Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

With the election behind us and a promised heatwave ahead, June is always a great time to review and reflect before tackling the challenges of the second half of the year.
There is no doubt that estate agents need to continually up their game in the face of market challenges and stiffer competition. Completed sales for January and February were significantly less than last year (130,169 across the first two months of 2014, compared to 107,271 in 2015), making the sales market a harder place to operate in. Traditional "high street" agents are also having their market share nibbled at by "internet only" alternatives.
So, there is no doubt that raising standards of service and behaviour remains key to maintaining and increasing market share. "Dare to be different!" is proving one of our most in-demand courses at present, with its sole focus on standing out from the crowd in the right way. It serves as a great motivational event for negotiators and helps them get exceptional results. Call us for a quote for your company. As one owner said, after we ran the session for his troops... "It is likely to be the best investment we make this year"...
We do of course recognise that not every agent has the budget for staff training, so, as always, our newsletter provides free tips and techniques on massively improving your business and its results. Enjoy.

What happens next?

After an election where housing was one of the main issues discussed, the dust is settling, and we are beginning to see what is likely to happen in terms of housing policy and its consequent effect on the housing market in general.

It is important to make sure all your staff are well informed about the issues around housing in general, as one of the key factors that builds trust and influences people to use a particular estate agent is a tone of authority underpinned by knowledge. No potential customer who asks the question “What do you think will happen to the housing market now the election is over?” wants to receive the reply “Who knows, your guess is as good as mine!”

The first factor which may influence the housing market is the removal of doubt about the result has now gone. It is clear we are going to have a one party majority government for the foreseeable future and we can already see in some areas this is resulting in the prospect of the second half of the year being busier than the first, with more people deciding that now may be the time to move…especially those people who want to move to a larger property in the near future.

We have already seen a big increase in activity in central London and the top end of the market due to the removal of the fear of the mansion tax and higher rates of taxation on top earners. This of course is underpinned by a shortage of supply which looks set to continue apart from high end new developments.

But the ripple effect seems to be hitting the towns just outside the M25 and in more affluent suburbs across the UK, as people start to think that “prices are unlikely now to fall and are more likely to rise” – one report stating “up to 25% in the next 5 years”. Some bookies are even saying the average UK prices will rise to over &200,000 this year. This should certainly be the “disturbing” information we should be using to encourage potential vendors and buyers to act now, in our “post-election” calls and conversations.

We should also be aware that Investors, and particularly those with pension savings to invest, should be a particular group of people who should now be confident to buy properties with high capital growth potential.

Immediately after the election, commentators believed that a Conservative victory meant lettings legislation and regulation was not likely to happen. However in the last couple of weeks it appears that the government is looking at a registration scheme for landlords (as is in place in Scotland already) or at least for all HMO properties, as part of their range of actions to clamp down on illegal immigration and renting properties to these people, with a roll out of the Right to Rent scheme nationwide. It has not yet been confirmed how this scheme may operate and if it will be restricted to certain authorities or types of properties or rolled out across the country. It may well lead to a redefinition of an HMO. But it is certainly a surprise to many lettings agents that this idea is still alive, given the complexion of the government, who tend to advocate a less regulated approach to markets.

One thing that is clear is that for at least 5 years there will still be a lack of properties to buy although the extension of right to buy for Housing Association tenants may have a small impact on transactions over a longer period.

In reality a lack of supply in markets can only mean one thing…rising prices. It now seems unlikely that housing starts will rise anywhere near the 300,000 required to keep pace with population growth, and to compensate for the lack of building over the last 20 years. Although the government intends to sell properties at a 20% discount to first time buyers under 40, the number of properties mentioned is only 40,000 a year.

Thus we need to make sure that all staff are informing potential clients that they have a short window of opportunity to act now if they wish to move themselves or invest in property for other reasons. Remember it is only when a customer’s emotions are engaged, be they fear or desire, that customers act. It is our job to use our authoritative tone and knowledge to generate business and activity during this post-election window of opportunity.

Are you leading by example?

Plenty of fledgling managers are not provided with the training they need to succeed. Many newly promoted managers rapidly lose confidence in themselves and often end up stepping down and taking a lower ranked position at a competitor agency. This is far from an ideal scenario for the original firm but one for which their lack of training investment would clearly be the main contributory factor.

One of the most lively and interesting discussions that often takes place on our Management Training courses relates to the essential qualities of excellent managers. Delegates are asked to consider the best manager they have worked for and to highlight the single most important attribute that causes them to class the person they are thinking of as being so good. Frequently, the fact that the outstanding manager was seen to “lead by example” is cited as the characteristic that is most significant to a manager being deemed to be excellent. Therefore, it should be considered as a trait that all leaders should understand and aspire to…

 As a manager, you cannot fail at leading by or setting an example – however, the crucial point is whether it will be a good or a bad one! Nobody I have encountered within an estate agency environment will set out deliberately to do the latter, but accidents happen. The staff’s perception is all important in this area.

 It is interesting to note that managers are a little bit like football referees – supporters rarely talk about a referee who has had a good game, whereas discussions about bad refereeing can rumble on for days or even weeks after the final whistle. In the working arena, staff may not be aware of a manager setting a good example, but they will almost certainly notice, and possibly comment on, a bad one.

 People take in information more through their eyes than their ears – therefore what managers do has a far greater impact than what they say. However, what is said obviously has a degree of importance and must dovetail with what is done. Any mixed message in this area of a manager’s role will cause at best confusion and at worst resentment. The manager who demands the provision of a high standard of customer service by his/her team will doubtless experience problems if their staff witness a failure on the part of that manager to return a client’s call. The “Do as I say, not as I do” style of leadership will lead to failure.

 The least successful managers I have encountered over the years have frequently been guilty of the misconception that once they have secured their management status, they can take their foot off the gas, that life will be a little easier, in short that they have “arrived”. Unfortunately, a key lesson for a successful manager is that management is an activity not a status! It is no coincidence that many estate agency staff display behaviour that they have absorbed directly from the person who manages them.

 For example, the proprietor of an estate agency firm was recently bemoaning the sickness record at one of his branches, which was leading to unsatisfactory sales performance. It came as no surprise that the manager of that branch had the worst attendance record of any of the company’s management team – leading to the culture in that branch of absenteeism through illness being accepted as the norm. Interestingly enough, a member of the team from that office had been transferred to another branch and despite some early sickness issues has just achieved a full calendar year of attendance – something they had never got remotely close to at the previous office. The manager at the second office had not been off sick for over two years…

 Leading by example often (but not always) means leading from the front. A mountain guide does just that to communicate to his party the direction and speed at which they must go. In an estate agency environment, a personal willingness to go out in front and “get your hands dirty” achieves the same result. However, time must also be invested in the other functions of leadership, such as planning, monitoring and checking.

 The standards set by a leader will be the standards achieved by his/her team. Punctuality, appearance, administration, customer service levels are all key examples within our industry. A manager arrived late for a training course recently, putting their tie on as they entered the room and then asked to borrow a pen…several of their staff were present, and I couldn’t help but wonder what they had gleaned from their manager’s conduct.

 Examples are contagious. Children imitate behavioural examples, and adults retain that characteristic. By setting the right example, managers will gain respect, avoid accusations of hypocrisy and ultimately achieve a climate of teamwork and unity.

 As John Quincy Adams said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Are all Estate Agents really the same?

“I first saw the house advertised on Agent A’s website and rang them for further information. They said they would email me a full specification. After 3 days this hadn’t arrived so I called into their office and collected a hard copy brochure. Later in the day I phoned them to say I was interested in viewing that evening. They promised to phone me back within 10 minutes. I hadn’t heard anything by the time I was ready to leave work, so I gave them a chase and they called me back with an appointment. I think they had forgotten all about me.

 I fell in love with the house and went into their office the next morning (Wednesday) to put in an offer. I also asked them to come and put my house on the market, although the first time they could do it was the following Tuesday at 3.00pm.

 I was a bit disappointed by this and decided to get another agent out. I went into another estate agent (Agent B) in the town. There were two girls talking in a back office and I had to wait for about 5 minutes before they came out. I told them that I wanted to sell my house and asked that they send someone out to value it. They were unable to come until Monday.

 I spoke to friends on Thursday who told me I ought to get my house on the market quickly as I might lose the house I wanted to buy. I then decided to try one more agent. As I was passing a local agent called Agent C, I popped into the office. A very pleasant and friendly young lady stood up and immediately greeted me. She quickly found out my situation and said that I really needed to get things moving very quickly so as not to lose my house.

 Whilst we were talking, another gentleman came across and introduced himself as the person who would be coming out. I found him to be a very pleasant and professional man. To be honest I had already made my decision then, that I was highly likely to use them. He offered to come out later that day to fit in with me before I went away for the weekend.

 He arrived on time and asked me to tell him exactly what I wanted out of his visit. He also wanted to know what things, if any, gave me cause for concern. He asked me to show him round the property and suggested he measured up so that he was ready to get it onto the market.

 We sat at the dining table and he then asked me if there were any other questions before he moved onto explain how his Company could help me. I felt that he was well informed about the local market and he brought along details of other properties that were currently for sale on my estate, plus some that his firm had recently sold. We agreed that the house needed to be priced right to get a quick sale. I was expecting something between &260,000 and &270,000. He agreed with my thoughts and he suggested we ask &269,950. I was quite impressed by him and the interest shown to me by the other person in his office. I was particularly pleased compared to the experience I had with Agent A and Agent B.

 He tried hard to get me to make a decision to go ahead. I explained that my husband and I were going away for the weekend and I needed to speak to him about what had been discussed. In truth I had decided that we would use him to sell our house. We left it that I would speak again on Monday.

 When we got back on Sunday evening there was a message on the answerphone from Agent C saying that they hoped we had a good break and looked forward to speaking on Monday. We were very impressed by this and I went into his office first thing Monday to sign the agency agreement. I cancelled Agent A’s appointment but thought it might be interesting to see what Agent B had to say, even though I had signed with Agent C.

 Agent B’s manager arrived with a young person who he said was undergoing training. He told me that he knew we wanted to sell and that he would have a quick look round, then talk to me about selling. He seemed to rush round, took no measurements or notes, and then told me that the property should be put on the market at &295,000. I knew this was a daft price as none like my style of house had been that high. He said that his fees were 1.5% and although we could get cheaper, his Company didn’t cut corners. He said he’d leave me to think about it and call on Wednesday. He never asked me if I wanted to give it to his Company.

 He did call on Wednesday as agreed. He was somewhat surprised when I told him that I had given it to Agent C and already had an offer.

 I was annoyed by Agent A because when I called them to say I had sold my house they told me that I was too late as someone else had bought it. Needless to say I was very upset.

 There was a happy ending though. Agent C contacted a number of owners of properties like the one I was hoping to buy. Within three days, they had found one for me to view and to cut a long story short, we bought it and exchanged contracts last week.”


Tour Dates

The courses will be


 "How to be an Exceptional Lister"

This special training course is for sales and lettings valuers, and covers a huge range of 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 been run for a number of our client firms as an in-house course but has never been run as an open event. The course has received amazing feedback and positively influenced the performance of all who have attended it.

The course will be a full day course being held in London on the 30th June and Manchester on the 7th July .

The course will cost &225 plus vat per delegate.

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...

"Quality is not an act, it is a habit." - Aristotle