Back in the front line – I am loving it, doing what I do best”, “I am the best valuer in my company”, “Why did I ever stop doing this?”
Comments we hear on a daily basis from owners/managers across the country. Covid has forced many small /medium sized owners return to the front line, either riding a desk or out winning business.
It is because they are the owner/manager that they win business. It is like rolling out the big naval guns to destroy a small rowing boat or bringing Usain Bolt out of retirement to do Saturday morning Park Run – he finishes before most have even started.
That is what it is like when you are unleashed, called in to action. You love it, you are winning business and those days of doing the boring work “running the business” have long gone. You are reinvigorated – you are your companies’ secret weapon.
As a battle-scarred experienced veteran and local industry leader in a time of panic on a battlefield is inevitably going to be a safer bet for a vendor or landlord than a less experienced local practitioner. You give surety and your bounce-back performance demonstrates this.
Your business needs you
So why did you ever step back from the front in the first place?
You stepped back because your business needed running and it was your responsibility to plan the business, deal with the issues, VAT, tax, suppliers, staffing and cashflow. Gradually it pulled you away from the front line until you were no longer fully engaged or perhaps on a merged function. Some of you let the team members take up all of the front-line roles.
You did this for a reason, and it was the right thing at the time. Now you are doing something else and it is the right thing at the time.
But hang on… you did that then because you had a busy business, you are doing it now because you have a busy business, so what has changed?
The only thing that changed is your mindset and like the pendulum on an old grandfather clock, you have swung from one extreme to another. But just like that pendulum, it will swing back, gravity is inevitably working against you. For many it is storing up, waiting to deluge you; for others, you are only managing by working incredible hours to keep servicing all the jobs. Just like a finally-tuned Usain Bolt – after seventh park run that day, even he is starting to flag.
I find many are tired and running out of steam, spinning even more plates…
The pendulum will swing but ideally it would settle in the middle. Ideally you could be the rudder on a ship guiding the course yet also the at the front end – your skills are like a battering ram at the bow smashing through the sea ice of competition as if it were not even there.
Having spent inordinate time working with business owners, I find many are tired and running out of steam, spinning even more plates, and the same recurring time issues appear.
Take a valuation for example. A client had attended a valuation and returned to the office. He won the business but now needed to get it on the market. Previously his Senior Negotiator/Valuer would have carried out the valuation and delivered the listing.
He now proceeded to start writing the sales particulars, general description, bullet points, booked in his 3d tour and then spent further time wading through choosing and editing photographs. His knowledge and experience won the business for the company and without his attendance they would not have the instruction.
Many of us see a job and believe we must complete all of it, yet this is not the case. Did he need to spend hours returning to the property preparing details, brochures and editing photographs? Calls were mounted up; issues urgently needed his attention and he had other valuations.
You’re a brain surgeon
There are several types of jobs in an estate agency. There are £10-hour administrational jobs, there are £15-20 an hour customer facing roles jobs and £50+ an hour responsible business owner roles.
Someone on £50-an-hour and carrying out £10-an-hour jobs is inefficient. He had done the intricate brain surgeon part of the operation winning the business; he does not need to stay and do the stiches?
I asked him why he did not delegate?
The answer, “I won the busines and do not want to pay staff commission”. A false economy – he was costing the company £50 an hour when it could pay £10-£20 an hour and he could be closing more business too.
We agreed to change the process, working through the functions he personally did, evaluated upon job cost. We delegated and redistributed according to responsibility and value for non-brain surgeon functions. He now makes the decisions but other help with the delivery.
He now attends the valuations, wins the business then hands it over, his part played. He has time to focus on running the business, his staff are happier, and he is less stressed.
His story is not unique, and it is in all businesses. As Captain you have to check the bearings and plot the course, but you need to create time to do that. You cannot steer the ship when scaling the rigging…