Home Truths July 2012
My June article certainly brought forth comment from the public – all of it positive, I hasten to add.
Generally, people who do not know and understand the system, cannot fathom how we can pay guaranteed incomes of $55,000, plus quarterly bonuses that can be quite large; and still remain in business.
In fact, at a secondary school re-union a few years ago, a person I knew from schooldays, and who has also gone into real estate, came up to me and started to deride me for taking on the system we use (particularly guaranteeing people’s incomes) and the ethics that we espouse. His parting shot was along the lines of ‘to hell with all that ethics stuff, I just want to make some money’. He was firmly of the mind that we would go broke and that the only way to be profitable was to do it his way – the usual way. Right up to that moment, I had thought that he was a decent enough person. Now, I’m not so sure.
Really, however, it isn’t at all that impossible. It is simply a matter of choosing the right people, training them well, paying them in a way that shows that we trust them to do their job and having systems in place to help in that process.
Take, for example, one of the pillars of our system – the enquiry log. Those who have seen our house-for-sale signage, may have also noticed that there is only one telephone number – that of the relevant office. No salesperson’s name, no salesperson’s contact details (and certainly no salesperson’s photo!).
This idea is carried over into all our other advertising as well. Nowhere will you find the telephone contact details of our salespeople. It works really well. No matter what time a potential customer or client calls in or phones us, we record their names and contact details. Our sales offices are open until 7 p.m., every day, but even after this time, caller’s details will be noted and written into the log.
There are many reasons why we use enquiry logs, but central among them is the desire to give the best service that we can. With this system, when a potential buyer calls, it is of no consequence whether the listing person is present or on a well-earned day off. The needs of that buyer will be met by another salesperson. This has proven to be a real benefit to buyers and sellers.
As our salespeople are able to show any property to any buyer, irrespective of whether the salesperson is the lister of a particular property, our buyers are able to be helped by anyone. Contrast this with the way in which some other agencies work, where particular properties can be shown only by the listing salesperson. The advantage of our system is clear: buyers are given better service and sellers have a greater number of qualified buyers looking at their property, both of which align with our philosophy of making it easier for sellers to sell and buyers to buy.
While I’m on the subject of making things easier for buyers and sellers, there is another aspect of our system that does just that. You may have noticed that all properties we have for sale, have an asking price. This certainly makes it easier for buyers as they can have some surety that a property is within their means, especially as most properties (and certainly the better ones) sell at or very close to the asking price. Sometimes that may be a little below, sometimes a little above the asking price, but it is usually fairly close.
But this is of benefit to the seller as well, as, combined with the way we negotiate a sale, it means that there are unlikely to be buyers who despite being attracted to the property won’t try to buy it as they are afraid of having their offer rejected by the seller and being made to feel foolish.
Mentioning negotiation brings me to another difference. Just before I wrote this, I happened to be talking to an applicant for a sales position with us. As we require our salespeople to own their own homes or to have previously owned their own homes, I asked him about his experience of buying a house.
Unsurprisingly, he told me the same story that many others had previously told; that of making an offer and the salesperson running back and forth between buyer and seller until agreement had been reached. I suggest that most buyers and sellers have had similar experiences.
But I have to ask if that is really negotiation or is it simply being a messenger between the parties with them doing their own negotiation? I strongly suggest that, in most cases, it is the latter and that it is done this way because there is precious little in the way of training in negotiation given to salespeople.
Surely, however, one of the reasons for using an agency would be that they are skilled at negotiation – wouldn’t it? It certainly should be and yet most agencies persist in this back-and-forth behaviour. Would it not be more efficient for the salespeople to negotiate with buyers until an acceptable offer could be made to the sellers? It would certainly be a more professional approach.
We negotiate this way and our buyers and sellers appreciate the speed and simplicity. Of course, like anything, to become skilled and maintain that skill level requires constant practice and in this we are fortunate. Because we deliberately keep our sales teams small and also because we won’t countenance auctioning properties, our sales people become very skilled at negotiating.
As a consequence of our business model, we have strengthened our presence in the market place as the many references on our website will attest.