Well-honed processes can net an agency latent revenue that would otherwise go astray, writes Ian Campbell
People don’t fail, processes do. It is a discomforting feeling for any leader to understand that, ultimately, they must take primary responsibility for failure in their business.
It is too easy to blame ‘lazy’ employees for not performing to an acceptable standard. Or that employing five salespeople to find one good one has more to do with the flaws of human behaviour than the environment in which employees are required to perform. The processes involved in being a good real estate salesperson are extremely complex, particularly if you are expected to be a ‘business within a business’.
In the most extreme cases, agents are meant to be exceptional lead generators, marketers, closers, networkers, contract law experts, masters of negotiation, social media gurus, accountants and financial advisers.
From beginning to end, the potential points of failure for a new recruit are many. But there is a better way.
Take a simple example. The open home process.
Good operators know that open homes, while an effective process in finding the buyer for a property, is also a very effective process for finding potential new vendors. Not only that, but the opportunity for generating leads for other property-related services is extremely high - for example, property management and finance referrals.
Even individual agents should pay close attention to the effectiveness of their open home processes.
So what does a good open home process look like? Well, to do that properly, you have to do what’s called ‘outside-in thinking’. Basically, who are the potential ‘customers’ of an open home and what would be their requirements? Also known
as the ‘voice of the customer’.
Vendors are an obvious one. They would want details of how many people came through, feedback or comments on the property, price indications etc. They may also want people to take their shoes off to protect the carpets.
Buyers. Pretty simple really. They would want access to the home.
They would want the agent to be able to answer any questions about the home. And a basic one - they’d probably want you to call them back on Monday, or even earlier if possible!
Agents themselves could also be seen as a customer. They would want to know that their open home positions them well in the market, gives them increased opportunity for new listings etc.
Business owners could also be a customer group. Not only do they want the agent to convert any potential opportunity that comes through their open homes, but they also want to make sure that other revenue streams are serviced as well – e.g. property management and finance.
They may want every person’s details captured - name, mobile, email and phone as a minimum.
This is a useful exercise to go through. Get your team together and brainstorm the different customers of an open home. Then, identify what each customer group would define as their requirements from an open home.
Be specific. For example, if buyers want a call back, when do they want a call back? In 24 hours? In two weeks? Don’t know - ask them at the open home – ‘when would you like us to call you back?’ At the end, you should have a list of desired outcomes for the various customers from an open home.
Then, review your current processes. How well are they structured so that these outcomes are delivered? Do you deliver to customer expectations 100 per cent of the time or one per cent of the time?
What are the consequences of not delivering? Is there a financial impact? What would that be? For example, if you are only successful at identifying property management opportunities 20 per cent of the time, and there are five investors going through your open homes every week with a potential income of $10,000 per annum if realised, then you could be missing out on an extra $2 million in potential property management revenue per annum.
Surprised? Even if you are just missing out on the opportunity to convert one investor per week, it’s still potentially $500,000 per annum.
So, how good is your process? Do you use standard open home forms? Do you ensure that your agents are trained to ask the right qualifying questions to every person that comes through the door? Do you make sure that they do call backs?
If you aren’t getting the outcomes you, and your customers, expect from your business, don’t blame the market or your people. It’s your processes that need looking at.