The Final Push....

The Final Push....

November is almost halfway through and some agents may have one eye on Christmas already. Not the best ones though.

This is my 34th year in estate agency and someone with an even longer track record than mine commented recently that the market in the South is the hardest he has ever known.

So what do the best agents do at this time of year? They plan, they coach their team, they visit their vendors, they phone their applicants, they mine their database for valuation opportunities, they attend industry events and training courses to learn new techniques to help them win business. In short, they make it the busiest time of year by creating a platform of activity for January and beyond.

Reading the articles in our latest newsletter may be another activity worth adding to your list of things to do to improve business levels. They are all focused on exactly that goal. Enjoy.

A stitch in time…

Firstly, it is sensible to answer the question “When is a sale a sale?” Too many agents book sales which don’t fit stringent criteria and therefore those spurious deals are always susceptible to failing to go the distance. A genuine sale should have a complete chain top and bottom. The chain beneath should be verified in detail before the vendor makes their decision as to whether to accept the offer or not. This is basic estate agency, but worryingly not part of the culture of every agent I have come across. Pressure on negotiators from bosses to achieve a monthly or weekly target of agreed sales can lead to corner-cutting and rushing to get the sale “in the figures”. One estate agency firm I know suffered a cancellation rate of hugely above the national average as a result of this culture. There is also an inherent danger in booking sales where the chain is incomplete above – in other words where the vendor has yet to find. Countless sales of this nature collapse when the client realises they can’t find or afford their ideal next home and thus decide to stay put and pull out of their sale.

Secondly, the diligence of gaining all key detail makes a massive difference to success. Whilst there is a natural adrenalin rush on the part of the agent as a new sale is being negotiated, this must be tempered by adhering to “best practise” principles of a few minutes reflection on the importance of being in possession of all the key information, ensuring that the sale is of an appropriate quality to justify the agents’ understandable excitement.

An hour’s effort and diligence in establishing chapter and verse on a potential sale in the first instance can avoid days of firefighting later in trying to hold it together. An interesting litmus test is to ask yourself whether you would be happy to agree this sale and remove the property from the market if it were your own home…

 Detail on what fixtures and fittings the buyer is expecting to be left, and which the vendors are happy to leave, is best dealt with at the earliest stages of negotiation – after all, at this point all parties are rather fond of each other and therefore more amenable and flexible. Those positive feelings tend to wane somewhat six weeks into the transaction when things are starting to get a little fraught.

 Timescales and target dates are also best nailed down as early as possible. So many sales have gone sour due to incompatible completion dates which in reality should have been spotted at the outset by a competent negotiator. It also strikes me as strange that when new homes are sold, there is an agreed deadline for exchange as a condition of the buyer’s offer being accepted, yet when agents agree resale sales, deadlines and target dates are often not even mentioned. This issue will only serve to come back and haunt the agent, when the vendor or purchaser runs out of patience because their desired timeframe is not achieved.

 Expectations must be managed very carefully with all parties, more so now than perhaps ever before, given that the sales process is grinding ever more slowly in many parts of the country – surveys, searches and mortgage offers taking an age to appear.

 With all these steps taken in the early stages, your sale will be ready to place into the hands of a conveyancer. And here is where your problems really can begin…

 However, although not all conveyancers work with the same sense of urgency and focus as estate agents, there are some really good ones out there. Build a relationship with a reliable and motivated firm. Agree service standards and referral mechanisms. There has been some bad press about agents forcibly recommending their own conveyancers so tread carefully. In my view, you would not be doing your job properly as an agent if you didn’t point out that using the right conveyancer can massively increase the chances of the transaction reaching completion within the desired timescales. Conversely, the wrong conveyancer can lead to heartache, stress and regret.

 It is difficult to assess the national average cancellation rate but 1 in 4 is often quoted as the benchmark. One major conveyancer cites a figure well below that.

 One thing is certain. There are plenty of agents suffering too higher rate, but a good many who perform way better than others. The aforementioned tips will ensure you fall into the latter category.

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.


RAN conference on the 17th November

Excellent course, please let me know when the next one is, I will be sending some of my staff.  Thankyou – Scott Cave – Humphrey Nicholas – October 2017.


Just a short email to let you know that I picked up from all of last week’s attendees bar one (who is absent this week) that the session was seen and felt to be a mixture of “so worthwhile”, “great”, “thought provoking”, “one of the best courses I have been on”, “the best course I have attended in years” and many other superlatives.

Well done and thanks…………for designing a great course, for delivering it with passion, and for really succeeding in “connecting” with my people.– Ian Davies, Director – Grosvenor Billinghurst – June 2017.


“Thank you Julian for imparting so much knowledge in such a short space of time and in such an upbeat and enthusiastic way.  Your course was excellent value, we are in the process of implementing all your suggestions and your ‘golden nuggets’ into our business. Your training will not only change the way we operate but has subtlety changed our use of language which I can see is already having a positive effect with our clients/prospects.  I have no doubt that your teaching will set us aside from the other agents in our town and get us on the way to becoming truly exceptional at what we do.I shall certainly recommend your services to my fellow Belvoir Franchise owners and Belvoir Central Office.Thank you very much.” – Patsy Day, Director – Belvoir Lettings Bury St Edmunds and Norfolk- May 2017


“I found the concepts we were being told about really interesting, and I fully intend to apply them to my work. It also helped that Julian is such an engaging speaker! Winning sweets was also nice!”– Bethany – Davis Tate – May 2017


“Thank you!  Julian, I really enjoyed yesterday’s training, it was the most useful training I have been on for such a long time.  Practical measures that make sense and are rooted in the real world of Estate Agency from someone that has walked the walk.” – Samantha, Davis Tate – May 2017



2018 Tour Dates

Winning Quality Instructions in a Tougher Market in
Coventry on the 16th January
Gatwick on the 23rd January
Manchester on the 30th January
Selling Properties in a Tougher Market in
Coventry on the 16th January.
Gatwick on the 23rd January.
Manchester on the 30th January.
How to be an Exceptional Lettings Agent in
London on the 24th January.
Manchester on the 25th January.
For more details please visit our website at or email the office at or give us a call on 01480 405583.

Stars of Tomorrow

We are running the following course:
Stars of Tomorrow in
    St Neots on the 27th, 28th and 29th November
(3 day course costing &499 plus vat)

This 3 day course is suitable for all new starters who have been in the business for less than 12 months.

  • Exceptional applicant registration – sorting the “make you money” customers from the “cost you money” ones
  • Building relationships of trust with customers and clients.
  • Making the most out of other income streams
  • Managing your applicant database to generate business and agree sales
  • Handling fee enquiries
  • Spotting valuation opportunities
  • Booking valuations in an exceptional manner
  • Conducting effective accompanied viewings
For more details please visit our website at or email the office at or give us a call on 01480 405583.