At a time when real estate business owners are facing a tightening market, Laing+Simmons network growth manager Travis Wentriro provides his top four tips for reducing costs, without compromising on customer service.
1. Eliminate waste
Many people think of waste as stuff you throw in the bin, Mr Wentriro says, but it’s much more than that.
“Waste is everywhere and as a business owner, if you remain on the lookout, you’ll never stop finding it,” he says.
“Other industries can provide some interesting approaches. The construction industry, for one. Many leading builders employ a continuous improvement loop, though they may have a different name for it, which means that for every project they undertake, they then commit to making the next project more streamlined, more efficient and less wasteful.”
Mr Wentriro says that it’s an approach that emphasises that perfection is never attainable.
“There are always elements to tinker with to deliver a better result.
“Consider how you might apply this to your business. Every time you duplicate a task, you waste time and resources. So, are there ways you can better plan your working day? How can you collaborate with others in the team to cover off a greater workload in less time? When you provide a brief to a supplier, have you ensured they have absolutely everything they need?
“There are endless examples of waste. Subscriptions are one. Most businesses accumulate an array of subscriptions from any number of sources. It’s decision time for each and every one. If you subscribe to a product or service, you have two options going forward: commit to maximising the value you get from it, or cut it out entirely.”
2. Double down on talent
It’s uncomfortable to call a reduction in staff “tempting” even though your business may see a real short-term benefit in lower employee overheads, Mr Wentriro says, adding that your people are your most important resource.
“Instead of trimming your team, ask yourself how you can help them achieve greater success.
“If you operate under a franchise network, look to apply pressure to your franchisor to provide training and development programs, and the right technological solutions, to support improved performance among your team. Understand your entitlements in seeking assistance in recruitment and hiring from head office.”
He adds that you are most likely aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your key team members.
“Hold an honesty session and have your team identify what they consider their own key attributes and deficiencies to be,” Mr Wentriro says.
“This is the time to cross-pollinate to fill the gaps, draw on each other’s experiences, reinforce the importance of a strong team being more than the sum of its parts.
“It sounds a simple equation, but if each of your people can deliver a net positive contribution to the business, you have the necessary foundation for success in challenging times.”
3. Audit your franchise fees
Mr Wentriro says that if you are part of a franchise network, this is the ideal time to consider the franchise fees you pay.
“Franchisees need support systems and support to provide their people with real competitive advantages.
“Franchisors which take a flat percentage of every dollar turned may find themselves less competitive as new structures emerge that reward performance. Fees payable on property management will also potentially come under the spotlight.”
4. Technological priorities
New technology, data mining and artificial intelligence are all re-shaping the industry, Mr Wentriro says.
“Agents know they cannot afford to stick their heads in the sand in the hope the tech revolution will pass,” he says, but adds that now may not be the time for a costly investment in new platforms or systems.
“Prioritise instead. A real estate business focused on sales revenue will have different tech priorities to an operation based on the maintenance and growth of their rent roll. A large team will have different tech priorities applicable to a broad group of people, while a smaller team may find individual mobile tech solutions more readily supportive in the current climate.”
Then ask yourself where new innovations can make the most impact for you, Mr Wentriro says, and start there.