Merry Christmas from TM training & development

Merry Christmas from TM training & development

Merry Christmas

2012 has been a fantastic year for us here at TM training & development with a record number of training days being run, producing a record income and profit.


Massive congratulations to our client firms who won awards at the recent Sunday Times “Estate Agency of the Year” awards. We have provided training and consultancy services to 27 of the winning agents.

We were particularly thrilled that our estate agency Thomas Morris won the Gold Award for Best Medium Estate Agent in the East of England.

Other winners we work with include those featured below…


Streets Ahead


Isis Residential

Anthony Pepe & Co

We would like to thank all our longstanding client firms for continuing to invest in us and also to all the new clients who came to us during 2012.

We look forward to working with you all in 2013 and beyond. Thank you once again and a very Merry Christmas to you all!

2013 Open Courses

Those January dates in full…

"Gaining Quality Instructions" at St Neots, Cambridgeshire on Wednesday 16th January 2013 (Limited places available).

For valuers, this course covers 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 received amazing feedback and positively influenced the performance of all who have attended it.

"Leading Your Sales Team To Success" at St Neots, Cambridgeshire on Tuesday 22nd January 2013.

For anyone responsible for getting results from a team in a sales or lettings environment. This session focuses on best practice in leadership and man management, tips and techniques on how to get the best results from teams and individuals. It has proven to be a real eye opener to all levels of managers and directors. Not to be missed!

"Gaining Quality Instructions" at Bristol on Wednesday 30th January 2013 (morning session).

As above.

"Selling In A Tougher Market" at Bristol on Wednesday 30th January 2013 (afternoon sesssion).

For any staff who are responsible for dealing with applicants, securing viewings and valuations, 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 &95 plus VAT per delegate, however delegates booking both sessions at the Bristol courses will get a reduced rate of &170 plus VAT to include lunch.

To book or for more information contact us on 01480 405583, email as at or visit our website


Smarten yourself up…

“If it’s quiet on Sunday, will you sort the window display out?” the manager asked one of his staff late one Friday afternoon. I happened to be in the office on a consultancy visit, and made a mental note to use that question as a great real-life example on the following week’s management training course….a great example that is of how not to get something achieved! Given that one of the most commonly recognised definitions of management is “getting other people to do things for you”, this manager was clearly going to have a problem.


The forthcoming training course was to include a session on agreeing staff objectives successfully, a key area of people management but frequently one which causes problems.


Any objective that a manager is attempting to agree with a member of staff must follow a set of simple but effective guidelines. These apply to an objective that needs to be achieved that day, that month or over the subsequent quarter, be they agreed in a morning meeting, during a staff appraisal or merely as a result of an ad hoc discussion in the car park.


Firstly, the language must be specific. Any ambiguity may lead to a misunderstanding on the part of the employee as to exactly what needs to be done. In the example above, the words are so woolly as to be nigh on meaningless – what does “quiet on Sunday” mean? Furthermore, what does the manager have in mind as to how the negotiator should “sort the window display out?” An employee’s perception of this issue may differ significantly from that of the manager. Clarity of message is the key.


The next key element of objective setting is that they are measurable. It must be clear how success or failure of the objective will be assessed, so neither manager nor employee is in any doubt as to the outcome. Asking a valuer to “improve your conversion rate next quarter” could mean that just one extra percentage point from valuation appointments to instructions during that period will have that valuer feeling a sense of achievement, whilst the manager was hoping for a more significant increase. Of course, the non-specific language will also doubtless lead to problems as the valuer has been left with an easy route to help him or her achieve this objective – overvaluing or undercutting fees will achieve the objective but not help in branch performance in the long term.


Thirdly, all objectives must be agreed. Managers who simply impose targets upon their staff will risk experiencing resistance and demotivation on the part of the recipients, most notably if the employee in question perceives the objectives to be too difficult to achieve or irrelevant to their work. A two-way discussion about what the staff member feels about the situation should take place, perhaps including the manager asking what the employee feels they could achieve in terms of targets. Often the response from the employee will be a higher figure than the manager intended to suggest – this will mean the subordinate will more readily “own” and believe in the agreed objective.


Objectives must also be realistic. Consideration should be given to previous performance, current workload, knowledge and experience, forthcoming leave and so on to ensure any work objectives are not pitched as too hard or too easy to achieve. Unrealistically difficult objectives will be worthless as they will be viewed with disdain from the outset. Soft targets which will be comfortably achieved can lead to staff coasting through complacency. All objectives should be achievable with appropriate effort.


Finally, there must be a timescale incorporated into each staff objective. This simply means that each goal is to be achieved within a certain deadline after which the success or failure will be measured.


In summary objectives must be SMART – specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and with a timescale attached.


If we consider the earlier example of “improve your conversion rate next quarter”, which is riddled with holes as an effective objective, it can be rewritten to follow the above principles as follows – “The conversion rate from valuation appointments to instructions to be increased from 43% to 50% during the period July 1st to September 30th, while maintaining an average fee of X% and a withdrawal rate of no higher than Y%”.


Assuming that this objective is presented to the valuer in the context of a two way conversation, and that he or she is comfortable that the target is “achievable with appropriate effort”, then it becomes a SMART objective.


These five simple rules will ensure effective objective setting, which will help staff focus on striving towards pre-determined goals. There will be no lack of clarity in employees’ minds as to whether they have met the required performance standards or not and ultimately make a manager’s life easier.


Julian O'Dell

TM training & development


Making sales happen…


A reduction in the number of ready, willing and able purchasers can obviously lead to a downturn in sales activity and a reduction in banked income. This situation is clearly unsustainable.


Many investment buyers are still sitting on their hands and unwilling to commit to imminent purchases until there is clarity as to future property price movement. Many first time buyers are stalling for similar reasons, while others are victims of financial institutions’ change in approach to lending.

However, it is clear from the high levels of available stock that there are plenty of people still trying to move, many of whom are looking to stay within the same area.

By managing this bank of local applicants appropriately, sales can be made to happen. Diligent efforts to assist these local property-to-sell customers to find somewhere suitable from the selection of available properties ensures chains of transactions are formed. With subsequent careful negotiation from the top of the chain downwards, each vendor involved may reduce their ideal sale price, ultimately allowing the dependent property at the bottom to be offered at a sufficiently competitive figure to generate interest from first time or investment buyers. Once this base property is sold, the whole chain can progress.


A Partner in one of our estate agency client companies currently spends the bulk of his working hours visiting vendor clients to encourage price flexibility to assist in building such chains. He took the decision to do this over a four week period after becoming increasingly frustrated at the number of subject-to-sale offers his office had agreed which could not proceed. At that time, his branch had a total of 26 potential sales that were going nowhere until the bottom property secured a purchaser. His vendor visits led to price reductions cascading down to these bottom links, making them more saleable and ultimately leading to the next two months being far better sales periods than would otherwise have been the case.


One success story he related recently was an incomplete chain where Mr and Mrs A, the vendors at the top, were emigrating to Spain, and had a subject-to-sale offer from Mr and Mrs B of the asking price of &245,000. Mr and Mrs B in turn had a subject-to-sale offer of &192,500 from Mr and Mrs C who were attempting to find a buyer for their &155,000 property. Mr A had already moved across to Spain, therefore he and his wife were extremely keen to get their sale proceeding quickly, and had indicated to their selling agent that should a quality buyer be found, any offer over &220,000 would be considered. After a series of conversations with the various parties, Mr and Mrs B revised their offer to &225,000, allowing them without hesitation to reduce their own price to &182,500. Being equally keen to move themselves, they contributed a further &5,000, allowing them to accept &177,500 from Mr and Mrs C. The latter couple in turn immediately revised their asking price to &140,000 and a first time buyer was secured within two days at an agreed figure of &137,500. All parties were delighted with this outcome and are now on the way to completion. Had the agent been less creative in their approach, these transactions would probably only remain on the potential sale list to this day.


Local applicants moving downmarket can also serve as a key to maintaining desired sales performance, as they can complete the chain in the same way as proceedable buyers.


Our recent consultancy work with estate agency firms has included assisting them in creating and maintaining a manual or computerised “chainbuilding opportunities register”.


Each local applicant who registers on the mailing list and has yet to sell is logged onto this register which contains details of the type of property they are selling, the approximate price they are hoping to achieve, as well as what they are looking to buy and to spend. A daily review is carried out by the office team to identify chainbuilding and swap opportunities – then targeted calls are made to the relevant individuals.


Having invited me in to set up their register and provide the appropriate staff training, one client company reported back to me that in the subsequent few weeks they were successful in effecting two swap situations from within the register generating fees of almost &13,000, and one “circular” transaction (where client X bought from client Y who bought from client Z, with client Z moving downmarket to buy from client X) worth over &12,000.


Such is the power of positive linking!


Julian O’Dell

 TM training & development




Thought for the day

"Every client you keep is one less that you have to find" - Nigel Sanders