In recent years, the topmost successful businesses such as Google and Amazon have demonstrated that real success lies in scalability, increasing revenue without additional costs. Real estate is heavily reliant on service and reputation management, so when scaling, it’s crucial to maintain the consistency that customers have come to expect.
Often, an increase in customer demand will necessitate a quick scale. While this can be exciting, it can also be problematic, because as the business grows, the quality of service being delivered can start to drop. As new recruits join the team, sometimes there simply aren’t enough experienced leaders around to manage issues as they arise, and as a result, customer service suffers.
In real estate, this can be incredibly damaging because, as we all know, one negative experience can spark a chain reaction that sees customers take their business to our competitors — perhaps defeating the purpose of the expansion in the first place.
An important part of my role is to guide our business development and expansion. In 2017, we opened five new offices throughout Victoria, all of which I am proud to say are operating exceedingly well. For many businesses, opening a new office can be a tumultuous time, and customer satisfaction can drop at a rapid pace. But by following a set of clearly defined strategies, we were able to successfully launch our new offices without so much as a speed bump.
Here are the four strategies I implemented to ensure a consistency of service while scaling my business.
1. Recruit strong leaders
One of the key important things that a business leader must accept if they are to scale is that they can’t be everywhere at once.
This is something that many struggle with, particularly those with smaller start-ups who are used to overseeing all aspects of the business. Sooner or later, you are going to need to learn to delegate and to trust in your team, and the easiest way to do this is by recruiting or developing strong leaders.
My advice is to start training and mentoring these people as early as you can so that when the time comes for your business to scale, your leaders are fully prepared.
2. Develop effective systems
Have you ever considered how fast food giant McDonald’s manages to deliver a consistent level of service worldwide? The answer is systemisation.
Since their early days, McDonald’s has maintained a consistent set of processes that allow each of their employees across all stores to understand their expectations and requirements — and it has made McDonald’s one of the most successful businesses in the world. I believe that we can learn a lot from their success, and I’ve made it my mission to implement more sustainable systems across all of our offices.
We underwent a major organisation-wide technological overhaul that allows our franchisees to act in a way that is efficient and consistent and upholds our brand identity.
3. Maintain a point of difference
In real estate, a strong point of difference is a necessity if you want to scale. With so many competitors vying for your customers’ business, it’s important to offer something unique which customers can’t get anywhere else. Once you identify your point of difference, it should remain a consistent part of your brand. For example, we recently launched a new complimentary service called The Whole House, which offers customers the opportunity to have their move professionally managed.
This has become one of our most prominent points of difference with competitors, and as we strive to position ourselves as the leaders in customer service, it ties in perfectly with our overall message.
4. Understand timing is everything
When scaling your business, it’s crucial that you time it right.
Think about the state of the market and what structures you have in place to support your future growth. Trying to grow too big too fast rarely works out well, and if you want to achieve real success, you need to ensure you have your ducks in a row. Consider creating a timeline of where you want your business to be in one year, five years and 10 years.
Remember, in real estate, customer service is everything, and compromising on quality will never lead to business success.
Anna Thomas is the COO at Stockdale & Leggo. She is experienced in sales, customer service and training and recruitment and has served with a range of blue chip companies including Optus and Hewlett Packard.