Virginia Brookes, Director of Resolver Recruitment, knows what skills are critical to establishing and maintaining a functioning and productive office.
But what are these skills and what are they worth?
Considering they could make or break your agency, it’s definitely worth investigating further – which is exactly what Brookes has done.
Look for connection
Real estate is primarily a face-to-face industry. And whether the face you’re talking to is that of a tenant, vendor, buyer, handyman, senior staff member or junior agent, you need to know how to connect with them.
“Face-to-face communication is always going to be what real estate is all about,” says Brookes. “You can't live behind a database. You can't live behind a phone. People want to deal with a real person, and they’ll pay for the privilege.”
However, Brookes says being able to communicate clearly and confidently is becoming a rare skill in today’s technologically-charged workplace.
“I get young people coming into my office who actually can't look at me face-to-face,” she says. “They stare down at their hands, almost like they're looking for a device to be able to communicate with.”
Brookes says, while communication skills can be taught, great communicators will be the ones who connect effortlessly with your clients.
“This ease of communication is one of the foundations for the development of strong relationships,” she says. “It’s a skill that can’t be taught and should be highly valued in any agency.”
Know what people are worth
Brookes says employers should do their due diligence in understanding the skills of prospective employees and how they are applicable to the real estate industry.
“Sometimes people coming from outside the real estate industry make the best agents or agency services staff,” she says.
“They have no preconceived ideas of the industry or how it operates, which means you can train them your own way and mould them into what you want them to be.
“A hotel concierge, can I tell you, makes the best manager or database manager. Concierges, or people who've worked in hospitality, are used to people yelling at them at 10:00pm at night over a drink or a bounced credit card, or an angry customer that's come into a hotel.
“They have had to learn to pacify customers on the spot. They can't just run and get somebody else. They have had to learn to take some form of control over that situation. So, I always recommend that my clients look at people coming from these types of roles.”
Brookes says fine-tuning hard skills (skills that are teachable and measurable) is worth it for a candidate with the right soft skills.
“Okay you might need to fine tune their PC skills a little bit,” she says. “But this generation can pretty much do everything on a computer anyway, or a tablet or a device! Technology is not a problem for them.
“Now more than ever, real estate operates as a team. It's not an ‘I’ anymore. To succeed in real estate, you must have a team around you. You can't be a salesperson, marketer and database manager all at once. You can't do everything.
“If you want to do well you have to spend the time and the money investing in the people who are going to help you.”
Fulfil your promises
Brookes says once you find the right candidate, set them up for success.
“If a rookie is coming in and they're really excited and they can't wait to get going, make sure you have an induction process in place for them,” she says. “Have a few tasks prepared that you need them to do each day.
“Most people aren't dummies. They are able to follow a script or go through a database and start learning. The jobs can be small or menial, just ensure you have a set structure in place to allow them to succeed.
“Another good idea is to buddy them up with someone in a similar role so they can see the role firsthand.”
Brookes warns that if you don’t induct new recruits properly, you not only risk them leaving your agency, you risk them leaving the industry.
“If a new recruit starts in an agency and they are not inducted properly, there's no training and no support, they’ll leave. Sixty per cent of placements fail because employers aren't prepared.”
So, as the saying goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money – just make sure you spend it wisely. Invest in the right people with the right skills for your agency, onboard them and support them, and you will be rewarded.