Autumn Newsletter

Autumn Newsletter

It is hard to accept the long hot summer is over and some agents may have one eye on Christmas already! Not the best ones though.

This is my 35th year in estate agency and the challenges facing estate agents right now are arguably amongst the hardest I have seen through that time.

So what do the best agents do in these trying circumstances? They plan, they coach their team, they look after 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 face up to the challenges, change and improve and make things happen.

Reading the articles in our latest newsletter may be an activity worth adding to the above list of things to do to improve business levels. Enjoy.

Catfest Breaks all records...Thanks to you guys!

Julian says: “I’m not going to lie - there were several occasions on the day itself when I was an emotional wreck thanks to the weather doing its best to ruin all our efforts. But as a good pal of mine said ‘Nothing can dampen the spirit of Catfest.’ And Catfest did beat the elements where other events failed. Just!”

The O’Dells’ main chosen charity Action Against Cancer helps to fund cutting edge research which will ultimately save lives. Cat herself has been living with cancer for over 8 years and recognises that research creates hope for victims of the disease. They are also proud to donate 10% of profits to Dan’s Hope,  a charity set up in association with MDUK to find a cure for a rare form of muscular dystrophy. One sufferer is 9 year old Dan McLellan, a dear friend of the O’Dells’ grandson Marley. It was Marley, also aged 9, who asked his grandparents to support Dan whose condition is degenerative and incurable.

Catfest wouldn’t happen without the help of a number of special people including sponsors from the property industry TM training & development, Rightmove, Elevation Estate Agents, Land & New Homes Network, Reapit, Manning Stainton Estate Agents, Negotiator magazine, ARPM, Lawrence Rand, Williams and Donovan, Moneypenny, Nock Deighton, Grosvenor Billinghurst, Cheffins and Property PR Expert.

An array of fabulous bands and singers provided dazzling entertainment over eleven hours -Straw Bear, Philippa Hanna, Gareth Nugent, The Brethryn, Poke, Fred’s House, Bootleg Blondie and The Alice Band all shone brightly enough to make up for the lack of sunshine.

The amazing total raised was boosted by some great auction lots including an England shirt signed by the 1966 World Cup squad and holidays in France and Norfolk. A collection of Julian’s drawings fetched almost &2,500.

Julian says “Cat and I cannot thank enough all those people who helped before, during and after Catfest, our range of suppliers, the bands, the sponsors, the attendees, anyone who bought raffle tickets, bid on auction lots, bought my pictures and so on. They should be proud of themselves for raising money for great causes. We are thrilled to have beaten last year’s record.
Not having Catfest next year seemed sensible to give us and the garden a break, but when we see all the smiles on the day, read all the fabulous messages from those who attended and loved it, when we sit and calculate the massive amount of money we are passing to charity, we think to heck with it, let’s go again.

Saturday 13th July 2019 is the date. We have sponsors confirmed but would welcome more, three acts confirmed but are open to offers and we need some riproaring auction lots. Any help appreciated!”

If you would like to support Catfest 19 in any way, Julian can be reached on 07718 634235 or

As the man himself would almost certainly sum things up....Marvellous.

A stitch in time…

On my training travels around the country this year, it has been evident that a growing number of estate agents have had a decent run of sales. – although not all those agreed sales are going the distance.

 One of our key areas of training requested by my client firms has been in bolstering negotiators’ ability to put quality sales together and to maintain a low cancellation rate. As a result, these clients are reporting considerably stronger performance in those disciplines and thereby a protection or increase of income levels.

 Cancellation rates (the percentage of agreed sales that fall through) vary massively around the country from single figures through to in excess of 40%. There are a number of reasons for this disparity, including how negotiators are targeted (putting staff under pressure to agree a certain amount of sales each week is bound to lead to a few spurious “deals” being booked). In addition, some agents more or less forget about a sale once it has been tied up, leading many to crash and burn further down the line.

 We have spent a great deal of training time devoted to arresting the number of sales falling through and failing to reach exchange – a problem which obviously leads to frustration and dented morale.

 One of the key areas many agents need to improve upon is the quality of the manner in which the sale is initially negotiated. This can often be compromised when negotiators are over eager to book a sale too quickly.

 Examples I have discovered include a cancelled sale that cost the firm in question &3800 in lost commission.

 The viewing on the property had been unaccompanied by the agent, and the purchaser had been left with the impression that the vendor would leave, amongst other items, the curtains.

 Upon receipt of the detail of fixtures and fittings via his solicitor, the purchaser was dismayed to discover that the vendor was actually planning to remove all the curtains from the property.

 When contacted by the agent on this matter, the vendors conceded that at the viewing, they had referred to the curtains staying but only “for the right price”. The accepted offer had been several thousands of pounds below the asking price, and as fixtures and fittings had not been discussed with either party by the negotiator, both vendor and purchaser incorrectly assumed the detail of the deal. Unfortunately, their two assumptions were entirely different from one another!

 The resultant fallout led to the classic “matter of principle” problem which the negotiator failed to resolve, leading to the two parties’ fixed unwillingness to proceed with the transaction on the other’s terms, and thus to an unnecessarily abortive sale.

 The simple principle of ensuring clarity of fixtures and fittings at the point of negotiation could have avoided this costly scenario.

 Indeed, a broader adoption of complete unambiguity of the quality of the potential sale at the outset has halved the cancellation rate for one of my clients.

 Previously, they had lost sales through irreconcilable timescale differences between parties, which should have been established far earlier in the process. Clearly, there is little point in booking a chain of three sales where two parties must complete before the end of March, whilst the first time buyer is unable to move until June.

 In another case, failure to identify the absence of probate being granted on the property at the top of a chain led to a delay that resulted in the buyer going elsewhere. Such basic lack of attention to important detail by an agent is inexcusable.

 There were yet more examples of failed transactions where insufficient qualification of the facts caused insoluble problems – lack of ability to buy due to the failure of the agent to introduce the buyer to a financial adviser, negligence in spotting the clues presented in a complicated matrimonial situation and the wrong assumption that a prospective buyer in rented accommodation had no related sale to name but three.

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 practice” 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 fire fighting later in trying to hold it together.

 The acid test is to consider this – if you were the owner of the property in question, would you be happy to agree a sale to this purchaser and to remove it from the open market with confidence that the deal will go through?

 It is doubtful whether a sale has ever crashed due to the negotiator gathering too much information at the outset, but it is certain that many sales have done so due to gathering too little.

Tour Dates

20th September 2018


Managing Your Team in a Tougher Market (Sales & Lettings)

Full Day &225 Plus Vat


27th September 2018


Selling Properties in a Tougher Market

Half Day &109 Plus Vat


27th September 2018


Winning Quality Instructions in a Tougher Market

Half Day &109 Plus Vat


2nd October 2018


Selling Properties in a Tougher Market

Half Day &109 Plus Vat


2nd October 2018


Winning Quality Instructions in a Tougher Market

Half Day &109 Plus Vat


10th/11th/12th October 2018

St Neots (Cambridgeshire)

Stars of Tomorrow

3 Day Course &499 Plus Vat


4th December 2018


Managing Your Team in a Tougher Market (Sales & Lettings)

Full Day &225 plus vat


11th December 2018


Selling Properties in a Tougher Market

Half Day &109 plus vat


11th December


Winning Quality Instructions in a Tougher Market

Half Day &109 plus vat


To book or for more information please contact us on 01480 405583, email us at or

 visit our website



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.”

Does your business need an MOT?

A few months ago, I reread my favourite non-fiction book - “Moments of Truth” by Jan Carlzon – one that I first enjoyed many years ago and which has helped me improve the way I run my businesses more than any other.

 As I devoured for the ninth or tenth time the words of wisdom on each of the 138 pages, it struck me that every estate agency proprietor should do the same.

 Jan Carlzon took over Scandinavian Airlines in 1981 – a company on the verge of losing $20 million. One year later, it was making a profit of $54 million. That turnaround is quite extraordinary in both size and speed. Better still, the way he achieved it was simple and straightforward. It was all about understanding and maximising what he called the “moments of truth” – in other words, every single interaction that a customer has with a company, whether it lasts only a few seconds or more, needs to be a positive experience - better than they expected and better than the competition deliver.

 I have run dozens of seminars on the “Moments of Truth” principles and encouraged estate agency proprietors and managers to apply them to their own operation. Conveniently the initials of “Moments of Truth” are “M.O.T.” – and by giving your business an annual “M.O.T.” in the same way as you do a car, you can ensure that your business is operating as efficiently and smoothly as possible. Those owners that have done so frequently report back that having carried out the three key stages of listing, reviewing and perfecting the “moments” that customers experience, an upturn in business levels inevitably follows.

 Just listing the “moments” is a time-consuming task but an essential one. Think about sales and rental applicants and all the interactions they have with your firm from their first visit to your website, to contacting the branch, to receiving information from you, to arranging viewings and so on.

 Vendors and landlords have a vast list of experiences with you from their first awareness of your brand, to booking a valuation appointment, to the appointment itself, to the point of instruction, to feedback calls and many many more.

 Once these have all been listed, it is crucial to conduct a review to see exactly what your customer’s real experience is like (perhaps by way of “mystery shopper” exercises or customer feedback forms), and then to take steps to perfect each “moment”. The steps taken towards perfection need not cost any money – rather an investment of time, energy and diligence.

 Once you embrace this concept (and ideally read the book!), you will find yourself experiencing your own “moments of truth” when you are a customer. I experience them daily – many are far from positive.

 A while ago, I went into a well-known High Street bookshop to look for a particular book. Failing to locate it, I approached an assistant behind a till and asked if she could help me. I gave her the title and author. Without explanation (nor eye contact nor smile), she tapped away on her keyboard for two minutes or so, asked me again for the name of the book and who wrote it (mildly irritating as I had already given her this information) and finally handed me a small printed ticket. She then explained that I might find the book in “a number of places” in the shop, all of which I had already looked in. Finally, when I asked her whether she could confirm that they had it in stock, she told me their “system can’t tell us that”. Genius!

 I walked two hundred yards down the road and bought it elsewhere. In challenging times for the High Street retail sector (and in light of the above story, online shopping seems hugely appealing), the first shop has lost a transaction (and a future customer) in minutes. If only they stocked Jan Carlzon’s book and made their staff read it!

People Say the Nicest Things

"I have always been a great believer in the importance of regular training. To that end in the 30 years Kevin Henry have been in business we have always made training a priority in ALL markets. To that end Peter and Julian have been without equal. They are more than trainers they are "business partners" who offer a valuable insight into our industry through years of experience and observations. Long may you prosper TM training! - Henry Rowe - Kevin Henry - September 2018
"I found the training session this morning really inspirational" - Janine - Ellis Winters - July 2018
To read more of our testimonials please follow the link to our page TM training & development