Principals can see the benefits of business consultants and trainers, although some smaller agencies have baulked at the costs involved, a number of real estate professionals have said in response to a recent Real Estate Business straw poll.
“For our next stage of development and growing our business, we’re thinking about getting a business consultant,” Ben Ciocca, principal at Perth-based Provincial Real Estate, told Real Estate Business.
“We’ve never had one before, but we hope they can help grow our business to the next level. Maybe later on, help us learn how we can set up as a franchise,” the winner of the Real Estate Institute of WA’s (REIWA) 2011 best small residential agency of the year award said.
Mr Ciocca’s comments were in response to the latest Real Estate Business straw poll, which revealed that over 56 per cent of respondents had plans to use a business consultant and/or real estate trainer this year. The online poll, which was conducted between March 6 and 13, showed 95 of the 168 respondents would use these professionals, while just fewer than 39 per cent said they wouldn’t.
Mr Ciocca’s hopes of growing his business reflected the needs of another independent agent based in regional NSW. Hugh Bateman, principal at The Property Shop in Mudgee, has recorded “tremendous growth in the past three years” since employing a real estate trainer and consultant.
As a member of the Real Estate Results Network, Mr Bateman and his staff are supported in their business growth by Michael Sheargold, a renowned business coach.
“Mentoring from Michael of Real Estate Results Network has been a huge success,” he said.
“It’s the constant reaffirmation of process - pipeline selling, pipeline listing. And the processes are applicable to all of us. They’re consistent so that everyone understands, from principals down to the new employees; we are all able to implement what he trains.
“He’s changed everything, from our systems to our marketing strategies. It’s all much more clear and concise. But one thing Michael says is that ‘all real estate agents look the same from the outside, it’s the inside that matters most.’”
But cost can be issue. Mr Bateman said principals should spend at least four per cent of their gross turnover on training.
Gerrie Bowden, principal at Moreton Bay Regional Real Estate, said in her experience at least, it wasn’t worth the cost to bring in a trainer.
“We had a property manager consultant in not long ago,” she told Real Estate Business. “It was helpful in the sense that it gave direction, but it’s so expensive. Instead, we go to Real Estate Institute of Qld (REIQ) training seminars every two months.”
Jennifer Drabic, principal of Raine&Horne Morphett Vale, Christies Beach, Reynella, Woodcroft, Briighton and Hallett Cover in South Australia, agreed that cost was a major issue when it came to employing trainers.
“We are only a small office of around a dozen staff, and [we] would not be able to warrant the extra expense,” he said.
“When the market was better, it may have been something we could have considered, but it’s now a luxury most smaller offices, including ours, cannot afford.”