Here we go!

Here we go!

So the World Cup 2014 is finally here and the fixture times mean that despite our industry's long hours, a good many matches will be watched by sales and lettings agents up and down the country.
There are 64 matches in total over the coming weeks, including the final on July 13th when the winners will be crowned. My money is on hosts Brazil.
But whichever team wins, it will be down to them being a group of highly talented individuals who are organised and motivated to achieve a common goal of defeating their competition and being the best - just like being the best estate agency in your area really.
This newsletter is geared to helping you become winners. We hope you enjoy it.

May the best team win – they usually do…

Football managers are well paid to achieve exceptional teamwork. Estate agency managers may not earn quite so well, but their responsibility is much the same.     

A team can be defined as “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”.

Managers who wish to get the best possible level of sustained performance from their teams must first recognise that this is unlikely to be achieved overnight. It is widely accepted that teams go through various evolutionary stages before reaching peak performance.

Firstly, the “forming” stage is when the team initially comes together and everyone is very polite and reserved. There is an initial lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities. Conflict can exist beneath the surface but remains unspoken in these early days. Discussion is limited since no one wishes to be seen as foolish. Watch the early days of the reality show “Big Brother” to see this stage in evidence!

Then, typically, “storming” within the team occurs: alliances form and difficulties arise through differences of opinion and “muscle-flexing”. The team is ineffective and results are unsatisfactory. This is a stage which sees conflict and problems arise. Oneupmanship and point-scoring at the expense of colleagues is typical.

Slowly, as confidence and trust begin to grow, the team enters the “norming” stage in which working processes, team and individual objectives are agreed and understanding of all members’ roles is clarified. Co-operation and the valuing of each other’s opinions and contributions begin to be seen. The effectiveness of the team begins to increase. Discussions and contributions are more open and honest.

Eventually, the team enters the “performing” stage where they are firing on all cylinders. There is recognition and allowance of each other’s weaknesses and identification of how to employ the individual team members’ strengths to achieve optimum results. There is a high degree of flexibility, compromise and support. As a “performing” team, they become far more effective than the sum of their individual efforts.

Many estate agency managers are team-orientated leaders who recognise the importance of maintaining team spirit and blending individuals with the appropriate mix of strengths and skills. However, on occasions, this team ethos can go too far, whereby a blurring of relationships between manager and team members can lead to a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere without defined leadership. This situation is particularly prevalent where a manager has been promoted from within the team. These environments often fail to deliver results because there is more focus on fun than on the tasks that need to be fulfilled to drive out results. What the manager says is no longer respected. In football, it is often known as “losing the dressing room”.

An effective manager will be one who identifies the above principles and works hard to accelerate his or her team through the four team development stages to reach “perform” as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The following managerial functions will assist in achieving this goal:

  • Planning – Define clear team and individual objectives, targets and behavioural standards. Identify specific roles and responsibilities for all individuals. Ensure that all team members are clear on all these factors (for both themselves and their colleagues) through effective communication in team briefings supported by unambiguous (preferably written) guidelines. 
  • Monitoring – Pay particular attention to early activity and results. Reinforce any of the principles covered in the “planning” stage which appear to have been misinterpreted or ignored. Seek ongoing feedback from team members on how they feel their own and the team’s performance are progressing. Spot and record examples of good and poor teamwork. Encourage and support the team and individuals, recognise and reconcile disagreements. Create opportunities for the team to meet away from the workplace to build relationships and team spirit. 
  • Checking – After a predetermined period of time, review all team-related results, particularly considering the four stages of team development. Revisit the planning stage to assess success or failure of objectives – revise any elements within the initial planning stage as necessary.

The life of an estate agency manager is a challenging one – however, with an effective team, the rewards can be fantastic. Let us hope that Roy Hodgson applies all the key teambuilding principles, gets England to “perform” and leads them to glory in Brazil!

Are you being robbed?

The best people in our business are those who understand that their most important sales is of something actually quite intangible. The most successful people recognise that this intangible item is actually what they trade every day – they invest this in people and situations that will give them a return and avoid investing it in people or situations that won’t…it is TIME.

The cold hard fact is that customers only go down one of two routes – they either MAKE you money or they COST you money.

The rather frightening thing is that a vast percentage of people we deal with fall into the latter category.

In fact, if you do buy into this idea that TIME is your most precious commodity, you might well regard these ‘time wasters’ as ‘money stealers’ – whatever time you invest in them, where you had no return on that investment, is time you can never get back. They are robbing you blind!

This is where exceptional fact finding skills come in; asking the right questions to make an accurate value judgement as to how much of your time you will invest in which people.

We have a technique for this, referred to as ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

The seven INDISPENSABLE questions that must be asked when qualifying an applicant which make them feel important while showing them you are different from standard estate agents, and will secure the three critical pieces of information: MOTIVATION, ABILITY and NEEDS.

MOTIVATION means the specific reason for move and timescales within which the customer has to move. ABILITY means the detailed position as regards their own property and their financial situation. NEEDS means the ‘must haves’ dictated by family size, job, budget, pets, hobbies etc.

One technique to ensure your staff get into the habit of this technique is to have the seven questions printed out on a postcard size memory jogger hidden on a negotiator’s desk or even stuck to the bottom of their computer screen – that way the questions never get forgotten.

The magnificent seven:

“What’s prompting you to think about moving?” – try to get a detailed reason for the move – their answer may lead to other questions – “Where will you be working?”, “Who do you work for?”, “What’s your timescale?”. The more detail you get early on, the better you will invest your time in the right people and situations.

“What’s the situation regarding your own property?” – to drill down to check their ability to buy – again, detail is crucial.

“How far have you got in arranging finance on the purchase?” – an important are of fact finding – more so in today’s market due to confusion about mortgage lending criteria.

“Describe your ideal home to me…” – so much better than the approach of lots of agents who go through an interrogation – “Do you need a garden?”, “Do you need parking?”, “Does it have to be detached?” and so on.

Once you have an overall picture of the ideal property your prospect is looking for – their ‘wants’, it is time to go to the next level to uncover their ‘needs’ or ‘must haves’.

“If I found you a property but it didn’t have X, might you still consider it?” – the classics here are issues like bedroom numbers, detached versus semi-detached, garage etc.

The final question relates to their budget but it isn’t simply “What is your budget?” or “How much are you looking to spend?” – it is a far more effectively worded question… “If I found you the absolutely perfect property, what is the very most you would be prepared to pay for it?”

This question is so powerful as it gets the true maximum from your customer by putting them into the hypothetical situation of finding their dream home and what they would be prepared to go to financially to get it.

So there they are – The Magnificent Seven. Not the only questions your staff will ask a customer, but certainly the most critical. Train them in, reinforce them daily, see the results for yourself. They really are magnificent!

Preparation PAVES the way…

Too many viewings are rushed and of poor quality due to the agent failing to prepare. In fact, some are literally…

“Oh crikey – its five to three, where are the keys for 22 Sycamore Drive?” then jumping in the car and haring across town in an effort to arrive not too late.

So how can you ensure you aren’t guilty of such amateurish behaviour and instead conduct your viewings in an exceptional fashion?

The key phrase to remember is…


“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” is a philosophy that has stood the test of time for many successful business people. Of course, the reverse holds true, in that a lack of preparation can result in missed chances.

It is crucial to bear in mind that if you show a customer round a property in an exceptional fashion, and that customer has their own property to dispose of, you will massively increase the chances of securing their instruction by your professionalism and technique displayed at the viewing.

There are five key areas of preparation that must be considered, and the initials of those five areas spell out the word PAVES.


Many accompanied viewings fail because the viewer’s questions cannot be answered by the negotiator, leading to loss of control of the situation and leaving the applicant with a lack of confidence in the agent….this is particularly costly if the applicant has yet to decide which agent to instruct to sell their own home. A few minutes spent considering the benefits of the property prior to leaving the office, including trying to anticipate potential questions (tenure details, improvements made, less apparent selling points) will lead to a more successful outcome.

With certain instructions it is prudent to arrive a few minutes early to give the place an airing, open curtains, turn lights on and so forth. At certain times of year, you would need to consider if there is power at the property otherwise you will be showing someone round in the dark. 

Knowledge too is key. Are you able to answer questions about…




Is the loft boarded?

Transport links


Council Tax

Local amenities

Rental yield


…and more besides.


You need to consider the applicant’s budget, requirements and motivation before the appointment. This information coupled with your knowledge of the property will lead you to be able to answer the critical question “Why would this person buy this property?”

A little consideration regarding which benefits of the property match the needs of the client will lead to more confident promotion of the salient points.

In short, the more you know about the applicant the better.


We must carefully consider the client. What is their desired timescale? Why are they selling or letting the property? What are their instructions to the agent regarding conducting accompanied viewings? Will they be present? What indications have they given regarding price flexibility? What attracted them to buy the property?

Having the answers to these questions will facilitate appropriate responses to the viewer’s potential queries.


Any professional person needs to have the right tools for their trade. It is no different with an agent conducting a viewing. Here are a few ideas…


Cleaning materials

Air freshener

Info on selling services

Info on lettings including application forms

Other potential properties

Keys to those properties

Business card


Alarm code






Mobile phone

Personal alarm

There are others that you may think of – always be prepared with the right equipment – you will be glad you are on the occasions that you need one or more of the items on that list.


This principle relates to the staff member carrying out the viewing. Younger negotiators may be unfamiliar with the story of Suzy Lamplugh, and thankfully such cases are rare. However, common sense must be applied to protect the safety of staff at all times. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, set up in 1986 as a result of the 25 year old’s disappearance when meeting an unknown client, carries out excellent work in highlighting the risks people face in such employment.

Best practise is to make certain that colleagues know each other’s whereabouts and anticipated return time, that staff have mobile phones and personal alarms with them while away from the office and that “unknown” applicants are requested to meet in the office before the viewing. The best agents have a code word that staff can call in and use if in difficulties, as well as a policy that if an employee is going straight home after their last viewing of the day, they call the manager/owner to let them know all is well.

So Property, Applicant, Vendor, Equipment, Security….preparation PAVES the way!

2014 Tour Date

Tuesday 15th July 2014 in Manchester

Winning Quality Instructions  (morning session)

For sales and lettings valuers, this course covers things an exceptional valuer needs to do before, during and after an appointment to win the business at the right price and on the right terms. The key objectives are improving conversion rates, securing appropriate asking prices and maximising fees. It has received amazing feedback and positively influenced the performance of all who have attended it.


Increasing Market Share of Instructions and Sales (afternoon session)

Halfday course to cover how to get through more doors, be the agent of choice in your area, differentiate yourselves from other agents, retain clients, create raving fans of your business. With stock the key to success, this course is worth its weight in gold!

The trainers will be Julian O'Dell and Peter Chapman

We look forward to seeing you!

(There are only a limited number of spaces available.)

 Each session costs &99 plus VAT per delegate or you can book a full day at a cost of &170 plus Vat per delegate to include lunch.

To book or for more information contact us on 01480 405583, email us at or visit our website


Thought for the day...

“Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
Take the moment and make it perfect.”

~ Author Unknown