In almost three decades as a real estate agency profit consultant™, I have worked with many leaders and interviewed many more. Over this time, I have heard many leaders say, “I can’t seem to motivate… [insert name here]”.
Leaders who say such things do not appear to understand the source of motivation: motivation comes from within. Leaders cannot motivate people – it’s a waste of time trying – we all must motivate ourselves. MORE
Inspiration is different to motivation. The dictionary definition for motivation is “enthusiasm for doing something”. The definition of inspiration is “someone or something that gives you ideas for doing something”. As leaders, we can inspire people, but each person is responsible for his or her own motivation and drive.
Prospecting is one task that leaders struggle to get some salespeople to do. Let me rephrase that: prospecting is one task that leaders struggle to get the WRONG salespeople to do. With the right ones, it’s not so hard.
People who are motivated – driven – who set goals and happily work toward achievement of those goals, are easier to lead. For these people, prospecting takes them closer to their goals; it’s a necessary task in the journey toward a successful life.
As leaders, we can help our salespeople to clarify their goals, decide what they really want and are willing to work hard to achieve. We can inspire them, acting as a sounding board. We can help them see the bigger picture, then help them to set goals and plan the actions necessary to achieve those goals.
But trying to motivate people who are not motivated, who aren’t passionate about Excellence, is draining for leaders. We can threaten and nag, but if there is no motivation, it won’t happen.
What leader in his or her right mind would keep salespeople who are not motivated? Compare the listing presentation to somebody who is driven, passionate and motivated to the listing presentation of an unmotivated plodder. Whom do you think would do the best listing presentation?
You know the answer, and so now for another question: do you want less than the best representing your company?
Yes, we can be inspiring, and we should be, but trying to inspire the unmotivated is like giving medicine to a dead person. Face the fact that you cannot do your people’s wanting for them. If they cannot bring enthusiasm and motivation to their work, find somebody who will.
Do you really want to work with the unmotivated? I don’t!
In my 25 years as a real estate agency profit consultant, I have often heard leaders complain that they can’t find good people. A second complaint is that they can’t get salespeople to do the winning actions necessary for success. Prospecting is always top of that list of actions they can’t get people to do.
When are we going to stop whinging and start acting to fix the problem?
Great leaders set standards. Great leaders have Non-Negotiables. Depart from these and you no longer work on the team. MORE
If you are willing to set standards and insist that those standards are met, you are taking firm measures to set your company culture. This can only be a good thing!
Do you have Non-Negotiables in your company? If not, what are you waiting for?
Some leaders are too strict with their teams. Others are too soft. There are problems with being at either extreme.
Soft leaders should not be in leadership positions. They seldom build excellent companies. They rate avoiding conflict higher than they rate setting standards and enforcing them. If these leaders do build excellent companies, it is often because they have deputies that have the real control. MORE
When leaders are more interested in being liked than they are in developing their people, they accomplish neither – they fail to bring out the best in their people, and while they may be liked, are usually not respected. Often, they are pitied by their teams – pitied for being too soft, for allowing people to be slack, sometimes allowing people to get away with outrageous behaviour.
These leaders are most likely to keep the wrong people and by failing to set and enforce standards, harbour mediocrity in their teams. They most often fear their teams, fearing that if they call people out on unacceptable standards, those people will leave.
Occasionally these leaders do have winners on the team, but the winners soon move on once they lose respect for their soft leaders.
Leaders can be too hard on their people, too. But strict leaders are often strict about everything and can micromanage to a point where their people are afraid to show initiative, and even more afraid to convey bad news to their leader.
These leaders often fail to celebrate results and, while they are quick to point out what people have done wrong, can feel awkward metering praise to their people. Their offices are often dour places to work, with very little fun.
One leader I know recently forbade his two salespeople to have lunch together. What did he think was going to happen – a conspiracy? I can’t even call this strict leadership – it’s downright dumb leadership. This leader has precisely ZERO salespeople now!
Some wear their strict leadership as a badge of pride, but being too strict can be as ineffective as being too soft. Strict leaders lose people, many who could have become winners had they received good leadership.
Extremes of strict and soft are not good. I am not suggesting middle ground either.
Good leaders set standards for their people and, when people fall short of those standards, they are counselled, retrained if necessary, and terminated if they continue to fall short of the standard. If termination is required, they do it swiftly, but always with kindness and compassion.
But there are times when leaders must also allow minor things to pass without comment. Teams can get under pressure and leaders must release the pressure occasionally, or good people will leave. A bit of fun does wonders.
Good leaders have range in their leadership styles. Strict when necessary, uncompromising when necessary and soft on occasions. Always we must show our people that they are important to us, and the best way to show that is to be interested in them, and work at bringing out the best in them.
Avoid the extremes, they burn good people and kill profit.
There would not be one business leader who doesn’t know that it is easier to lead the right people than it is to lead the wrong people. Despite that, many leaders continue to keep the wrong people on their teams. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I spoke with a leader recently. He has a ‘salesperson’ who has been with him for less than one year. Despite having no previous experience in real estate sales, she refuses to attend training. She is ignorant, and intends to stay that way. MORE
The issue is confused as she is making sales, but she sells her colleagues’ listings because she is low on stock and her stock is overpriced. Her stock situation is unlikely to improve because, in addition to her refusal to train, she also refuses to prospect.
What value is this person to the team? I believe none. I asked the leader what he intended to do about this person. He said, “When I get back to the office, I’m going to read her the ‘riot act’”. I said, “There’s another option. Fire her”.
I explained to the leader that there is no hope with a person like this. Without training, she will never improve. Without prospecting, she will never contribute to the company’s saleable stock. And her personal culture is not one of pursuing excellence, but one of mediocrity.
“Why do you do this to yourself?” I asked. The look on this leader’s face told me that this person was going to continue working with the agency, spreading her lessons of mediocrity to the rest of the team. Winners seldom ever positively influence the mediocre people; it’s the opposite – the mediocre infect the winners.
Leaders who tolerate mediocrity endorse it.
The death knell for a salesperson’s career is a disregard of training. Keep them and you send a message to your team that you are a weak leader who has no intention of building a great company.
Your team may feel sorry for you, they may think you are a nice person, but is pity the emotion you want when your team thinks of you?
I know why this leader will keep this person, for a little while longer at least. It is because he is not hiring. He doesn’t have a likely replacement for her.
Hiring is your insurance against mediocrity. If you won’t hire, you are stuck with the team you have. If it’s a team of winners, good luck to you. But if you are tolerating mediocrity because you have no other option, I ask you again: WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF?
One of the top three complaints from agency leaders is that they cannot get their teams to focus on actions that produce results. Some have been complaining for almost as long as they have been in business. Wouldn’t you think that at some point they would do something about it?
If you are the leader of your business, you have control, and if you don’t, it’s high time you resumed control.
Agencies with salespeople paid by commission-only or by commission debited against retainer – typical industry reward systems – are most at risk of having little control. They can be too scared to set standards for fear of losing their teams. Is that any way to run a business?
Assuming that you have approachable people who want to win, then you can help them to learn to focus.
Set goals with your people. What do they want? I mean really want? Are they willing to work hard, to take themselves out of their comfort zones, to get it? Clarify their goals.
Goals without plans are wishes.
It takes as long to lose a listing as it does to get it. The better trained they are, the more results they will produce from the appointments they attend. It’s no use planning to achieve a higher performance if you are not willing to train to get there. Follow up with your salespeople to ensure that they are training.
Winners keep score. They know how many appointments they set and how many sales or listings they got from those appointments. They know how many people they prospected each day, week and month. They know their ratios.
If they know their statistics, they can work at improving them. If they don’t know, they aren’t serious about their goals.
The Leader’s Role
I would not expect that anything I have said here is news to you, and possibly not to your salespeople either, but this is not the point – what are you doing about it?
It’s not what we know that counts; it’s what we DO with what we know that defines a winner.
Our role as leaders is to sit our people down, one-on-one, and help them define what they want from their careers. Then it is our role to help them get it.
They will blame you if they fail. Wouldn’t you rather they thank you for playing such a large part in their success?
As an educator in the real estate sector, I have seen the face of adult education change radically. Agency leaders should change their view of training, too, and should ensure that their trainers do likewise. That is, if they do not want their agencies and teams left behind.
Some things never change, however. Our industry still largely shows a disregard for training. In states such as NSW where Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is compulsory, many practitioners begrudgingly attend 3 to 5 hours training so they can tick the box with the state regulator and then attend no other training for the year. MORE
They say that they don’t need to train because they are ‘experienced’, but length of tenure in real estate does not make you a winner. Happy clients and high results are the benchmarks, and people who have spent their careers shunning training aren’t winners.
So what has changed?
Modern audiences want variety in their training. They do not like lecture-style seminars as much as do older leaders and salespeople. Most do not have CD and DVD players, and none have cassette players, so much of typical offices’ training libraries sit around gathering dust.
Younger generations, particularly Gen Y, expect their training to be more hands-on.
Because of changes in learning styles, how trainers deliver their training needs to change too.
If CDs and DVDs are old fashioned, and if audiences largely prefer not to attend lecture-style seminars, I say we should be delivering training in ways that complement our audiences’ learning styles, assuming that we want our audiences to learn, of course!
Pittard® saw these trends in 2014 and in that year we developed iTrain®, our streaming portal, through which we deliver current and relevant training in video, audio and written formats.
iTrain® delivers training directly to our audiences across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, to the device of our customers’ choice, smart phone, computer, tablet, PC or TV. Our people have no excuse for not training!
Many people do webinars, but an online forum takes webinars to new levels. Leaders in different agencies can talk to each other and share ideas, and nobody has to leave their office. Collective wisdom, delivered online.
Through our webcasting portal, Pittard TV, I interview some of the world’s leading business minds and transmit live across five time zones. These are live seminars that nobody need travel to attend. We call Pittard TV, “Training that comes to you”.
Instead of lecture-style seminars, we bring groups of salespeople together and have them share their knowledge and expertise with each other. Again, we come back to the collective wisdom of groups. As individuals, we might know a lot about real estate, but none of us knows more than a group of one hundred. Sharing knowledge is 21st century.
Old Style Still Has A Place
Pittard® still conducts some lecture-style events, we host our Leadership Conference and our Real Estate Agents’ Convention yearly, and these are popular, but if you want your people to LEARN, you must offer options to how they receive their educational material.
Adult education has evovled and smart leaders and teams evolve too.
Some real estate agency owners believe you need a big name to survive in the marketplace but this is not necessarily so. In the 25 years that I have been operating as a real estate profit consultant, I have seen franchised offices, marketing group offices and independent offices go broke. I have also seen many thrive, trading successfully for decades.
What makes the difference between success and failure? Is it the name? No. Clearly not. The difference between going broke and profiting over the long term is the calibre of the person who owns the business. All successful businesses need competent leadership. What a competent business leader choose to call their businesses makes little difference. MORE
What’s in a name? In my opinion, very little.
When you join a marketing group or a franchise, you are buying a name. This is a name you do not own and over which you have no control.
The big problem with buying a name is that there are so many available, and they all claim to be better than each other. There are so many that they have all lost their uniqueness in the market place.
Can you really see much difference between any of these so-called big brands? All claim to be different, bigger, offering better branding, but honestly, what does one offer that another doesn’t? Whether marketing group or independent, I personally do not see much difference between one and another.
Is being part of a large group really that important to your typical real estate home seller or buyer? I don’t think so. Buyers will go where the listings are. Home sellers will go where the skill is. They will list with the real estate agent whom they feel will get them the highest price. Skill is far more important than the name you choose to put over your door.
Profit is a good indicator of skill. It takes management and leadership skill to earn high profits from a real estate sales department. Interestingly, however, franchises and marketing groups do not use the profits of large numbers of their business owners as a way of attracting new members. They talk about turnover, the power of the brand, the systems, the marketing, etc, but never the profits their franchisees earn.
Groups who sell their names want as many offices as possible – the more offices they have, the more money they make. Over the years I have heard agency owners complain that their networks have allowed another office to open in a neighbouring suburb. These principals have complained that often they lost business to the new agency because clients thought they were listing with the established agency.
This can be a problem whenever you buy a name. If you are successful, others nearby may want the name, thinking that is why you have been so successful. Essentially, you have helped sell the name to your opposition, and the opposition benefits from your work. And when two offices in neighbouring service areas have the same name, how can clients tell you apart?
So, what is the best option for your business?
The option you choose can greatly affect your profit, and it can affect the long-term saleability of your business.
The decision is yours, but if you would like more to think about, visit //pittard.com.au/free-real-estate-agency-resources-and-tools?why_join_franchise and listen to the free podcast.
And, if you do decide to ‘go independent’, you will find a manual and podcast entitled How To Rebrand Your Agency.
All are free. Please share them around and do let me know your thoughts.
You are either taking your business forward, toward worthwhile and meaningful goals, or you are going backwards. There is no standing still.
Businesses that attempt to remain static, those with the “business as usual attitude”, will face increased competition over time. If we are not training our teams on ways to improve, it is only a matter of time before competitors steam up behind, poised to overtake. MORE
The recent launch of Purple Bricks in Australia has been touted as an “Uber moment” for real estate agents. I don’t think it will be, but nonetheless they are another competitor, one that agents must counter.
You cannot counter competitors if you are constantly reacting to their every move. Instead of worrying about new competitors in your marketplace, or existing competitors getting better, we should be looking ahead, toward the direction we wish to take our businesses. Instead of having our competitors calling the shots, reacting to them, we should be way out in front, ever moving forward, inspiring our teams, hiring, marketing, leading the way.
I know some leaders tend to glaze over at the mention of a vision, but this vision does not have to be grand. We do need to have an idea of where we are taking our companies.
This is leadership. Take this attitude, and competitors do not dictate your thinking and your company’s direction.
You are either leading your team forward, or you are taking a direct hand in your company sliding backwards, in results, profit and morale.
Business can be tough, and is always demanding. But we went into business because we wanted control. It is time to exercise that control and decide where we want our companies to go.
Let thought, direction, planning, training, and aggressively competing become your focus. Winning, instead of reacting.
Try sitting still on a bicycle. It’s impossible. Business is similar.
Over the past year, I have spent a good deal of time visiting real estate businesses. To those clients who attend our business system presentation, Agency Profit System®, to those thinking of opening a real estate agency, and to those who are interested in rebranding their agencies (moving from a franchise or marketing group to independent) Pittard offers a business analysis to devise action plans for higher profits.
One of the items on my checklist is the business’s capacity to market for new business. This is an important component of business success and you may be surprised at the number of businesses that have very little capacity to market to potential clients. No wonder so many real estate business owners struggle! MORE
The biggest challenge real estate business owners face is buyer-focused marketing. Real estate agencies spend more money marketing to home buyers than they do marketing to home sellers. This is why many real estate businesses have chronic stock shortages.
The argument for buyer-focused marketing is that vendors pay for the buyer advertising. But if you want more stock, shouldn’t you be portioning some of your income toward marketing to sellers, toward getting more listings?
Now we see the second biggest challenge: many offices have a low capacity to market for listings. This is not something you can switch on and off like a light switch – you either have the capacity to market or you don’t.
And if you don’t, this is the third largest challenge: getting seller marketing up and running, and then operating consistently.
For all the mystique surrounding marketing and branding, almost as important as the message is marketing consistently to your target market. For real estate businesses, the target market is easy enough to identify: those who own properties within your service area.
The type of marketing you do is also quite straightforward too, although NOT simple to set up:
Digital – this is Electronic Digital Marketing (EDM), emails, home alerts, Adwords, Retargeting, Social Media, SMS and so forth.
Print – hard copy printed material such as leaflets, letters, newsletters, signs, window displays, etc. Newspapers are most likely not worth the expense these days.
Personal – prospecting, speaking with potential clients face-to-face or by telephone, Skype, etc.
Setting Up Digital, Print and Personal Marketing
This is important: if you do not start, you will never enjoy the benefit!
Digital – how do you effectively market digitally if you do not have a modern CRM (database) with a large amount of accurate data? How do you market digitally if you have never set up an active and consistent Social Media campaign? Failure to implement these systems means that you cannot effectively market digitally.
Print – how do you market by personally-addressed letter (the best way to get your message read) if you do not have a CRM with a high quality and quantity of accurate data? You cannot!
Leaflets are one option, but not if delivered by Australia Post or by walkers who deliver other companies’ leaflets at the same time as they deliver yours. You have to work to set up a walker program and the best way to deliver leaflets is to have yours delivered under doors. But this takes work and most leaders will not set up a walker program, and so they shut the door on effective print marketing.
Personal – in the absence of effective Digital and Print marketing strategies, all that is left to you is personal marketing – knocking on doors, and cold and warm prospecting.
But now we face the fourth challenge – getting salespeople to do it!
Low on listings?
If your office is low on listings, look first to your business’s capacity to market. If all you have going for you is personal marketing, you will always be low on stock, at least until the day comes where the market is falling and stock, often overpriced stock, becomes plentiful.
Market your company, in digital, print and personal forms. Some agents say it to sellers often enough, “You cannot keep your property a secret”, but doesn’t this apply equally to your business too?
Don’t keep your business a secret!
Over the decades, I have worked with many focused leaders and teams. You know these teams when you are among them – they have fun, but they never lose sight of their targets and the actions required to reach them.
I have also worked with unfocused leaders and teams. Almost everybody in these companies is caught up in ‘process’. These are the people who are most likely to tell you that they are busy, but they seldom show results for all this busyness. The work, not results, becomes the focus.
The person responsible for instilling a results focus in the team is the leader – unfocused leader, unfocused team. MORE
Goals and Plans
Without clear goals and plans, how can you possibly know what your targets should be? Plucking targets out of thin air almost guarantees that your team will not reach those targets.
I am sure you get the idea – your targets are derived from your profit goals.
Share the plan
Your plan should be shared with the team. These are the company’s goals.
The team should know what you expect to achieve and you should clearly set expectations in actions and performance for each team member to ensure that the company’s goals are achieved.
Talk about the company goals
Keep mentioning the company’s goals and share with the team how the company is progressing toward them. Talk about the company’s goals often. It is essential that you help each team member set his or her own goals – goal setters are more focused on results than those without goals.
Point out drifting behaviour
Whenever you detect a salesperson working on activity that will not lead to a listing or sale, point it out to the salesperson. Constantly ask the question, “Is what you are doing now going to lead to a listing or a sale?”
If the team hears you talking about results, and if the team see YOU focused on results, this behaviour will gradually be adopted by the team.
There will always be individuals who do not like the results-focused environment, saying that there is too much pressure. You might as well face up to this fact: winning doesn’t suit everybody.
Does it suit you? If so, set goals, plan, focus, and act. Then, teach these habits to your team.
I don’t want to alarm you, but we are nearing the end of the first quarter of 2017. Are you following a plan that you devised in late 2016, or early January 2017? Put another way, what’s your plan?
Pittard works with some highly profitable real estate businesses. Several make over $1 million profit just from their residential sales departments.
In many of these businesses, the owner does not list or sell. Some have a huge rental department, but neither the sales department nor the rental department occupies a large amount of the business owner’s time. These owners are running businesses, not departments. MORE
This level of control didn’t just happen. It was planned. Success is deliberate.
A question I often ask business owners is, “Where are you taking your business?” Many don’t know. No, let’s make that most – most don’t know.
Failing to plan
I don’t know whether the problem with business owners failing to plan is that they don’t know how, or whether they just think it’s too hard, or whether they just get caught up in the day-to-day grind of business to stop and think, to plan their business success.
But the results are the same: these companies struggle and drift. I have seen this phenomenon in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. Aversion to planning appears to be everywhere I’ve done business.
In 2016 Pittard introduced the Present Condition Analysis. For existing clients and new clients alike, a Pittard consultant visits the agency and with the leader determines where the agency is now – it’s profit, quality of people, performance of people, attitudes of people, stumbling blocks to higher profit.
Once we determine the present condition of the agency, we set actions designed to take the agency to a profit determined by the leader. It’s interesting that often we need to talk up these profit expectations.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a real estate business is hard to make profitable, or that success depends on the market booming. Like any great business, it can make huge profits IF you install systems, devise plans, and then lead the agency up toward higher profit.
I will never say that this is easy, but it is simple. All businesses have a success formula. Once you know the formula, you can plan to make high profits a reality.
Know where you are now, and where you want to go.
What’s your plan?
Growth appears to enjoy good press, but is it always a good thing? I don’t think so. Here are two examples.
A person contacted me saying that he was thinking of opening a real estate agency. He and his wife had another business that still required a good deal of input from them both and would for the foreseeable future. I advised him not to open just yet – wait until the other business was profitable, established, and didn’t need input from the one who was going to run the real estate agency. They opened anyway. Now they are nearly broke.
Another couple has a real estate business and wants to move into another town. Their first business still needs work to make it consistently profitable and it needs a lot of input to get the team right. Some people need to be terminated, some need to lift their game, and others need to be hired and put on a path to peak performance. MORE
The last thing these leaders need is the distraction of a second office. We advised them to get their first business right before worrying about a second. They went ahead anyway. I hope I am wrong, but the road ahead will be far from smooth.
Growth funded by debt
Growth is a good thing IF it is funded by profit and not by debt. Going into hock to fund a business may be acceptable if the business paying back the debt is making a profit in excess of $500,000 per annum, but much less than that and you could be headed for trouble. You need a good profit buffer for the fall in profit that will be inevitable while growth is occurring.
Yes, I know you think the new venture won’t affect your current profit, but it almost always does. The reason is distractions.
Growth and the high cost of distractions
Seldom factored into growth plans is how the new venture will distract the leader from the current business. Too many distractions have sent people broke.
Never underestimate your input into your agency’s profit. Take your eye off the ‘profit ball’ while you focus on growth and almost certainly your profit will fall. Add the fact that your expenses are climbing as you invest in the new venture and you have a distracted leader with falling profits. Not a good combination.
I am not saying that you should not grow your business, but you should be careful how you do it. If your present business is not profitable, your second one will not be either. If you require debt to fund your growth be sure that you can afford not only the repayments, but the inevitable loss of profit due to distractions.
Plan your growth. Let reason and accurate figures guide you, and not ego. It is good to look wealthy and successful, but appearances can be deceiving. I’d rather be wealthy in reality than look wealthy while in reality struggling financially, wouldn’t you?
Don’t be quick to buy into the growth myth. It’s not always good.