The Cul­ture Club

Elite Agent - - FIRST PERSON - Julie Davis and Neil Wil­liams

THE MOST IM­POR­TANT EL­E­MENT to an agency's long-term growth and suc­cess is the cul­ture that ex­ists within the busi­ness. Ven­dors and land­lords have a sense for it. They may have dif­fi­culty de­scrib­ing it, but it is of­ten the de­cid­ing fac­tor when it comes to win­ning a close-fought list­ing pre­sen­ta­tion.

Ev­ery great of­fice has a great cul­ture, which over time be­comes the foun­da­tion stone on which the fu­ture suc­cess of the busi­ness is built.

Cul­ture is a unique el­e­ment in an agency, be­cause it is some­thing that must grow and es­tab­lish it­self; it can­not be bought. You won't find it on eBay, you can't or­der it from Ama­zon and you can't buy it from a trade stand at AREC. Cul­ture is de­vel­oped over time and tells your cus­tomers and clients more about your agency than RateMyA­gent ever will.

The Mer­riam Web­ster dic­tio­nary de­scribes cul­ture best: “the set of shared at­ti­tudes, val­ues, goals, and prac­tices that char­ac­terises an in­sti­tu­tion or or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

You will know when your agency's cul­ture is right by the way the team in­ter­act and sup­port each other. It is also ev­i­denced by the open­ness and trust that they all share with each other and in par­tic­u­lar to the busi­ness owner. In a cri­sis, it's ‘all hands to the pumps' in­stead of ‘let's head for the hills'.

A great cul­ture is of ben­e­fit to an agency, par­tic­u­larly in re­ten­tion and re­cruit­ment.

When we spoke with our clients prior to the Christ­mas break, sev­eral com­mented on the in­creas­ing num­ber of ap­proaches that were be­ing made to their teams in an ef­fort to lure them across to com­pet­ing agen­cies. Noth­ing new here; it's been oc­cur­ring since the year dot and will con­tinue into the fu­ture. But the im­por­tant thing is that the team mem­bers were telling the busi­ness own­ers. They were open and hon­est about the ap­proaches be­ing made, not dis­ap­pear­ing from the of­fice to do ‘let­ter­box drops' and in­stead hav­ing clan­des­tine meet­ings in cof­fee shops with head­hunters and prin­ci­pals.

Once you get the cul­ture right, it can make your agency al­most bul­let-proof when it comes to the head­hunters.

If you ap­proach an agent you're tar­get­ing to meet for a cof­fee, they may re­ply in one of three ways.

Firstly, ‘ Yes; when and where?' which usu­ally means they are ready to jump. The sec­ond re­sponse is ‘ Well, I'm not think­ing of mov­ing but it doesn't hurt to talk.' This an­swer nor­mally re­flects that they are think­ing of mov­ing but want to be ‘courted'. Al­though they may not be mov­ing in the short term, they want to iden­tify which lifeboat is avail­able if they need it. The fi­nal re­ply is along the lines of, ‘I'm flat­tered that you rang but I'm stay­ing where I am, thanks.' This re­ply says they are in an of­fice with a great cul­ture.

Over the years we've learned that peo­ple leave an of­fice be­cause they are not happy. It is rarely about the money; the rea­son is of­ten be­cause they feel that they are not be­ing treated fairly or an in­ci­dent has al­lowed mis­trust to de­velop and has put a ‘crack in the plate'.

When you have a great cul­ture within your of­fice, your com­peti­tors know about it. There are some fan­tas­tic but un­happy peo­ple sit­ting in agen­cies across the coun­try, just wait­ing for the op­por­tu­nity to join the right team where they will be ap­pre­ci­ated, nur­tured and sup­ported.

You need to be the lifeboat that most of these sales­peo­ple, prop­erty man­agers and ad­min staff se­cretly want to climb aboard. When you ad­ver­tise for new team mem­bers you will have a larger pool of more qual­i­fied peo­ple to se­lect from. Ev­ery­body wants to be part of a great cul­ture – and why wouldn't they?

The beau­ti­ful thing about hav­ing your own busi­ness is that you get to de­fine and de­velop the cul­ture within the team. It takes time and won't hap­pen overnight. Re­mem­ber to al­ways se­lect new team mem­bers who can add to your cul­ture, not nec­es­sar­ily your gross com­mis­sion; if the cul­ture is right the com­mis­sions will look af­ter them­selves. It may take time, but the suc­cess and longevity of your agency de­pend on it.

Julie Davis is one of the coun­try’s top fe­male real es­tate coaches. Neil Wil­liams is a qual­i­fied coach, trainer, li­censed real es­tate agent and work­place as­ses­sor. To­gether they use their skills to as­sist in­di­vid­u­als and teams to cre­ate their op­ti­mal busi­ness de­vel­op­ment path­way. For more in­for­ma­tion visit agent­dy­nam­ics.com.au.

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