Ready for the final push?

Ready for the final push?


Quarter 4 is always so crucial to success. The two key aims are driving out income to ensure the calendar year as a whole hits target and simultaneously putting new business together to ensure the starting pipeline for the new year is healthy.
 
Agents who keep their foot on the gas right through until Christmas will reap the rewards in 2015.
 
This edition of our newsletter focuses on how to give your agency the edge over your competition during this critical period.
 
And remember, staff training to raise standards in all you do needs to play a part in your strategy for success. Our most forward thinking firms are already booking training with us for 2015. Quarter 4 is the best time to design a training programme for the following year. Don't leave it too late!




Being busy is all well and good, but what are you and your team actually achieving?

I have always felt Quarter 4 to be one of the most important, as the following year’s starting STC pipeline depends on efforts and results from the latter part of the previous year.

Evidence suggests constipated sales pipelines as a result of lack of personnel within the process (conveyancers and surveyors in particular) which could have an impact on cashflow, ironically when said pipelines are encouragingly healthy sizewise.

One of the positive outcomes of tougher times for our industry is that better agents worked hard to reduce, monitor and manage costs far better than before to enable them to stay in business, and this principle should continue to be adhered to.

Review

Assuming that your costs are tightly controlled, you should review the effectiveness and time management skills of your staff to see what their genuine productivity actually is.

It can be a useful lesson to calculate the return on investment you are getting from each individual and/or team. For every & you spend on those employees, what income do you generate? Does it vary from person to person and/or from office to office? If so, assess the reasons – they will be likely to fall under one of the classic headings of knowledge, skills or attitude.

Successful business owners constantly invest time in staff development. Accepting that there have been budgetary constraints on many practitioners at present, it nonetheless seems extraordinary that staff are left to fight the battles for business on the front line without adequate training on the essential knowledge and skills required.

Horror stories

The horror stories about agents failing to win business because of their lack of skill are scarier than anything US novelist Stephen King could write. How about the valuer who spent a grand total of 15 minutes at a modern three-bedroom house before valuing it at ‘between &200,000 and &250,000’ – which the vendor could have done on their own – and who then promised to ‘do a deal on fees that is guaranteed to be cheaper than anyone else’. Unsurprisingly, he did not win the instruction. This unskilled approach to instructions is ludicrous to adopt in the face of stiff competition.

 

Productivity

Take a good look at each of your team members – how productive are they? Many negotiators are good at looking busy and hiding behind a software-generated “to do” list. However, the focus needs to be on results. How many hot applicants or local property-to-sell applicants are they talking to every day? How many viewers are they getting round properties? How many valuation appointments are they booking or attending?

Sales activity targeting and monitoring can quickly highlight differences in output between employees and can reveal training and coaching needs.

Time management

Time management plays a massive part in determining the survival and success of estate agents in the current economic climate. With reduced team sizes, each member has to be better than ever before at understanding the concept of ‘money balls’.

Imagine playing a game of pool with a time limit where the balls you pot each have their own value, ranging from worthless to highly lucrative. The player who identifies and pots the most valuable balls will make the most money – far more than the player who pays no attention to the value of each ball and who randomly tries to pot as many as possible.

Apply this proven time management principle to your business and see whether your staff can both identify and pot the most lucrative balls. In other words, is your team better than competitors’ teams at qualifying applicants and vendors, thereby sorting the wheat from the chaff and spotting and maximising all business opportunities? Do they adequately investigate and ascertain customers’ motivations and timescales for moving, as well as their financial situation?

Agents waste far too much time on clients who can’t or won’t move. The ability to sort the “hot from the not”, in terms of both staff and clients, has never been more important. Training and coaching to meet this need may well solve your problem and be a lot cheaper than employing an extra pair of hands.



A high percentage of staff in estate agency offices have the job title “negotiator”,

One area of estate agency work which varies wildly in quality is the handling of offers. The best agents have a clear strategy on how best to deal with these situations in order to ensure successful negotiation is achieved.

 It is important to consider what negotiation really means in the context of estate agency – one relevant definition might be “The bringing about of an agreement between a number of parties by a third party on unambiguous and mutually satisfactory terms”

 Preparation for putting the offer forward is key. Tempting though it is to get straight on the phone to try and get a sale together, some minutes spent paving the way for the conversation pays off massively.

 Firstly, who should make the call? Choosing the right person for this task has a direct impact on the outcome – the person with the best rapport and the best chance of securing the right outcome should be the default setting. In some cases this might be the least experienced member of staff or even the mortgage adviser. The vital research here is to ensure you know the clear motivation of the client – people take action to avoid penalties or achieve goals. Do we always know what the aims of our clients are? In other words, can we reinforce how their acceptance of an offer from the right buyer will help them achieve their key objective. These will vary hugely from vendor to vendor but will include getting children into the right schools, being closer to an elderly relative or specialist health care, reducing the cost and the time of their commute or ensuring they can afford to live in their home without undue financial concerns.

 It has always struck me as particularly odd that agents put offers forward to clients when the negotiators are oblivious to the amount of outstanding mortgage and equity on the property. An offer of &225,000 on a house on at &250,000 is likely to be better received by a client with a &40,000 mortgage than one with a &240,000 mortgage after all.

 Next, who should the negotiator speak to? Inevitably, if the vendors are a couple, one of them may well be more motivated, receptive, open-minded and/or intelligent than the other – it is this party the agent should contact.

 Does the negotiator have an absolutely unambiguous grasp on what the amount of the offer is and what the offerer is expecting to get for that amount? I have witnessed so many sales fall through over squabbles about fixtures and fittings further down the line because they were not clarified at the outset.

 Other preparatory work that influences the outcome would include but not be limited to:

 ·         What is the buyer’s specific timescale?

·         What is motivating the buyer to move?

·         What is the buyer’s specific position?

·         What price did the buyer initially register up to?

·         How far has the buyer got with arranging their mortgage?

·         What amount of mortgage are they intending taking on the purchase?

·         Did the buyer hint/state that they would go higher?

·         What have they previously offered on?

·         Have they seen anything else that they are considering?

·         What level of choice is out there if they don’t get this property?

 As with many things in life, the level of preparation undertaken links directly to the quality of the outcome. There are a vast number of other questions that should be posed prior to putting the offer forward – too many to list here but the basic premise is unquestionable - a few minutes taken to pave the way for the discussion of the offer can make or break the sale.



Morning glory

 

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.

 



Keeping an Eye on developments...

The brainchild of respected industry figures Nick Salmon and Rosalind Renshaw, the Eye informs and educates about all things property as it drops into inboxes first thing every weekday morning.

 
Julian says "One of the central principles to our training is the aim to build trust with clients and customers. A key element in such relationships is having superior market knowledge to ensure those clients and customers perceive the agent as well-informed and expert in their field, over and above other agents. Subscribing to the Eye really gives agents an edge.
 
I am thrilled to be invited to be a contributor to the publication and to share proven, practical techniques with the readership to help win more market share and develop their businesses."
 
Julian's articles will feature from October. In the meantime, subscribe to the free, daily Eye newsletter by visiting http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/



2014 Tour Dates


Tuesday 28th October in Manchester

Excellence in Client Care (morning session)

With client loyalty and trust the absolute key to success in agency, this fantastic halfday session shows how to win and retain your clients, thereby driving down withdrawal rates and increasing income. Suitable for any staff who are responsible for communication with vendors and landlords. 

And

Selling in a Tougher Market (afternoon session)

For any staff who are responsible for dealing with applicants, securing viewings and offers, and maximising business opportunities in challenging market conditions. This course shows how to raise the bar in terms of selling skills and techniques and has proven a resounding success.

 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 admin@tm-traininganddevelopment.co.uk or visit our website http://www.tmtraininganddevelopment.co.uk/online-booking.php

 



Thought for the day...

"Every person is a jewel. It is how you constantly improve yourself to carve out the shine within."