7 steps to building the best team for your agency

25 April 2022

How can you make sure that you're recruiting the right people for your letting and estate agency? John Paul, Castledene Group's CEO, shares his insights.

"If you've got a great team, what does that do for you?" asks John Paul, Castledene's CEO, in our webinar, How to run and retain a great team in a challenging market. "It frees your time up and it gives you less stress - and, ultimately, you're going to be much happier." Here are seven steps to help you achieve this, and to help your business be the best it can be by getting the right people on board.

1. Establish the talent gaps you need to fill

First, you need to make sure that you're recruiting for the right job roles. "When you recruit, you should always have a couple of organisational charts on the go," says John. "You've got your current one, and then you've got your aspirational one - where you want your business to be."

At Castledene, this means analysing your business to see if there are any areas of weakness in the team that need to be strengthened, either by helping them improve or by recruiting a new team member.

These talent gaps can be about more than performance levels. "If I had a very dull, quiet office where it was quite mundane and there were two people applying, but one was a little bit more chatty, I'd probably go for that person to try and lift the energy up in the office."

2. Promote your unique culture to get an initial large pool of candidates

You should use your company culture to attract talent to your agency, by ensuring that it shines through in your job descriptions. "Be different," says John. "Don't be like your competitors where you put boring adverts out there. Make the advert different.

"Talk about if you give days off for the birthday, talk about the barbecues for the whole company, if you send them away on retreats. Talk about that to say, 'Look, this isn't your normal estate agency or letting agency, we are different to everybody else.'"

3. Offer the right salary to meet their expectations

Although not everyone's motivated by money, you need to make sure candidates want to speak to you so they can learn more about you and your company - and this means showing that you're willing to pay a reasonable salary, in line with the market.

"It doesn't matter how good the culture is, they haven't got the opportunity to experience your amazing culture if you're paying five or 10 grand less than everybody else," says John. "They're not even going to give you a ring. Because you can't get how great your culture is across from one little advert. You need interview upon interview."

4. Recruit based on your company values

"For people to buy into a company and have that strong alignment with you and your company, you need to stand for something," says John. "The best businesses have that vision, have that mission statement, they have those values that they recruit on. They manage their team and lead their team based on those values."

How do you make sure that new team members are aligned with those values? You feed your values into the questions you ask at the interview stage, and keep those questions the same for every candidate - with small deviations to delve into any interesting topics that they raise. This means that when you compare them, you can score them all "fairly and equally."

"If they've got a CV with 20 years in the industry, and don't have our values, they're not getting employed," says John. "People with the same values will walk over hot coals, they'll crawl over broken glass, they'll do the very best for you and for the client."

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5. Don't be afraid to look outside the property industry for talent

When putting company values front and centre in the recruitment process, this opens up the field to a variety of people from different backgrounds and industries. John has found that aligned values can themselves be just as valuable - if not more so - than direct industry experience.

"We're finding more and more that we're picking people outside the industry who have our same values. Not just estate agents or letting agents. We're picking call centre operatives, people who have worked in admin, people who worked in warehouses - wherever - because the values are aligned."

6. Make sure you get in quick with an offer to your chosen candidate

It's currently an employee's market and, if you want to make sure that you're getting the best people to say yes to your agency, you need to be fast. The candidate you choose has likely got other hot job leads, and, if you want them at your agency, you've got to get your offer on the table first.

"It's speed to lead effectively, Just return calls, return emails, and communicate as quickly as you can," he says. "We get one chance to make a good first impression. Make sure it's a memorable one."

7. Use the probation period to check that a new employee meet your expectations

The probation period is time to take stock and make sure you chose the right person for the job at the interview stage. You should ensure that you're using this time to fully assess the performance of your new recruit.

"You can normally see within the first couple of weeks whether the values are aligned," says John. "Do they stay back late? Do they ask really good questions? Do they go the extra mile to the customer client? Do they fit in with the team culture? What's their personality like? You can find out in a couple of weeks, sometimes days if they're going to be the right fit."

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