YOUNG, BRASH and C*CKY … the problem with some younger Neg’s in agency.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing so they say.   

How many times have you seen a young whippersnapper Neg or Valuer/Lister make the same mistakes you did? You see, I have always thought that this saying was one of empowerment in that, if you have even a little knowledge, you could be competent at what you did. After setting up my own business, through conversations with people who have done the same, I learned that I didn’t have the complete answer.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing means that though one may know something, one does not know what one doesn’t know. Hey, I went to Karate classes as a ten year old child for six months, so I am someone has a tiny knowledge of martial arts, but I should not assume that I am a Grasshopper Black Belt Karate master (TV series from the 1980’s about Karate for our younger readers) and start getting into fights… no I would be about as good as Hong Kong Phooey (another Cartoon TV series from the 1980’s about an incompetent janitor who thinks he is the best Martial Arts master in the world but in reality is rubbish – he is only saved by the trusty cat!)  (Youtube them both … very funny!).

This saying is particularly pertinent to younger men in estate agency. Often they learn a few things in a field of interest and they jump to many conclusions. .. hell I did it all the time (and probably still do) How many times have you seen a young cocky neg, who has been doing the job for 18 months thinks he is the King of World of Selling Property. Why? I know my first boss, a lady called Carol beat alot of it out of me (not literally I might add!) as she could see the conclusions I was coming to and she had seen it all before. Well, often we get to the point where we are so convinced in our proficiency and capability that we ignore the advice of our older peers who are trying to help because we think what we’re doing feels right in our head and it worked last month, so it will work again this month.

Of course, you as the long in the tooth manager/boss, who went through the 1987 crash, the mid 90’s doldrums, the make hay whilst it shines days of the early 2000’s and the crash of 2008, see exactly where they are going wrong and even explain it to them, and still they ignore you only to learn the hard way and find out that you were right all along.

This has happened to me plenty of times concerning advice over the last twenty years or so and it happens to plenty of younger blokes in the estate agency game when their voice in the head wins out against the advice they get from their team mates or experienced mentors. This has also happened to me more times than I would like to admit (just ask my wife). It is all fine and dandy  to learn by trial and error, and young Neg’s certainly have the time to learn from their mistakes. Often being young is the best time to learn from your mistakes because the cost and penalties are relatively small.

But I ask every young Neg and Valuer reading this, there is another way to learn that is quicker and less excruciating. It’s called learning from the mistakes of others and taking the advice of others. I have had good relations with some of my old bosses (Carol, Neil, Jane and Mark) and have stayed out of a lot of trouble because I saw, or rather, heard what happened to other Neg’s/Valuers/ Listers/Managers when they went wrong (well ok 95% of the time!).

But now I have set up my own company with my Wife. My Wife is a fabulous person and keeps me on the straight and narrow. But here is where you as the boss of your firm need to realise, who are you going to ask, who is going to mentor you? It’s a lonely old job being your boss .. how do you know if you are doing it right? Well, if you are the boss, if you give out the advice, you are doing your part of the bargain and if the young 21 year old whippersnapper wants to heed your advice (or not) .. that’s upto to them .. but you my friend, if you dole it out, can you receive it.. advice that is?

How do you do this? Well, thinking about myself, I accept that whilst I am good at helping letting agents get more business, I am a mere baby when it comes to being a business man, with just one year’s experience. You might have been in business for twenty years, but if you have been doing the same thing for the last twenty years .. sorry, you have one year’s experience multiplied twenty times. If you aren’t growing your lettings and estate agency by at least 10% to 15% a year .. I am sorry, you aren’t doing your job correctly (harsh I know).

There are people who have seen it and done a hell of lot more than I have and I pay attention to their advice. If you ask for guidance, most people won’t see it as weakness, but be chuffed as hell to be asked and think more you…. and the bonus is, they give you that advice.  I have worked in various capacities at a senior level for two biggest estate agency/lettings franchises and I keep telling the franchisees that that is the value of the franchise .. not the name, not the brand, not the legal helpline but the ability to speak to others who are in the same boat as you .. that is priceless.

But what if you aren’t a franchise owner? Well, I have done two things.. I have asked the advice and opinion of various movers and shakers in the industry. I have even asked the advice and opinion of those who are in similar roles to myself (one might say competition). Some can’t even be bothered to return your voice messages and texts but most have been truly fantastic. However, I owe it myself not to rely on the goodwill of others, so I have taken on a Business Coach.

Growing the business is  crucial to business success, but what is often underestimated is the importance of business owner efficiency, and having a coach who can demonstrate consistency and speed in things like planning, time management and decision making is really good. You see, be you a Lettings BizGen Guru (like myself) or a Lettings / Estate Agent, when you are caught up in the day to day business, thinking and acting efficiently may be easier said than done. This is why many business owners engage the services of a business coach, I honestly believe, you should too. I employ the services of chap called John. I saw him speaking at a swanky Estate Agency event (he specialises in business coaching for estate and letting agents you see). After a few meetings, my Wife and I decided to employ his services. However, it wasn’t just a case of John telling us that we had to do X, Y and Z; he simply asks questions that make us think until we came up with a solution ourselves. For us the coach / business owner relationship is subtle, and there is definitely an element of therapy in it as we unload our woes to John, but in terms of boosting our business efficiency, coaching really does work

But I don’t only take advice from my Business Coach. I take advice from what I read on various blogs on the tinterweb. Some things I have to take with a grain of salt of course, because it’s the tinternet. Usually I read something, keep it at the back of my head, and quietly evaluate whether it is true or useful or not based on my own experiences. I don’t take advice from just anyone, however, I take advice from people who I have reason to think know more about a subject than I do. And I keep taking their advice until they prove otherwise.

So, if you are Neg reading this, why not ask the opinion and advice of your fellow Negs or Valuer or more importantly, the boss. The same goes for Lister/Valuers, but this time, also asked the opinion of the Area Manager (if you are a corporate) … everyone will be chuffed to bits you asked and think more of you.

Owners of their own agencies .. ask other business people in your Circle.. join the Facebook group ‘Letting Agency Owners Insiders Circle’ .. a great place for letting agents to ask questions (it’s a closed group so your landlords won’t see you asking daft questions). Also, I have had loads of advice from my friends in Round Table. If you are in The Rotary, Lions, Conservative Club, Chamber of Commerce, mates down the Wine bar or Pub .. ask them for a quick ten minutes .. and if you are really serious, employ a business coach.

Finally, feel free to pick the phone up to me for any advice and opinion especially when it comes to getting landlords to swap agents.

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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