Monday, October 22, 2012

Wishing vs Doing

We are nearly at the end of the year and yes it has gone fast.

A number of agents will perhaps be reviewing their performance to date and wishing that it was better than it has been.

These same agents are potentially going into excuse and blame mode of  it is the market, the brand, interest rate, China, USA etc.

The good news is that is not any of the above. The bad news is that it is YOU.

If your ideal performance is becoming a wish, a hope that you will generate the income levels that you would like then you are probably sacrificing the effort you need to make to get what you actually need.

Last time I looked there was no magic genie in real estate whose belly you rubbed three times and your wish to be a successful agent came true. I think you would have a better chance of winning tattslotto.

If I was coaching you as an agent today I would ask you to take a good hard look at your performance to date. I would ask four key questions as a starting point:

  1. What are the non-dollar productive activities and what distractions are you wasting your time on?
  2. What are you doing to build relationships with clients?
  3. Are you entering people in your database who are buying or selling real estate?
  4. How are you keeping in touch with people? Not just to get on their mind shelf but to understand their needs right now?

Waiting for the genie to show up is a waste of valuable time and in an agents case the magic is in the listings.

The waiting distracts us and devalues the hard work we might be doing instead.

We work in an industry where we directly influence the income we can earn.

So does it not make sense that if you can influence the outcome, do the work?

If you can't influence the outcome, ignore it as its simply a distraction.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Women know your place!

The recent performance by Julia Gillard and the subsequent viral spread of her message certainly indicates that one of the election issues may be about women and sexism in Modern Australia. Who would have thought that to be the case?

I find it amusing that Opposition leader Tony Abbott feels he needs to be seen as a feminist before he can hope to become the Prime Minister; even bringing out his wife and daughters to prove this fact.

It seems that women of child bearing age are becoming a powerful demographic and Julia Gillard’s recent performance in parliament probably won her a few of their votes.

I work with and coach a number of professional women and the most common issues I hear are regarding work/life balance, guilt and a lack of support or understanding from peers/employers/partner. Conflict arises with competing priorities and the pressure to make a choice between motherhood and having a career.

But why does it have to be a choice?

I work in a male dominated industry and in my sector I am the only female CEO in Victoria. I feel I can confidently say that it is difficult for men to really understand some of the issues Gillard raises. Sexism is more commonplace than we probably realise. I personally have been at the end of a number of conversations with my male counterparts who I know would never ever have the same level of conversation with their male mates.

I find that labelling a man as sexist is just too hard because most of the time they just don’t get it. I find it easier to just get on with the job and ignore the comments. However, there have been times when I choose to “vaporise” the individual and then I get labelled a ‘ball breaker’… one just can’t win!

I am not a supporter of Gillard or Abbott, however watching the PM’s speech I did feel a level of pride in how it was delivered. It was a passionate, feisty performance that used facts and left Abbott clearly uncomfortable.

The clear message to women was that it is ok to confront sexist language and behaviour, call it for what it is and be clear that it is unacceptable under any circumstances. I wonder, what will my male counterparts do next time I choose to point this out to them? I suspect I will get comments more drastic than “she has balls”.

Should I   see myself as a trailblazer in my industry? A number of women come up to me on a regular basis and say it is just so great to have a female CEO, a women leader. They are proud of my achievements.

I see myself as a CEO who has a job to do. However I do look forward to the day when the norm is   equality between men and women, the gender pay gap of 17.5% does not exist and there is no disparity on boards and senior positions. Where the impact of poverty and violence towards women is not devastating, societal change will be tremendous and something to celebrate.

Securing the female vote is clearly on the table now. I will watch with interest as the election draws closer and debates between Gillard and Abbott continue.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Storm Proof Your Business

There are a number of predictions as to what is going to happen to the real estate market. The “pundits” are all placing their spin on what they believe they see in their crystal ball based on global events in China, Europe, USA, mining sector, interest rate, Federal Government and statistics.

As business owners and agents we can get caught up in these “predictions” at the expense of our businesses.

It will be rare to find a business owner who does not fear becoming a statistic. As businesses come under more stress owners will start to turn their focus on to listing and selling creating a black hole in their businesses around recruitment, staff management, financial management, leadership, training, culture and ongoing investment into the business.

So what do you need to do as a business owner to ensure you don’t fall into the ‘black hole’.

1.       Review your businesses finances. Ensure that you sit down with your accountant, advisor or franchisor and review your business plan, have a financial budget in place, meet with your accountant monthly, tighten up spending, review your debt.

2.       Keep a strategic focus. Ensure that you and your team understand your market, customers, stock levels, days on market, have a business plan for each agent, department that links into the overall business plan and review regularly.

3.       Review reports. Ensure that you are provided with reports on a regular basis that enable you to see any changes occurring in your business. How can you also ensure that you deliver services in the most efficient and cost effective way without taking away from the experience.

4.       Cash is king. How you manage your working capital will be the key to your survival. Ensuring that you collect VPA up front, put agents on commission only structures, review overall spending however continue to invest in areas such as training, promotional marketing

5.       Cutting costs. This is the first thing we all do when there is a change in the market, cut costs, however ensure that you are doing this in the right areas. This is the time to grow your market share, attract new agents into your business.

6.       Prioritise expenditure. Get into the habit of developing a business case for significant expenses. What will the return on investment and impact on your bottom line.

7.       Performance management. Get good at managing people in your business, either to keep them and help them increase market share or pruning and replacing them with performers.

 As business owners we need to start getting smarter in how we conduct and run our businesses. We need to ensure that we maintain our focus on the areas above as well “getting back on the tools” for a short period of time.

Don’t underestimate however the opportunities markets like this provide us. Businesses that are run effectively are often well poised to make investments such as purchase of rent rolls, businesses, additional staff, training, marketing all of which will provide you with increased market share. When the market changes again as we know it will you will be a long way ahead of your competition.