I hate my job as an estate agent

How to be a better Estate/Letting Agent… Even If You Hate Your Job

If you are reading this, you are either an employer or an employee.

Can I ask a question of the employers – Why did you set up your own estate or lettings agency ? (Most of my readers are estate or letting agents .. but it could just as well be another type of business … the point is this) .. WHY did you become self employed? Thought you could do a better job? Earn more money? Better life? Plan for your retirement?  More holidays? Etc etc

Some of you employees may harbour a burning desire to set up your own business in the future … so again, I ask the same question that I asked of the employers .. WHY? Why do you want to open your own agency in the future? Maybe your answers are the same as the one’s mentioned above?

Everyone is different, so everyone’s WHY is different. But before we leave the WHY’s …. let me ask you another question  .. if you have already set up your own business or are thinking of setting one up in the future … Has this ever been one of the WHY’s?

The reason I want to set up my estate / lettings agency is because I want to screw people out every last penny

Of course not .. don’t be silly … everyone who sets up their own business, well 99.9999% of them did it (or will do it) for themselves. All you dewy eyed self employed virgins, wanting to change the face of estate and letting agency in your town, to make a difference and earn a few pennies on the side… that is your WHY, not to screw over the homeowners and landlords in your town .. you wouldn’t last 5 minutes .. everyone knows that!

So if you are going to do it, (set up your own business), to do that, as in all aspects of life, you need to do the right thing, because there is one fundamental that must happen if you are going to be successful in running your own estate or letting agency business…….

  • You must do the right thing to yourself,
  • You must do the right thing for your family,
  • You must do the right thing for your colleagues,
  • You must do the right thing for your contractors and
  • You must do the right thing for existing and future customers
  • and from that you will have a successful and long established business, which means you will also maximise your long term profit.

Sounds about right doesn’t it?   But you would be surprised how many people are rubbish at that though. Let me explain …

The theory goes by doing the right thing, you will build your estate agency or lettings agency into such an awesome company, your standing in the town will rise, which will assist you in attracting better staff, which means you can offer a better service, which will impress all the landlords and homeowners in your town and all those impressed landlords and vendors that will in turn use your agency … and behind all that .. you will start to make a decent living, making shed loads of cash … no stress – job done (you happy, staff happy, punters happy)

.. but its not like that is it?

People set off with the intention of ‘doing the right thing’ first, but something clouds their vision … money and profit.  If you start with the thought of doing the right thing, the outcome will be money and profit …. But if you start with the thought of let’s get profit/money … that is when it starts to fall down.

If we are not careful, as an industry, estate agency and lettings agency is starting to move towards the cliff edge, like the travel agent or insurance industries ten years ago. Ten years ago, the internet commoditised those industries, people couldn’t see the difference between travel agents and insurance brokers …. So it was easy for the business to go online and be sold by small fury animals called ‘Alexander Merkaat’. .. and if we let online/call centre estate and letting agents take the initiative whilst we as High Street agents offer a mediocre homogenous dull service for our landlords and homeowners .. then we only have ourselves to blame.

(the issue of low fees and how estate / letting agents are becoming robot like and commoditised was discussed last week in this article  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/low-fees-estate-letting-agency-christopher-watkin?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish )

The estate and lettings industry as a whole is shorted sighted .. this is especially true with the corporates, who can’t see past their next Quarter’s or Year’s Profit and Loss sheet, to realise that if they played the long game, they should be able to take a lot more market share than they currently do. You see In the article I mentioned above (the Low Fee / Commoditised one), I asked if you, as an agent, were an agent that offered an out of this world, remarkable, indispensably awesome service, that is 110% unique?  I am sure most corporates couldn’t answer yes – and can I ask all you independents .. are you? Really?


Roll the clock back twenty years, thirty years, life was a lot simpler, agents were part of the community … people used to recognise them in the street and chat. Agents were in it for the long term .. they played the long game ….You dealt with the main man or their right hand person from Free Val to Collection of keys .. so you had to do a good job. You sold your house in 1960 and when you came to sell it in 1970, the same negs/valuers were there.. and the same negs and valuers ten years after that.

But in today’s 21st century, with the t’interweb, swapping of staff every ten minutes (“oh no, Bill has moved to our new office because the Area Manager likes to change the Valuers every 18 months so they don’t become stale”) the corporates, one size fits all marketing, email .. everything is now at arms length, it’s harder to see the long term given the massive short term actions that are made, as estate and lettings agency gets less transparent. If it’s all a mess, if you know you won’t be there in six months, let alone six years .. who cares ..nobody takes responsibility, the theory of doing the right thing starts to fall apart.

If you think about it, if you have a property that will sell or let (which in this market – most properties will), regardless of what a neg/valuer does or doesn’t do, the long term consequences of a good or bad decision made by that neg or valuer today (no matter what that decision is, be it a decision doing a great awesome job or this will do rubbish job, cutting corners or completing it well, stopping until 6.30pm to get a deal sorted or sod this I’m off to the pub at 5.31pm – sod the buyers, offering a poor service – even being unprofessional, sloppy, tardy, doing a bit of arm twisting .. hell even slight dodginess), then it’s difficult to argue that maximising profit and doing the right thing are the same thing. Who cares – you get the property away – irrespective of what you do – so it doesn’t matter.

…. Because I know what you will say … you need that money today, in the short term to survive, otherwise you will be long out of business before the long term benefit kicks in. Yes in the short term that will work, but in the long term, it won’t .. it’s the same in all aspects of life.

So what is it to be?

‘Doing the right thing’ is all about personal morals (one might even say ethics), being able to look oneself in the eye and taking personal responsibility. Stop hiding behind your company logo, stop hiding behind your colleagues, stop passing the buck. Whether you are a Neg, whether you are a Property Manager, Sales Chaser, Valuer, Branch Manager, Area Manager, Independent, Corporate, Franchisee, Employee or Employer  … take responsibility and do the right thing because by doing the right thing for the your landlords, your vendors, your team, even though it might not benefit you or your company financially in the short term, it will help you and everyone in the long term… and I’m sorry .. all of us aren’t in agency for a couple months .. but for the long term.

Stop looking at those profit and loss sheets, stop blaming the team, stop blaming the competition, stop blaming cheap fees or crappy ‘call centre (online) agent’ .. all of those an easy sanctuary for anyone because they blame everyone else and don’t take personal responsibility.

You are either a Neg/Valuer/Prop Mngr/ Boss who does work you are proud of, or you are a Neg/Valuer/Prop Mngr/ Boss who does work to make the maximum amount of money (be it commission or profit)… and don’t get me wrong, it would be nice if those two types of work went hand in hand, 100% of the time, but they seldom do.

If you haven’t got the passion when you wake up to go to work, I genuinely pity you.

…. But blaming the boss, your colleagues, your clients isn’t an excuse – it must come from within. .. and if you want to know if you suffer from this, well if you feel yourself thinking (or saying) “I just work here” then its time to take action.

To every Neg, to every Prop Manager, every Valuer, every Lister, branch manager and every owner of every letting and estate agency … Stop hiding behind your company logo, your company website, your colleagues… it’s not about that .. it’s all about YOU and your interaction with that vendor, that landlord, that buyer and that tenant, that colleague .. take personal responsibility

Start taking responsibility and whilst the hip phrase at the moment is corporate-responsibility .. that my friends utter ‘b*llocks’ .. there is no such thing as corporate responsibility ..   all a business is, is a group of people who turn up at a place of work between 9am and 5pm .. so instead of all this corporate responsibility mularkey – which just allows people to pass the buck, to think, oh don’t worry, someone else will cover that, speak to the client or go the extra mile – take responsibility – even if it’s not yours to take.

Being an estate agent or letting agent (in fact any profession) is too powerful nowadays for us to leave our kindness, our passion, our sympathy, ourselves as a real human being, a real person, at the threshold of the office door when we rock up at 8.55am.

Estate agency is not property business, it’s people business…………

Lettings is not property business, it’s people business

Everything is a people business … otherwise you are a commodity (and if you read that article – you will know what happens then)

… and trust me if you do take repsonsibility, you will enjoy your job more, you will become passionate, clients will like that, recommend you to others and from that you will earn more money.

For more insights, thoughts and comments on being a better estate and letting agent – if you have time, please do visit my blog – 320 posts and articles, going back to 2013,  on how to be a better agent which in ten will get you more landlords and vendors to use your agency .. link here …  www.landlordfarming.com 

You have a great weekend



Christopher Watkin

I teach, guide, support, mentor, consult, counsel, partner many hundreds of UK Estate and Letting Agents in their quest to grow their estate and lettings agencies business. Old school techniques of touting, landlords wanted leaflets, ring us for a free valuation, we have sold this in your street leaflets don't work anymore. There are too many competitor agents .. meaning cheap fees are epidemic, overvaluing is almost a norm to get the stock and don’t even mention about the online/hybrid threat. So a few years ago, I set about looking around the UK and spotted that certain agents (not many mind you) in certain towns were still seen as the ‘go to person on property’, the person the newspaper editor rang up every week for a comment and I looked at what they did and they were doing some thing quite remarkable…. Only one thing but they were doing it so well .. and reaping the reward in terms of decent listings and decent fees, happy staff, decent sales pipeline and exchange income, managed lettings portfolios in the many hundreds .. but more importantly, they really enjoyed the job… they enjoyed getting up in the morning and people looked up to them Over 400 agents around the UK are on a mission to change the way our Estate and Lettings agency profession is perceived and looked upon, doing it town by town, city by city. I guide these 400 agents, teach them, mentor them and support them to be seen in a different light, to be seen as the ‘go to person for property’, actually be the ‘local property expert’ and prove it. Christopher Watkin 07950 147 572 christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk

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