to remember a recent market appraisal on a potential property, the owner of whom can then be called to discuss a one-off viewing.
Different angles on problems may be seen by team members leading to a plausible but previously untried solution to a problem sale.
Commencing each meeting early enough in the day will minimise interruption, but as long as one member of staff is allotted the task of dealing with incoming enquiries, then the rest of the team can concentrate for the duration.
A manager needs to adhere to the timeless cycle of planning, monitoring and checking. Without these team meetings, the first part of this process is at risk, thereby automatically jeopardising the other two.
The time spent on an effective morning meeting will doubtless be the best investment in a manager’s day.