Agency invests six-figure annual sum in mystery shopping

The group with the best training program maintains its edge by secretly testing agents and interviewing all their buyers and sellers.

Hockingstuart, which won the Best Training & Education category at the recent Real Estate Business Awards, invests a six-figure annual sum in monitoring its agents, according to managing director Nigel O’Neil.

Mr O’Neil told REB that agents get mystery-shopped at least once a year, and usually twice, so Hockingstuart can ensure they’re implementing the ideas they learn at training.

“Every agent will be mystery-shopped around how they've been taught to handle an open for inspection, for example,” he said. “They'll get feedback on that mystery shopping, as will their office.

“We also call every vendor and every purchaser then, at settlement date, we talk to them about what their experience with Hockingstuart was like.”

Buyers and sellers are asked if they’d recommend Hockingstuart, with their feedback passed on to the agent and office.

Mr O’Neil said agents respond well to the mystery shopping because they understand it will improve their performance.

Consumers also enjoy being contacted because they like having the opportunity to voice their opinion, he added.

Mr O’Neil said Hockingstuart has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in improving its training and education over the past seven years.

“Our Net Promoter Score is +50 for vendors, which means one in two vendors we're speaking to are raving fans out there, telling everyone how good the experience was at Hockingstuart,” he said.

“That's getting towards international best practice. We've improved our vendor score – about a third were raving fans; we’re now up to half are raving fans.”

Mr O’Neil told REB he expected the real estate industry would place even great emphasis on training and education in coming years.

“If you look at what brands do for their agents, it's all about training and marketing, so to be the best at training means we're ahead of the game,” he said.

“The rest of it is around helping the agents market themselves through their database management.”

[Related: Hockingstuart finalises another big diversification play]

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