Principals encouraged not to ‘breathe down’ agents necks

One of Australia’s top principals has stressed the importance of leading by example and being easily accessible to clients and staff.

Cherie Humel-Clarke, from Sydney agency Clarke & Humel Property, who was named Metropolitan Principal of Year at the Real Estate Business Awards, said one of the keys to running a successful agency is to ensure a management figure is readily available.

“I'm probably one of the most available principals in the world,” Ms Humel-Clarke said. “Some sales agents tell people to speak to their PA. I make sure I'm available to the staff and I make sure I'm available to the clients.”

Part of the reason Ms Humel-Clarke makes herself accessible is to allow the agents to focus on listing and selling. She said that approach had helped lift the performance of the firm’s star performer, Michael Clarke, who was named Metropolitan Sales Agent of the Year.

Ms Humel-Clarke told REB that principals are most effective when they not only work on their business, but also in their business.

She said that while operating as a selling principal can be exhausting, it means she can provide agents with up-to-date advice when they come to her with a problem.

Ms Humel-Clarke said the best way to help agents improve is to mix constructive criticism with encouragement, so that staff don’t feel like they’re being bombarded by negativity.

“They don't want principals breathing down their neck and telling them the areas where they're going wrong or that their numbers aren't good enough,” she said.

“I think what they want is to be led by example. So I think they want their principals to attend listing presentations with them, to give feedback, to help with fee objection handling, to guide them through the process and to encourage.”

Ms Humel-Clarke said the agency is willing to hire inexperienced admin staff, but at this stage would prefer to hire agents with experience.

“We don't want to send young juniors out in the field, because every single one of our listings has our name on it,” she said.

“And because we're only a brand that's relatively new, every single customer service experience has to be a good one.”

[Related: Inexperience can help agents win business, says Michael Clarke]

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