'Internal focus' key to becoming a top office

Agents need to spend less time checking on their competition and more time maintaining an internal focus, according to the head of one of the country’s top offices.

Coming in 10th on this year’s Real Estate Business Top 50 Sales Offices ranking, Phil Harris of Harris Real Estate believes principals can only lead a top office once they have confidence from within.

“The biggest thing is to have total internal focus,” Mr Harris told Real Estate Business.

“Real estate agencies are notorious for constantly worrying about what their competitors are doing, what this agent is selling and that agent is listing. Just focus on your own business and make sure that every single day you can look back and say that your business is better than it was the day before.

“If you’ve got a business with clear objectives and you’re continuing to evolve your strategies, systems and procedures, and you’re a long-term player, then you’re going to eventually have a really good business.”

While Harris Real Estate came 10th overall, the office dominated the overall number of sales metric with 666 sales in the 2012 to 2013 financial year.

“It’s a challenge to achieve that many sales. We have a spread of different salespeople across our business; we have a few exceptional agents who have a high-volume, while we have some new agents who are going through that learning process," Mr Harris said.

“The only way we are managing it is because we’re so fanatical on training. We not only educate our people, we also have a great culture where we have people who lead by example.”

With huge growth over the past few years, one of Mr Harris’ main struggles has been managing the growing list of staff.

“We’ve now got a business with four offices and over 80 staff, so it’s about how we maintain the development, growth and performance management of those people. HR is one of our biggest challenges as a growing company when you’ve got that many bodies to manage," he said.

Mr Harris claims he doesn’t believe in hiring agents purely on experience; he would rather focus on finding someone who is the "right fit".

“They need to fit our culture. I don’t mind if they’re new to the industry or if they have experience elsewhere," he said. "We have a very high-performance culture and I look for people with the energy to carry that out.

“That’s the most important thing for me, to make sure they can fit our culture.” 

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