Agents should harness the power of many

It's a mistake for estate agents to be perfectionists, says Dr Willie Marais, national president of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEASA).

"This is not to say they should not be dedicated to providing excellent service, just that they should get out of the frame of mind in which they feel they have to do everything themselves because no-one else can do it properly," he says.

"The fact is they can get more done - and provide a better service - when they harness the talents and expertise of many people, as big companies do. By going it alone they will just end up working themselves silly and never achieving the sales success they deserve."

As a start, Marais suggests that agents identify one service they would like to provide to their clients were it not for a shortage of time or expertise - and find someone to provide just that service. This could be an intern who needs the exposure and experience or perhaps a student or a mostly stay-at-home mother who needs to work flexible hours.

"And agents should not begrudge the expenditure," he says. "If they can earn R100 an hour doing what they do best, they should be happy to hire someone at R10 or even R20 an hour to free them up to do it - and make them look even better to clients."

The next step is for agents to examine all the tasks they do and see how many of them they can "outsource". There may well be enough to justify hiring a full-time assistant or perhaps an understudy / junior agent who will handle much of the admin work, for example, in return for a chance to learn how to sell well.

"This will create even more time for the agent to concentrate on his or her real strengths," says Marais, "but at this stage they should be wary of falling into the quantity trap. Instead of just chasing more and more deals, they should spend some of their newfound free time focusing on building better relationships with existing clients and networking with colleagues and even competitors."

Then finally, he says, top agents should seriously consider joining forces with a partner who is equally dedicated and organised. "It's far easier to set goals when you have someone at a similar level to brainstorm with - and far easier to stick to a plan for achieving them when you're not only accountable to yourself.

"Besides, it's great to be able to take leave and recharge knowing there's someone 'covering' for you who's just as fanatical about service as you are."
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