Control

Remember, the market is a cycle – it moves and it changes. You have no more effect on the way the cycle ebbs and flows as you do of controlling the ocean tide.

You didn’t cause the property boom and nor will you be the cause of any softening or correction.

What you can do is attach yourself to process and structure that enables your vendors to reach a premium price no matter what stage of the cycle we’re in.

The sins of our past

As an industry, are the sins of our past starting to catch up with us?

As I’ve seen the emergence of companies such as Rate My Agent and Open Agent, I realised these portals have been created to fill a need. As an industry we need to ask ourselves, what is that need?

Was it the need of consumers to feel comfort around their selection of their real estate agent?

Or is it the fact that there was an identification that most property owners in Australia don’t really have a meaningful relationship with a real estate agent?

Perhaps this growing trend has been fuelled by an opportunity created by an industry that isn’t as customer-centric as it should be.

Detail

Energy and hype in the market is such a wonderful thing. It creates momentum, it provides cash flow to further develop and in many ways can only ever be seen as a great thing.

But so often through these times – as we enjoy this part of the cycle – businesses lose shape and detail becomes less important. Adherences to processes and structures seem a waste of time.

Let’s look at other industries, no matter how busy QANTAS gets, their detail to safety remains intact. No matter how busy a 5 star restaurant gets, its detail to what’s presented on the plate remains intact.

As we hurtle through a seemingly wonderful market, does the detail still remain important in your business?

What’s the next level?

I’m often asked if I can get people to the next level. When I am asked this question I think, what does that actually mean? Where does the next level exist?

Is the next level a destination, or is it a journey? So often this conversation comes from someone searching for a silver bullet that will take their career to the next level.

I can’t help but think that the next level should be internal dialogue. I believe most people actually know what it is they need to do to get there. But in many ways asking the question of someone else is a way of abdicating responsibility.

Next time you ask someone about reaching the next level, maybe the person who really has the answer is you.

Good is good until really good turns up

Many years ago I was at an Ambrose Golf Day where everybody had a chance at driving on a tee. Being a big guy I always believed I could hit the ball a long way – in fact I had a golf club like a Volkswagen on a stick.

On this day, I smoked my drive and it was the longest by far. Subsequently on that hole, a golf pro turned up and played with us. His ball flew over mine 100 feet in the air and it could have taken an aerial shot of my ball.

You see, I thought I was good until good showed up.

Why would I expect to hit the ball better than a pro? He’s spent years upon years, hours upon hours, hitting ball upon ball, to perfect this task. Yet stupidly, I thought I would hit a better ball. When I have a bit of good luck, and he’s having a bad day, that might occur once in a thousand.

In our industry new people see a top performer and foolishly think they can write better figures without putting in the hours. I’m not talking about average performers, but our very top performers – who in many cases spend years perfecting their craft.

Every now and then a new agent gets lucky and writes impressive figures. They then start to think that this luck is the norm. Success in real estate is a journey and you have to be prepared to go on that journey.

Some will read this and think about a person who has performed well in a short space of time, but rest assured, this performance is not the norm.

Be prepared for the journey, be prepared for the bad days but keep focussing on the things that matter; developing relationships, building trust and impacting on communities and you too will be like the golf pro, when your bad days are still better than most people’s good days.

Process is like your second cousin

I was recently walking down the street and I bumped into my second cousin. This occurrence only happens a number of times a year. Every time we meet I suggest that we catch up, but in the back of my mind I’m always hoping that they never accept the invite.

When I talk to agents about structure and process, they show unbelievable enthusiasm for it on the surface until structure and process actually turn up. Just like with my second cousin I’m sure when we talk about these things initially, in the back of these agents’ minds they don’t really mean what they’re saying.

See, process and structure are two action words of a simple concept called discipline. Our industry is overwhelmed by words like motivation and enthusiasm. In my opinion, the invitation you should be accepting is one of discipline. Maybe next time I see my second cousin, they will accept my invitation, and you never know – I may even enjoy it.

Self-inflicted plateauing

What staggers me is how many agents across our industry allow their business to plateau. Why does this occur? Have they reached capacity as an individual and are loathe to invest in resources to expand, or do in fact skills have capacity? When you can swim in four foot of water, you can swim in 40 feet. When you can sell one home, you can sell 100.

When I look at these plateaued people it’s clear that many of them have stopped the learning. What I find strange, is it seems that they stop because they believe – and in many cases rightly so – that they can sell. Yes I do believe skills have capacity, and I’ll talk more about that at another time, but I don’t believe that learning has limits, particularly in the real estate world.

The lessons to learn are not about selling, but about running the business, managing the resources to complete everyday tasks and managing support staff. But these particular agents or business owners aren’t taught these lessons, because they shut down the learning. In fact, what they have created is self-inflicted plateauing.

Above or below the line?

On a recent visit to one of Australia’s biggest department stores I remembered an article I had read about how this business was under attack from online purchasing.

As I was searching for a particular item, what I found interesting was that no-one wanted to serve me, no-one was interested in helping me and when I did find someone to speak to, they were from the wrong department.

In all walks of life, we play a game – it’s called playing above or below the line. Above the line is when you take responsibility, below the line is where you place blame – when it’s everyone’s fault but your own.

I couldn’t help but think this store was playing well below line. I have no doubt they are under attack from the online world, but I walked out of that store and I didn’t make a purchase – not because I didn’t want to, but because no-one cared.

I am quite sure if this store created a real customer experience, their stocks may not be in the shape they are today.

In real estate when things aren’t going well, many people will blame the market, their boss, the brand, or in some cases their customers. In your business, where are you playing your game – above or below the line?

The underlying reality

It’s always interesting to fully understand what drives someone’s business, as everyone has a vision of how they would like their business to be by way of look, feel and action. The majority of people in our industry actually know what to do and what they would like their business to be.

What really runs a business is the underlying reality. I’ll give you an example: people often say, “I must make 50 phone calls a week”, “I must create the perfect week”. The underlying reality is made up of the real actions that occur in every minute of every day. What exists with the highly successful people in our industry is where their vision – what they want their business to be – and the underlying reality actually meet.

A great exercise is to think about how you want your business to operate, then look at what actually occurs on a daily basis and assess the gap. For it is in that gap where the magic lives.