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Hope for The Best … but Plan for the Worst

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had some time with your family after a satisfying and profitable 2021, despite the challenges we faced.

Hope is a positive emotion. The dictionary definition is A feeling of expectation and desire.” It’s good to have hope.

It’s perfectly fine to hope that the market will continue to boom in 2022, even to hope that the boom will never end.

But hope is no way to run a business. Smart leaders hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

I’m no economist, but a warning sign is when forecasters talk about no end in sight to the booming market. And when agents act as though the boom will never end it should be a signal for caution.

Markets rise; markets fall. It’s the nature of markets. Booms and busts always end. If we knew when the peaks and troughs were going to occur, we’d be billionaires.

But though we cannot predict the market, this does not mean that your business is at the market’s mercy. Good businesses make good profits in any market. I hope you are one of those businesses.

Here are some of the areas where you can, and should, take control:

Stock

In boom markets, the challenge is to find stock. Marketing channels, including prospecting, require planning and execution. It is the leader’s job to ensure that everything is being done to find listings.

When the market changes, the challenge becomes pricing stock so that it can sell. This is an entirely different skill set for salespeople. The leader can train the team in this area.

Team Size

The more sales you want to make, the larger your team must be. Recruitment is within a leader’s area of control, and should be within a leader’s area of expertise.

It if isn’t, you need recruitment systems and training in that area. Pittard can help you.

Team Quality

Good quality leads are wasted when incompetent salespeople attend appointments. Leaders must ensure that regular training is available to the team and that attendance is compulsory. Again, Pittard can help you.

Team Results

Leaders can accurately predict the profit that comes from their rental department, but in many agencies, the sales department results fluctuate wildly.

This should not be so. With systems, you can build a profitable sales department with predictable results – regardless of market conditions. And yes, Pittard can help here too.

These are just four areas where a leader can plan improvement in their sales department. By focusing on these areas, the agency becomes less susceptible to market fluctuations. The business is prepared for any contingency.

We hope the boom lasts. We wish it would never end. But knowing that it will end, let’s plan for continued prosperity, in any market.

Hope for the best, but always plan for the worst.

Gary Pittard

Bloated and Unprofitable

We are in business to make a profit, yet many companies are bloated and unprofitable. In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, looks at the reasons why.

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The Year Ahead

Happy New Year! May 2022 be the year you set goals, make plans, and have your best year ever.

But first let’s talk about last year. Was 2021 a good year for you, despite lockdowns?

I noticed that salespeople generally fell into two groups:

  • Those who did well throughout the year.

This group worked within health guidelines and navigated lockdowns. They kept talking to people and set appointments for when lockdown was over. They had listing appointments to attend as soon as lockdown lifted and avoided the biggest mistake you can make in a boom: running out of stock.

They faced setbacks head-on and worked around them. They got great results and capitalised on the boom. They deserve their success.

Who’d have thought a boom was waiting for us when we came out of lockdown?

  • Those who succumbed to setbacks and did poorly.

To be kind, these people treated lockdowns like some sort of Covid holiday. Despite badgering from their leaders, they didn’t prospect in significant numbers and ran their prospect pipelines dry.

They probably weren’t good prospectors prior to lockdown, and despite having nothing else to do except talk to people, they steadfastly stuck to their losing habits.

In failing to set up appointments for post-lockdown, these salespeople (I choke at using that name for this group) had few appointments, were low on stock, and made few sales.

How can you not make sales in a boom? It’s easier than you might think – just run yourself out of stock.

Our success is largely in our hands. We can’t control the market. We can’t control snap lockdowns. But we can control our actions.

With climbing vaccination rates, lockdowns are hopefully a thing of the past, but there are no guarantees in business or in life. By focusing on what we can control, we give ourselves the greatest chance to make 2022 our best year ever.

You can:

  • Set Goals – have you set yours? Are they written down?
  • Make Plans – plans that lead you to your goals.
  • Prospect and keep your pipeline full.
  • Train and improve your knowledge and skill.

The question is, will you? Success doesn’t happen by chance. Success is within your control. Take control – plot your course and follow it.

 

Gary Pittard

The Water Is Not Always Calm

In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, looks at what it takes to thrive in any market.

There is a Swedish proverb that goes, “In calm waters, every ship has a good captain. It’s easy enough to be at the top of our game when things are going well, but it’s during tough times that we are tested.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a sellers’ market, a stable market, or a buyers’ market. We see salespeople struggle in all three markets. No doubt, good salespeople get results. Mediocre salespeople struggle, and the market has little to do with the reason why.

What kind of captain are you – are you an ‘all-weather captain’ or are you only good in calm waters?

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What Are You Reading?

Leadership would be so much simpler if it didn’t involve people, wouldn’t it?

People, however, are the reason leadership is necessary. As business owners, it is a skill we should treat seriously because it’s essential.

You can study leadership, or you can learn the hard way through experience, by trial and error, which is not the best way to learn.

I saw this quote in an aviation magazine: Experience is life’s best teacher as long as you have the brains to get it second hand“.

The author was alluding to the fact that some experiences in aviation are fatal, so it is wiser to learn from the experience of others, from actual fatalities or near misses, instead of replicating those experiences for yourself.

So while lessons can be learnt through trial and error, those errors can be costly in team morale, your reputation, and loss of good people.

The good news is that leadership can be learned. That is, if you study it.

Do you study leadership? What leadership book are you reading now?

As you enjoy a little downtime over the Christmas period, if you do not regard yourself as much of a reader, give some thought to reading just one good book on leadership over the break.

I guarantee that if you apply the lessons, your leadership will improve, and so will your relationship with your team, their results, and eventually your profit.

I am not implying that you are not a good leader. But we can all improve, and if you have not read many leadership books lately, or ever, there is a wealth of knowledge available to make you better.

After all, we expect our people to improve, don’t we? Lead the way!

Here are some leadership books I recommend for holiday reading:

  • The Leadership Challenge – Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Encouraging the Heart – Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions – Keith Rosen
  • Up Your Business – Dave Anderson
  • Legacy – James Kerr
  • Hundred Percenters – Mark Murphy

These are just a few to get you started. There are thousands of good leadership books. Do you have a favourite? Please let me know.

Thank you for taking time to read my articles this past year. Wishing you and your family all the best for Christmas and a happy new year.

Gary Pittard

Sink or Swim Is The Hard Way

In this short leadership session, real estate agency consultant, Gary Pittard, talks about what it takes to turn a group of individuals into a team.

To do so, the leader must have a good relationship with team members and their spouses. This occurs over time through care, the gift of the leader’s time, and through support at the individual level.

The old real estate joke, “Here’s your desk, here’s your phone, good luck – you’re on your own” is no joke in some offices. ‘Sink or swim’ is the hard way to begin a career, but in many offices it’s a sad fact of life.

Never allow your team members to sink or swim. Care enough about them to help them grow into their roles and to achieve their goals. Be their trainer and coach. Then focus on the team.

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Planning and Uncertainty

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Mike Tyson

As we approach the end of 2021, I want to convince you to set goals and plan your actions for 2022. The new year is only a month away.

Despite the uncertainty you’ve experienced in 2020 and 2021, goal setting and planning are more important than ever.

You may be tempted to think, “Why bother? Plans go out the window when there is a snap lockdown“.

To a degree, this is true. Uncertainty has a way of messing with plans. But does this mean we should have no plans?

In an article by Mike Bernadino in The Sun Sentinel, Mike Tyson was quoted as saying, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze“.

Bernadino expanded, “What I like so much about the quote is that its application stretches far beyond boxing. It really has meaning in any area of life, whether the blow comes from a health issue, losing your job, making a bad investment, a traffic jam, whatever.”

“It’s how you react to that adversity that defines you, not the adversity itself.

He makes a good point. It’s how we react to adversity that defines us. Goals and plans help us deal with adversity and uncertainty.

Plans give us a roadmap to follow, but we must plan for uncertainty, for contingencies. While it’s okay to hope that lockdowns are behind us, we should plan for the possibility of more.

For example, listings are in short supply around the country. Every agent wants listings. I’m sure you understand the need to do everything you can to build your stock levels, and that includes prospecting for new business.

But what happens if a snap lockdown makes door knocking impossible? Are you building your database of clients? Do you have lists of potential sellers you can call? Your contingency plan directs you to make phone calls – lots of them.

Your targets do not change. Your actions do.

As Mike Bernadino said, “It’s how you react to that adversity that defines you”.

And why do you need goals when they are blocked by obstacles like short-notice health orders?

Goals give you focus.

Without them, you won’t react quickly to adversity and uncertainty. You will be slower to bounce back. You may even give up.

Why do you hear leaders complain that their salespeople treat lockdowns as a “COVID Holiday“?

It’s because their people do not have goals, they don’t have plans, and they can’t deal with uncertainty and adversity.

They’ve been punched in the face… and to quote Mike Tyson, “… like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.

Thank you for taking the time to read my articles this past year. All the best to you and your family, and happy new year.

Gary Pittard

Try Something Different

Are you happy with your results? With the end of the year quickly looming, if you are happy with your progress to date, congratulations – keep doing what you’re doing.

If you are not happy with your results, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, has a suggestion for you: try something different.

In this short sales session, Gary advises that you stop doing things that aren’t working and start doing actions that are more productive. He suggests some productive tasks that are sure to boost your results, and your income.

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Confront Bad Behaviour

Bad behaviour, when allowed to flourish, can destroy a good business.

Like talking detrimentally about clients, treating colleagues with disrespect, or bullying new salespeople. No doubt you’ve seen your share of bad behaviour over the years. Such behaviour must be stepped on quickly.

Some leaders say, “I’m too soft“. Leaders who say that they are ‘soft’ shouldn’t be in leadership positions. Soft people do not make good leaders.

By this I don’t mean softly spoken, I mean weak, scared of confrontation, afraid to fire people, and afraid to have the difficult conversations that form part of a leader’s job description.

Soft leaders create the perfect environment for selfish salespeople to run roughshod over the team, paving the way for those salespeople to turn into ‘600 kg gorillas’.

These are the salespeople who claim all the leads as their own, who say to new salespeople who prospect, ‘That’s my client!‘, even though they may not have spoken to the client in years.

When is the best time to confront bad behaviour?

As soon as you detect it.

Fail to do so and you may soon find that your good people leave, leaving you with people who have a poor culture, who give poor client service, and who tarnish your agency’s reputation.

You do your people no favours when you tolerate bad behaviour. Care enough to confront bad behaviour as soon as you detect it.

Leaders themselves are not always paragons of good behaviour either. Sometimes we behave badly. What do you do then?

If we detect that we have behaved in a manner that sets a bad example, own up to it. Tell your team that you did the wrong thing and apologise. Even though you might have not set a good example with your original behaviour, detecting it and calling yourself out will earn the respect of your team.

You will repair any damage that may have been done to your Culture.

Bad behaviour must never be tolerated. It’s like the tip of the iceberg – you don’t see most of it. If you detect bad behaviour, you can bet that there is more bad behaviour you haven’t seen.

Have you ever had a salesperson leave, and then the stories come out? You get told of how the salesperson used to speak about you behind your back, or how negative he or she was. Sometimes we hear that the salesperson indulged in behaviour bordering on sexual harassment.

Bad behaviour must never be tolerated in your company. Deal with it in a private conversation and, if it happens again, be prepared to terminate the person.

No ‘three-strikes-you’re-out’ when it comes to bad behaviour. Two strikes are all you can afford, or your company will suffer.

Gary Pittard

Discipline

Discipline. It can be the difference between success and failure. Disciplined leaders produce disciplined salespeople. The team ultimately mirrors its leader.

In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that we don’t have to be disciplined in all areas of our life, but as long as we are disciplined in the important duties, we can be hugely successful, and profitable.

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The Enemy of Success

There are many traits people possess that can be regarded as enemies of success. The obvious one is lack of integrity. For me, that is top of the list.

But let’s talk about another enemy of success, one that occurs daily for many salespeople:

Procrastination.

How many opportunities are wasted by salespeople waiting for the time to be ‘just right’? These salespeople avoid tasks they regard as unpleasant, such as:

  • Calling that difficult client
  • Prospecting to find new business
  • Setting goals (for fear of not achieving them)

The problem with avoiding tasks is that we don’t completely forget about them. We know we must do these tasks so they constantly play on our minds. Over time we feel more and more anxious because we are not doing the things we know we should be doing. We feel guilty.

These aren’t positive feelings. As long as we harbour them, they hold us back from achieving results and long-term success.

Thirty years ago I read some advice that I use to this day.

I call it the Winner’s Mantra:

DO IT NOW.

If I know that I have a tough call to make, as soon as it occurs to me that I must make that call, I think about what needs to be said and pick up the phone. I don’t let it fester in my mind, because as long as it’s there, I begin to feel guilty about not doing something I must do. Do it now. Get it behind me. Move on to another high priority task.

About ten years ago I had a call from a person I knew. It was a sales call but despite knowing me the call didn’t go well for him. He caught me at a bad time and for some reason, his approach bothered me. So I told him. I was abrupt and rude, though that didn’t occur to me for a long time.

But I noticed that over the past few years that incident came to mind, and this occurred to me more than once. It happened again last Friday. So I searched for that person on the internet, tracked him down and called him.

Surprisingly, he was glad to hear from me. I apologised for the way I treated him. And I got it out of my mind.

Even more surprisingly he didn’t remember the incident, but here’s the point: I DID. Then I made the call and now I don’t think about it.

My intention was to do the right thing by him, but in the end, I did the right thing by me. Because I thought about this incident over time, I realised that I should address it. Once I realised that it should be addressed, I made the call immediately – do it now.

Have you ever noticed that the things you put off doing are the same things that give you the best results once you do them? Even if they don’t give you a result, they give you relief, as did my call to the man I treated badly all those years ago.

Procrastination can become a habit. So can ACTION.

Which habit will serve you best?

Procrastination is the enemy of success. If you think that something needs to be done, do it now and move on. Change the mental list of “Must Do’s” into “Have Dones“.

I guarantee you’ll be more productive and win more clients too.

Gary Pittard

You First

In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, delves into what it takes to reverse a sales performance slump. And it’s not what you may think – instead of focusing on actions, look first at the real issues.

It is easy to jump straight in and talk about actions. Sure, actions and results go together – if the results aren’t right, the actions aren’t right. But actions are a symptom. The real problem most likely isn’t fear, laziness, call reluctance or low motivation. The real problem is more personal.

When your life is right, your business life will fall into line. Success begins with YOU. Success is a case of YOU FIRST.

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Pittard


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