Often breakdowns within an agency stem from staff members being unclear about their responsibilities, so clearly defining their roles can make a world of difference, according to one of the country’s best agents.
Ranked 23rd in REB’s Top 100 Agents 2016, Nick Renna of hockingstuart Bentleigh says having a strong support team means being able to delegate the right tasks to the right people.
Everyone needs a little assistance
Office set-up is a vital factor in determining an agent’s success, according to Mr Renna, who has an assistant and database manager supporting him.
“I don’t want you to confuse an assistant or PA with a database manager because I reckon, as salespeople, that’s where we muck up with PAs, because the last thing a PA wants to do is your database; your PA really should be ringing your buyers or organising,” he explains.
“Victoria does our pre-listing questionnaire, so any call-in that comes into the office goes to Victoria and she put them through a full-blown questionnaire, spending 10 or 15 minutes with a client on the phone, whereas salespeople will say, ‘What’s your address and what time can I be there?’.”
According to Mr Renna, some questions his assistant asks potential new clients include: ‘What it is about the property that has the wow factor?’, ‘When are they planning on putting it on the market?’ and ‘Who’s on the title?’.
“The great question that I think we ask is, ‘What type of real estate agent do you want?’. And that might be female, that might be the bulldog or it might be someone who’s gentle, it might be someone older or younger, and then we would send out who we believe to be the relevant appraiser.”
Mr Renna says his assistant also prepares CMA reports, sends out introduction letters and sets up all his files.
“If I list a property, she does all of it; I just literally hand her the authority with some instruction on it and she deals with it all.
“Victoria also invites potential vendors to particular auctions I might be doing and she liaises with vendors until the campaign commences, so she basically does everything with that client and I take over once the open-for-inspections start.”
One key role of his assistant, according to Mr Renna, is giving styling advice to owners who are thinking of selling with the agency.
“If the owners need gardening done, furniture hire or painting, we’ve got a list of tradies and she organises all of that for them.
“A lot of the times when I’m in the process, competing with other real estate agents, I might do the first appointment, go back with the report, but in between that, Victoria will go in or a stylist will go through.
“It’s really hard for a client not to go with you, once you’ve done all that work getting all those quotes. We do that with almost every single property because that’s great service.
Mr Renna’s assistant also goes to property photography sessions and arranges weekly magazine drops to all warm and hot leads.
“Essentially, my assistant does all the work that’s non-dollar productive for me.”
Managing a database is a full-time job
Another important person in Mr Renna’s support team is his database manager, Jill, who manages his 3,000-contract database and the agency’s bi-monthly newsletters.
“We send a newsletter every two months, but every month we’ll send my entire database all our sales results,” Mr Renna says.
“Jill’s role when she first came on board was to get everyone’s email address, where you’ll probably only get a 75 per cent capture rate. While we email that newsletter, we also prepare a printed version for the other 25 per cent, so that everyone on the database gets a newsletter every two months and gets our sales results every month.”
Mr Renna is able to widen his points of contact with potential clients by having Jill send SMS messages to anyone in his database who lives near newly listed properties.
“Any property that has been listed, anyone on my database in those streets will get an SMS on Monday to say, ‘Hi Mr and Mrs Smith. Just to let you know we’ve listed a property in your street. We’ll keep you informed of its progress’,” he explains.
“This is a good way of getting through [to] your database with information that is relevant to that client. If we sell 450 homes a year, that’s 450-odd streets that would get an SMS.”
Another way Mr Renna maintains contact with his database is sending every client a CMA report to demonstrate value and help them understand their market position.
“So if they’ve got a property in Bentleigh, they’ll basically get all the sales results for the last six months in their price bracket delivered to them, and we do that for every client.”
According to Mr Renna, other key duties for database managers include organising invitations for existing and potential customers to company functions, as well as searching for development sites for active developers.
“We have about 500 developers on our database and I deal with about 80; they’re not all active and there might only be about 20 that are active at any time, but the ones that are active and looking for sites, Jill will look for sites for them every Thursday morning,” he explains.
Furthermore, Mr Renna’s database manager also searches for homes for potential vendors in case people want to find another home before they sell, or wish to research before listing.