For most of my career as an agent – well, certainly from becoming a manager – I chose people with little or no agency experience to come and work in my team. The main reason was my hatred of having to retrain the experienced agents who almost always came with more bad habits than good ones. So I started looking for people who came from lively, sociable work environments to give myself an easier time when it came to having the office run the way I wanted. So people from PR, the music industry, theatre, even the ex-manager of a porn shop!
The results were phenomenal.
These people were genuinely friendly, totally not slimy, easy to train, resistance-free and, more to the point, sold incredible amounts of property. Why? Because people WANTED to buy from them, sometimes even taking their second choice of property so they could spend 3 months talking to one of my team, instead of the oily other agent down the road. It was all a bit surreal, but extraordinarily uplifting. It sounds fantastical, right? Buyers choosing not to go for their number one choice, just so they could talk to someone on their own level. I could hardly believe it myself at the time, but it’s true. And it really opened my eyes to just how powerful it is to have a group of people working for you who are not only a delight to spend the day with, but who are magnets for buyers.
That said, I think it’s pretty crucial to have a figurehead who knows what they are talking about. If a manager went into someone’s home and said “I’ve got 2 weeks’ estate agency experience and used to run a porn shop up until last month”, I’m not reckoning on much success. But it really worked for me as an experienced manager telling potential clients about the real difference it would make to them having a team of popular people showing buyers round their home. The main difference? The amount buyers offered. I noticed a marked increase in the percentage of asking price offered through the most popular members of the team. And the true ‘negotiators’, with however many years experience as an estate agent, almost always had more negotiating to do. Their experience and agenty-ness actually made their job harder.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic estate agents out there with years under their belt, who truly love what they do and are a credit and asset to their company. But it’s also worth looking outside the property industry for people who have an aura about them that makes you want to spend time in their company. What it taught me was this: while vendors most definitely want an agent, buyers simply want a friend. And they’ll pay for it.