Reach for the Stars!

Reach for the Stars!

Reach for the Stars!

As many of you know, we have launched a new venture called Estate Agency All Stars which sources, recruits and trains new junior sales and lettings negotiators for agents throughout the UK. The inaugural course was held earlier this month and was a massive success. Any of you seeking high calibre young staff who can hit the ground running and have been equipped with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude to be effective and successful should get in touch.
We have another programme due to start on the 10th of June, for more information contact us on 01480 405583. But don't take our word for it - we invited special guest Andrea Morgan (of "A Passion for Homes") to sit in on part of the course and to talk to the key people involved - including perhaps most importantly, the delegates themselves. Her podcast on her experience can be heard here
Click here to read Reach for the Stars!.

2013 Tour Dates

Those dates and course details in full are...


"Gaining Quality Instructions" at Nottingham on Friday 24th May 2013 (morning session).

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.


"Selling In A Tougher Market" at Nottingham on Friday 24th May 2013 (afternoon session).

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.


"Selling In A Tougher Market" at Coventry on Friday 7th June 2013.

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 &99 plus VAT per delegate, however delegates booking both sessions at the Nottingham 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


For Your Information…

As an industry, estate agency is fortunate insofar as there are whole rafts of data and statistics at our fingertips. Despite this advantage, many managers are unaware of both the information itself and how to assess and use it. An investment of an hour or two poring over facts and figures relating to office and individual performance may appear superficially to be a waste of a manager’s valuable time, yet those who do so typically find it enlightening and rewarding as it often highlights areas of weakness yet to be identified. This allows appropriate action to be taken before the problems are too great to solve.


Fundamental management information within estate agency includes the valuation appointments to instructions conversion rate, sole agency strike rate, fee levels, percentage of for sale boards on new instructions, instructions to sold instructions success, properties withdrawn without selling, number of applicants registered to mortgage appointments, number of viewings to offers, agreed sales to exchanges ratio, sales process time from offer to exchange and so on.


On my training and consultancy travels, it is alarming how many managers do not know any of the above information – and in some cases don’t actually know where to look to find it!


Those that do know, or seek it out having been made aware of its importance, find it useful to benchmark themselves against other offices within their firm and other estate agents’ figures elsewhere around the country. We provide these figures without attributing them to an identified company, and this information is often useful in helping establish a suitable target for the future.


One Company for whom we have carried out a lot of training over the past few years had a valuation to instruction conversion rate of 33% when we began our work with them. They had never measured this prior to our involvement, and we suggested that with the appropriate training and support, a conversion rate of 50% could be secured given what we had witnessed being achieved elsewhere. Following the figures through, achieving a 50% conversion rate (assuming other ratios such as instructions to sold instructions and agreed sales to exchanges remained broadly the same) would be directly responsible for an increase of approximately &50,000 extra income per calendar month as a result of the extra completions across the company in question. In fact, they are now achieving 52% so the bottom line is looking very healthy indeed.


Calculating one’s own performance statistics and benchmarking those against others have proved to be very useful exercises for a vast number of my clients as it allows them to place their own company’s achievements into a broader context, and to readjust their aspirations as appropriate. Examples include an estate agency proprietor who explained with somewhat misplaced pride that his Company sold 20% of the properties they took onto their books – once he knew the context that there are firms comfortably achieving three and four times that success rate, he realised that his expectations needed to be revised. Similarly, a firm who typically saw 70% of their agreed sales fall through before exchange were surprised to hear that elsewhere 20% and lower was not uncommon, thereby recognising the need for change and we provided the key players with relevant training which has led to a huge reduction in cancelled sales, thus securing extra income and happier staff!


Market and geographical variables mean that it is important not to get hung up on the detail of the performance of agents elsewhere, but the bigger picture can be useful if analysed objectively.


Another Company who started to monitor and measure the aforementioned range of data discovered an interesting insight into their valuers’ performance. In one particular office, the primary valuer, who carried out the majority of the valuations, and was widely regarded as having an admirable appointment to instruction conversion rate was actually pinpointed as a weak link in the process as his instructions to sold instructions ratio was horrendous. The second valuer whose conversion rate was not as good was adding far more to the bottom line as a much greater percentage of her instructions were selling. Furthermore, she was securing a higher ratio of for sale boards than the supposedly “better” valuer. Having identified these issues, the manager was able to tweak the way the office was run accordingly and to provide appropriate coaching and training support to the individuals involved.


Managers should measure, monitor and above all manage the information that is available – they may not always like what they see, but the lessons learnt are invaluable milestones on the road to success.


Julian O'Dell

TM training & development



Growing your lettings business

There has been a surge of predominantly sales-focused estate agents around the country who have raised their game in the way they run the lettings element of their business, which in some cases had previously been merely a sideline. A significant number have actually opened a lettings subsidiary from scratch in recent years, recognising that in some cases this may represent their salvation. In most areas, the rental market is blossoming.


During consultancy work that my company has carried out for estate and lettings agencies over the past twelve months, it was noticeable that the manner in which companies run their lettings and property management businesses varied dramatically in quality.


In assessing the standards of lettings operations, the first job is to establish how they handle the three key lettings processes – the Instructions process, the Tenanting process and the Management process..


The first of these is naturally critical to success as it incorporates every key stage in achieving the right amount of instructions, at the right rent and on the right terms - Generating Valuation Appointments, Booking the Appointment, the Appointment itself and Follow Up.


The generation of appointments is obviously vital as every subsequent stage is reliant upon getting this right. Your firm must be on the radar of all local landlords – an objective which can be achieved by a number of basic actions. Ask yourself the following questions to establish your company’s effectiveness at generating appointments:


Does your office window display give a clear message that you offer free rental valuations and include “hooks” to secure enquiries from landlords? Does your newspaper advertising and website highlight why a landlord should use your company rather than one of your competitors? Do you run a landlord database which can be built up with the details and portfolios of all potential landlords active in your area – such databases are essential to maintain quick and regular communication with all potential clients and are often cheap to run in terms of a monthly fee. Once the database is in place, it can be populated with every possible landlord in the area by cross-referencing local “To Let” properties with the Land Registry website as well as every buy-to-let applicant on your mailing list past and present. One very successful lettings agent for whom we run training has developed the habit of asking every tenant or buying applicant in rented accommodation that they register whether they know the name of their landlord – if they do, that name becomes another one on the database. Have you contacted all your unsold vendors to offer them your lettings service – far better to do this than to find they have approached a competitor to seek advice. Have you promoted your lettings services to “let-to-let” applicants on your mailing list?


The booking of the appointment is often underestimated in terms of the part it plays within a landlord’s decision making process as to who to instruct. Engaging the potential client in a detailed conversation about their reasons for letting, desired timescales and previous experiences will illustrate that you are more thorough and interested in them as people – this will increase the initial trust and rapport that you create, which are proven to have a favourable effect on success. Gleaning the maximum possible amount of information about the landlord and property ensures the valuer going in with a high level of confidence and fully prepared for the challenge of winning the instruction.


The rental valuation appointment itself naturally is one of the single biggest steps on the road to success. It is essential to stand out from the crowd as potential landlords are almost certain to invite more than one agent out to advise them. Are you spending time at the beginning of the appointment building rapport and trying to establish the landlord’s main service needs (Speed? Communication? Security?) – this will enable you to tailor your service presentation later on in the appointment. It is your responsibility to educate the landlord that not all lettings agents are the same!


As far as follow up procedures are concerned, diligent chasing of failed appointments where the landlord is yet to decide who to appoint might just win you the business. After all, if your competitors fail to contact the landlord to see whether a decision has been made, your follow up call shows that you are keener than other agents to secure the instruction.


Julian O’Dell

TM training & development


Setting an example…


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 a journey not a destination! 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. In short, managers must recognise that they will have to work harder than any of the people they are leading.


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 Dag Hammarskjold, former Secretary of the United Nations said “Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated…”


Julian O ' Dell

TM training & development

Thought for the day ...

" I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be" - Ken Venturi