For most people buying a property is the single largest transaction that they will ever make. It is an exciting time but it can be stressful for too – for all parties involved.
Raising the level of your staff ’s skills is always advisable – in tougher conditions it is utterly essential. Julian O’Dell, TM Training
It places estate agencies in a powerful position. Yet, despite there being much at stake, there is very little to stop anybody setting up as an estate agent without any formal qualifications or training required to ensure that the individual is suitably qualified to sell or let property. Therefore the responsibility is on you as the agent to ensure that you understand the technicalities involved in purchasing or renting a property as well as your duties to consumers.
It has rarely been so important to ensure that you not only build but also uphold a good standard of competency and understanding of the industry in which you operate as well as developing and maintaining the techniques required to generate fresh business, in this ever-changing marketplace.
“General views from industry experts suggest that 2015 will be a more challenging market than 2014,” said Julian O’Dell of TM Training & Development. “The impact of the Mortgage Market Review [MMR], an impending election, the potential ceiling being hit on house prices and wider grumblings about the world economy point towards a market which demands salespeople, not polite dispensers of information. In other words, there is a need to recognise that if the going gets tough, the tough need to get better.”
KEY TO SUCCESS
To enjoy a successful career as a sales or letting agent generally requires that you to think carefully and strategically about your skills, objectives and the areas where you need to develop, which means regular training and personal development planning.
O’Dell continued, “Raising the level of skills and knowledge of staff is always advisable – in tougher conditions, it is utterly essential. Higher level communication skills, exceptional qualification techniques, superior selling practices, closing and handling resistance all played a key part in success and survival for our client firms in the downturn of 2008 – these attributes may well need to form the core of staff ’s sales approach in 2015.”
INCREASE MARKET SHARE
To achieve greater market share than your competition, differentiation is the key, according to O’Dell. He pointed out that Differentiation in the level of knowledge, skill and expertise of the staff “makes a massive impact on results” as it ensures “every human interaction with your company is of the highest standard”, which helps in gaining the trust and confidence of customers and clients.
O’Dell questions why it is that so many agents spend vast sums on branding and marketing to hook customers in, then “fall horribly short” in the delivery of service once the customer interacts with the firm in question.
“We have the proof from hundreds of mystery shopper calls from over recent years. To paraphrase a famous Will Rogers quote… “If companies spent the same amount of money improving their services as they do on advertising, they wouldn’t have to advertise them,” he added.
Improving your selling skills, generating more sales, winning a higher number of instructions, increasing your level of fees, these are just some of the areas that independent trainers focus on, with daily training rates varying from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand pounds (£1,950 to be precise). But what are the measurable benefits? What is the return on investment (ROI)?
The ROI can sometimes be diffcult to measure, but a properly constructed and conducted training programme “will pay for itself many times”, said O’Dell, adding, “It will generate as a worst case scenario a few extra sales, lets and instructions. And, incidentally, if the training doesn’t achieve at least that, you are employing the wrong trainers!”
Estate agency trainer Richard Rawlings of Estate Agency Insight agrees that a training session should more than pay for itself. In fact, he always expects his students to enjoy significant financial paybacks, among other benefits.
“I’d be disappointed if any of my seminars did not deliver 10 or 20 times the cost within a couple of months and much of the material will deliver long term strategic benefits to the agency,” he added.
A less obvious benefit to investment in staff training and development is the impact on staff retention as the means of equipping them with the skills required to be more successful in their roles. If employees believe that they are being supported and invested in through training, there is a greater chance that they will stay loyal to their employers.
“Good training helps managers to maximize the potential of their staff. Self-motivated staff are progressive and productive. They naturally seek out new opportunities and are passionate about profits,” Rawlings added.
Estate agency is not difficult, but there are certain techniques and processes that turn “good agents into great agents” and turn “acceptable revenues into serious profits”, according to Rawlings who, aside from the obvious legal compliance, is also interested in helping agents improve their bottom line through simple education and training.
He continued, “The difference between education and training is profound. For example, would you rather your daughter did sex education in school, or sex training!!! Training is powerful!”
Know it all
Do you have a colleague who thinks he or she knows everything there is to know when it comes to estate agency? Could that person be you?
There are a number of highly experienced, or ‘old school’, agents who have been in the business for many years and therefore feel that they simply do not need training, and nor do their members of staff.
Many independent agencies are owned and managed by people who rose up through the ranks without formal training themselves and so why shouldn’t there staff to learn the ropes in the same way in which they themselves did?
While this attitude may be understandable, it ignores the fact that “you don’t know what you don’t know,” according to Rawlings.
He continued, “Some agents tell me they don’t need training! They know how to do estate agency. But that misses the point. It’s not about ‘how to do it’ but more about how to learn new ideas and the latest techniques that enable them to do it exceptionally well and certainly more profitably.
“Most agents learn the business in the field – some have done things more or less the same way since they were young negotiators. But without training they simply won’t progress – or even keep up.”
“Practice doesn’t make perfect – it makes permanent. And that’s not good in a rapidly changing world.”
Training today is tomorrows’ success
We all need ongoing training to become better tomorrow. Prepare well and don’t leave 2015 to chance. Tony Lynch, Keep Thinking Big
Tony Lynch, a qualified trainer and coach at Keep Thinking Big, points out that estate agents are no different to any other profession when it comes to the need to update skills and techniques.
He commented, “We all need ongoing training in order to become better tomorrow than we are today. Don’t leave 2015 to chance. Prepare well to grow yourself and your team for ultimate success.”
He highlights various skills, such as listening, connecting and becoming a ‘Master’ at questions that unlock the doors of opportunity as all being learnable skills, as being “imperative for the successful estate agent”.
Lynch also pointed to “attitude” as a key component when it comes to training and learning.
“If a team understands the importance of training and have a hunger for becoming the best they can be, then the ingredients are set for a huge return on investments,” he added. “I often highlight on my training courses that it is so important never to take your ‘L’ plates off when it comes to learning. Always believe and understand that training and learning will always keep you ahead.”
90 x 3 x 4 = success
Lunch believes that ‘The 90 x 3 x 4 training formula for enjoying increasing success’ works really well for the best return on investment.
He explained, “You need to plan ahead to stay ahead; look at the strengths you personally want to build upon. Attend one training day every 90 days and read one personal growth/sales book as well. Then every 30 days review your progress with an accountability buddy to keep you on track. This should be repeated four times a year.
Aside from leading independent trainers, most industry bodies, such as RICS, ARLA, NALS, NAEA, The Guild, among others, also offer industry schooling and accreditation for their members, designed to help agents acquire a better understanding of the industry so they are able to provide an improved service to consumers and clients.
Continuing professional development is at the heart of the NAEA’s objectives, the core of our credibility. Mark Hayward, NAEA
Mark Hayward of the NAEA said that it is important that Licensed Members are backed up by robust training alongside NFoPP Awarding Body Qualifications which are regulated by the Office of the Qualifications & Examinations Regulator. “Continuing professional development is at the heart of NAEA’s objectives and as the membership and public awareness grows, qualifications and training are the core of individual and collective credibility,” he added.
Stand in good stead
Aside from help to differentiate an agency and highlight their determination to uphold the highest professional standards, industry training also offers agents the most up-to-date information, not to mention enable members of staff to perform better in their roles, progress in their careers and instil further confidence among buyers and sellers, giving a company the competitive edge in what is an extremely competitive marketplace.
Whichever training course you choose, whether it is through a trade body or an independent set-up, one day’s intensive outsourced training could potentially deliver results for many years to come.
- TM training & development – www.tmtraininganddevelopment.co.uk
- Keep Thinking Big www.keepthinkingbig.com
- Estate Agency Insight www.estateagencyinsight.co.uk
- National Association of Estate Agents www.naea.co.uk