As John Lennon, who was so shockingly gunned down 35 years ago, sang "And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?"
The final weeks of December are a great time for reflection and review, as to what has been achieved in your business in the calendar year. For lots of businesses, it has been a good year, though not an easy one.
Many agents will be hoping that Santa brings them some properties to sell as stock is in such short supply. I hate to break it to you, but Santa isn't likely to do that. So what can you do instead?
How about reviewing every key stage of your instruction process from client awareness through to closing skills. There are numerous stages in between and the only guaranteed way of increasing business levels is to ensure every single stage of your process is better than those of your competitors.
Ask yourself what you and your team could do to make that happen. It doesn't need to cost money - just a bit of time and effort.
Get your team together, ask them for their ideas on how your business can improve at each stage, then pick the best and put them into practice. The improvements will inevitably lead to more business next year and guess what?
You'll have a much happier Christmas in 2016 as a result!

Back to basics

During my first week in estate agency in 1983, I attended a training course which covered the basic skills required for my new role as junior negotiator. Certain lessons have been firmly embedded in my brain throughout my career, particularly those relating to the qualification and registration of applicants.

The training course included a checklist of 22 elements that needed to be covered during that first point of contact, and we were advised that the company regularly “mystery shopped” its offices to gauge the quality to which this key part of the job was being carried out. Having committed these checklist points to memory, I then ensured I dealt with every applicant every day on the premise that they might be the mystery shopper. After all, I was keen to do the job to the best possible standard and ensure that I made my mark on the company’s sales figures.

Nowadays, my training company conduct mystery shopper exercises for estate agency firms around the UK and the results are never less than fascinating. The original list of 22 key points, although many years old and constantly updated, still broadly forms the benchmark of how well these calls are handled, and the standard of follow up service delivered. The difference in quality between the best and worst is extraordinary. Feedback from business owners, whether the calls and follow up are poor, fair, good or exceptional, is that the exercises are worth their weight in gold for illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of the sales/letting operation within their businesses, and revealing the most pressing training needs.

Most (but by no means all) agents will establish key contact information (names, initials and titles of all parties plus all telephone numbers and email addresses) and a general idea of what the applicant is looking for.

However, the real areas for concern are the depth of information gleaned and the lack of testing of the answers provided by the customer.

Assuming that an agent is striving for exceptional standards of selling techniques to maximise results, it is alarming that many areas of key information are missed – the reason for and specific timescale of the proposed move, for example. This is partly down to lack of training, partly down to the fact that many software screens do not prompt the negotiator to ask the most critical questions.

Much of the facts established are not clarified – “I’m looking up to around &300,000 for a three bedroom property” is not enough! These points must be tested with probing questions like “So if I found you a property that had everything you are looking for, but only had two bedrooms, you wouldn’t consider it?” and “If I found you the perfect property, what is the very maximum you would be prepared to pay for it?”. It is incredibly rare to hear these questions asked during our mystery shopper calls.

Similarly, when the applicant states that they have sold their property, the negotiators seldom dig deeply enough to find out the quality of that “sale”. The avoidance of establishing an applicant’s financial capability is also a regular shortcoming. This failure to check the detailed ability of the applicant will inevitably lead to missed opportunities by agents spending the wrong amount of time with the wrong people, or equally worryingly, failing to spot the real “money making” customers.

The above represent just a few of the criteria that are measured by the mystery shoppers. The most recent mystery shopper exercise saw a top score of 9 out of the possible 22 – the other offices involved scored less and in one case, only 5! This is not a level of performance that will help sustain that business through what may well be a challenging 2016.

Fortunately, the proprietor in question has now invested in training with us to ensure we help address these problems on his behalf.

For further information or to receive a copy of this checklist, please contact me on 07718 634235, email training@tm-royston.co.uk or contact me via twitter @agencytrainer

There is more to selling than pinging!

Without doubt, if you have built a relationship of trust with the customer, a phone call made direct to that customer can still be a highly effective way of getting results.

 When I moved house three years ago, the one estate agent who dealt with me in the right way made his life easier by the way he dealt with me on first contact. When he subsequently phoned to offer me suitable new instructions in coming weeks, I agreed to view immediately, After all, I trusted him to make that judgement on my behalf. Other agents phoning me who had failed to win my trust were told to send ,me the details when they called with a potential property, In short, they were not in a position to tell me what to view given that they know so little about me!

 So, assuming your staff have qualified the applicants correctly in the first instance (and our mystery shopper calls reveal that sadly the majority don’t), then the phone calls are worth making….but how should they be conducted?

 There are seven key stages to an effective phone out call. The first stage is…


 Applicants that you have deemed worthy of VIP treatment, such as a regular phone call or instant notification of suitable properties becoming available to them, should represent business opportunities because they are either hot applicants who are ready, willing and able to buy or rent a property immediately, or they are applicants with local properties to sell who represent brilliant instruction opportunities.

 It is not practical to call every applicant with every new instruction, price reduction or property coming back onto the market. The first element of preparation is to plan which applicants are worthy of these calls and in which order the calls should be made. When stock is in short supply, it is a good idea to contact potential vendor applicants with new stock first as if you can show them that you are looking after them. That can increase your chances of getting their property to sell. If you get those properties to sell applicants out looking, deal with their viewing appointments in an exceptional manner, and show them that you are giving them priority treatment, you will massively increase your chances of securing their instruction now or in the future.

 Before picking up the phone, review what you know about the applicant.. Ask yourself the key question – why would this person buy this property? Decide on your objectives for the call – is it just a viewing you want to achieve, or are there other business opportunities to aim for like a market appraisal or conveyancing referral.


 The first stage of the actual call itself is the “Opening”. You must check that they have time to talk. An agenda is important. “I just wanted to talk to you about your latest moving plans and to discuss a property that might be suitable…”

 The next stage is REQUALIFY

 Assuming you established their motivation, ability and needs when the applicant first contacted you, these now need to be rechecked. It is important to recognise that these things change as time goes on. A great start to the call is to say “Can I just check I’ve got the current situation clear…” and then proceed to summarise your understanding of the applicant’s key information. Listen carefully and amend your records accordingly. It may be that things have changed to the extent that the property you are calling them about is no longer relevant, so you may need to do an instant match on your system to see if any other properties are potentially suitable. Once you have clarified the up to date situation, it is time to proceed to the next stage…


 When you introduce the property in question, it is important to remember that the applicant can only imagine what the property is like by the words you use, but that their response to the suggested property might also be influenced by your tone of voice. Be upbeat – use positive language – smile as you speak….all these things enhance the customer experience.

 Use empathy –“I thought of you when this one came available because your son’s school is just around the corner” or “I remember you saying that your partner commutes and she would be able to walk to the station from here…”

 Use positive language to point out the benefits and match them to the applicant’s needs.


An attempt to secure a viewing might be “When shall I tee up a viewing for you?” or “Would Saturday or Sunday be better?”


 If you have secured a viewing, then clarify timings, dates and so forth. If not, then agree the next time for you to contact the applicant.


 These golden rules can be applied to new instructions, price reductions and properties coming back onto the market. The quality and quantity of these calls will have a direct impact on your results – make sure you get them right!

 Julian O’Dell

December 2015

“The Magic of thinking Big”

Maybe the book that has influenced my attitudes most over the years is one I bought when I was in my early twenties, felt stuck in a rut and looking for a career change. It is called the “Magic of thinking Big” and I have found much of its content valuable over the years in “getting my brain in gear” to deal with the challenges of life.

The basic beliefs it outlines may sound simple and obvious, but I find a reread every now and then forces me to challenge the negative habits that are easy to fall into. I find it particularly useful in thinking of the challenges faced in being successful in estate agency.

So what are the rules?

Win success by believing you can succeed; believe you can do it, remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are, and remember to have some big clear life goals to motivate you.

Understand the importance of the mind in driving success or failure: thinking power is more important than intelligence. Get rid of that voice in your head which only sees reasons things won’t succeed and replace it with an optimistic view. When you fail, see it as only a stop on the route to success.

Conquer “excusitis”. Some basic but interesting rules here: refuse to talk about your health: remember although knowledge is important it is how you use it that is more important: you don’t have to be a genius to succeed. Don’t believe in Luck: remember the old adage “The harder I work the luckier I get”.

Use the “Action Technique” to cure fear and build confidence: All of us have fears or lack of confidence at time .So be a “front seater”, get involved and commit yourself to meetings: Practice making eye contact, move 25% faster and practice speaking up and smiling when you greet people. Remember “Action conquers fear”.

Think big by visualising the future: there is nothing wrong with dreaming of what you want to achieve as long as it is a detailed and clear vision that you are motivated to act on.

Make your environment work for you. If your work environment is not like that you would expect a successful person to have: be it your appearance or your desk or your team environment do something about it. Only you can manage your environment so go First Class.

Win friends by creating conversational generosity and surround yourself with other positive minded people: In conversations avoid the word I and replace it with you. Find out about and pay an interest in others. 

Get the action habit: don’t wait until the conditions are perfect. In life many of us put off actions until we feel the time is right….the phrase I hear most commonly at present is “I’ll do that after Christmas!”: yet the most successful estate Agents will be making the most of all the time available to them in December…is that you ?

And finally: Get a clear fix on where you want to go in life, nothing motivates more than a passionately held belief or goal to improve your success  in life.

Being British we often avoid “looking under the surface” at what emotions and attitudes drive success, but the precepts outlined above seem as valid to me as when I first read them 30 years ago.

Peter Chapman

TM training & development

December 2015

Tour Dates

The courses will be


 "Listing & Selling Skills for 2016"

We all need to sharpen up our listing on selling skills to deal with the challenges of 2016

Suitable for staff who list or, sell/arrange rentals on properties 

  • Getting through more doors - speaking to more people
  • Setting effective agendas
  • Exceptional Customer Service and interaction at all stages of the listing and sales process
  • Motivating clients
  • Effective presentation of services and property to create differentiation to defend fees
  • Dealing with objections
  • Trial closing and gaining commitment
The course will be a full day course being held in

  London on the 12th January

Newcastle on the 2nd February

Birmingham on the 3rd February

Brands Hatch on the 2nd March

Cardiff on the 9th March


"Management Skills"

Suitable for staff who manage a Branch or Department (Lettings or Sales) within an Estate Agency. 


  • The role of a Manager
  • Planning and time management
  • Holding effective team meetings
  • Building your team
  • Setting standards and objectives
  • Coaching and training staff
  • Staff review and one to ones
  • Creating Focus and Discipline
The course will be a full day course being held in

London on the 21st April


"An Introduction to Exceptional estate Agency"

Suitable to all new staff with less than a years experience or returnees to the industry.

  • Compliance
  • Personal time management
  • Selling skills for Estate Agents
  • Qualifying and understanding  buyers and Vendors/ Landlords
  • Generating viewings and offers
  • Processing deals

The course will be a full day course being held in

London on the22nd April


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...

is what you are capable of doing.
determines what to do.
determines how well you do it.”
~ Aldous Huxley