Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - John Cun­ning­ham

that all great achiev­ers, no mat­ter the en­deav­our, have one com­mon trait: they have a clear pur­pose. The same thing ap­plies in real es­tate. But do we re­ally un­der­stand what pur­pose is all about in a ser­vice in­dus­try, or are we just con­sid­er­ing our own pur­pose? John Cun­ning­ham says putting the con­sumer’s in­ter­ests first must be non-ne­go­tiable.

AT OUR CORE, we are a ser­vice in­dus­try and that means we are here to serve the in­ter­ests of our prin­ci­pal: the peo­ple who pay for our ser­vices. And the most ef­fec­tive way to serve that pur­pose is to take care of our cus­tomers.

But do we in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively have the guid­ing prin­ci­ples in place nec­es­sary for that out­come to be achieved? The an­swer, in my view, is that we do not.

A true pro­fes­sional, no mat­ter the vo­ca­tion, has a set of core val­ues; the guid­ing prin­ci­ples that ap­ply to ev­ery­thing they do in their daily life, both per­sonal and busi­ness. These val­ues set up how they func­tion and be­have, and de­ter­mine the lines in the sand they do not cross. The best way they achieve this is by step­ping into their con­sumer’s shoes and tak­ing a good hard look at them­selves from the con­sumer’s per­spec­tive. What im­pres­sions are they leav­ing, what im­pact are they having and what value are they adding?

We talk about this fre­quently in the real es­tate in­dus­try, but are we re­ally step­ping into our cus­tomer’s shoes – or are we still see­ing our own per­spec­tive and jus­ti­fy­ing our be­hav­iours and per­for­mance ac­cord­ingly? There is no bet­ter ex­am­ple of this than the re­cent Victorian Un­derquot­ing cases, where al­leged jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for cer­tain be­hav­iours were all about a method­ol­ogy for a means to an end that had be­come an in­dus­try stan­dard sys­tem, re­gard­less of whether it was right or wrong.

One thing I have never been able to un­der­stand is how many in our in­dus­try have failed to see the con­nec­tion be­tween the man­ner in which we per­form and the longevity of our ca­reers.

The greater the ser­vice and con­nec­tion we pro­vide, the greater our suc­cess; the greater the clar­ity of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the greater the con­fi­dence there is in our ad­vice; and the greater our in­tegrity, the greater our rep­u­ta­tion grows. It is fun­da­men­tally the sim­plest form of com­mon sense and eth­i­cal busi­ness prac­tice that leads to a Trusted Ad­vi­sor sta­tus for the per­son in­volved.

When trust is in play it in­stills con­fi­dence in the con­sumer, and that con­fi­dence cre­ates en­gage­ment and com­mit­ment to your prod­uct and ser­vice of­fer­ing.

To quote Mark McLeod, “If an in­dus­try loses con­nec­tion it loses its fu­ture”, and it is our fu­ture that is at stake.

In this in­dus­try, we are so fo­cused on the next deal, the quick grat­i­fi­ca­tion and the dol­lar that we for­get our true pur­pose. GCI ap­pears to be the cur­rent goal and, be­ing a com­pet­i­tive bunch, we strive for this goal, of­ten at a huge per­sonal and pro­fes­sional cost. Trails of de­struc­tion can be left in our wake; train wrecks and burnt bridges are the re­sults of dis­sat­is­fied con­sumers, who may have got the re­sult or se­cured the prop­erty but were left want­ing by the man­ner in which it was achieved.

As Chris Han­ley says, “Good peo­ple do­ing good works is what I look for”, and they are the ones who don’t leave trails of de­struc­tion. In­stead they leave a trail of ad­vo­cates, and that surely must be our pre­ferred goal. And when you con­sider the per­sonal dam­age that comes in the form of no bal­ance in fam­ily and work life, poor phys­i­cal and men­tal health and poor busi­ness re­la­tions, ei­ther way it is not healthy for any­one.

Imag­ine a world where awards were given out based on Net Pro­moter Scores and client re­views that de­ter­mine not only the ef­fi­ciency of an agent but their ef­fec­tive­ness and their abil­ity to con­nect and de­liver. In my own busi­ness, for ex­am­ple, our ma­jor quar­terly awards are based on three prin­ci­ples: Ser­vice to Clients, Ser­vice to Com­mu­nity and Ser­vice to Team, with the top an­nual award be­ing Team Cham­pion, as voted by our peers. Top per­for­mance is, of course, also ac­knowl­edged but it is not the main fo­cus.

There are a num­ber of rat­ing agen­cies out there, with REIWA adopt­ing the ‘Real Sat­is­fied’ rat­ing sys­tem for its Agent Finder plat­form, and oth­ers are start­ing to gain some trac­tion so change is in the wind.

So, what needs to change? What needs to hap­pen for our pur­pose to be­come clear? I be­lieve the an­swer lies in lead­er­ship, and in par­tic­u­lar em­pow­er­ing lead­er­ship, where we are am­pli­fy­ing rather than di­min­ish­ing those we lead and in­flu­ence. Noth­ing changes un­less the lead­er­ship forges that pos­i­tive change. •

John Cun­ning­ham is the Prin­ci­pal of Cun­ning­hams in NSW, and Chair­man of the Pro­fes­sion­al­ism Com­mit­tee REIA.

Many have failed to see the con­nec­tion be­tween the way in which we per­form and the longevity of our ca­reers.

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